Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Four Stone Hearth XXV - 1st Anniversary Edition

Welcome to this, the 25th and first anniversary 'paper' edition - (although paper in this context of course refers to the tradition of associating various materials with wedding anniversaries), and it is my great privilege to be hosting this auspicious 'birthday' event, here at Remote Central. The blog carnival Four Stone Hearth was started by Kambiz at, and it is to his credit that we are today celebrating the first birthday of his creation. During the course of the year, the administration of Four Stone Hearth has been very kindly been overseen by Martin at Aardvarchaeology, and it is to him also that we owe our thanks for ensuring the smooth and continued running of this carnival.

The third set of thanks goes to all those who have contributed, directly or indirectly to the various editions of this blog carnival that have appeared during the course of the past year - not only has there been a very good, enthusiastic response to calls for submissions, but the quality of material submitted, has in my opinion, maintained a consistent standard of excellence throughout.

The fourth set of thanks goes to all those who have read, followed and commented upon various of the posts that have been published, whilst the fifth and final set of thanks goes pretty much to the rest of the world of research, academia and related professional and governmental organisations, who between them, provide much of the original written and illustrated source from which material on Four Stone Hearth has ultimately been derived. If I've left anyone out of that list, please consider yourself included as a matter of course.

And so on to this, the 25th edition of 4SH; this time round I've augmented the various submissions I've received with other posts I've selected from checking a few other sites here and there.

Although this is a birthday edition, there are a few posts discussing war and conflict, so on this occasion I'm going to start with these posts, and then gradually work through the rest of the contributions, which include a few on archaeology, some physical and linguistic anthropology, as well as a few towards the end that allude more to topics which may put us more in mind of a birthday event.

As an introduction to the war section, we're first of all going to look at a submission from Greg Laden, who discusses death and destruction in its wider context, and on vast scales, rather than from a specifically human standpoint.

Mass Death Events: Then and Now

"We know that when we dig around for fossils, we occasionally find mass death sites, with hundreds or thousands of individuals represented by zillions of bones, perhaps all jammed into a river channel. These are the kinds of sites that provide very important and extensive information about extinct species."

Next up, we have no less than three essays sent in from 'The Primate Diaries', all of which discuss the recent news that the US military is considering embedding anthropologists within its serried ranks, in and effort to obtain more information on the peoples of other countries, whose culture and characteristics they wish to understand.

Anthropology Goes to War, Part 1

Anthropologists in the war effort from "savages" to "terrorists"

Anthropology Goes to War, Part 2

Anthropology, colonialism and covert operations

Anthropology Goes to War, Part 3

Anthropology and counterinsurgency in Thailand

Next up, we find this at Archaeolog,

Caracol de la Resistencia: Zapatista Symbol References Maya Past

"In an ethnographic interview conducted in June 2007, leaders of the autonomous community of Oventic in highland Chiapas, Mexico discussed with me and a colleague the meaning of the caracol (snail) as a Zapatista symbol. They explained that the ancient Maya ancestors used a conch shell as a horn to summon people to gather in one place as a community.

Their ancestors lived during less technologically advanced times, they noted, when the world moved at a much slower pace than today, much like the slow-moving caracol. Today the symbol of the caracol expresses the ideals of small community government in the face of globalization."

Here's one from me, looking at the first tentative steps of reconciliation in the classrooms of Bosnia-Herzogovina

First Steps Toward Re-unification in Postwar Bosnia's Only Integrated School

Included herein is a look at the war diaries of Zlata Filipović
, and I chose to include this partly because it has direct relevance to the linked article, but also because it occurred to me that we use the diary for several reasons at once. Sometimes we use them to plot future events in our lives, such as forthcoming birthdays, anniversaries and holidays, as well as important things we need to remember to start or complete in the days and weeks ahead.

We also use diaries as a means of referencing the present, jotting down our thoughts and ideas of how we perceive the world around us at the time of writing.

