May 7, 2011

ArchaeoNews May 7

Yesterday the latest ArchaeoNews bulletin (from Stone Pages) arrived to my mailbox. Here there are some of the news items that I found more interesting:


Cave bear remains argued to be clue to Grotte Chauvet paintings' age

Radiocarbon dating demonstrates quite convincingly that the famous Paleolithic artwork, starring in the latest Herzog's film, is from some 30-32,000 years BP, what would be well in the Aurignacian period but some archaeologists from California had trouble accepting such old dates.

To further confirm the date of the Chauvet rock art, another archaeologist, J.M. Elalouf used as reference the remains of cave bears found in the site, which have been dated with C14 to 37,000 to 29,000 years BP, roughly coincident with the previous data. 

There is little doubt that the bears painted in Chauvet are the extinct cave bear species and not the surviving brown bear because their skulls are quite different. 

Additionally Elalouf analyzed the mitochondrial DNA of the cave bears, concluding that they were all closely related and hence were probably already endangered before they final extinction. 

Full story at New Scientist

See also in this blog: Paleolithic rock art found in Mañaria (Biscay), which may be not that old but still old enough to support obliquely the Chauvet datings. 


Parts of lion-man sculpture found

In another case of very old artwork, as the age of the lion-man of Stadel, estimated to be c. 32,000 years old, also from the Aurigñacian period, has seen missing parts found in new digs at this Bavarian cave. 

The lack of context of this finding has suggested some that it was some sort of votive offering at an otherwise unused, taboo, cave.

It is hoped that the ancient sculpture will be complete in few years, as the dig is finished.

Full story at M&C.

Neolithic to Gupta era remains found in Uttar Pradesh 

Not much info is provided but at DNA anyhow. 


Bronze Age findings in North China may be from Xizhou dynasty

Again not much info provided but at The Hindu



Does Hoffecker attempt to rescue 'modern behavior' theories from the junk yard?

John Hoffecker working at Kostenki
I hope not because I do respect this archaeologist for what I have read of his work but that is what I gather from this press release at Eureka Alert.

The use of terms like collective mind may suggest otherwise but it seems to me a new attempt to justify the biological intellectual superiority of H. sapiens on slippery grounds.

However one may need to read his book Landscape of the Mind: Human Evolution and the Archaeology of Thought, which is what all this noise seems to be about.

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