A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘anthropology

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly advises readers how to conduct interviews.
  • City of Brass’ Aziz Poonawalla thanks Obama for quoting his letter on Islam in America.
  • Crooked Timber takes issue with The New Yorker‘s stance on Sanders.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the complexity of interactions between stellar winds and the magnetospheres of hot Jupiters.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that ex-gay torturers in the United States have gone to Israel.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the scale of the breakdown in Venezuela.
  • Marginal Revolution looks at changing patterns in higher education.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that carbon capture is difficult.
  • Peter Rukavina shares a preliminary printed map of Charlottetown transit routes.
  • Savage Minds notes the importance of infrastructure.
  • Strange Maps shares very early maps of Australia.
  • Torontoist notes an early freed slave couple in Toronto, the Blackburns.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the implications of global warming for Arctic countries.

[LINK] “The first Indo-French Prehistorical Mission in Siwaliks and the discovery of anthropic activities”

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The Dragon’s Tales linked to a remarkable paper that claims to have found stone tools 2.6 million years old in India.

This paper presents the first Indo-French Prehistorical Mission in the Himalayan foothills, northwestern India, and introduces the results of the multidisciplinary research program “Siwaliks” under the patronage of Professor Yves Coppens, from the Collège de France and Académie des Sciences, France. This program is dedicated to the discovery of cut marks on mineralized bovid bones collected among vertebrate fossils in a fluviatile formation named “Quranwala zone” in the Chandigarh anticline, near the village Masol, and located just below the Gauss–Matuyama polarity reversal (2.58 Ma). Artefacts (simple choppers, flakes) have been collected in and on the colluviums. This important discovery questions the origins of the hominins which made the marks.

As I understand it, this is very early.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 1, 2016 at 1:22 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • As noted by The Dragon’s Gaze, Centauri Dreams hosts an essay hotly defending the argument that KIC 8462852 has dimmed sharply.
  • Crooked Timber looks at the links between classical liberalism and the refusal to aid the victims of the Irish famine.
  • D-Brief notes that ancient Babylonian astronomers were close to developing calculus.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that a large majority of Germans and a majority of Australian MPs back marriage equality.
  • Marginal Revolution speculates that much of China’s growth slowdown is a consequence of declining construction.
  • The Planetary Society Blog shares photos from Chang’e 3.
  • Peter Rukavina describes his work creating an online Schedule for Charlottetown transit.
  • Savage Minds considers authenticity in relationship to digital models of artifacts.
  • Science Sushi, at Discover, notes the complex social lives of at least some octopi.
  • Transit Toronto notes rising GO Transit prices.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at the decline of the Russian Orthodox Church’s presence in Ukraine.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • blogTO notes that Québec chain Simons will be opening up stories in Toronto and Mississauga in the coming years.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly notes that The Devil Wears Prada actually offers good advice to job-seekers.
  • Centauri Dreams notes a search program for planets at Proxima Centauri and considers Proxima’s linkage to the Alpha Centauri A-B binary.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes distant gas giant HD 106906b.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that acceptance of gays is at an all-time high.
  • The Map Room Blog links to an exhibition of colonial cartography of Algeria and points to an essay on critical cartography.
  • Marginal Revolution notes high levels of female mortality in the US South.
  • Savage Minds considers the question of how to exhibit physical artifacts in an era of 3-D printing.
  • John Scalzi’s Whatever and Charlie Stross’ Antipope mourn the death of science fiction editor David Hartwell.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Russia’s growing difficulties wth Chechen dictator Kadyrov, observes that most Tajiks recruited for ISIS are recruited as workers in Russia, suggests the annexation of Crimea helped bolster Russia’s ethnic Russian and Slavic populations, and notes hostility in Chuvashia towards Russian language policy in education.

[LINK] “A Tempest in a Digital Teapot”

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Savage Minds hosts Colleen Morgan’s essay about the role of digital images in modern-day anthropology.

It was hot, but that was not unusual. We woke up at the first call to prayer to be on site at sunrise. I would trudge through the dimly-lit streets of the village, up to the ancient tell, and sit next to my trench until I had enough light to see my paperwork. The cut limestone went from dull gray, to a rosy pink, then that brief and magical moment called the golden hour, when the archaeology would become clear and beautifully lit and I would rush around trying to take the important photos of the day. Then the light would become hard, white-hot, and often over 100F. By lunchtime all of the crisp angles of the limestone would disappear into a smeary haze, hardly worth bothering with a camera. Photographs of people were impossible too—everyone was dusty, hot, irritable, half in shadow under hats, scarves.

