August 19, 2011

More diverse news

Victor Grauer's research on the Prehistory of Music, Sounding the Depths, is printed and available for those interested ··> Music 000001.


All the rest is archaeology, from Middle Paleolithic to Iron Age:

Another Heidelbergensis bone in Atapuerca ··> video at Pileta de Prehistoria[es].

A 170,000 years old forehead (left) found in Occitania (Lazaret cave) ··> Pileta de Prehistoria[es/fr].

Another Denisovan bone ··> New Scientist.

10,000 years old village unearthed in British Columbia, Canada ··>  The Vancouver Sun, The Globe and Mail.

8000 years old canoe, oldest preserved in Africa, to be displayed at museum in Maiduguri (Nigeria) ··> All Africa.

6000 year old cemetery in California in danger ··> TN.
Sunflower domesticated in USA, not Mexico ··> SD.

Bronze Age cist found in Scotland ··> Scotsman, ITV.

Planned Iron Age town found near Reading, England ··> The Heritage Journal.

Iron Age enclosures found in Devon, England ··> BBC, This is Exeter.

Iron Age wooden road found in England ··> BBC.

23 comments:

  1. 1) "Another Denisovan bone"

    Interesting.

    "There are tantalising hints that the find strengthens the case for a third major group of hominins circulating in Eurasia at the same time as early humans and the Neanderthals. It might possibly even prove all three groups were interbreeding"

    And:

    "the toe bone is stocky and its shape is somewhere between that of a modern human and a typical Neanderthal".

    Hmmm. Of course some disagree, but that's only to be expected.

    2) "8000 years old canoe, oldest preserved in Africa, to be displayed at museum in Maiduguri (Nigeria)"

    Again, interesting.

    "At last the 8000 year old Dufuna Canoe which is the oldest in Africa and the third oldest in the world"

    Strange. Presumably a dugout canoe, but if such canoes were so ancient as you believe so few have survived. Admittedly wood does decay but wooden spears have survived from much more ancient times than just 8000 years.

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  2. (1) I did/do not want to say more because we'll see when and if the genetic data comes out. If it's truly "Denisovan", it should be like the other bones genetically.

    (2) Wood does decay. Pre-Holocene (non-bone) organic remains are almost nil (a spear point from Croatia, I can't remember a single other instance). Holocene remains are also quite rare, specially as you push back in time.

    But maybe even more important canoes typically will decay in water. In some cases this may be their salvation (because of lack of oxygen in some zones) but underwater archaeology must happen in any case, and this one has many natural constrictions and is very underdeveloped (plus divers seldom go to low oxygen areas where there are no fish).

    If I remember correctly the other two such canoes are European: at least one is from Denmark (Epipaleolithic, Maglemöse culture, preserved in a bog pit) and the other one may be from the Black Sea (preserved in low oxygen sea water characteristic from this enclosed sea). It is interesting that, in spite of the extremely old age of known navigation in Australasia, no such canoe or otherwise raft or boat has been found ever: it supports the idea that such findings are extremely hard to come through.

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  3. "Pre-Holocene (non-bone) organic remains are almost nil (a spear point from Croatia, I can't remember a single other instance"

    There were some from Germany as well:

    http://humanorigins.si.edu/evidence/behavior/oldest-wooden-spear

    And Britain:

    http://www.swanscombeheritagepark.co.uk/paleo.htm

    But a spear point is much smaller than a canoe and so much less likely to survive.

    "But maybe even more important canoes typically will decay in water. In some cases this may be their salvation (because of lack of oxygen in some zones) but underwater archaeology must happen in any case"

    Not so. Draining of swamps has revealed several wooden canoes in NZ. And several companies make a living from marketing 'swamp kauri', timber that has been buried in swamps for as much a 45,000 years.

    http://www.ancientkauri.co.nz/index.php/extract_raw_logs

    So canoes would be much more likely to survive than would any other wooden object.

    "in spite of the extremely old age of known navigation in Australasia, no such canoe or otherwise raft or boat has been found ever: it supports the idea that such findings are extremely hard to come through".

    Not so. it is extremely unlikely that the first Australians arrived in dugout canoes. And, as I said, pre-European canoes have been found in New Zealand swamps.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10617014

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  4. Let's assume you are right. Why then haven't archaeologists yet found the necessary canoes, boats or rafts that the ancestors of the Australian Aborigines and the Melanesians used to cross into Australasia?

    Maybe they are not so easy to find, or be preserved, specially in tropical areas.

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  5. "Why then haven't archaeologists yet found the necessary canoes, boats or rafts that the ancestors of the Australian Aborigines and the Melanesians used to cross into Australasia?"

    You've actually got two questions there.

