September 24, 2011

Echoes from the past (Sep 24)

And all the rest of the cool stuff in short headlines:

Archaeology and hominin evolution:

Robust australopithecines were indeed relatives, shows CT scan ··> SD.

Neanderthals also exploited seafood resources, as early as H. sapiens ··> El Neandertal tonto ¡qué timo![es].

Looters and bureaucracy destroy a Solutrean site in Andalusia (Higueral-Guardia cave). Sadly enough, it was a lot easier for looters to access the unprotected cave illegally than for archaeologists to do so legally ··> Pileta de Prehistoria[es].

What more classical troglodyte imagery than skulls on sticks? Sadly archaeology had never produced such artifacts... until now: Epipaleolithic Swedes had them ··> Pileta de Prehistoria[en].

Fascinating 'Nazca lines' found in Arabia ··> Live Science.

More Neolithic remains from Yesilova (Izmir, Turkey) ··>  Daily News.

Remember the first pampooty shoe (or abarka) found in Areni 1 cave (Armenia)? It has now also produced a skirt ··>

Bronze Age's stone anchors from the Black Sea ··> Novinite.

Fscinating 3D reconstructions of Stonehenge, Woodhenge, etc. ··> The Heritage Journal.

Stanton Drew reconstruction

Cahokia Mounds researched in some depth finally ··>  BND.

Clay disks from Alaska ··> Art Daily.


A. thaliana
Bronze Age haploid DNA from North China yields no surprises (mtDNA: D4, D*, M7c, A4, F1b, G1a, M9a, M10 and M8z; Y-DNA: N1c and O3) ··> Dienekes.

First Aboriginal Australian genome sequenced ··> Dienekes.

Epigenetic evolution: Arabidopsis thaliana does it all the time, what about humans? ··> SD.

Other sciences:

Quite impressive stuff these days:
Speed of light may not be the ultimate speed limit: neutrinos found going faster. It also challenges the unidirectionality of time ··> Al Jazeera, BBC.

LHC, where the barriers of science are broken

Dark matter challenged by dwarf galaxies ··> BBC.

Dwarf galaxy getting cocky

Special thanks to Stone Pages' Archaeo News section.


  1. "We believe that the detailed similarities in the internal anatomy of the face strongly supports the hypothesis that there was a single evolutionary branch of 'robust australopithecines', and that the A. africanus and A. boisei forms both shared a common ancestor,"

    I thought it was already accepted that the 'robust' australopithecines were a separate line. At least that is what I wrote in my essay on the subject:

    "Bulgarian Archaeology Finds Said to Rewrite History of Black Sea Sailing"

    Doesn't the headline rather overstate the case?

    "The anchors' shape suggests they were used by Creto-Mycanaean, Phoenician or Carian sailors in the 15th-12th centuries BC, which would refute the hypothesis that Greeks were the first Black Sea sailors starting the 12th century BC, the BGNES news agency points out".

    I would have thought that once we had any sort of boating in the Mediterranean it would have spread to where-ever it was able.

  2. and another thing:

    "The anchors are also said to show that the Trojan war may have started because of excise duties imposed by the Trojans, who took advantage of their control over the Dardanelles – and not because of Helen of Troj".

    I have always presumed that the war was over access to resources rather than access to females, especially not to just one particular one.

  3. "I thought it was already accepted that the 'robust' australopithecines were a separate line".

    Not my main area of interest, so I can't say. If so, this finding would confirm that theory.

    "Doesn't the headline rather overstate the case?"

    Yes. That's why I did NOT copy it here.

    "I would have thought that once we had any sort of boating in the Mediterranean it would have spread to where-ever it was able".

    The Mediterranean is big enough: E-W interactions were minimal or even zero (according to the archaeological record) until the Bronze Age, when we start seeing continuous Greek or Cretan influences in SE Iberia.

    Before that there's only one glass bead and one architectural concept (with a thousand years' gap). Iberians then traded with Scandinavia and North Africa but not with the Eastern Mediterranean.

    I would not be too surprised if some of the technical ideas used by Eastern Mediterranean sailors were borrowed from the Far West, after all navigation in the Ocean is far more challenging than in the Mediterranean and requires more ingenuity. Another possible origin could be the Indian Ocean. The 'latin' sail may have been borrowed from the Arawaks for instance.

    But all this is speculative because sails and boats usually leave no remains. So we have to rely mostly on indirect evidence.

  4. About Troy, of course legend is legend. The fact that her name was Helena, eponym of Hellas, Greece, is suggestive that it was a fight for the hegemony in Greece. But then all contenders seem to be aligned among Greek and non-Greek, so...

    The fact is that Troy was a major local power since c. 3000 BCE and central in the arrival of Bronze tech to Europe. The fact is that Greeks (or other "sea peoples") were on Viking-style rampage in that period and had destroyed other major ancient cities like Ugarit or Minoan Crete. They must have been present even as far west as Iberia, where they gathered tin for their bronze weapons...

    The fact is that Greek Mycenaean (largely destructive) expansion is ill understood but like nothing else I can think of in all the story of the Mediterranean. I can only compare with Vikings but even then...

    Rather than tolls (or just that), I'd say Greeks wanted the glory, victory and, specially, plunder. It's the Indoeuropean style, led by gods who embrace the victor and despise the loser. It's ethno-cultural.

  5. "after all navigation in the Ocean is far more challenging than in the Mediterranean and requires more ingenuity".

    I agree, and that's exactly why I think it far more likely that efficient boating first developed where it was easiest to gain the necessary skills, i.e. in sheltered waters.


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