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[LINK] “The Kennewick Man Finally Freed to Share His Secrets”

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In the September 2014 issue of Smithsonian, Douglas Preston writes about the most recent researches into Kennewick Man. This ancient skeleton found in the American Pacific Northwest was sequestered from research for two decades over jurisdiction issues. The limited studies to date hints at distant origins in Asia and the Pacific, among the Ainu and the Polynesians.

A vast amount of data was collected in the 16 days Owsley and colleagues spent with the bones. Twenty-two scientists scrutinized the almost 300 bones and fragments. Led by Kari Bruwelheide, a forensic anthropologist at the Smithsonian, they first reassembled the fragile skeleton so they could see it as a whole. They built a shallow box, added a layer of fine sand, and covered that with black velvet; then Bruwelheide laid out the skeleton, bone by bone, shaping the sand underneath to cradle each piece. Now the researchers could address such questions as Kennewick Man’s age, height, weight, body build, general health and fitness, and injuries. They could also tell whether he was deliberately buried, and if so, the position of his body in the grave.

Next the skeleton was taken apart, and certain key bones studied intensively. The limb bones and ribs were CT-scanned at the University of Washington Medical Center. These scans used far more radiation than would be safe for living tissue, and as a result they produced detailed, three-dimensional images that allowed the bones to be digitally sliced up any which way. With additional CT scans, the team members built resin models of the skull and other important bones. They made a replica from a scan of the spearpoint in the hip.

As work progressed, a portrait of Kennewick Man emerged. He does not belong to any living human population. Who, then, are his closest living relatives? Judging from the shape of his skull and bones, his closest living relatives appear to be the Moriori people of the Chatham Islands, a remote archipelago 420 miles southeast of New Zealand, as well as the mysterious Ainu people of Japan.

[. . .]

Not that Kennewick Man himself was Polynesian. This is not Kon-Tiki in reverse; humans had not reached the Pacific Islands in his time period. Rather, he was descended from the same group of people who would later spread out over the Pacific and give rise to modern-day Polynesians. These people were maritime hunter-gatherers of the north Pacific coast; among them were the ancient Jōmon, the original inhabitants of the Japanese Islands. The present-day Ainu people of Japan are thought to be descendants of the Jōmon. Nineteenth-century photographs of the Ainu show individuals with light skin, heavy beards and sometimes light-colored eyes.

Jōmon culture first arose in Japan at least 12,000 years ago and perhaps as early as 16,000 years ago, when the landmasses were still connected to the mainland. These seafarers built boats out of sewn planks of wood. Outstanding mariners and deep-water fishermen, they were among the first people to make fired pottery.

