27 May 2015

Florida Anthropological Society Comes to Town

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Time Sifters will be hosting over 200 archaeologists from around the state this weekend for the 67th Annual Meeting of the Florida Anthropological Society. 57 presenters will share current research by delivering a paper or showcasing a poster of their project.

Click for the FINAL SCHEDULE.

The interested public is welcome to attend; registration is available on-site for $60. Additional weekend highlights include:

Saturday, May 30th, 6:30pm: BANQUET at the Hyatt: Keynote Speaker Dr. Jerald Milanich. $50.00.

“Five Formative Years in the Life of J.T. Milanich, Dirt Archaeologist, 1966-1971” In his illustrated presentation Milanich will explain how it came to be that he participated in the 1969 excavation of the Yellow Bluffs-Whitaker Mound in Sarasota, a project some people (well, actually only one person) have said is the birth of New College’s outstanding archaeology program. The excavation in the Spring of 1969 was quickly followed by (but was not a cause of) the infamous Summer of Love when music lovers flocked to Woodstock, spacemen first landed on the moon,  Dave Van Ronk played the Philadephia Folk Festival, and Milanich excavated at Historic Bethlehem (Pennsylvania).

Sunday, May 31st, 9am:  MORNING CRUISE on Sarasota Bay. Prehistory, history, and humor presented at lightning speed by a native Sarasotan, font of knowledge, and local treasure, John McCarthy. $25.00

03 May 2015

Enchantments: Julian Dimock’s Photographs of Southwest Florida

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ENCHANTMENTS REVIEW Book Review by Vald Svekis

Enchantments: Julian Dimock’s Photographs of Southwest Florida is a magical book turning the pages of southwest Florida history back more than 100 years.  Jerry Milanich and Nina Root have assembled photographs which invite daydreams of our Florida long altered by time.  The authors selected some 100+ photographs from the Julian Dimock collection of thousands.  The book is a remarkable weaving of landscape, people, birds and animals into a seductive trip through time of Marco Island, the Everglades, and the Ten Thousand Islands.

The cover photo of three girls, dressed in their finery, on the Marco Island beach captivates my imagination.  I keep thinking of the Swiss Family Robinson and castaways but know reality has to be something simpler like a visit to the beach after church.  However, June 6, 1907 was a Thursday.  Some mystery lingers.

My favorites photos are the jumping tarpon; a boy diving from a sailboat’s rigging; a pet bobcat onboard a boat (the cat heard a rooster soon afterward and dove into the water, swimming to shore in pursuit); three young tricolored herons whose mother had forgotten to brush their crops; a prospering pineapple plantation (later destroyed by salt water from a hurricane); crocodiles (when did they disappear?); hunting for honey trees; moonshiner camp; Seminole men trudging through the Everglades after buying supplies at a trading outpost; and the photo of Edgar Watson, notorious bad guy, who was killed by his Chokoloskee Bay neighbors in 1910. The photos stand alone, but are enriched by excerpts from original magazine articles written by the Dimocks.

Anybody perusing this book would have their own favorites.  Enchantments would be a fine addition to anybody’s library and even stowed on a coffee table for the enjoyment of guests.  I have hope that Jerry Milanich and Nina Root will publish more of the Dimock photos in the future.

In addition to the inevitable change and development in southern Florida, water levels have risen 9 inches in the last 100 years, altering the landscape and making many of the views non-reproducible.

Published by University Press of Florida.

22 Apr 2015

The Minoans of Crete – New Research Featured in Archaeology Magazine

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(Courtesy Chronis Papanikolopoulos)Across the site, the team has found examples of Mirabello Ware, a distinctive type of pottery produced there on a large scale for both local use and for trade.

(Courtesy Chronis Papanikolopoulos) Across the site, the team has found examples of Mirabello Ware, a distinctive type of pottery produced there on a large scale for both local use and for trade.

From 1901 to 1904, Harriet Boyd excavated the remains of an ancient town on the island of Crete that had lain buried and unknown for nearly 3,500 years. The largest island in Greece and fifth largest in the Mediterranean, Crete has attracted visitors, travelers, and traders for thousands, and even tens of thousands, of years. Crete’s first great civilization was that of the Minoans, and archaeologists have long studied the palaces like that of Knossos. But in 2010, Vance Watrous of the University of Buffalo and his team began new excavations at Gournia, the site that Boyd had worked more than a century earlier. “We’re looking instead at the site’s earlier history, the Protopalatial period, and questions of what happened before the development of the palace, how Gournia came to be a regional center, and what kind of town it was during these early phases,”

Harriet Boyd stated in her site publication, “The chief archaeological value of Gournia is that it has given us a remarkably clear picture of the everyday circumstances, occupations, and ideals of the Aegean folk at the height of their true prosperity.”

