January 9, 2012

Echoes from the Past (Jan 9)

Here you have the latest batch of rather interesting links:

Before prehistory

Middle Paleolithic
Aterian tools

Neandertals and bears (John Hawks compares the range and recolonizations of brown bears in the Ice Age with those of human species)

Upper Paleolithic and Epipaleolithic

Neolithic and Metal Ages

Stone Age temple found in Orkney may be more significant than Stonehenge and  Orkney temple predates Stonehenge by 500 years - My apartment mate is often talking about how important the Orkney Megalithic religious complex must have been in its time to what I always reply that it's quite unexpected because it's such a remote place... I wonder if it was an important site for cod fishermen from all Western Europe or what.

Reconstruction of the temple complex

Prehistoric buildings hold an overlooked social complexity (a very curious report on the oldest known European stairway and its rather unexpected sophistication for a Neolithic context) 

Temple of Isis found near the theater of Italica[es] (Roman colony near modern Seville, hometown of emperors Trajan and Adrian)

Prehistory in the media

Spanish-speaking readers can now watch at YouTube the documentary/prehistoric fiction film 'Homo Sapiens: the perfect conquest' (Discovery Channel prod.): part 1 and part 2. The films contain many misrepresentations but also many actual facts and reasonable speculations and are therefore rather interesting to view (but take some things with great caution or eve total disbelief). Sorry but I do not know at the moment of an English-language version available online.


