Thursday, September 14, 2017

Conversation at Sithonia


A view of Holy Mount Athos from Sithonia, looking east



















This August, I spent a few days in Sithonia visiting a relative on my Greek husband's side.  We got to talking about history (of course), and about the shepherds of Northern Greece, and their yearly movements across hundreds miles as they sought green pastures for their flocks.  Sithonia happens to be one of three fingers that reach out into the Aegean Sea from the Northern Greek mainland.  The two others are Kassandra and Athos.  Athos is the land of Mount Athos, the Holy Mountain of Christian Orthodoxy, the place of many Orthodox Monasteries, and homeland of Aristotle.

As it turns out, Kassandra and Sithonia were until quite recently, the wintering pastures of shepherds who would drive their flocks down from summer pastures in the Pindus mountains, to this temperate wintering ground, more than a hundred miles.  It would take them about a month, and on their journey, they would yearly drive their flocks through Thessaloniki in a ceremonial weeklong parade each October.  They did this until 1970.

This got us thinking about human models of prehistory that assume that somehow people where confined to limited territories over thousands of years.  The shepherds, and their descendants, know better.

My Greek relative then pulled out a book and showed me how Plutarch had written about the British Isles, and that these far distant places were well known by Greeks, even by common people (certainly shepherds).

Domesticated sheep bones appear in Greece approximately 10,000 years ago.  There is no reason to assume that if shepherds were moving across hundreds of miles each year within the last hundred years, that they would not also have done so 10,000 years ago.  Early Neolithic people would easily have spanned an area extending over thousands of miles in the thousand or more years in which early domestication processes occurred.

This is why I find these discussions about the "origin" of the Neolithic, or for that matter, the "origin" of Indo-European languages, to be so utterly misguided.  And looking farther back, there is no reason to think that Pleistocene hunters weren't also highly mobile, and confined only by their ability to find shelter, food and water.

We will never find an origin limited to a few hundred miles for these.  The Neolithic did not "begin" in Anatolia any more than in the Balkans or the Taurus Zagros Mountains.  Nor can the origin of "Indo-European" languages be found in a geographic area limited by a few hundred, or even a few thousand, miles.  The Recent African Origin for modern humans is likely also too simplistic, for the same reason.

-Marnie

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Ye'kuana Welcoming Music (Bass Flutes & Drums)



Region:  Venezuela and Brazil
People:  Ye'kuana

Bamboo Flutes Exploration (this blog)

Ye'kuana Deer Bone Flute



Region:  Venezuela and Brazil
People:  Ye'kuana

Bamboo Flutes Exploration (this blog)

Ye'kuana Cane Flute



Region:  Venezuela and Brazil
People:  Ye'kuana

Bamboo Flutes Exploration (this blog)

The deep human prehistory of global tropical forests and its relevance for modern conservation

Patrick Roberts, Chris Hunt, Manuel Arroyo-Kalin, Damian Evans and Nicole Boivin
Nature Plants 3, Article number: 17093 (2017)
published online on August 3rd, 2017
(Link)

Abstract

Significant human impacts on tropical forests have been considered the preserve of recent societies, linked to large-scale deforestation, extensive and intensive agriculture, resource mining, livestock grazing and urban settlement. Cumulative archaeological evidence now demonstrates, however, that Homo sapiens has actively manipulated tropical forest ecologies for at least 45,000 years. It is clear that these millennia of impacts need to be taken into account when studying and conserving tropical forest ecosystems today. Nevertheless, archaeology has so far provided only limited practical insight into contemporary human–tropical forest interactions. Here, we review significant archaeological evidence for the impacts of past hunter-gatherers, agriculturalists and urban settlements on global tropical forests. We compare the challenges faced, as well as the solutions adopted, by these groups with those confronting present-day societies, which also rely on tropical forests for a variety of ecosystem services. We emphasize archaeology's importance not only in promoting natural and cultural heritage in tropical forests, but also in taking an active role to inform modern conservation and policy-making.

more from the paper:

Early impacts

In the last ten years, the archaeologically-acknowledged start date of human inhabitation of tropical forests has quadrupled in age. There is now clear evidence for the use of tropical forests by our species in Borneo [12-13,34] and Melanesia [35] by c. 45 ka; in South Asia by c. 36 ka [36]; and in South America by c. 13 ka [37]. There are suggestions of earlier rainforest occupation c. 125 ka in Java [38-39], c. 60 ka in the Philippines [40], c. 100 ka in China [41], and in Africa perhaps from the first appearance of Homo sapiens c. 200 ka [42], though further research is required to verify these cases [43]. Early modern humans adapted to diverse tropical forest formations, ranging from the sub-zero temperatures of montane forests to dense, humid, evergreen rainforests, undertaking sophisticated forest mammal hunting and plant processing (e.g. 44). Moreover, people did not just adapt passively to these environments, but from the onset modified them in fundamental ways [10,45], with outcomes that have affected the natural histories of these forests to the present day.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Bering Land Bridge, Mastodon Bones and Creation Beliefs: Seeking to Know the Unknowable

