20 Jul 2015

Kennewick Man closely related to Native Americans, geneticists say

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Genetic analysis is playing an important role in answering questions about the past. In the case of the skeleton known as Kennewick Man, called the Ancient One by Native American groups, five Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest requested repatriation of the remains for reburial, but the proceedings were halted to allow further investigation into the skeleton’s origins.

“Using ancient DNA, we were able to show that Kennewick Man is more closely related to Native Americans than any other population,” said postdoctoral scholar Morten Rasmussen, PhD. Rasmussen is the lead author of the research, published online June 17 in Nature.

“Advances in DNA sequencing technology have given us important new tools for studying the great human diasporas and the history of indigenous populations,” said  Carlos Bustamante, PhD, professor of genetics. “Now we are seeing its adoption in new areas, including forensics and archeology. The case of Kennewick Man is particularly interesting given the debates surrounding the origins of Native American populations. Morten’s work aligns beautifully with the oral history of native peoples and lends strong support for their claims.”

Read the full story at Science Daily.

Full story credit: Stanford University Medical Center. “Kennewick Man closely related to Native Americans, geneticists say.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 June 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150618134420.htm>

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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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.

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