    1) Australian Aborigines: Basically they used bark or reed canoes and so it's quite likely that is what they used when they first arrived in Australia. Remains very unlikely to be found. Dugouts were confined to the north and were presumably associated with the expansion of dugout-using people in that region, and examples do survive. The same is probably true for wooden rafts.

    http://museumex.org/oai/mv/2787

    Quotes:

    "In Western Australia, balsa wood rafts are used to reach outlying islands and reefs, while wooden rafts are used in the Gulf of Carpentaria and in north eastern Arnhem Land".

    "In northern Australia, dug-out canoes are used to travel across open water. Carved from a single log, they are propelled by a square, pandanus sail. In northern Queensland, outriggers are attached to canoes to improve stability".

    "Bark canoes are used in both the north and south of Australia. They are constructed from either one or multiple pieces of bark. River red gum is used in the south and stringy bark is preferred in northern Australia. Bark canoes are sewn together with rope, caulked and the interiors are reinforced by rods of wood. In some instances, wooden pegs are used to maintain the structure. Primarily, they are used for river travel or for reaching nearby islands".



    2) Melanesia and Polynesia:
    Definite use of dugouts, but probably not before about 10,000 years ago, although perhasp as early as 30,000. The Austronesian expansion into the Pacific is no older than about 7000 years. You may find this interesting although it deals mainly with modern reconstructions:

    http://www.lapita-voyage.org/en/files/ThePacificMigrations.pdf

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  6. It cannot be balsa because balsa is a tree from Tropical America ('balsa' also means 'raft' in Spanish but that's another language and concept).

    Anyhow, why do we have sticks (alleged spears) from the Neanderthal era and not a single raft fragment from the crossing to Sahul era? Probably there are several reasons such as the absence of peat bogs in most places outside Northern Europe.

    My point is anyhow that, if we do not have rafts or boats from the crossing into Sahul, it makes sense that we do not have either boats or rafts from coastal dwellings or water-body crossings elsewhere, like the Red Sea, Makran or the Ganges Delta. All those places had lower seasides back then and it'd be like the proverbial needle in the haystack to find anything under the water and the mud today, even if underwater archaeology would be easier.

    The only chance would be to find something like that in the Sahara, preserved by the dryness of the sands from a wetter period, but again... needle in the haystack.

    What is clear is that, if people could cross to Crete c. 190-130 Ka ago, then they could cross other water bodies. Same for Sai, same for exploiting the seashores, etc.

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  7. The California cemetery is notable. Obviously, there was a Native American population in California 6,000 years ago, but I wasn't aware of organized cemeteries in the New World until the New World Neolithic, at least in that part of the U.S.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "It cannot be balsa because balsa is a tree from Tropical America"

    True. The author may have have made from balsa-like wood.

    "Probably there are several reasons such as the absence of peat bogs in most places outside Northern Europe".

    Plenty of peat bogs in New Zealand, and I presume likewise in parts of Australia.

    "Anyhow, why do we have sticks (alleged spears) from the Neanderthal era and not a single raft fragment from the crossing to Sahul era?"

    I see no problem at all. Reeds and bark are a lot more biodegradable that is solid wood. So the reason why we don't find 'a single raft fragment from the crossing to Sahul era' is that they've all decayed.

    "All those places had lower seasides back then and it'd be like the proverbial needle in the haystack to find anything under the water and the mud today, even if underwater archaeology would be easier"

    Anyone with any sort of boat capable of crossing such waterways would have had no trouble using it in any river or lake, so the argument of absence through raised sea level simply does not hold water, to use an appropriate phrase.

    "My point is anyhow that, if we do not have rafts or boats from the crossing into Sahul, it makes sense that we do not have either boats or rafts from coastal dwellings or water-body crossings elsewhere, like the Red Sea, Makran or the Ganges Delta".

    There is a very simple explanation for their absence. It is quite possible that humans did not cross most of those bodies of water until after they had developed the reed of bark rafts necessary to reach the islands between SE Asia and Australia.

    "What is clear is that, if people could cross to Crete c. 190-130 Ka ago, then they could cross other water bodies".

    We don't know how they reached Crete. If 'they could cross other water bodies' at that time it is extremely strange that they don't seem to have done so. Other mediterranean islands are much closer to the mainland than is Crete yet they remained uninhabited until around 10,000 years ago.

    "Same for Sai, same for exploiting the seashores, etc."

    Humans are quite capable of exploiting the seashore without using boats of any kind. And I remind you that there is no evidence that humans needed boats to reach Sai.

    ReplyDelete
  9. So easy to check Wikpedia before writing (ahem):

    "Bogs are widely distributed in cold, temperate climes, mostly in the northern hemisphere (boreal)".

    ...

    "So the reason why we don't find 'a single raft fragment from the crossing to Sahul era' is that they've all decayed".

