Archaeology

Strelok16

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Right, this started with a tired and barely intelligible post I made in the science thread. I didn't want to start another thread then because I assumed there would be about zero interest. Well, turned out there was a bit, so here we go. I'm still not so sure about this, but I figure it can't hurt to try.

Personally, I don't see how anyone could not be at least a little bit interested in archeology. Archeology is how we find out about everything that came before us. Tons of interesting stuff is being discovered all the time. So post up anything relevant here, New discoveries, old theories, questions, or whatever else may be on your mind.


Anyway, to get things started in the right direction, The discussion I brought up in the science thread was the debate over how people first got to the Americas. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about it.

One big part of the debate are the Clovis People:

The Clovis culture (sometimes referred to as the Llano culture) is a prehistoric Paleo-Indian culture that first appears 11,500 RCYBP (radiocarbon years before present), at the end of the last glacial period, characterized by the manufacture of "Clovis points" and distinctive bone and ivory tools. Archaeologists' most precise determinations at present suggest that this radiocarbon age is equal to roughly 13,500 to 13,000 calendar years ago.

The Clovis culture was replaced by several more localized regional cultures from the time of the Younger Dryas cold climate period onward. Post-Clovis cultures include the Folsom tradition, Gainey, Suwannee-Simpson, Plainview-Goshen, Cumberland, and Redstone. Each of these is commonly thought to derive directly from Clovis, in some cases apparently differing only in the length of the fluting on their projectile points. Although this is generally held to be the result of normal cultural change through time, numerous other reasons have been suggested to be the driving force for the observed changes in the archaeological record, such as an extraterrestrial impact event or post-glacial climate change with numerous faunal extinctions.

After the discovery of several Clovis sites in western North America in the 1930s, the Clovis people came to be regarded as the first human inhabitants of the New World. Clovis people were considered to be the ancestors of all the indigenous cultures of North and South America. However, this majority view has been contested over the last thirty years by several archaeological discoveries, including possible sites like Cactus Hill in Virginia, Paisley Caves in the Summer Lake Basin of Oregon, the Topper site in Allendale County, South Carolina, Meadowcroft Rockshelter in Pennsylvania, and the Monte Verde and Cueva Fell sites in Chile.











What??? you didn't really think we could do this without obligatory pictures, did you??? :p
 

Heathrow

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This post is probably more anthropology and concerns both volcanology and genetic research. There were two separate scientific research streams each of which produced outcomes. The first was the study of the eruption of super volcano Toba in Indonesia and the second was the genetic bottleneck discoveries of homo sapiens in the recent past. The two independent research outcomes were then combined as an intriguing theory proposing a link between the two called the Tobe Catastrophe.

Wiki - Toba Catastrophe Theory

Wiki Article said:
Supereruption

The Toba eruption or Toba event occurred at what is now Lake Toba about 73,500 years (? 3,000 years)[3] or 73,000 years (? 4,000 years)[4] ago. The Toba eruption was the latest of the three major eruptions which occurred at Toba in the last 1 million years. The last eruption had an estimated Volcanic Explosivity Index of 8 (described as "mega-colossal"), or magnitude ? M8; it thus made a sizeable contribution to the 100 ? 30 km caldera complex.

Wiki Article said:
Genetic Bottleneck Theory

According to the supporters of the genetic bottleneck theory, between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago, human population suffered a severe population decrease?only 3,000 to 10,000 individuals survived?followed eventually by rapid population increase, innovation, progress and migration. Several geneticists, including Lynn Jorde and Henry Harpending have proposed that the human race was reduced to approximately five to ten thousand people. Genetic evidence suggests that all humans alive today, despite apparent variety, are descended from a very small population, perhaps between 1,000 to 10,000 breeding pairs about 70,000 years ago.
There are two points which I find persuasive regarding the genetic bottleneck theory. Firstly, it has been around for some years now and been studied by both skeptics and others alike and has yet to be debunked, as far as I know. The second point, if I have understood the process, is that the main finding was a total surprise and not what the researchers were expecting, as often happens in research. The last thing they were expecting was a choke point about 75,000 years prior to the emergence of modern humans. The DNA record was not a predictable linear progression back from present day to c.150,000 years back.

However, combining the eruption of Toba with genetic bottleneck of our DNA record is somewhat problematic for me. Neither the volcanologists nor the genetic researchers can presently be specific enough on either of the event dates. I am persuaded that both events did occur, but not necessarily that one was the cause of the other. There could be an alternative cause for the mass extinction of humans, as yet undiscovered.

The Tobe Catastrophe is an attractive theory and is possibly correct, but is nonetheless interesting and relevant to us.
Whatever the cause, we nearly didn?t make it to where we are today, and that is a pretty profound idea to get your head around.

* * *
TV Documentaries on Archeology & Anthropology
BBC ? Digging for Britain with Dr. Alice Roberts - Archeology four one hour documentaries
BBC - The Incredible Human Journey with Dr. Alice Roberts ? Anthropology five one hour documentaries
Channel 4 - Time Team ? Archeology 17 Series and over 150 one hour documentaries

:)
 

Strelok16

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Whatever the cause, we nearly didn?t make it to where we are today, and that is a pretty profound idea to get your head around.
No kidding. To think that at some point, something caused the total human population on Earth to be reduced to as few as 3,000 is pretty sobering.