Defining mutations updated: A2c, A2f, A2f1, A2h, A2i, A2p, A2r, A4c, A4d, A5b, B2g, B4g, B5a2, B5a2a, B5b2c, B6, C1b5, C1c1, C1c3, C4a1, C4a3, C7b, D1d, D2b1, D4b1b, D4e1, D4g2, D4g2a1a, D5a3a, D5c1, F1a2, F1a3, F1a4, F1e1, F1e2, F4a, F4a1, F4b, G1a2, G1b, G2a1e, G2b1b, G3b1, H13a2b, H13a2b1, H1c3, H2a5, H2a5a, HV1d, J1b, J1b1b1, J1b3, J1d, J2a1a1a, K1a1, K1a11, K1a1a, K1a1b1a, K1a1b1c, K1a1b2a, K1a3a1b, K1a4c, K1a7, K1a8, K1b1a, K1b1a1, K1b2b, K1c1a, K2a2a, L0a1b, L0a3, L0a'b, L0b, L1b, L1b1, L1b1a4, L1b1a6, L1c3b, L1c3b1, L1c3b2, L1c6, L2a1a2a1, L2a1a3, L2a1c2, L2b1b, L2b2, L2d, L2d, L2d1, L2d1a, L3b2, L3d1a1, L3d1c, L3d1d, L3e2a1b1, L3e2b3, L3e3a, L3f1b1, L3f2, L3h1a1, L3h1a2a, L3h1b1a, L3h2, L3i1, L3i1a, L3i2, L3k, L3x1, L3x2, L3x2a, L3x2a1, L3x2b, L4b, L4b1, L4b2a1, L4b2a2, L4b2b, M10a1, M10a1a, M19, M2, M24, M31b, M31b'c, M33a2a, M39, M6b, M7b, M7b1, M7b1'2'4, M7b2, M80, N2a, N9a2a, R0a2d, R0a2k, R7, R9c1, T1a2, T2a1a3, T2a1b1, T2b3a, T2c1b, T2f, T2g1, U2d, U3a, U3b2, U4b1b, U5a2d, U5a2e, U7, V9a, Z4, Z4a.
Newly added: A2f2, A2f3, A2h1, A2l, A2m, A2o, A2s, A2t, A2u, A2u1, A2w, A2x, A4e, A4e1, A4f, A5a3, A5b1, B2a3, B2c1a, B2c1b, B2c2, B2c2a, B2c2b, B4a1c1a, B4a2b, B4a4, B4b1a3, B4b1c1, B4i, B5a1c1, B5a2a1, B6a, C1b10, C1b11, C1b5a, C1b7, C1b7a, C1b8, C1b8a, C1b9, C1b9a, C1c1a, C1c4, C1c5, C4a1c1a, C4a1c2, C4a3b, C4c1, C4c1a, C4c1b, C4c2, C4d, C7a2, D1g, D1h, D1i, D1j, D4a1a1a, D4a3b1, D4a3b2, D4b1d, D4b2b2a, D4b2b2b, D4b2b2c, D4b2b6, D4e1c, D4e5a, D4e5b, D4g2b1, D4j3a1, D5b1d, D5c2, E1a2a, F1a3a, F1a3a1, F1a4a, F1b1a2, F1c1, F1c1a, F1e1a, F1f, F1g, F2b, F2c, F2d, F3a1, F4a1a, F4a2, G2a1c2, G2a1d1, G2a1d2, G2a1e1, G2b2b, H2a5a1, H2a5a2, H2a5b, HV14, HV4a1a, HV4a2a, HV4c, I6, J1b3a, J1b4, J1c2a, J1c2a1, J1c2c2a, J1c3d, J1c5d, J1c9, J1d1a, K1a13a, K1a14, K1a1b2a1, K1a2b, K1b1a2, K2a2a1, K2a3a, K3, L0a1a1, L0a1a3, L1b1a9, L1b2, L1b3, L1c3a1b, L2a1a3a, L2a1a3b, L2a1c1a, L2a1c2a, L2a1c4a, L2a1i1, L2a1m, L2a1m1, L2a1n, L2c1, L2c1a, L2c2b, L2c3a, L2c4, L2c5, L2e1, L3a1, L3b1a5, L3b1a6, L3b2a, L3d1b3, L3d1c1, L3e1d1, L3e1g, L3e2b1a1, L3f1a1, L3f2a, L3f2a1, L3x1b, M10a1a1, M11c, M2a'b, M2c, M31b1, M31b2, M52b, M6a1, M6a2, M7a1a9, M7b5, M7b6, M7b7, M7b8, M7c1d, M7c2b, M7c2b1, M7c2b2, M8a3a, N9a10a, N9a2a3, N9a4a, N9a4b, N9a7, N9a8, N9a9, O1a, R0a2k1, R7a'b, R9b1a3, R9c1a, T1a2a, T2a1b1a, T2b21, T2b3b, T2b4a, T2b6a, T2h, U1a1a, U3a1a, U3b3, U3c, U5a1g, U5a2c3, U5b1f, U6a3a1, U6d1a, U7a, U7a1, U7a2, U7a3, U7a4, U7b, U7b1, U8a1a1, U8a2, U8b1a, V9a1, W3a1b, W3b, W5a2.
Multiple rearrangements/additions within: B4c1b2, J1b1a, U5a2a.
Relabeled: A2r -> A2v, B5a1c <-> B5a1d, F1a'c -> F1a'c'f, L3j -> L3f2a1, N9a2a'b -> N9a2a, N9a2a -> N9a2a1, N9a2b -> N9a2a2.
Phylogenetic Distinctiveness of Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian Village Dog Y Chromosomes Illuminates Dog Origins (open access paper on dog's likely origins in SE Asia; see here for another recent study reaching similar conclusions)

Figure 3. Village and breed dog Y chromosome SNP-STR haplotype networks.

Controversy on open access publication



  1. The thing that really surprises me most about the Orkney site is that it is so big (and walled with stone, when it is already on a not very large island!), so far north, so early. Where does the economic base to build something like that in someplace so remote with so little arable land at a time like that?

    Maybe the megalithic culture was more maritime and more fishing oriented than we think? Or, was this somehow a center of trade like the Minoan Palace culture (and if it was, who were they trading with?) Why would the big temple complexes and population centers start so far north and move south from there instead of the other way around?

    Presumably, these people knew war. Who are they building such stout walls enclosing your city to protect themself from? This is pre-Viking by thousands of years. There are no sea people then. The are no Greeks and Trojans in the Mediterranean yet. There are no Phoenecian sailors. The Egyptians didn't get any place close; they hadn't sent delegations to the Atlantic Ocean at that point.

  2. First of all, that Orkney pre-dates Stonhenge does not mean that the Megalithic culture expanded from North to South. Not at all. We know that it mostly expanded from South to North, with the oldest dolmen burials documented in Portugal soon after the beginnings of the Neolithic and, in NW Europe senso lato, fist in Armorica (West France and Brittany).