    Now, please copy this sentence in a post-it and stick it to your computer in a visible space, so you remember your own words.

    I repeat anyhow because you seem to forget this simple fact even just a line under:

    "My point is anyhow that, if we do not have rafts or boats from the crossing into Sahul, it makes sense that we do not have either boats or rafts from coastal dwellings or water-body crossings elsewhere, like the Red Sea, Makran or the Ganges Delta".

    While you can twist this generalized absence in any way you desire, your wishful-thinking explanation is just a possibility among many and, with quite clear archaeological data, in South Arabia (Armitage) and South Asia, directly related to African MSA (Petraglia), there is at least a principle of evidence in favor of a rapid coastal migration also from the archaeological viewpoint.

    In addition we have many African early sites in coastal conditions, with clear evidence of coastal or riverine foraging (Sai, Jebel Irhoud, Aterian, Eritrea, South Africa...)

    So we have both Archaeology and Genetics conspiring in favor of something at least way too similar to the rapid coastal migration model.

    As I have argued often, genetics do not support a long wait in Sundaland peninsula before crossing to Sahul but rather the opposite: people MUST have arrived to Sundaland with at least some decent knowledge of coastal boating, which they probably improved as they moved into Wallacea and Philippines, I presume. But the case is that they moved quite fast through Wallacea, not that they stood for maybe 50 Ka in Sundaland watching the Sea until they got an eureka moment and invented the first boat ever.

    Nope.

    They knew of boats/rafts long before that.

    "We don't know how they reached Crete".

    We know it could only be with some kind of boat/raft.

    "If 'they could cross other water bodies' at that time it is extremely strange that they don't seem to have done so".

    Different people doing different things... the concept of the steam engine was known since antiquity, yet it was not used for anything but show until the 18th century. Knowledge is also lost sometimes: Minoan Cretans knew of plumbing (with lead, not just mortar and stone), yet it had to be reinvented in the Modern Age because its knowledge was forgotten.

    Even in stone tech, we see that the commonality of the use of some techs like blades only gradually became mainstream. We know of blades since c. 105 Ka ago (in South Asia, mind you) but they only became mainstream many thousand years later, just before the West Eurasian Upper Paleolithic.

    Even the carefully stored knowledge of the Library of Alexandria was destroyed. Just because some people at some time knew something doesn't mean that automatically becomes universal knowledge. It can take long before it does and it can even be completely forgotten before it is revived, maybe, and impels a new technological revolution of some sort.

    "Humans are quite capable of exploiting the seashore without using boats of any kind. And I remind you that there is no evidence that humans needed boats to reach Sai".

    You are in denial. No evidence can persuade you because you have FAITH in an idea - i.e. you are stubbornly fixated in it.

    Go debate with a priest. Leave me alone until you open your mind.

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  10. "So easy to check Wikpedia before writing (ahem)"

    So why didn't you actually check then:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peat

    Quote:

    "The amount of peat is smaller in the southern hemisphere, partly because there is less land, but peat can be found in New Zealand, Kerguelen, Southern Patagonia/Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands, Indonesia (Kalimantan (Sungai Putri, Danau Siawan, Sungai Tolak, Rasau Jaya (West Kalimantan), and Sumatra). Indonesia has more tropical peat land and mangrove forests than any other nation on earth, but Indonesia is losing wetlands by 100,000 hectares per year".

    And for New Zealand:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hauraki_Plains

    http://www.thewoodturnersstudio.co.nz/pages/AncientKauri.htm

    And you could have widened your search:

    http://www.fauna-flora.org/paddling-through-borneo%E2%80%99s-peat-swamp-forest/

    http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/publications/temperate-highland-peat-swamps.html

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/thetannykid/3155175929/

    http://www.threatenedspecies.environment.nsw.gov.au/tsprofile/profile.aspx?id=10936

    ReplyDelete
  11. "Go debate with a priest".

    I thought you were a priest. You certainly come across like one.

    "Leave me alone until you open your mind".

    Who has the closed mind? I Quote:

    "in South Arabia (Armitage) and South Asia, directly related to African MSA (Petraglia), there is at least a principle of evidence in favor of a rapid coastal migration also from the archaeological viewpoint".

    And that archeological connection is disputed but, because your mind is absolutely closed you dismiss that contrary view. And:

    "clear evidence of coastal or riverine foraging (Sai, Jebel Irhoud, Aterian, Eritrea, South Africa...)"

    Again we have evidence of your closed mind, and evidence that you are by no means an outdoor type of person. Coastal and riverine foraging in no way necessitates boats.


    "Now, please copy this sentence in a post-it and stick it to your computer in a visible space, so you remember your own words".

    The reason they decayed was because they were not using dugout canoes. Surely that is simple to understand.

    "We know it could only be with some kind of boat/raft".