And then we use diaries as historical documents, looking back into the lives of those who have gone before us, sometimes many hundreds of years ago, not only to share their thoughts, but to glean details of the world as it was configured around them when they were updating their journals.

BLDGBLOG is a site which in my opinion is unfailingly interesting to read, as well as being well-stocked with very good image content. Here's a final post on our topic of war.

Sitting Amidst War Ruins in the Hills Around San Francisco

My wife and I went out to the Marin Headlands yesterday, on a beautiful if windy October afternoon, to hike through the earthquake-prone hills of an upraised seabed, past the eroding concrete bunkers of the U.S. military – abstract monoliths left stranded in the landscape.

Leading us from this section on war to the next on archaeology, we now take a look at a 16th century sword recently discovered by Martin Rundkvist at Aardvarchaeology, a find which has attracted no small amount of attention and comment.

Djurhamn Sword Excavated

"It's a straight double-edged sword, 92 cm long with a single-hand grip. Nils Drejholt of the Royal Armoury tells me that it's an early-16th century weapon, unusually designed but similar in details to the so-called rikssvärden, "swords of the realm", ceremonial weapons commissioned by King Gustaf I."

We now head across the fields in the direction of Afarensis, whom we find busily engaged in helping to preserve Blake Mound, in Missouri.

Restoring Mounds and Other Fun Stuff

Blake Mound is an unexcavated mound in Missouri. It is currently being watched over by Mark Leach - the creator of the adopt a mound program - who has permission to restore parts of the mound that have suffered damage. Members of various archaeology classes at the St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley (Dr. Fuller's students) were also on hand.

Dennis Price at Eternal Idol has a most interestnig post, looking at the work of Professor R.J.C. Atkinson's work at Stonehenge and Silbury Hill during the 1950s and 1960s. Dennis believes that Professor Atkinson discovered something about the true functions of both Stonehenge and Silbury Hill, but for reasons that elude us, he chose to not only cover up his findings, but actively discouraged others to investigate the sites.

"What I Give Form to in Daylight is Only 1% of What I have Seen in Darkness"

Silbury Hill and Stonehenge both have the highly dubious distinction of having been excavated by the late Professor Atkinson, who was fully aware of their unique value and status. Atkinson dug at Stonehenge from 1950 to 1964; if we take a conservative estimate that each season was roughly three months long, then he was physically present at or else working at Stonehenge for something like 45 months or nearly four years in total.

Staying at Eternal Idol, here's my recent article reviewing the latest from Dennis and his belief that the site of Vespasian's Camp, near Stonehenge, was the lost City of Apollo.

Phylias of Massilia and the Lost City of Apollo, Part III

You may also wish to read Part I, and Part II

And here's a response from Alun at Clioaudio, who finds himself unable to concur with some of the proposed ideas contained therein.

Foundations Beyond Doubt?

"The latest post compares the Tholos at Delphi with the circular design of Stonehenge. Personally I’m not convinced. Stonehenge could be the site descrfibed by Pytheas, but I don’t think the evidence survives to be sure of where the temple may be. Both posts are worth reading, but I think part of the problem is that Price is more willing to move from plausible to certain than I am. I wouldn’t dismiss his idea out of hand, but there are problems. One that there’s likely to be a big shift in what classicists think is certain about the foundations of sites like Massalia."

Carl at Hot Cup of Joe takes a long look at an antiquities scandal in Italy.

The Italian Antiquities Trial - a Brief Review

One of the interesting developments of the antiquities trial in Italy is the attention that has been spotlighted on the role of the collector as well as the museum in the antiquities trade. Indeed, without these entities, there would simply be no market for illicit antiquities.

Kris Hirst at Archaeology has a nice article on something rare, with promise of more to come.

Materials of Interest: Faience

There's a bunch of other things like this - I mean, cool materials created or manipulated by our predecessors on this planet, with great names like wootz steel and Maya blue and Chinese purple, that I didn't realize before I did some poking around. So, I think I'll start a Sunday series on them with faience.