    No doubt that British Megalithism owes most to that of Armorica, including maybe a tendency towards hierarchization less obvious further south (or even in France in the late period - Artenac culture). This hierarchy may well have been religious and is surely precursor to the later phenomenon of Druidism, under a Celtic varnish (Iberian and other Celts were never druidistic in any way: it is a British-specific phenomenon exported to some areas of the continent, nothing else).

    To that we must add the Danubian influence from NW France, which is behind the henges (known as "rondels" or "camps" in the continent and unmistakably Danubian in design). The stone ring notion ("cromlech" in the continent) to which Stonehenge belongs is yet a third concept with even less clearly defined origins: it may well come from North Africa ultimately. And there are even other kinds: Megalithism is a very complex and evolving phenomenon.

    Probably Western Britain and Scotland (as well as Ireland surely) got their Megalithic roots from Brittany and High Normandy in the earliest Neolithic. A different but contemporary non-Megalithic (Danubian) migration influenced most of England instead.

  3. "Maybe the megalithic culture was more maritime and more fishing oriented than we think?"

    There's been speculations on Megalithic expansion being at least partly linked to cod fishing routes. If Basques and other SW Europeans (notably Bretons and Portuguese) were fishing cod in Ireland many centuries ago as a matter of course (eventually reaching Newfoundland before 1512), they could well have been doing that also some millennia before, at least in regard to Ireland and nearby areas (not Newfoundland surely yet). Megalithism may well have expanded first as way to cater fishermen (and others) spiritual needs. However there are also inland routes (for example in Iberia one from near Lisbon to the Basque area through the Silver and St. James routes).

    All these routes were surely also mercantile routes soon after, as we see in the Chalcolithic period (beginning c. 3000 BCE), when trade routes from all the Atlantic and the Western Mediterranean seem to converge in Portugal (Zambujal) and other civilization centers of the time (Los Millares, surely also Stonehenge, etc.)

    "Where does the economic base to build something like that in someplace so remote with so little arable land at a time like that?"

    I imagine that fishing and trade and maybe political subsidies (if it was considered a key military base or something). Surely cod was then a trade item and certainly it could also have played a role in the amber trade (amber from the Baltic or the German bight has been found in Iberia, together with ivory and ostrich shell products from Africa).

    "There are no sea people then".

    Hahaha! I can't but laugh: there were for sure sailors then: otherwise the island would have been uninhabited altogether. The exact terms of their naval capacity are surely debatable but they sailed for sure in the open seas. Vikings are a bit hyped, IMO (not to take any merit from them but I'm pretty sure that there was open seas navigation before them).

    Of course you can also consider that the enclosures are ritual or a mere defense against animals like sheep, who tend to invade every orchard. It is less romantic but it is plausible.

    "The are no Greeks and Trojans in the Mediterranean yet".

    Greeks no, Troyans yes.

    "There are no Phoenecian sailors. The Egyptians didn't get any place close; they hadn't sent delegations to the Atlantic Ocean at that point".

    I love your "orientalist" hysteria: it's funny. Not everything is oriental by origin at least some things have been invented in the West, believe me. I can think of some even if most, not all, are modern. Notably I can think of that notable architectural and religious invention which is the dolmen or trilithon. It became so popular that in due time it arrived to Korea and South India, long after it had been lost here in the far west.

  4. "New PhyloTree build: the mtDNA tree of Humankind refined even a bit more. All this is new in build 13th"

    Thanks for that. To me the most interesting alterations are within haplogroup M. Several new ones have been found in Palawan, but they are associated with already-discovered haplogroups.

    D now has a sister, M80. That simply adds to d's geographic spread through East Asia. Two previously East Indian haplogroups now have Palawan relations: M19'53 and M24'41. M19 is Palawan and M53 is concentrated in the East Indian coastal region of Orissa. M24 is Palawan and M41 is concentrated in the East Indian coastal region of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, easily reached from the Ganges.

    Other alterations seem to be confined to the tips of the branches. For example A4 has been rearranged. A4c and A4d have been combined by a control region mutation and A4e and A4f have been added.

  5. oh-willeke
    "Where does the economic base to build something like that in someplace so remote with so little arable land at a time like that?

    Maybe the megalithic culture was more maritime and more fishing oriented than we think?"

