Archive for November, 2011

Topic: Northwest Natives

In two new books, the University of Oregon’s Madonna Moss challenges conventional thinking about the region’s early inhabitants, pointing to cultures built around fishing, fish processing and fish resource management.

(EUGENE, Ore.) – Native people of the Pacific Northwest were fishermen and food producers, as well as stewards of their environment who timed their fishing practices to promote the production of salmon and the other fish that they relied on. They were not simply hunter-gatherers, says University of Oregon archaeologist Madonna L. Moss.

Moss takes aim at the label “hunter-gatherer,” writing in chapter three of her new book “Northwest Coast: Archaeology as Deep History” (Society for American Archaeology Press) that the “moniker has outlived its utility” for the people who inhabited the land from Alaska to Oregon long before European explorers arrived.

Moss, who has studied the Northwest since the mid-1970s, provides readers with an overview — in easy-to-read language — of what researchers have discovered at archaeological sites dating back more than 12,000 years. Most sites, she notes, are rich in fish remains. And many more sites, she says, likely have been buried by rising sea levels and never will be found.

“Most of what makes up these sites are faunal remains [animal bones and shells]. Most of the bones in these sites are fish bones. This book is about the 85 percent fish bones that make up these sites and what they can tell us about the people who lived here in the past,” Moss said in an interview. It doesn’t make sense for archaeologists to refer to early people of the Northwest coast as hunters-gatherers anymore, not even as complex hunter-gatherers. These people were fishers. They were fishermen. They knew how to process fish, live on fish. Local tribes often are confused by the term ‘hunter-gatherer.’ They have always thought of themselves as fishermen.”

Future research, she argues, should focus on fish remains. “Whereas salmon are the most widely known, Pacific cod and other codfishes, rockfish, lingcod, greenlings, herring, flatfish, surfperch and sculpins are common,” she writes.

The focus on fish is expanded greatly in a second book, “The Archaeology of North Pacific Fisheries,” co-edited by Moss and Aubrey Cannon, an anthropologist at Canada’s McMaster University. This 18-chapter book, published by the University of Alaska Press, looks in depth at fish remains found at numerous archaeological sites in the Northwest.

“The Archaeology of North Pacific Fisheries” provides an overview of studies done from Alaska to British Columbia to Puget Sound, and draws heavily from the descendents of the early inhabitants. Most of the authors are zooarchaeologists — those who study animal remains but also focus on fish bones. The book extensively covers salmon-related discoveries and touches on lesser-known species that have been found. The book is aimed at their colleagues involved in environmental science, fisheries and resource managers.

“Northwest Coast” is barely 150 pages of text — seven chapters that covers archaeology and anthropological discoveries, as well as walk readers through the key time periods in an effort to help general readers appreciate the complexity of the region’s early inhabitants and their reliance and dedication to fishing. Only chapter six, “The Late Holocene Mosaic,” might be considered a challenge to read, Moss says, but chapters three through six will especially appeal to readers interested in early settlements in the Northwest.

Fish records, Moss says, should be seen as archives of information to use in dealing with the environmental crises that are coming amid climate changes.

The two books combine to make a point that clearly surfaces early in “Northwest Coast” — that cooperation with Native peoples is the key to archaeological research in the region. In “Northwest Coast’s opening chapter, Moss compares the find of “Kennewick Man” in eastern Washington, where Umatilla tribal members were not respected and brought into the discovery early on, to the quietly unfolding story of the 10,300-year-old human remains found near Klawock, Alaska, where local tribes were invited to be partners as work progressed. The two discoveries unfolded within weeks of each other in 1996.

It is hoped, Moss says, that readers will think differently about the evolution of cultural complexity. “I think people were complex 12,000 years ago,” she said. “The indigenous people of the Northwest coast not only relied on fish, sea mammals and plants, they utilized resources — practices, techniques and technologies — that actually enhanced the biological productivity of this region,” Moss said. “I would argue that their practices made it more productive than it would have been without any human presence.”

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november 9, 2011


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Topic Ancient fisherman


Early Humans Were Skilled Deep-Sea Fishers 42,000 Years Ago | Popular Archaeology – exploring the past.