There aren't any other catastrophic natural events associated with that time period, like craters or something, or maybe one of the ice ages? I'm thinking that's what it would likely take to cause such a global die-off, assuming humans were spread very widely around the world at that point. Diseases would stay pretty local I would think, and you could also rule out warfare since we weren't very good at killing each other in those days.
 

Heathrow

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No kidding. To think that at some point, something caused the total human population on Earth to be reduced to as few as 3,000 is pretty sobering.

There aren't any other catastrophic natural events associated with that time period, like craters or something, or maybe one of the ice ages? I'm thinking that's what it would likely take to cause such a global die-off, assuming humans were spread very widely around the world at that point. Diseases would stay pretty local I would think, and you could also rule out warfare since we weren't very good at killing each other in those days.
Yes, I'm pretty sure that alternative ideas have been suggested and researched, but with diseases and warfare, there is little trace. A very short term weather event, such as drought or flood would also be very difficult to detect. Additionally, people were and are very mobile and resilient, so to have a 90 plus % death rate seems very puzzling.

It could have been disease, such as flu or plague, but there is nothing known since the Roman era (i.e. recorded history), that has been that devastating.

Hence, the continuation of favour for the Tobe Catastrophe theory.
:)
 
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shesquint

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Archeology is how we find out about everything that came before us. Tons of interesting stuff is being discovered all the time.
Not everything. Geology and astronomy have a lot to say on the subject of things that came before us, too. ;)
 

Heathrow

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Archaeological Institute of America - Daily News


.. and in today?s headlines ..

Archaeological Institute of America - Daily News said:
Archaeological Headlines

Tuesday, August 31
by Jessica E. Saraceni

Could these bits of flint be 200,000-year-old knives? The tiny tools, made from parts of larger knives, were unearthed around a fire pit in a cave near Tel Aviv. Charred animal bones were also found. Ran Barkai of Tel Aviv University adds that materials that have long been thought to be waste at archaeological sites might actually be tools.

Communal feasts may predate agriculture, according to a study published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Archaeologists from Hebrew University say that the 12,000-year-old tortoise shells and cattle bones that had been butchered, roasted, and placed in and near the grave of a shaman in northern Israel were part of a symbolic meal.

The team mapping the wreckage of the Titanic has been forced to return to Newfoundland until Hurricane Danielle has passed.

A drought in England has revealed outlines of many previously unknown archaeological sites. ?It?s hard to remember a better year,? said Dave MacLeod of English Heritage.

The copy of the Magna Carta housed at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., is getting a new display case that will be filled with argon. The inert gas will displace any oxygen and moisture to help preserve the medieval parchment. The old case had been filled with helium.

A new mitochondrial DNA study of European cave bears suggests that they may have been driven to extinction by humans. The bears? genetic diversity began to decline 50,000 years ago, which is much earlier than previously thought and at the same time humans expanded into their territories. ?As humans became more effective at using caves, the number of places where cave bears could hibernate, which was essential to reproduction and everything else they did, started to decrease,? said anthropologist Erik Trinkaus of Washington University in St. Louis.

Two 5,000-year-old villages have been found in China?s Inner Mongolia region. Archaeologists have excavated homes, tombs, earthenware, and animal bones. Artefacts made of jade were also found at one of the sites.

Bulgarian customs officers retrieved four ancient artefacts hidden in the luggage of someone travelling from Turkey to Germany.

Parks Canada archaeologists failed to discover the lost ships of the Franklin Expedition this summer.
Each of the short summaries contains a link to various background news articles.

:)
 

Peter3hg

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I like watching Time Team and did briefly consider doing archaeology at university, but decided it would be too hard to make a career out of it.
Era wise I'm most fascinated by the Iron Age and the Roman period in Britain.
 

jetsetter

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I was reading a review of Sharon Waxman's Loot: The Battle Over Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World from Bryn Mawr Classical Review and came across this passage:

Part 2 is titled "Tomb Robbers on Fifth Avenue" and focuses more on the modern antiquities market. Here Waxman examines the Metropolitan Museum of Art and its willful purchase of illegally excavated artifacts. Thomas Hoving, former director of the Met, admitted that he "had a rolodex of the best smugglers," who used their own children to transport illicit artifacts across European boarders, giving the children ice cream so custom officials in their "dress whites" would pass them through with ease (p. 193). She examines in detail how in 1967 the Met illicitly acquired the Lydian Hoard -- 219 pieces of gold from an illegal excavation in Turkey. After a payment of nearly $1.5 million dollars, the artifacts were kept in the museum's storage for many years so as not to attract attention. Finally, when select pieces were put on display, a Turkish journalist described them and Turkey demanded them back. After much legal wrangling, the Met exhausted its delaying tactics and the pieces were finally returned in 1993. However, as Waxman points out, the artifacts may not have been better served in Turkey. They were moved to an underfunded one-room museum in Usak where 769 people saw them in a five year period -- one hour's worth of people at the Met. In addition, it turned out that the curator, after a series of personal tragedies and massive gambling and womanizing debts, stole one of the pieces, sold it, and placed a fake on display.

http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2009/2009-06-39.html
It is an interesting situation and something to consider when one reads of various returns of historical objects from institutions in the West to where the objects were discovered.
 