    It does seem like it would have to be fishing or mining as it's hard to imagine people picking Orkney for the farmland. I wonder if it was like a fisherman's Inn or something?

    How much fish do you need to feed a family and how far do you need to sail to get it? If you were away for months how do they eat?

    I'm wondering if fishing fleets were going such distances it might be more of a trade network than for personal subsistence.

    Feeding tin miners?

  6. Also if they were away for any length of time they'd need to preserve the catch.

    Maybe they're not temples but buildings to smoke fish?

  7. There are a lot of changes in the tree, Terry. Thanks for underlining what you found as most relevant.



    "How much fish do you need to feed a family and how far do you need to sail to get it? If you were away for months how do they eat?"

    At such scales fishing can only be business of some sort. You don't cross half a continent behind cod unless you expect to make a living of it by exchanging the product (conveniently salted) by something else: an economy worth that name was being born in those times and examples of it are found in other products which are better preserved, such as as the aforementioned amber, ivory, etc. Dolerite, aka bluestone, was also popular in Megalithic and other circles of the time. Other products which were exchanged at least within regions were no doubt flint stone (then already extracted in large underground mines, with preference for certain colors, etc.) and surely soft metals like copper, silver and gold. However these were often re-melted and have not reached us (with some notable exceptions).

    The Chalcolithic (in some areas known as Late Neolithic) is a very dynamic period when society became quickly hierarchical and labor specialized. Trade, whatever its forms, was already beginning and was performed often across long distances. This even more clear in the Bell Beaker period, which is the Late Chalcolithic (and is not BB-dominated, just "without BB" first and the same society "with BB" later, reason why many consider BB a traders' guild of some sort).

    "Feeding tin miners?"

    Probably not yet tin. Tin became important only in the Bronze Age, what means since 1800 BCE onwards.

    But feeding copper miners, stone carvers, priests and monks, transport sailors, farmers and shepherds (who would produce other foods in turn), lumberjacks, carpenters, caravan drivers, aristocrats, warriors (there is evidence of war indeed), metalworkers, miners, masons, architects, unqualified laborers, personal servants...

    "Maybe they're not temples but buildings to smoke fish?"

    Or both. Cod anyhow is often salted. I do not know (yet) of any evidence of salt production in that time but there is no reason not to believe it did not exist either.

  8. "an economy worth that name was being born in those times and examples of it are found in other products which are better preserved"

    Yes, fishing so far away doesn't make a lot of sense otherwise.

    "Probably not yet tin. Tin became important only in the Bronze Age"

    Yes, good point.

  9. salt production, Romania


  10. Wow, that's pretty interesting: 4-5000 years BCE is very early!

    While salt can be used as condiment, a major use is clearly preserves. In those times before fridges, vacuum and proper cans, most food could only be preserved by drying, smoking and salting (or often a combination of them). Salting was historically used a lot for fish (and specially cod). Salted and dried meat (such as jerky, cecina or Spanish ham) is a common way of preserving meat as well but may require drier climates than those of the Atlantic lands (it's more typical of high altitude cold lands).

  11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cod_fishing_in_Newfoundland

    "The French, Spanish and Portuguese fishermen tended to fish on the Grand Banks and other banks out to sea, where fish were always available. They salted their fish on board ship and it was not dried until brought to Europe. The English fishermen, however, concentrated on fishing inshore where the fish were only to be found at certain times of the year, during their migrations. These fishermen used small boats and returned to shore every day. They developed a system of light salting, washing and drying onshore which became very popular because the fish could remain edible for years.[2] Many of their coastal sites gradually developed into settlements, notably St. John's,[4] now the provincial capital.

    Those Newfoundland fishing settlements would have been a combination of
    - inn
    - storm refuge
    - repairs
    - supplies
    - fish preserving

    If there was a big enough cod fishing industry the same logic may have applied millenia earlier in Orkney?

  12. It is an example indeed. However for many decades the fishermen would not consolidate any settlement: they went, fished, salted, maybe traded something with the locals and came back every year. Settlements (not only in Newfoundland but in all Atlantic Canada) evolved mostly as result of the colonial ambitions of France and, later, England (actually England was hostile to all these fishermen, which were considered to be pro-France, although surely brought its own eventually).

