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


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
Available from Amazon
Gyasi Ross
Indian Country Today
July 27, 2017

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

Miradero, 5
November 5th, 2013

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

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Cerutti Mastodon Site: Archaeological or Paleontological?

Eric Boëda, Christophe Griggo & Christelle Lahaye
Published online: 22 Jun 2017
(Link) pdf available at research gate

from the paper:

Once we have examined the appropriateness of the anthropogenic nature of the artifacts and the fact that we are confronted with a place of fracturing activity, it is obviously necessary to examine the chronological data which are crucial because they suggest that Cerutti is the oldest known site in the Americas. For this purpose, the lead author sought the advice of a specialist in the methods used (optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and uranium-thorium (U-Th) dating), coauthor Lahaye. Indeed, without collagen the radiocarbon dates were immediately excluded from the methodological pool of dating. Instead, both dating methods used in this work converged on Pleistocene ages of the site. Quartz grains studied with OSL were too close to or beyond the limit of the method, so that only minimum ages could be deduced. They show the sediment surrounding the fossils of the Cerutti Mastodon site were not exposed to natural light for at least 60–70 ka. It can be deduced, if all the depositional and post-depositional phenomena are well understood, that the fossils enclosed in the site’s sediments are older than 60–70 ka. U-Th measurements on bones also can only be considered as minimum ages of bones’ burial. The results of analyses of different bones are consistent, giving an age of ca. 130.7 ± 9.4 ka. Combining OSL and U-Th results, in a well understood stratigraphic context, leads to the conclusion that the Cerutti mastodon dates to around 130 ka.

The resolution of the methods used does not allow a very precise chronological result (130.7 ± 9.4 ka), thus situating the site at the interface between the end of  the latest glacial (MIS 6), which is interpreted to have been a cold phase like the last glacial maximum and the beginning of the rapid warming which marked the beginning of the latest interglacial (MIS 5e). This chronological position makes it difficult to discuss the origins of this group of individuals and the process of their dispersal. For, assuming that they were newcomers, depending on the date taken into account, on the one hand they could have existed at the maximum extent of the glaciers blocking the land passage between Alaska and the Great Plains of North America, with the lowering of sea level more than 100 meters and the creation of a land bridge between Asia and North America. On the other hand, the alternative situation would have been characterized by a rise in sea level, which may have led to the closing of the land bridge but at the same time the opening of a corridor after the disappearance of glaciers, with the formation of large lakes as consequences. So, when in time are we situated, exactly? The fauna is not sufficiently informative to make us lean to one alternative or the other. Nonetheless, the coastal seaway remained a permanent solution whatever the climates.

Perhaps, however, these were not newcomers but instead descendants of generations already present in the Americas. But let us guard ourselves during this time of scientific upheaval to give priority to just those facts which alone have heuristic value. All the scenarios that we envisage must remain heuristic scenarios and not a paradigm, as we had with “Clovis first”.  Keep in mind that the facts once verified remain paramount.  We experienced this ourselves in Piauí in South America, where our successive and repeated discoveries in the same geographical area testified not to the presence of a “Robinson Crusoe” but to a large perennial population that existed for at least 5000 years between 35 and 40 ka (Boëda et al. 2016). This means that scientific research, finally rid of traditional ideological locks, can focus on the expansion of prospecting, taking into account the geomorphological changes of the Pleistocene. We have to look for the sites, in the places where they are likely to be, under water or under many meters of sediment.

We are left finally with one last problem: the creators of the Cerutti feature. Holen et al. (2017) provide a realistic picture of the situation in Asia. We have a fairly broad choice of candidates – late Homo erectus, Neanderthal, archaic Homo sapiens, or even Denisovan. In the absence of hominin remains, some researchers will consider these candidates’ respective cognitive aspects when making a taxonomic attribution. For our part, having experience across Asia from north to south, we would be suspicious of any specific biological/cultural fit. We are dealing with technical worlds quite different from our Western and African references. From experience, let us guard against prejudice and remain open to all possibilities.

To conclude, I endorse the last sentence of Holen et al.’s (2017) article by extending it to all of America:  this discovery calls for further archaeological investigation of the North and South American strata of early-late Pleistocene age.