The Sun Came Down: The History of the World as My Blackfeet Elders Told It By Percy Bullchild, Amskapipikuni. Available at amazon.com.
Available from Amazon
Gyasi Ross
Indian Country Today
July 27, 2017
(Link)

from the article:

My maternal grandpa, Percy Bullchild, wrote a book entitled The Sun Came Down: The History of the World as My Blackfeet Elders Told It. Incredible book. Every single person should read it. Folks who are interested in creation stories should especially read this book.  It is a very substantial and beautiful book full of stories of how things came to be.  As a storyteller, I hope to someday make a work as profound and necessary as his book.

He was our grandpa. We grew up about 200 yards away from his trailer. Those were the stories that I grew up with and pretty much the way that I saw the world. Some people grew up knowing the Bible stories and understanding the world through that great book. Us, we grew up hearing (and then reading) Blackfeet creation stories as our framework for the way we saw ourselves in the Universe. I can’t say that I “knew” that it was true—I wasn’t that woke as a nine year old.  It was just all I knew—it may or may not have been true, but it sounded right to me.

It wasn’t until I moved away from the Blackfeet Reservation that I realized that many people (most people?) did not see the world the same way. In fact, “most people” don’t see the world any one way—there are literally millions and millions of beliefs systems and creations stories and beliefs and worldviews. Most of them are unprovable as being absolutely right or absolutely wrong.  If they were provable, more people would probably subscribe to that particular belief.

Why Did I Tell You This Story?

It occurs to me that “science” functions just like religion as exhibited by some new findings at the so-called “Cerutti Mastodon Site.”  Moreover, science functions just like religion in that everyone—even the so-called “experts,” scientists—disagree passionately about what they believe is the real story.
Especially as it regards history and creation.

The Cerutti Mastodon Site is an archaeological site near San Diego where scientists found five stones alongside a mastodon (big ass ancient elephants) skeleton. There were two anvils and three hammers there. No big deal—people killed big ass animals with tools all over the world.  These ones looked the folks used the tools to get to the yummy bone marrow. BUT…this is important…further testing (using radioactive decay of uranium) on the bones that were split revealed that the beast died about 130,000 years ago!

Well, if the Native people of the Americas only strutted over from Asia thirty thousand years ago, how could that be?

And now these belligerent scientists are at each other’s throats trying to get the other scientists’ bone marrow! Some of these feisty scientists are screaming like a banshee that humans only got out of Africa 60,000 years ago! How could there be folks here 130,000 years ago??  And the other side says that the evidence clearly states that folks were surfing in San Diego long, long ago and we simply have to defer to the evidence!  Rolfe D. Mandel, a geoarchaeologist at the University of Kansas said these tools “…could not happen naturally.”

Another scientist ridiculed that position. Donald Grayson, an archaeologist said “I was astonished, not because it is so good but because it is so bad,” because he just doesn’t buy the evidence.

Sounds eerily Protestant and Catholic:  they look at the same damn thing, say they believe the same thing (science!), and yet find disagreement about it.

(read more)

The Us and Them Phenomena in Archaeology

This morning, I stumbled on a discussion board at the Archaeologica discussion forum referring to my blog.  A quite long diatribe, posted anonymously under a pseudonym, attacks the Portable Rock Art Blog, and my blog.  Apparently, the entire contents of my blog is "suspect" because I happen to have this Portable Rock Art Blog linked in my blog sidebar.

While I do find the Portable Rock Art Blog to be rather far fetched, and even think that most of the objects are not archaeological, the purpose of my blog is to explore, and not obliterate every idea that I think suspect or marginally probable, as so frequently happens in archaeology.   I had been even thinking of dropping the Portable Rock Art Blog because I find some of their posts to be poorly supported by evidence, and not well photographed, but again, who knows if they will come up with something interesting at some point.

That being said, the anonymous critique on the Archaeologica forum comments on the "non-lithic nature" of the articles posted on the Portable Rock Art blog.  There is no discussion of manuports of found objects in this critique; just a wholesale dismissal of the Portable Rock Art blog and, it seems, a dismissal of the idea that people thousands of years ago might have collected objects that symbolized their narratives of the world around them.  A good alternative discussion could touch upon the research of Robert Bednarik (Link), but the anonymous forum commenter does not bring that up.  The us [elite and unquestionable archaeologists and paleoanthropologists] and them [the unwashed masses among the public] phenomena, now so familiar to me in these discussions, rears its nasty head here.