    But well, I'd say that the main conceptual barrier we have re. cod fishing and long-distance trading back in the Chalcolithic is that we don't have any direct evidence from ships or docks in most cases, what makes hard to imagine. Somehow we are all more or less familiar with historians' built notions of a Roman and Middle Age periods in which, outside the relatively calm Mediterranean and the Viking exception, navigation was technically limited. Most historians of course do not mention how Basques provided whale blubber to the French monasteries near Paris in the 7th century nor they seem at ease understanding how were the seagoing capabilities of the Anglosaxons, clear precursors not just of Danish Vikings but also (and more directly in the case of the Anglos) of the not less important Frisian traders.

    There must have been something more: Romans, who were not "by nature" a seagoing people, had no trouble transporting materials and even armies between the Atlantic ports of the empire, maybe using the expertise preserved, among others, by the Phoenician traders of Gadir, established in the Atlantic shores since many centuries earlier.

    These Phoenicians must have been just one of the final leftovers of a time in which European and North African Atlantic (and West Mediterranean) trade was clearly important (and mostly disconnected from the Eastern Mediterranean, at least initially). We have the Megalithic period, with clear Atlantic routes, culminating in the Bell Beaker subperiod c. 2000 BCE. Even after that an Atlantic Bronze cultural and trading area, possibly pivoted around the mysterious Tartessos and already with some Mediterranean connections (proto-Phoenicians from Cyprus) existed until the Celtic invasion of West Iberia c. 700 BCE dismantled this network and left only the Phoenicians as (known) sea traders in the area.

    I have the strong impression that in SW Europe's Bronze Age, Gadir Phoenicians supported Celtic warlords against native civilizations (like Tartessos but also the Western Iberians in general, who had been a principal cog of the Atlantic trade) but later native civilizations, the Iberians notably, got help from the Massilian Greeks (but only in the Mediterranean).

  13. "we don't have any direct evidence from ships or docks in most cases"

    Yes, rather critical.

  14. Not "critical" because there is some other evidence: deep sea fishing in the Mediterranean Neolithic, long distance trade, occasional wooden piers from even as early as the Epipaleolithic... and key sites like Zambujal are only limitedly researched (the tip of the iceberg, all the rest is undug and looks like will remain like that for decades). And I'm sure I have not even had the opportunity to read about most of the already known evidence. But it'd be indeed nice to find a seagoing ship of that period or something like that (not likely because wood rots quite fast but dreaming is for free).

  15. Btw, look here: http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/Archaeologists-ready-Bronze-Age-boat-build/story-14421751-detail/story.html

    It's not, as the article claims the oldest known European boat but the oldest known one which is more complex than a log boat (sewn planks), It's very likely that Chalcolithic seafarers of the Atlantic used similar boats.

  16. Interesting

    "The boats helped to establish Cornwall as a trading region, ferrying gold and copper to and from Ireland."

    That's the bit that gets me. If there are miners they have to eat. Now they might produce their own food too but if there's a big enough trade network to take gold and copper from Ireland all the way to the med then you wonder if there might have been a big enough trade network to feed them so they could mine full-time?

    The Orkney site is impressive as a temple complex but to me it would be even more impressive as some kind of neolithic fish processing plant.

  17. I understand that, from the Chalcolithic (or Late Neolithic) onwards specialized workers did not (or mostly not) grew their own food and other basic means. In a sense we can compare with Medieval Europe, when 90% or more were peasants but a small apportion of people were specialists.

    A better comparison in at least some aspects could be with other better known Chalcolithic-like civilizations such as ancient Egypt, Sumer or the pre-Columbian civilizations, characteristic of which seems to be the importance of religion (and religious specialists: priests) and, in many cases, rather centralized monarchic power.

    We tend to think those periods as "tribal" but 'tribalism' was just part of the equation surely (for example La Tène Celtic "tribes" were actually more like Greek city states, often being named by their main city and not any totem nor patriarch).

  18. Sou L2a1a3, no full pelo FTDNA, sai do L2a do Plus; mutação C16295T, até agora não consegui ajuda, estou tentando ver com alguma especialista em genealogia genética expert em halopgrupo africano para me ajudar a entender esse subclade, se é assim mesmo que posso chama-lo. Se tiver alguém conhecedor mesmo por favor entre em contato comigo preciso de ajuda. Meu email é albinopassos65@gmail.com.


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