    So why were they apparently unable to reach other nearby islands? Just saying they 'they didn't want to' is hardly an adequate explanation. It has always been a huge advantage to be the first into any previously uninhabited region.

    "We know of blades since c. 105 Ka ago (in South Asia, mind you) but they only became mainstream many thousand years later, just before the West Eurasian Upper Paleolithic".

    And they were certainly not used by the first people to reach Australia. Now, if they had come via South Asia wouldn't they ... No. I'm wasting my time.

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  12. "So why didn't you actually check then"...

    I did but it was quite irrelevant for our discussion. No idea why you mention that at all.

    "And that archeological connection is disputed"...

    Really? Can you provide a link of support?

    Whatever the case I said "principle of evidence" (probably not the best English translation, maybe "indication"?), not unquestionable evidence.

    Though IMO the Jurreru valley MSA is hard to question.

    "Coastal and riverine foraging in no way necessitates boats".

    "Necessity" is not the word, "convenience" is.

    "The reason they decayed was because they were not using dugout canoes. Surely that is simple to understand".

    What about the Neanderthal spears? Why did they survive?

    It's not that simple to understand to me: if a spear stick can survive why not a raft stick, probably thicker?

    And I think it has to do with the absence of peat bogs in the Tropics.

    "So why were they apparently unable to reach other nearby islands?"

    "Apparently" maybe the key word. Archaeological findings are informative but not exhaustive: they can tell us: "this did happen", but can't deny: "this did not happen". Also your concept of "nearby" is quite loose, because I'm sure that you are thinking in Sardinia, two or more societies further West.

    Peoples are not homogeneous.

    Also initial long distance travels were usually exceptional. Hanno's journey was not followed but many thousand years later. We know of no reason why the Cretan colonists could not have belonged to a particular population that, like Australians (or Andamanese?, or Guanches, I understand), "forgot" how to navigate after they got settled.

    I am under the impression that boats and navigation were invented and abandoned many times. Bali people do not fish for example, they fear the Sea and leave that job for Lombok's Muslims. And they live in an island...

    "And they were certainly not used by the first people to reach Australia. Now, if they had come via South Asia wouldn't they" ...

    Precisely. That's my point: you can have blades in one or few sites, as minority skill, and yet most people were doing without them (in India and elsewhere). Just like you could have a steam engine and use it only for show in classical antiquity, unable to grasp its potential or whatever...

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  13. "Just like you could have a steam engine and use it only for show in classical antiquity, unable to grasp its potential or whatever..."

    Spoken like a true defender of the faith. I'm surprised you don't realise that once people had grasped the potential of a steam engine it is carried around the world. The same would be true of blades. The Australians didn't have blades so presumably the region they came from didn't have them either.

    "We know of no reason why the Cretan colonists could not have belonged to a particular population that, like Australians (or Andamanese?, or Guanches, I understand), 'forgot' how to navigate after they got settled".

    The people who origianlly made it to Crete are unlikely to have 'forgotten' before they could also reach islands neighbouring Crete. And the Australians did not forget. They used boats on rivers and lakes in Australia. As did the Andamanese. I don't know about the Guanches.

    "Really? Can you provide a link of support?"

    I did. Some time ago. The suggestion was that the South Arabian Peninsula technology was similar to the East African one only in the sense that they were both ancient. The comparison to the Middle East technology was irelevant because it was more recent. You dismissed the claim then and I'm sure you will now so it's pointless for me to find it again.

    "'necessity' is not the word, 'convenience' is".

    Convenience in no way proves existence.

    "What about the Neanderthal spears? Why did they survive?"

    Maju, you're getting ridiculous. The reason the spears survived is obvious. They were made of wood. That is also why dugout canoes survive. They are made of wood. And that is why the watercaraft that originally carried people to Australia didn't survive. They were flimsy and not made of wood, but bark of reeds. Understand? I would have though it was obvious.

    "It's not that simple to understand to me: if a spear stick can survive why not a raft stick, probably thicker?"

    Probabaly not thicker, you mean.

    "And I think it has to do with the absence of peat bogs in the Tropics".

    Why did you not bother to look at the links? No shortage of bogs, swamps call them what you like, in much of tropical SE Asia.

    "I did but it was quite irrelevant for our discussion. No idea why you mention that at all".

    What? But I forgot. You're a defender of the faith so cannot be swayed by evidence.

    ReplyDelete
  14. "The Australians didn't have blades so presumably the region they came from didn't have them either".

    The region as in all the South Asian subcontinent? Nah. The particular population(s) which led to the Australian colonization did not make them or lost the knowledge somehow (maybe for lack of quality rocks in East Asia? This has been argued in some cases).

    Anyhow, my whole point is that while SOME blades are known as early as c. 105 Ka BP, the really common use only began much later since c. 45 Ka (??? India is not too well dated, probably earlier in fact).