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September 2011

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Topic: Ancient Maya agricultural practices.

Scientists Uncover Clues to How the Classic Maya Sustained Their Dense Populations | Popular Archaeology – exploring the past.

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Sep 2011

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The First Thanksgiving, painted by Jean Leon G...

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Topic Happy Thanksgiving

The original article was first posted on Nov 23, 2010

The poto’s in the link seem to have disappeard so here are several from Historic St Marys to go with the article.

Food designed to fill ‘Colonists’ offer insights on their diet, work required to eat

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!!!!

Joanna Linsley-Poe

Ancient Foods

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A selection of prehistoric stone tools.

Image via Wikipedia

Topic: Hunting culture

A team led by Professor Raj Somadeva has recently made finds supporting the theory that Sri Lankan Culture is not borrowed from any other country or region, as has long been supposed.      The expedition is excavating a site near Haldummulla town, 835 metres above sea level on the Southern Platform of central hills – the oldest recognisable human settlement in Sri Lanka at a significant altitude.

According to Somadeva, considerable evidence of a well organised prehistoric hunting culture and civilisation were earlier found in minor excavations and caves.

Somadeva says this represents the transition from hunting to agriculture around 3000 years ago. The stone tools and graves uncovered in Ranchamadama and Haldummulla represent more or less the same period, yet the fragments of pottery and stone tools and other archaeological evidence discovered in Ranchamadama in 2009 prove that Sri Lankan prehistoric man migrated from higher Haldummulla to lower Ranchamadama later.

As Somadeva points out, the Horton Plains which the prehistoric Sri Lankan people are believed to have inhabited is a further 600 metres above Haldummulla, itself a mountainous region. People living in the hills gradually migrated to lower plains around 5000 BCE, probably owing to the widespread drought which hit the highlands during that time. In their journey to the lower regions of the island, the people found some special stones with a high concentration of iron, trapped in the precipices, and it is these stones that have been found deposited in the graves.

In 2010 the team excavated graves on the way to Tamil Mahavidyalaya of Haldummulla – the highest elevation thus far. There they unearthed three large funeral vessels of clay resembling boats, each the size of a human body and containing burnt earth, as well as fragments of pots made with the potter’s wheel and filled with funeral ashes, and tools made of the special iron-rich stones. Remains of human habitation adjacent to the graves included tools and pottery similar to that found in the graves.      The practising of funeral rites and the employment of potter’s wheel were the distinctive marks of the primitive agricultural society. The remains uncovered in Haldummulla signals prehistoric man’s transition from hunting to agriculture, however excavations are still at a experimental stage.

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Nov, 2011

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Topic: Original Fast food joint

About 5,200 years ago, a mud-brick oval enclosure was built at Godin Tepe. The main building (pictured here) had two windows that may have been used for “takeout.”

Some 5,200 years ago, in the mountains of western Iran, people may have used takeout windows to get food and weapons, newly presented research suggests.

But rather than the greasy hamburgers and fries, it appears the inhabitants of the site ordered up goat, grain and even bullets, among other items.

The find was made at Godin Tepe, an archaeological site that was excavated in the 1960s and 1970s by a team led by T. Cuyler Young Jr., a curator at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada, who died in 2006.

A team of researchers took up his work after he died and recently published the results of the excavation, along with more recent research on the artifacts, in the book “On the High Road: The History of Godin Tepe” (Hilary Gopnik and Mitchell Rothman, Mazda Publishers, 2011).  In addition a symposium was held recently where the takeout windows, among other research finds at Godin Tepe, were discussed.

The idea that they were used as takeout windows was first proposed by Cuyler Young and is based mainly on their height and location beside the central courtyard.

The windows could have been used by ordinary individuals or perhaps by soldiers “driving through” to grab some food, or even weapons. [See images of the ancient takeout windows]

Odd windows

The research shows that Godin Tepe started out, in prehistoric times, as a simple settlement. “For about 1,000 years the mound of Godin was occupied by a small village of farmers and shepherds,” said Hilary Gopnik of Emory University, at a recent symposium at the Royal Ontario Museum.

