August 28, 2013

Echoes from the past (August-28-2013)

Oh, yeah, I admit it: I have been procrastinating a lot. Result: an extremely long "to do" list. Naturally, I can't make up for all the past laziness, so here goes a synthesis of what would otherwise be left unattended, take your time, please. 

Middle Paleolithic:

Atapuerca holds "uninterrupted" sequence of European humans since 1.2 million years ago. Soon-to-be-published theory of continuity from H. erectus to Neanderthals in the Castilian site → Paleorama[es], EFE Futuro[es].

More Neanderthal evidence for symbolism found in Fumane cave (Veneto, Italy): polished and ochre-painted shells (pictured) → PLoS ONE (open access), El neandertal tonto ¡qué timo![es].

Upper Paleolithic:

Epigravettian burial, dated to ~14,000 BP, found in Cuges-les-Pins (Provence). The Epigravettian (and not the more widespread Magdalenian) culture of this site indicates a direct link to Italy → INRAP[fr], La Provence[fr], Los Andes[es].

Oldest modern human remain of Galicia found at Valdavara cave (Becerreá, Lugo province). The milk tooth is 17,000 years old, 7000 years older than any other such finding in the NW Iberian country → Pileta[es], IPHES[cat].


Thousands of engravings, dated to c. 6000 years ago, found in Coahuila (Mexico) → RTVE[es].

"World's oldest calendar" found in Scotland → BBC.

Female burial found at Poças de São Bento (Sado basin, Portugal) → Paleorama[es].


First farmers were inbred (at least in Southern Jordan) → Science Magazine.

Qatar Neolithic dig shows the peninsula was in contact with early Sumerian civilization (Eridu or Ubaid period, the first empire ever) → The Archaeology News Network.

Manure was already used by Europe's first farmers → Science.


Haryana (India) town is oldest large IVC settlement → Business Standard.

East China engravings show first Oriental writing (~5000 years' old, just slightly younger aged as Sumerian cuneiform writing but much more recent than the controversial Tărtăria tablets of Bulgaria) → The Guardian, English People.

North American natives caused lead pollution in Lake Michigan (oldest recorded) → PPV paper (ER&T)University of Pittsburg.

Perdigões enclosure and collective burial was pilgrimage center. Antonio Valera (often so scholarly cryptic at his blog) loosens up when interviewed by a Portuguese publication, giving meaning to the archeology he's working with → Super Interesante[por].

Bronze Age:

Cypriot harbor city dug: Hala Sultan Tekke, near modern Larnaka, had 25-50 Ha. and was active between the 16th and 12th centuries BCE → The Archaeology News Network.

Also from Cyprus: large settlement dug out near Nicosia (Cyprus), dated to 2000-1500 BCE → The Archaeology News Network.

Human evolution:

Modern human shoulder much more efficient than chimpanzees' at throwing... but also than H. erectus' → BBC.

Neanderthals did speak (of course) → Science Daily, open access paper (Frontiers in Psychology).
Note: their unfounded insistence on most unlikely H. heidelbergensis shared origins of Neanderthals and us casts some doubt on elements of their reasoning however.


Record ancient DNA: ~700,000 years' old horse sequenced → Nature Communications (PPV).

Experimental archaeology:

How to carve your own stone tools and weapons out of modern materials: very interesting videos (in English) at Paleorama[es] (scroll down). 

More tomorrow (nope my "to do" list is not at all finished with this entry).


  1. Haryana is surprisingly far upstream in the Indus River Valley civilization's reach to be one of the oldest of the IVC cities. Perhaps being further from cyclones or closer to the mountain water source or the agricultural desirability of the region was better.

    The stories on human evolution in Europe are a bit hard to digest in isolation. It really takes a review of the entire state of the research in that area to make much sense of (and to evaluate) the individual finds.

    The Qatar Neolithic find is also quite interesting.

    1. Wow, you just beat all records on accidentally duplicated comments: five times! I deleted the other four for our convenience but had to mention it.

      Rakhigarhi is not just far upstream but today actually in a different river basin altogether which is not the one of the Ganges either. It actually seems to be at the Ghaggar-Hakra river, which is believed to be the remains of the old Sarasvati. It'd be at a crossroads therefore and maybe that's why it grew so much so early.

      Glad you found some of the links interesting.

    2. Apologies for the quintipulated post. No idea why. I'll try to be more careful.

    3. Apologies for the quintipulated post. No idea why. I'll try to be more careful.

    4. No worries. But notice how this post was sent twice (I'm keeping them for the relevance).

      All I can say is that in my mailbox (and it's usually almost real time when notifications arrive) they happened at different times. So it's probably your server's or your mobile phone's fault. I also get duplicated feeds from some blogs at my RSS... and no idea why, just that it should not happen.

  2. ""World's oldest calendar" found in Scotland"

    Speculation obviously but i wonder sometimes if these guys weren't actively trying to get as far north as possible for some astronomical reason.

    1. I strongly suspect that astronomical knowledge and its codification in various works, including probably cave paintings, pre-dates this, at least in Europe but probably also in other locations (Australia for example). Early Scots would just have inherited it from the wider Magdalenian culture, although maybe some elements are novel, at least as far as we can document.

      As for your question, I can't think which reason would lead people northwards in search of astronomical clues. In those times all astronomy would be geocentric and therefore relative to the place one lived at.


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