In the course of both Boyd’s and Watrous’ excavations, more than 50 houses or areas with evidence of industrial activity have been uncovered—20 areas producing pottery, 15 producing stone vases, 18 producing bronze and bronze implements, and some with evidence for textile production. John Younger of the University of Kansas found complete pottery workshop. In one room of the workshop they found 15 intact pots sitting upright on some benches, and in another room he found four large jars with numerous smaller pots inside. “There were pots inside pots for storage, just like I have in my cupboard at home,” Younger says.

Read the fascinating full story by Jarrett A. Lobell at Archaeology.

03 Apr 2015

New instrument dates old skeleton before ‘Lucy'; ‘Little Foot’ 3.67 million years old

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150401133228-large

This image shows the Little Foot skull (STW 573). Credit: Photo courtesy of the University of the Witwatersrand

Purdue University. “New instrument dates old skeleton before ‘Lucy'; ‘Little Foot’ 3.67 million years old.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 April 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150401133228.htm>

A skeleton named Little Foot is among the oldest hominid skeletons ever dated at 3.67 million years old, according to an advanced dating method.

Little Foot is a rare, nearly complete skeleton of Australopithecus first discovered 21 years ago in a cave at Sterkfontein, in central South Africa. The new date places Little Foot as an older relative of Lucy, a famous Australopithecus skeleton dated at 3.2 million years old that was found in Ethiopia. It is thought that Australopithecus is an evolutionary ancestor to humans that lived between 2 million and 4 million years ago.

Stone tools found at a different level of the Sterkfontein cave also were dated at 2.18 million years old, making them among the oldest known stone tools in South Africa.

A team of scientists from Purdue University; the University of the Witwatersrand, in South Africa; the University of New Brunswick, in Canada; and the University of Toulouse, in France, performed the research, which will be featured in the journal Nature.

Ronald Clarke, a professor in the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand who discovered the Little Foot skeleton, said the fossil represents Australopithecus prometheus, a species very different from its contemporary, Australopithecus afarensis, and with more similarities to the Paranthropus lineage.

“It demonstrates that the later hominids, for example, Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus did not all have to have derived from Australopithecus afarensis,” he said. “We have only a small number of sites and we tend to base our evolutionary scenarios on the few fossils we have from those sites. This new date is a reminder that there could well have been many species of Australopithecus extending over a much wider area of Africa.”

Read the full story about the dating method used at Science Daily.

06 Mar 2015

Discovery of jaw by ASU team sheds light on early human ancestor

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Credit: Brian Villmoare

Credit: Brian Villmoare

Please click here to read the entire Science Daily article.

For decades, scientists have been searching for African fossils documenting the earliest phases of the Homo lineage, but specimens recovered from the critical time interval between 3 and 2.5 million years ago have been frustratingly few and often poorly preserved. However, a fossil lower jaw found in the Ledi-Geraru research area, Afar Regional State, Ethiopia, pushes back evidence for the human genus — Homo — to 2.8 million years ago.

According to a pair of reports published March 4 in the online version of the journal Science, the jaw predates the previously known fossils of the Homo lineage by approximately 400,000 years. It was discovered in 2013 by an international team led by Arizona State University scientists Kaye E. Reed, Christopher J. Campisano and J Ramón Arrowsmith, and Brian A. Villmoare of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Researchers have found fossils that are 3 million years old and older. The most famous example of those human ancestors is the skeleton of Lucy, found in northeastern Africa in 1974 by ASU researcher Donald Johanson. Lucy and her relatives, though they walked on two feet, were smaller-brained and more apelike than later members of the human family tree.

Scientists have also found fossils that are 2.3 million years old and younger. These ancestors are in the genus Homo and are closer to modern day humans.

But very little had been found in between – that 700,000-year gap had turned up few fossils with which to determine the evolution from Lucy to the genus Homo. Because of that gap, there has been little agreement on the time of origin of the Homo lineage.

At 2.8 million years, the new Ledi-Geraru fossil provides clues to changes in the jaw and teeth in Homo only 200,000 years after the last known occurrence of Australopithecus afarensis (“Lucy”) from the nearby Ethiopian site of Hadar. Found by team member and ASU graduate student Chalachew Seyoum, the Ledi-Geraru fossil preserves the left side of the lower jaw, or mandible, along with five teeth. The fossil analysis, led by Villmoare and William H. Kimbel, director of ASU’s Institute of Human Origins, revealed advanced features, for example, slim molars, symmetrical premolars and an evenly proportioned jaw, that distinguish early species on the Homo lineage, such as Homo habilis at 2 million years ago, from the more apelike early Australopithecus. But the primitive, sloping chin links the Ledi-Geraru jaw to a Lucy-like ancestor.
“In spite of a lot of searching, fossils on the Homo lineage older than 2 million years ago are very rare,” says Villmoare. “To have a glimpse of the very earliest phase of our lineage’s evolution is particularly exciting.”

Arizona State University. “Discovery of 2.8-million-year-old jaw sheds light on early humans.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 March 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150304141454.htm>

 

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