    So most people were not yet using blades between 105 and 60?, 50? Ka, even if the knowledge existed already.

    You assume that blades are huge technological advances that cannot be eluded but probably they were only somewhat important and exchangeable with other techniques. Only gradually, maybe as what could be made based on blades became more efficient, the technique caught up.

    It is unclear to me when and where blades existed in South Asia. It seems that the NW parts of the subcontinent, from Balochistan to Goa were privy of the tech c. 45 Ka ago but they have also been reported in large numbers in Jurreru Valley, Andrah Pradesh, since as early as 74 Ka ago, right above the Toba ash.

    It's possible that they were not used towards Bengal, from where the colonization of East Eurasia surely proceeded in any case but the proper consideration of this matter beats my knowledge and probably all archaeological knowledge so far.

    "The suggestion was that the South Arabian Peninsula technology was similar to the East African one only in the sense that they were both ancient".

    But I was (also) mentioning the South Asian MSA, which is nearly identical to Southern African MSA. Petraglia 2007. This is not disputed in any way.

    "Convenience in no way proves existence".

    I do not pretend to "prove" but you deny even the possibility altogether. With no proof whatsoever.

    I just think that it's so plausible and useful that it's highly likely and that denying it is insulting for the intellectual and creative abilities of our ancestors. Don't you think that some Middle Paleolithic Archimedes or Hanno would have naturally built not just a rudimentary raft but a quite stylish and functional one in fact? I do: I am sure that there were Archimedes, Hannos, Einsteins and Leonardos in the Middle Paleolithic, just that nobody wrote about them.

    "The reason the spears survived is obvious. They were made of wood".

    Rafts can also be made of wood, and they have not survived (or we have not found them).

    "They were flimsy and not made of wood, but bark of reeds. Understand?"

    Reeds is a possibility indeed but rafts can also be made of wood and you have mentioned yourself balsa wood and an Australian equivalent in fact. A canoe made of hides also needs a structure made of wood and this woods is not thinner than that of a spear. Why haven't we found them? Why only Neanderthal wooden items show up?

    "No shortage of bogs, swamps call them what you like, in much of tropical SE Asia".

    A swamp is not a bog. Both are wetlands but their ability to preserve organic materials seems to be almost the opposite of each other. Otherwise we'd be literally swimming in wooden evidence from the Tropics (and we are not, not at all).

    ReplyDelete
  15. You're manipulating the data to fit your faith:

    "A swamp is not a bog".

    http://www.epa.gov/bioiweb1/aquatic/types.html

    Quote:

    "Most of the soil in a wetlands environment is saturated with water long enough during a growing season that it no longer contains enough oxygen for most land-based plants to grow".

    Or for wood to decay. And that includes tropical wetlands. The terms 'marsh', 'bog' and 'swamp' are used inconsistently anyway.

    "Otherwise we'd be literally swimming in wooden evidence from the Tropics (and we are not, not at all)".

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freshwater_swamp_forest

    Quote:

    "Peat swamp forests are swamp forests where waterlogged soils prevent woody debris from fully decomposing, which over time creates a thick layer of acidic peat".

    The link lists many tropical regions where such swamps exist. Note the huge number in Indomalaya. Aren't you simply selectively denying the data that contradicts your faith?

    "Rafts can also be made of wood, and they have not survived (or we have not found them)".

    And possibly not made until relatively recently. After all it is necessary to cut down trees in order to make them. Have you ever tried to cut down even a small tree with a stone axe? It is really only possible with a hafted axe anyway. Besides which the binding used to make any raft is unlikely to survive anywhere near as long as the wood, so would be difficult to identify as being part of any raft.

    "A canoe made of hides also needs a structure made of wood"

    The Aborigines did not use hide canoes, so again they are probably a post-Australian invention. The following link has a photogragraph of a bark canoe used in Victoria about 1855. You'll see that it is very flimsy:

    http://recollections.nma.gov.au/issues/vol_4_no_2/exhibition_reviews/the_melbourne_story/

    And you'll see many examples here:

    http://www.google.co.nz/search?hl=en&q=bark+canoe+aboriginal&gs_sm=c&gs_upl=4707l8733l0l12248l11l9l0l0l0l0l621l3976l3-4.1.4l9l0&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.&biw=792&bih=386&wrapid=tlif131443299895010&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi

    It was almost certainly in such craft that the Aborigines first arrived in Australia. Turning to blades:

    "they have also been reported in large numbers in Jurreru Valley, Andrah Pradesh, since as early as 74 Ka ago, right above the Toba ash".

    http://archaeology.about.com/od/jterms/qt/jwalapuram.htm

    "So most people were not yet using blades between 105 and 60?, 50? Ka, even if the knowledge existed already".