The discovery of Kennewick Man adds a major piece of evidence to an alternative view of the peopling of North America. It, along with other evidence, suggests that the Jōmon or related peoples were the original settlers of the New World. If correct, the conclusion upends the traditional view that the first Americans came through central Asia and walked across the Bering Land Bridge and down through an ice-free corridor into North America.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 28, 2014 at 7:54 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO shares vintage postcard images of Toronto in the 1970s.
  • Centauri Dreams notes a proposed method for detecting exomoons, by detecting the disruptions that they cause in their parent worlds’ magnetic fields on the pattern of Io’s disruption of Jupiter’s magnetic fields.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes a new paper suggesting that Enceladus’ geysers are caused by its tides with Saturn.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog looks at what sociology has to say about sibling relationships.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that some American conservstives think gays should oppose immigration because immigrants bring tuberculosis which kills HIV-positive people.
  • Languages of the World’s Asya Perelstvaig demonstrates that there is no evidence at all that Yiddish descends from the Turkic Khazarian language, noting instead arguments for a Germanic origin.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog maps population change in Estonia over 1989-2011, noting that there has been population growth only in the metropolitan areas of three Estonian cities with Russian-majority Narva not seeing growth.
  • At Savage Minds, Uzma Z. Rizvi thinks about racism in the United States over time.
  • The Search interviews online anthropologist Robert Kozinets.
  • Spacing Toronto notes that Toronto saw the invention of the first arcade game.
  • Strange Maps shares an interactive infographic tracing the cross-border electricity trade in the European Union.
  • Towleroad notes a fatal gay-bashing in San Francisco and the near-murder of an Azerbaijani teen by parents who wanted to burn him alive.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes an American court ruling refusing to enforce a Moroccan court judgement on the grounds of the Moroccan legal system’s corruption.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that support for federalism is spreading in Russia, notes one analyst’s argument that Russia can become a beacon of reactionary conservative ideology, and suggests that Russia is trying to nudge outside powers out of the Armenia-Azerbaijan dispute.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO notes that the Global Village Backpackers building on the northeast corner of King and Spadina is up for sale.
  • Centauri Dreams and the Planetary Society Blog both comment on the almost last-minute search by the Hubble space telescope for Kuiper belt objects to be targets for the New Horizons probe after it passes Pluto.
  • Crooked Timber’s Corey Robin speculates that the alleged boredom of Obama in office might be taken as a marker for imminent revolutionary sentiment.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that the protoplanetary disk of protostar IRAS 16293-2422 is composed of two segments, both rotating in opposite directions.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money approves of Mattherw Yglesias’ argument that some wars, like a proposed intervention in Iraq, are unwinnable.
  • Marginal Revolution has more on the court decision against Argentina for the benefit of its creditors.
  • Registan describes what the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan is doing in Pakistan. (Putting down roots.)
  • Savage Minds features a post by a pair of anthropologists advocating that the discipline take part in a boycott of Israel.
  • Torontoist profiles the #parkdalelove Twitter campaign mounted after Mammoliti’s ridiculous statements.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy reports on a lawsuit by a convert to the church that converted him, alleging that because they publicized his conversion from Islam contrary to his request his life was threatened in Syria.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that Russia annexed Crimea because it thought alternative separatist movements in Ukraine were budding.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • The Big Picture shares photos of Iran 25 years after the death of Ayatollah Khomeini.
  • Crooked Timber continues its seminar on the ethics of open borders.</li
  • D-Brief notes the discovery of two new classes of planets not found in our solar system, Earth-mass gas dwarfs and rocky super-Earths.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper suggesting that red dwarfs’ solar wind would significantly heat exoplanets in their circumstellar habitable zones and links to another paper concluded that Kepler-10c is a giant rocky world.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes drama in Canada regarding the possibility or not of a F-35 purchase.
  • The Financial Times‘ The World blog wonders about the future of the monarchy in a securely democratic Spain.
  • Geocurrents’ Martin Lewis concludes that poverty isn’t clearly the cause of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, notwithstanding the relative poverty of the Muslim north.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money is rightly upset that Confederate general and defender of slavery Robert E. Lee is positioned in a new book as an American patriot.
  • The New APPS Blog considers the issues associated with democracy in the European Union after the recent elections.
  • Savage Minds’ P. Kerim Friedman considers the shooting ratio of ethnography. How much raw material do anthropologists need to collect to come up with something compelling?
  • Window on Eurasia traces the genealogy of Eurasianism in the Soviet era.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • blogTO has a visual history of the Toronto Islands up.
  • Centauri Dreams looks at GU Piscium b and Beta Pictoris b.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper examining two concepts for theoretical nuclear fusion-fueled space drives, one using additional coolant and one not.
  • Eastern Approaches examines the disastrous floods in the former Yugoslavia.
  • Joe. My. God. reports on a study suggesting church attendance is exaggerated by traditional self-reporting methods.
  • Language Log notes the success in the digitization of ancient Persian manuscripts, including of a bilingual Persian/Gujarati Zoroastrian text.
  • Registan notes the influence of the Internet and social media in reshaping Islam in Uzbekistan.
  • Savage Minds features a post by Nick Seaver talking about the ways in which anthropology can get involved with computer-mediated processes, like the algorithms which recommend tunes.
  • Towleroad examines Dolly Parton as a gay icon.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Russian academic disinterest in Ukrainian culture and covers the Crimean Tatars’ commemoration of their deportation in the context of Russian occupation.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • The Everyday Sociology Blog’s Karen Sternheimer takes a look at the concept of anomie as expressed in the lives of recent graduates.
  • At The Early Days of a Better Nation, Ken Macleod comes out against Scottish independence on the grounds that the aftermath will paralyze left-wing politics for a while.
  • Far Outliers’ Joel notes that Australian defenses in New Guinea on the eve of the Second World War were terrible, verging on incompetent.
  • Geocurrents’ Martin Lewis maps contrasting patterns of illumination and Maoist insurgencies in India.
  • Savage Minds’ Alex Posecznick notes how anthropologists pose as outsiders while actually being deeply embedded in and products of structures of power.
  • Discover‘s Seriously Science notes an apparent linkage of Twitter use to relationship failure.
  • Torontoist notes some east-end home owners expanding their power vis-a-vis developers by putting their properties up on the market.
  • Towleroad notes Kink.com studio owner Peter Acworth advancing post-exposure prophylaxis as a safe alternative to condoms in the porn industry.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy takes one look, then another, in the case of custody claims of a non-birth mother in a same-sex couple.
  • Window on Eurasia links to an author arguing that the secession of the east would emphasize Ukraine’s European orientation.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • blogTO notes that the supersonic Concorde actually paid visits to Toronto.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining planetary migration in stellar binaries.
  • Eastern Approaches is critical of the referenda in eastern Ukraine.
  • The Financial Times‘s World blog notes a French dilemma: does it sell warships to Russia now in this time of economic austerty? Does it dare not to?
  • Joe. My. God. notes the victory of Conchita Wurst in Eurovision, and Towleroad comments on Russian displeasure.
  • The Language Log’s Geoffrey Pullum links to, and comments upon the recent Economist map showing how ludicrous it is to establish language areas as countries.
  • The New APPS Blog notes how problematic it is to suggest that genetic differences explain everything.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer warns that, at the current rate, Ukraine’s violence will reach a level of civil war in December.
  • Savage Minds investigates the branding of anthropology.
  • Speed River Journal’s Van Waffle describes the rose-breasted grosbeak.
  • Towleroad notes that religious freedom is reserved only for conservative Christians.
  • Torontoist provides a biography of John Bayne Maclean, a man who in the late 19th century lay the foundation for a publishing empire including MacLean’s.
  • Window on Eurasia links to an argument that federalization in eastern Ukraine would lead to disintegration.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell discusses Colorado River water politics on the US-Mexico border.
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