That changed quickly. “Sometime in about 3,200 B.C. somebody razed those houses and built this oval enclosure,” Gopnik said. The mud-brick structure had a central courtyard surrounded by buildings, including one particularly prominent structure with two windows.

“The windows and the walls of the main building are very unusual for architecture of this period, and they’ve been interpreted as a kind of takeout window,” Gopnik said.

Inside the building, researchers discovered beveled-rimmed bowls (a pot type found throughout the Middle East), food remains, a fireplace and 1,759 sun-dried clay sling bullets, a weapon used for warfareand hunting. Clay tablets were also found within the structure.

“As far as I know, that is the only example of those odd, framing windows. We don’t usually find windows at all,” in the Middle East, Gopnik told LiveScience.

Clemens Reichel, a curator at the museum, said that while archaeologists do find openings that may have been air vents or cubby holes, windows are rare and are hard to identify.

“Dr. Gopnik is completely right in stating that attested windows in mud-brick architecture are rare. But it takes an experienced archaeologist to recognize an opening in a mud-brick wall — you have to be able to see the difference between mud-brick and compacted debris in such a cavity, and that can be very difficult,” Reichel told LiveScience in an email.

If these windows were used for takeout, what exactly was served?

A wide variety of food remains have been found at Godin Tepe. “There [were] lentils, there was goat bone, sheep bone, there was also beer and wine,” Gopnik said. “We think those beveled-rimmed bowls were used for rations of grain.”

As for a “drive-thru” spirits store, Gopnik said, “people have suggested that maybe they were delivering rations of beer, [but] that seems a little far-fetched.”

The sling bullets, found in the building, may have been stockpiled near the end of the oval compound’s life, possibly for distribution through the windows. “The compound was abandoned and partially burned in about 3,000 B.C. But whether this was purposeful or a peaceful abandonment remains a mystery,” Gopnik said. [Read: History’s Most Overlooked Mysteries]

While Gopnik argues that everyday Joes may have frequented this takeout joint, Virginia Badler, a doctoral student of Young’s, suggests soldiers were the main patrons. As such, the oval compound may have been used to protect trade routes in the area, according to Badler, who contributed to the new book. Sitting on a high mound as it is, “you would have had quite a panoramic view,” Badler told LiveScience.

Badler discussed several arguments supporting a military function for Godin Tepe, including the small, enclosed nature of the oval, which would have made it easier to protect the compound and see who was coming inside. Also, Mesopotamian rulers had problems protecting trade caravans at the time, and weapons, including a spear point, mace head and sling bullets, were found at Godin. “I have no doubt it’s a fort,” she said, “they wanted to funnel goods to the lowlands.”

She said that when ancient military sites were abandoned in Mesopotamia, clay sling bullets were often left behind. She also suggested that the beveled-rim bowls found there may have been used for water rations rather than grain.

“There’s no reason to have that beveling except that it’s a wonderful place to put your lip when you drink out of it,” Badler said, adding that she tried drinking out of one of these bowls. “I covered it with a very thin plastic bag, and I filled it with water,” she said. “What the beveling does is it makes a very thin edge — it was extremely easy to drink out of the bowl.”

A few of the bowls were also lined with bitumen, a substance used for waterproofing. “Why would you line a bowl that had grain in it, or porridge, with bitumen?”

The windows, in the scenario she proposes, would have been used to provision troops. “I think there was a local army queued up,” she said. “I think they were giving out the weapons over here, and (at) the other window maybe they were giving out water and food.”

So the compound would have served as a takeout place, though the food and bullets would have been provided to soldiers on their way to fight. “Here’s your bread, here’s your water, your rations for the day, and here’s your (weapons), so get the marauders,” Badler said.

The work was also described at a symposium held by the Canadian Society for Mesopotamian Studies. Artifacts from the site are now part of an exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Original article:


By Owen Jarus, LiveScience Contributor

Date: 28 October 2011

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Very free reconstructions of equipment said to...

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Topic: Ice Man’s last meal 

A rest, a meal, then death for 5,000-year-old glacier mummy: Scientists consolidate results of research into Ötzi’s state of health and his death.

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