    But they were in use along any reasonably hypothesised southern route to Australia. And they were certainly used by the people who moved from South Asia to Europe. That fact is misleading you immensely. And then you write:

    "I just think that it's so plausible and useful that it's highly likely and that denying it is insulting for the intellectual and creative abilities of our ancestors. Don't you think that some Middle Paleolithic Archimedes or Hanno would have naturally built not just a rudimentary raft but a quite stylish and functional one in fact? I do: I am sure that there were Archimedes, Hannos, Einsteins and Leonardos in the Middle Paleolithic, just that nobody wrote about them".

    You're letting your imagination run away with you. So the invention of a raft would have been plausible and useful and carried widely, yet the invention of a blade would not have been? You're altering your argument to fit your faith.

    "It's possible that they were not used towards Bengal"

    You're making things up now simply to fit your faith.

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  16. The kind of wetland I'm most used to is the estuarine marsh, which is a seatide defined wetland: water circulates all the time: it's not stagnant, just overwhelming... but it's not yet the ocean, nor a river. And, as water circulates, there is oxygen.

    Probably only freshwater wetlands can fulfill that notion of lack of oxygen.

    Whatever the case, neither I nor you know of any wooden object preserved in tropical wetlands, so your digression is wrong. Only peat bogs seem to fulfill the requirements for exceptional preservation of organic materials like wood and even bodies.

    "The following link has a photogragraph of a bark canoe used in Victoria about 1855. You'll see that it is very flimsy"...

    Fair enough. They do not look as made to last for too long.

    That is interesting because if aborigines used that and other peoples used leather canoes and reef-bundle boats, those are probably the kind of ships that people in Africa were using before the OoA, right?

    I normally think of a raft as made of long wood pieces, a branches' raft but that maybe a misconception and anyhow those branches, even if preserved would be of no significance to us because without the ropes they lose all organization and conceptual meaning.

    "But they were in use along any reasonably hypothesised southern route to Australia".

    But probably not the true route. However it's also possible that Australians lost the knowledge of this technique as they needed to adapt to local stone in SE Asia and such, which may have been not good enough for anything but flaking in most cases.

    The axe I mentioned some months ago in Papua, dated to 49 Ka ago, was not a blade but retained the concept even if it was made with poor-quality rock (my impression at least).

    I don't think we can discern why Eastern Eurasians lost the ability to use blades (if they lost at all) but the possibility that the normally available stone was not that good and that there was an alternative with bamboo for spear points and some other usages, may be a reason.

    After all people do things because they are convenient, first of all, not just because they were taught that way.

    "And they were certainly used by the people who moved from South Asia to Europe".

    But that happened many thousand years after the colonization of Sahul and East Asia, at least that's what I conclude from mtDNA.

    ...

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  17. ...

    "So the invention of a raft would have been plausible and useful and carried widely, yet the invention of a blade would not have been?"

    I do not think a stone blade is a technological concept as interesting as a boat. You can do all or most things without a blade, which is just a perfecting technique. It'd be like pretending that cars are almost useless without electronic devices... It's just the icing on the cake. The cake is the car.

    Or in the distant past, it was the boat. The concept of a boat and not this or that specific technique to make a boat, which may have changed according to circumstances, convenience and best guess of the creators.

    "You're making things up"...

    NO! I have zero recollection of use of blades before 40 Ka. in Bengal, Bihar... So it is possible.

    In fact it's very possible that the concept of blade was uncommon or nonexistent in much of South Asia, including much of the NW, until c. 45 Ka., when the data becomes solidly in favor of blades.

    But the data is incomplete, so there's a bit of a risk. We probably need to wait another decade or two until the Paleolithic landscape of South Asia is well enough known to affirm or deny certain things.

    I am the one saying this I know, this I do not know... I'm not building castles on the air and I can wait until the full data comes. I'm not anxious about proving this or that,

    ... though I am quite persuaded that you are radically wrong in critical aspects for which you have zero evidence (actually hostile evidence, counter-evidence) and yet you insist on them once and again like a preacher.

    So quit trying to stick on me your religious attitude towards the Paleolithic: I look and wait but I also know people well enough to know what to expect from them in Paleolithic conditions, when creativity and innovation were crucial for survival. if there was a water body, and there was, a boat or raft was created for it sooner than later. Can you even conceive a normal group of people at the banks of, say, Lake Chad, generation after generation, and not conceiving and building some kind of water transport? I find it simply impossible.

    Maybe there was one such a strange phobic group but there were many many groups in many places with water... it's simply impossible that boats were not conceived and built once and again. We are humans: we make things.

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  18. "Can you even conceive a normal group of people at the banks of, say, Lake Chad, generation after generation, and not conceiving and building some kind of water transport?"

    Yes.

