Archive for the ‘Anthropology’ Category

The Curse of the Potato

May 3, 2016

Before the rise of the modern world, why did some societies develop social and architectural complexity while others didn’t?

“The most advanced civilizations all tended to cultivate grain crops, like wheat and barley and corn. Less advanced societies tended to rely on root crops like potatoes, taro and manioc.

It’s not that grains crops were much easier to grow than tubers, or that they provided more food, the economists say. Instead, the economists believe that grains crops transformed the politics of the societies that grew them, while tubers held them back.

Call it the curse of the potato.”

More:

“The sinister, secret history of a food that everybody loves,” Jeff Guo, Washington Post

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The First Painters Were Cave Women

October 19, 2013

The First Painters Were Cave Women

Penn State Professor Dean R. Snow has discovered strong evidence that most early cave painters were women. Dr. Snow measured hand stencils artists traced on painted walls at cave sites in France and Spain and concluded that three-quarters of these were made by women and not men, as had been previously assumed.

More:

“Were the First Artists Mostly Women?” Virginia Hughes, National Geographic News

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Easter Island Today

July 7, 2012

Easter Island Today

The moai of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) are large stone sculptures, heads and torsos carved of hardened volcanic ash. The average size of the stone figures is 13 feet tall and 14 tons, but some are even bigger, up to 72 feet tall, 150 tons. There are 887 moai on the island, 288 of them standing on their stone foundations at locations around Rapa Nui. They were carved and sited between 1250 and 1500 when there were no draft animals or wheels on the island. So how did they get to their locations? Some island residents say they walked, and some scholars think they’re right, in a way.

The statues didn’t walk themselves, say archeologists Terry Hunt, Carl Lipo, and Sergio Rapu; they were “walked” by teams of men using ropes to move them in a rocking motion, moving them to locations up to 11 miles from the stone quarry.

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Shocking New Discovery of Oldest Cave Art

May 14, 2012

Shocking New discovery of Oldest Cave Art

Scientists have determined that a big block of rock in southern France is engraved with the earliest example of prehistoric wall art. Research indicates that the limestone carving is 37,000 years old and shows what Early Aurignacian human artists were thinking about.

The carvings are of prehistoric lady bits. This is important for art historians and huge news for standup comic/archeologists.

More:

“Engravings of Female Genitalia May Be World’s Oldest Cave Art,” Michael Balter, ScienceNOW

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Snacks of Ancient America

January 18, 2012

Snacks of Ancient America

People were eating popcorn in Peru thousands of years ago, say scientists. They did it without accompanying movies, cardboard tubs, microwave ovens, or even pottery. Corncobs, husks, stalks and tassels from 6,700 to 3,000 years ago were found at mound sites on Peru’s northern coast. Read about it in an upcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Mona Lisa Found?

June 15, 2011

Mona Lisa Found?

Investigators excavating the site of Sant’Orsola convent in Florence have found a skeleton. They believe it might be that of Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, subject of the most famous portrait in the world, DaVinci’s Mona Lisa.

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Anthropologists in Afghanistan

April 11, 2010

Anthropologists in Afghanistan

The U.S. Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS) program surfaced on Bob Edwards’ radio program this weekend. The HTS sends anthropologists to Afghanistan in order to minimize cultural misunderstandings between the U.S. military and Afghanis. Three social scientists have died in the effort.

While it sounds noble and straightforward, the program is controversial within academia for ethical reasons, and questions have been raised concerning the capabilities of the HTS leadership. 

The Marines also utilize HTS scientists, and there is a film about the program.  Vanessa M. Gezari  reported on the Human Terrain System last summer (more here).

 

Image by Mike Licht.

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

The Mystery of Easter Island

November 16, 2009

The Mystery of Easter Island

Everybody knows that the inhabitants of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) dissappeared. Where did they go? Disneyworld? Abducted by space aliens? Did the inhabitants de-forest their island and starve themselves out? Maybe after they made those big stone heads (moai) they got creeped out by them and just split.

Or maybe it was the rats. Could rats have eaten the island’s palm trees and starved out the population? Terry L. Hunt proposed this, and German ecologists Andreas Mieth and Hans-Rudolf Bork think this was a contributing factor, along with the “slash-and-burn” agriculture practiced on Rapa Nui, which is too small for this type of practice to be sustainable. Or maybe the effort of constructing the huge stone shrines destroyed the Island’s resources.

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The Mummy’s Curse

January 29, 2009

The Mummy's Curse

Brandeis University is closing the Rose Art Museum and selling off 6,000 works of art. The University of Pennsylvania would never do anything so crass. Penn is keeping the valuable antiquities in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (founded: 1887) and “deaccessioning” the staff.

Museum brochure.

Online petition.

Chilaquiles

December 9, 2008

Chilaquiles

Correspondent Mickey Weems, PhD is currently improving his Spanish and Zapotec, conducting anthropological and foodways fieldwork, and supplementing his adjunct faculty wages by working at a Chipotle Mexican Grill in Columbus, Ohio. He is also cooking up a tasty Spanglish writing style:

One domingo a couple of semanas passadas, Ashley and Papi Tigre made chilaquile, a dish made with corn chips cooked in salsa and served with huevos, pollo, sour cream and guacamole. The chilaquile was caliente but too good to pass up. I now understand the purpose of sour cream, arroz, and guac in the scheme of Mexican cuisine: they calm the fuego.

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