Note I am not even a member of the Archaeologica discussion forum.  I am not in a discussion where someone is saying they disagree with me.  Instead, these comments are leveled at my blog in absentia, without provocation and by inferences made from something as peripheral as the content of a blog sidebar link.

Getting back to the paper at the center of the Archaeologica forum discussion, the Eric Boëda, Christophe Griggo & Christelle Lahaye paper about the Cerutti Mastodon site, published in PaleoAmerica 3:  In general, the archaeological community seems highly resistant to the observations of this paper.  It does indeed challenge the evolutionary model for Homo, popularized in the press in the last twenty years.

For years, many archeaologists and anthropologists have questioned the simplistic human origins model promoted by Chris Stringer, Jean-Jacques Hublin, Bernard Wood, Svante Pääbo, David Reich and Spencer Wells.  Unfortunately, we just did not hear these alternative views because of the overwhelming number of papers promoting the Recent Out of Africa model published at Science magazine, at the twitter feed @Qafzeh, on the Eurogenes Blog, at the Anthrogenica forum, and from a cadre of abiding journalists (especially Ann Gibbons, Carl Zimmer, Ewen Callaway, and Debbie Kennett).  This has drowned out dissenting voices and blocked their publications for years.  Many have left the field of archaeology because of this.

Luckily, a few remain.  I will enjoy reading and following the work of these dissenting voices on my blog, elite and unquestionable archaeologists notwithstanding.

Uruá flutes

Photo credit:  Kieron Nelson (Link)



















"Kalapalo men playing uruá flutes at the Kuarup Ritual at Aiha Village in the Xingu Indigenous Park (Brazil). Two men in their feather headdresses play bamboo Uruá flutes. One tube of the giant Uruá double flute is over 2 meters long, the other is 1.5 meters. The tubes, about five centimeters in diameter, are made by lashing two lengths of bamboo together."

Bamboo Flutes Exploration (this blog)

Bamboo World Ecozone

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Las largas trompetas de los Andes



















author:  Edgardo Civallero

2nd edition, with pictures
published online on April 18th, 2014
(Link) issuu online publication

paper
Miradero, 5
November 5th, 2013
(Link) academia.edu

From these publications:

Trompeta name:  Bocina
Region:  Bolivia, Equador
Materials:  yarumo, or guarumo (Cecropia peltata), or a flowering stem variety of penco or cabuyo azul (Furcraea andina), or bamboo (Rhipidocladum harmonicum).  A cow horn or plastic horn are used for the amplifier.

Trompeta name:  Yungor
Region:  Central and Southern Andes of Puru in the regions of Junín, Huancavelica, Ayacucho, Apurimac, and Arequipa
MaterialsAgave americana, or Sambucus nigra, or bamboo (Bambusácea selvática)
Festival(s):  Used in the July 25th Festival to celebrate Tayta Huamani, Lord of the Hills, and to celebrate the ancestral rites of Tinyanakuy.

Trompeta name:  Wakar'hanti or Wakaranti
Region:  Province of Salta, Northwest Argentina, Province of Santa Cruz, Southeast Bolivia
Materials:   Arundo donax 

Trompeta name:  Clarín de Cajamarca
Region:   Northern Peru
MaterialsArundo donax

Trompeta name:  Caña chapaca
Region:   Province of Tarija, Bolivia
MaterialsArundo donax

Trompeta name:  Clarín atacameño
Region:  Musical instrument of the Atacameño people who inhabited the region from the Loa River and the Atacama Desert in the Chilean north, as well as the neighboring provinces of northwest Argentina and southwest Bolivia.
Materials:   Arundo donax
Festival(s):   This clarín is used in Atacameño festivals during the dry season.

Trompeta name:  Trutruka
Region:  Mapuche people, Chile
MaterialsChusquea culeou

Trompeta name:  Ñolkiñ
Region:  Mapuche people, Chile; Lafkenche territory; particulary notable in the community of Cañete (province of Arauco)
Materials Bromelia landbecki
Festival(s):  Ngillatin rituals of the Mapuche (Link)

Bamboo Flutes Exploration (this blog)

Bamboo World Ecozone

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Belarmino Kilkitripay, Músico Mapuche



Balarmino Kilkitripay playing the trutruka, a traditional bamboo instrument of the Mapuche people in Southern South America.

Bamboo Flutes Exploration (this blog)

Bamboo World Ecozone