    "Maybe there was one such a strange phobic group but there were many many groups in many places with water..."

    I believe it's reasonable to suppose that agriculture developed in regions that had been ideal human habitat for a very long time. Check out where such regions occur. River valleys were not the region of development. The 'Fertile Crescent' is not in the Tigris/Euphrates valley but in the headwaters. The Chinese Neolithic did not develop in the river valleys, but again in the headwaters. If boats had been so prevalent surely the river valleys themselves would have been where agriculture developed.

    "So quit trying to stick on me your religious attitude towards the Paleolithic"

    It is you who has the 'religious attitude'. You have formed a belief and interpret everything within the terms of that belief.

    "I'm not building castles on the air"

    Yes you are. You're convinced that humans have always had canoes, and dugout ones at that, without any evidence whatsoever.

    "I do not think a stone blade is a technological concept as interesting as a boat. You can do all or most things without a blade, which is just a perfecting technique"

    But many of them are so much easier with a blade. Skinning animals for one thing. You can use you first finger to give the blade more purchase. It is probably also easier to shave wooden spear tips. A blade once used would have been carried on. On the other hand it is very easy to survive quite efficiently anywhere without a boat.

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  19. Sorry. I missed your other comment.

    "Whatever the case, neither I nor you know of any wooden object preserved in tropical wetlands, so your digression is wrong".

    Not many tropical wetlands have been drained yet, as far as I know. When they are I'm sure we will find many wooden objects in them.

    "That is interesting because if aborigines used that and other peoples used leather canoes and reef-bundle boats, those are probably the kind of ships that people in Africa were using before the OoA, right?"

    Do you mean 'bark canoes'? Possibly. But it's quite possible they did not use even bark canoes. I'm sure leather boats are a more recent development than bark canoes although I'm not so sure concerning reed canoes.

    "The axe I mentioned some months ago in Papua, dated to 49 Ka ago, was not a blade but retained the concept even if it was made with poor-quality rock (my impression at least)".

    Axes are reasonably old in New Guinea, and may even have been invented there. They made it to Australia more recently than 49kya though.

    "I don't think we can discern why Eastern Eurasians lost the ability to use blades (if they lost at all) but the possibility that the normally available stone was not that good and that there was an alternative with bamboo for spear points and some other usages, may be a reason".

    I'm sure there was plenty of suitable stone available, although perhaps inferior. And bamboo is of no use for many of the purposes for which stone is used. How would you cut down the bamboo in the first place for example?

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110408101749.htm

    A couple of quotes:

    "While the knives easily cut meat, they weren't effective at cutting animal hides, however, possibly discouraging their use during the Stone Age, say the authors. Some knives made from a softer bamboo species entirely failed to produce and hold a sharp edge"

    "Others have suggested a lack of appropriate stone raw materials in East and Southeast Asia. In the new study, however, Bar-Yosef, Eren and colleagues showed otherwise by demonstrating that more complex stone tools could be manufactured on stone perceived to be 'poor' in quality".

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  20. "The Chinese Neolithic did not develop in the river valleys"...

    It did indeed.

    Whatever the case all this ranting about river valleys is just a rant and nothing else. Where there is water there is life, and where there is life there is people hunting and gathering it for their own purposes.

    We do not know much of the archaeology of major river flood areas often because the sedimentation and agricultural use make it difficult for archaeologists to work, except in specific well known locations like tells and such which are too recent for our purposes.

    But the Chinese Neolithic has since the beginning a strong association with the rivers: the Yangtze first of all, the Yellow River then and the Pear River as well.

    "But many of them are so much easier with a blade. Skinning animals for one thing".

    You can perfectly use flakes and people had been using them for millennia. You want a sharp edge rather than a perfect shape for that. Blades are nice but a bit hyped.

    "You're convinced that humans have always had canoes"...

    Almost always, yes. Canoes or rafts wherever there was bodies of water that would be best exploited using them (lakes, wetlands, major rivers or the sea).

    I have no evidence against it, I know that we people are true geniuses of the animal kingdom and are always inventing stuff, not just repeating what we learned, and I see a lot of indirect evidence like coastal dwelling and exploitation, coastal migrations, rivers like the Nile or the Zambezi not being any barrier at all... that make me think that people almost "always" had boats. Probably before H. sapiens, the basics were surely mastered by some H. ergaster or erectus first of all.

    You have provided zero evidence against all this, just stubbornness.

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  21. "I'm sure leather boats are a more recent development than bark canoes although I'm not so sure concerning reed canoes".

    These technical issues I am open to but we have no evidence whatsoever either, so it's all speculation.

    "How would you cut down the bamboo in the first place for example?"

    With a mode 1 chopper, for example.