GRtak

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But if the same happened in the west (it has with Native American artifacts) holy hell would be raised until they were returned.
 

Heathrow

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Anyway, to get things started in the right direction, The discussion I brought up in the science thread was the debate over how people first got to the Americas. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about it.

One big part of the debate are the Clovis People:
Livescience.com ? Clovis Dudes: Comet May Not Have Rocked Stone Age World

Livescience.com said:
While most scientists agree that a large object from space likely crashed into Earth and led to the eventual demise of the dinosaurs, a new study takes aim at theories that suggest similar events spelled bad news for large animals and Stone Age hunters nearly 13,000 years ago.

For about three years, scientists have debated over what caused drastic climate changes and gaps in the archaeological record at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch, a period of time spanning from about 1.8 million to 11,500 years ago.

They puzzled over what could have caused what appeared in the fossil record to be the extinction of more than three-fourths of North America's large Ice Age animals while also nearly wiping out the Clovis people - a Stone Age group that had only recently immigrated to the continent.

* Continues *
I?m with Holiday & Meltzer here; the comet idea is an unlikely solution looking for a problem.

The Clovis were nomadic, hunter gatherers and left scant trace, they probably evolved their tools, as the type of game available changed over generations. How all the large mammals died out, is unproven as well.

I think that the latest view of the extinction of the ice age mammals in Siberia, is not that over hunting by humans wiped them out, as originally thought. The more recent idea is that the animals could not adapt quickly enough to changing climatic conditions.

It is evidence that is missing so far and a Hollywood style explanation for extinction of the Clovis people is improbable.

:)
 

GRtak

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I just watches a show on NGC(?) and they showed possible migrations from all over to the Americas. I can't remember the exact name, but if I catch it again I will post it.
 

Heathrow

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I just watched a show on NGC(?) and they showed possible migrations from all over to the Americas. I can't remember the exact name, but if I catch it again I will post it.
Currently held view is that there were several waves of migrations via Siberia ? Alaska, during relative warm periods. There was also a theory that the Clovis people of America, may have been descended from the similarly tooled Solutreans of south west France, but a recent study has thrown doubt on this idea. (Previously aired in the Science Thread.)

Was it this series or similar?

NGC ? The Human Family Tree
National Geographic Channel Website said:
TIME LINE: HUMAN MIGRATION

The Genographic Project is creating a picture of when and where ancient humans moved around the world by mapping the genetic markers in modern peoples. These great migrations eventually led the descendants of a small group of Africans to occupy even the farthest reaches of the earth.

* Snips *

40,000 ? 35,000 years ago: Despite the conditions of a frigid ice age, a hardy band of mammoth hunters moved onto the tundra of southern Siberia. There, they began to develop specialized cold-climate skills that would allow them to populate northeast Siberia and eventually North America.
* * *

I like watching Time Team and did briefly consider doing archaeology at university, but decided it would be too hard to make a career out of it.
Era wise I'm most fascinated by the Iron Age and the Roman period in Britain.
A new half series of Time Team started last Sunday, with a Napoleonic War POW camp just off the A1 in Huntingdon area. (c.1795 ? 1814).

This place was the world?s first purpose built prisoner of war camp, but was lost somewhat, despite lots of documentation. Prior to this camp, all POW were held on old moored up ships for years and guarded by the Royal Navy.

Quite an interesting program, but not really my era of main interest.

:)
 
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Jay

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If Africa is the cradle of civilization, and that some event 50-100,000 years ago all but wiped out a few people, I would like to know how humans evolved so quickly after that. Compare a typical person from Africa versus someone from Norway, and someone from China. That is some quick genetic changes, would you not agree?
Or, if you argue that there were a few people in each region after this wipeout of humans, that still begs the question of how humans evolved so quickly in the first place. Many mammals and other lifeforms have changed little over the course of one million years. What makes us so special?

Are more genetically complicated therefore leading to rapid eveolution? Planted or created by a higher power?
 

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Many mammals and other lifeforms have changed little over the course of one million years. What makes us so special?
Eh? I suggest you look at the evolution of whales.

Are more genetically complicated therefore leading to rapid eveolution? Planted or created by a higher power?
Let's leave this thread to ideas based on evidence, not fairy tales.
 

Jay

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Ugh, don't be small minded. On this entire planet, only humans have reached such an evolutionary scale that no other creature comes close.

So I am asking, Why? Decedents of an alien race? Created by God? Gods? A miracle of nature?
 

Cold Fussion

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Ugh, don't be small minded. On this entire planet, only humans have reached such an evolutionary scale that no other creature comes close.

So I am asking, Why? Decedents of an alien race? Created by God? Gods? A miracle of nature?
This is a thread for archaeology, unless a religious text is dug up I don't see how religion belongs here.
 
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