I picked up my camera and climbed out of the Mamluk building I was excavating, on my way down the ancient tell of Dhiban and back up the neighboring tell of the modern town of Dhiban. As I walked between the Byzantine, Roman, Nabatean and Islamic piles of cut stone, a faint trace of smoke made me hesitate, then come off the winding goat path. Two of the Bani Hamida bedouin who worked with us on site were stoking a small fire on the tell. While making fires on the archaeology was certainly not encouraged, the local community had been using the tell to socialize for a long time. I greeted the men and they invited me to sit and have qahwa, a strong, hot, sweet, green coffee served in many of the local hospitality rituals and customs. I refused once, then twice, then looked over my shoulder at the vanishing backs of my fellow archaeologists, on their way to breakfast. Then I accepted a cup. But first, I pulled out my camera and snapped a photo.

When I’m feeling ornery, I tell people that I wrote a whole chapter of my PhD thesis about a photograph of a teapot. Even worse, a digital photograph of a teapot. And it’s not really a teapot, it is a coffeepot, perched on a small twig fire on top of a tell heaving with archaeology, and tended by these two men, Atif and Zaid, who did not want to be in the frame. They are represented by two slightly blurry sticks, hovering in the foreground, a present absence. The photo isn’t even all that good.

See, in my thesis (Emancipatory Digital Archaeology) I was working through what digital artifacts do in archaeology. What does it mean to take a digital photograph of a pot sherd, a woman swinging a mattock, a teapot coffeepot in the desert sun? How is the analog-turned-digital moment mobilized to create archaeological understanding? Can a virtual reality model of a Neolithic house change the way we understand the past, and, can we start making these things, these digital ephemera, in a better way, to create a more participatory, multivocal, craft-based archaeology?

Written by Randy McDonald

January 16, 2016 at 5:25 pm

[LINK] “Mammoth bones reveal early human presence in Arctic”

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The Toronto Star carried Malcolm Ritter’s Associated Press article reporting on suggestive evidence of an early human presence in northern Siberia. This, as some have suggested, has noteworthy implications for the peopling of the Americas as well–why couldn’t people have crossed from the Asian Arctic to the American Arctic earlier?

The remains of a mammoth that was hunted down about 45,000 years ago have revealed the earliest known evidence of humans in the Arctic.

Marks on the bones, found in far northern Russia, indicate the creature was stabbed and butchered. The tip of a tusk was damaged in a way that suggests human activity, perhaps to make ivory tools.

With a minimal age estimate of 45,000 years, the discovery extends the record of human presence in the Arctic by at least about 5,000 years.

The site in Siberia, near the Kara Sea, is also by far the northernmost sign of human presence in Eurasia before 40,000 years ago, Vladimir Pitulko of the Russian Academy of Science in St. Petersburg and co-authors reported in a paper released Thursday by the journal Science.

They also briefly report evidence of human hunting at about the same time from a wolf bone found well to the east. That suggests a widespread occupation, although the population was probably sparse, they said.

Written by Randy McDonald

January 15, 2016 at 6:35 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

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  • blogTO shows a downtown office tower being converted into condos.
  • The Big Picture has a sad photo essay showing the disintegration of the life of a heroin addict.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that there might be mud volcanoes on Mars’ Chryse Planitia.
  • The Everyday Sociology Blog looks at American state laws sociologically.
  • Geocurrents finishes its regional schema for California.
  • inuit panda scarlet carwash looks at the pervasive influence of David Bowie throughout his life.
  • Joe. My. God. notes a report about the decline of gayborhoods worldwide.
  • Language Hat notes an interesting-sounding study of the nature of inner voices.
  • Language Log notes the problems with rare characters in Taiwan.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes odd conservative obsessions about the ways they think liberals think.
  • The Map Room Blog links to a map of North American mass transit routes.
  • The New APPS Blog looks at the representation of women and minorities in the ranks of philosophy doctorates.
  • Savage Minds explores David Bowie from the perspective of difference.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Circassians of Turkish citizenship are being asked to leave Russia.
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