    I discussed the Bar Yosef experiment here but I found that bamboo would still have been great for points and darts (as well as baskets, etc.), while all the cutting jobs were easily done with flakes, so it makes sense that they could do well without blades for long. Also there are lots of hardwoods in that area they could have used as well (and then mode 1 choppers and mode 2-3 flakes - that's enough if you can use quality wood and bamboo).

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  22. "It did indeed".

    No it didn't:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Neolithic_cultures_of_China

    The earliest culture listed is the Zhongyuan and it is '3.North-central China (Middle Yellow River): Shanxi, Hebei, western part of Henan and eastern part of Shaanxi. This is called the North China Plain, until recently seen as where Chinese civilization originated from and spread out along the country'. It is by no means centred on the river valley itself. In fact most of the early farming cultures were centred around the hill country, specifically the loess:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loess_Plateau

    "The Loess Plateau was highly fertile and easy to farm in ancient times, which contributed to the development of early Chinese civilization around the Loess Plateau".

    The Longshan and the Yangshao are the only ones associated specifically with the river vally and regarding them:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yangshao_culture

    "The Yangshao culture (Chinese: 仰韶文化; pinyin: Yǎngsháo wénhuà) was a Neolithic culture that existed extensively along the central Yellow River in China. The Yangshao culture is dated from around 5000 BC to 3000 BC".

    And:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longshan_culture

    "The Longshan culture (simplified Chinese: 龙山文化; traditional Chinese: 龍山文化; pinyin: Lóngshān wénhuà; Wade–Giles: Lung-shan wen hua, meaning 'Dragon Hill') was a late Neolithic culture in China, centered on the central and lower Yellow River and dated from about 3000 BC to 2000 BC".

    This site has a great map of the physical geography which is interesting to compare with the map in the Wiki link, although many of the comments are rubbish:

    http://www.valdostamuseum.org/hamsmith/chinalake.html

    "Where there is water there is life, and where there is life there is people hunting and gathering it for their own purposes".

    Except for the Ebro.

    "You have provided zero evidence against all this, just stubbornness".

    And you have provided absolutely no evidence in favour, just stubbornness and a blind faith in inherent human genius.

    "These technical issues I am open to but we have no evidence whatsoever either, so it's all speculation".

    Leather boats require a strong supporting structure, unlike the Aborigines' bark canoes.

    "it makes sense that they could do well without blades for long".

    Perhaps. But it certainly doesn't make sense that they abandoned them once they'd learned to make and use them.

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  23. You mean Nanzhuangtou site, not Zhongyuan (which is the Chinese name of the Yellow River). This site is the oldest pottery site (not just in East Asia but Worldwide) but not a true Neolithic site because no domesticate other than the dog is known to have existed.

    Whatever the case, even Nanzhuangtou was at the Yellow River valley and not in the middle of Takla Makan (sorry but it's the only place I can imagine without any rivers).

    The Neolithic of Yellow River basin has Peligang, Dadiwan, etc... and then Yangshao culture for which I did find a map, which is of course centered on the Yellow River and major affluents Wei, Jin and Luo.

    You are in denial.

    Similarly in the South, where the Neolithic is at least 500 years older than in the North, Pengtoushan culture is centered around the Yangtze, while the Corded Ware complex is specifically centered around the Pearl River.

    "... a blind faith in inherent human genius".

    I don't have "blind faith" in the human genius because there will be in all ages people who drag innovators with fears, disbelief and disinterest. But eventually you just do it and they either kill you or they have to accept it.

    Also I think that today, excess faith on our technical capabilities is self-destructive. We were not dealing with atomic cores in the Paleolithic, nor were able to remove all the entrails of Earth until everything is upside down. Now we can and that is too big of a power and not even our genius can protect us from ourselves surely.

    I am pessimistic as of today: we are using powers we barely understand and control, which can and probably will destroy ourselves as species. But that's because we have researched and invented a lot in the past, because we are born for that - this we can't deny.

    However genius without wisdom...

    "Leather boats require a strong supporting structure, unlike the Aborigines' bark canoes".

    I still don't fathom the idea of a bark canoe... it's like a ship made of paper. I had never heard of it before and I can only imagine it needs certain specific kind of bark and also very specific kind of production method.

    But if think it's easier than a leather canoe... ok, I guess it may be for certain mental schemes which are not mine.

    "Perhaps. But it certainly doesn't make sense that they abandoned them once they'd learned to make and use them".

    You need quality stone to begin with, typically flint stone. With less good stones maybe you just could not do it and the knowledge was lost in few generations.

    Also, excepting Jurreru, I know of no single site where there was massive (and not just occasional) use of blades. NW South Asia becomes eventually a blade techno-hub c. 45 Ka ago (probably a bit earlier with revised dating methods), announcing West Eurasian Upper Paleolithic but earlier I have no data on blades in that area except for one Narmada river site.

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