Moving on in the direction of physical anthropology, we next hear from Kambiz, who very kindly sent in 3 posts from Anthropology .net

How to use common bioinformatic tools to compare two Neandertal sequences

If you’re interested in the intersection of bioinformatics, genomics, and paleoanthropology but haven’t really wondered how to apply these disciplines together, this should w(h)et your appetite. All the tools I will be using are freely accessible to everyone. After this tutorial, you can basically begin to do some of the comparative research that Svante Pääbo et al. did… and you don’t need really any preface, other than DNA is made up of nucleotides and one can compare two or more sets of nucleotides to trace relationships.

Whoa, Neandertals were in Uzbekistan and Siberia

...the hominid remains from the Teshik Tash cave in Uzbekistan and the Okladnikov cave in the Altai region of Siberia are so fragmented and hard to classify, that for a long time paleoanthropologists have just put them aside. Lead author Krause et al. decided to dust off these specimens and break off about a fifth of a gram of bone from each to sequence and compare. Specifically, they harvested samples from the femur of the Teshik Tash kid and from three Okladnikov long bones.

Where cultural anthropology meets entertainment, Discovery Channel’s Last One Standing

During the first episode, three of the six visiting men were selected to be representative warriors for the Kalapalo during one of their ceremonies where neighboring tribes come to wrestle. Richard, Brad and Rajko had to show their manhood by first enduring scratches from piranha teeth. Next, salt and chili powder was rubbed into their open wounds and they were not to show any signs of pain. You can read the personal accounts of Richard and Brad in the first entry of blog the Discovery Channel has set up for the show.

Michael E. Smith discusses how to make the archaeological literature more widely available,

Publishing Archaeology Outside of Archaeology

If we have important information about past societies to contribute to general knowledge, then we need to publish in non-archaeological venues. Archaeologists working on empires, city-states, or chiefdoms should be publishing in political science journals, and those of us studying social inequality should publish in the sociology literature. It’s not reasonable to expect that economists, for example, will peruse the pages of World Archaeology or Latin American Antiquity to find out what archaeologists have learned about craft production systems. We need to actively promote our message beyond archaeology.

Whilst Chris O'Brien at Northstate Science takes Michael Egnor to task regarding his ideas about 'Intelligent Design'.

Bad Analogies at 'Evolution News & Views'

What Egnor and other ID advocates fail to recognize is that archaeology does not assume design. This is a difficult concept to explain. In my archaeology class I show the students an “arrowhead” (better described as projectile points – most “arrowheads” are actually atlatl points – the bow and arrow was a relatively late development). Most students will recognize a projectile point as such, as would most ID advocates, and most will clearly infer a human designer. But then I ask, “How do you know that’s a projectile point?”

In other words, how do we know what we
know? Most students will say that they have seen similar items, read about such things in books or articles, or even tried to make one themselves. As we walk through this exercise, students begin to realize that their assumption of human design is correct, but what on the surface seems obvious is in fact built on a large body of previous knowledge.

Now for a quick stroll into the field of linguistic anthropology, looking at the origins and spread of language, as well as efforts to prevent other languages from becoming extinct. First up, it's off to John Hawks, discussing a recent paper by linguist Juan Uriagereka, whom I quote below.

A Quick Language Evolution Rundown

A quasi-paradox has persisted within the field of linguistics, because the sudden emergence of such a complex, limitless system in a single species is hard to rationalize in terms of standard evolution. Its rapid spread makes language seem more like a viral epidemic that swept through the human population rather than a trait inherited through the typical dynamics of evolution.

Whilst John Hawks comments thus:

Human FoxP2 differs from chimpanzees by two derived amino acid substitutions. If Neandertals were different from us (which seems likely, given the recent evidence of selection on the gene), then they would have had only one of these substitutions. It's an answer we don't actually need the Neandertal genome for. Now, if only we could start thinking about some other language-related genes.

On a related note, Yann Klimentidis draws our attention to a study in Indonesia which has prompted the following comment from him,

"The main thing here is that they do their analysis of genetic diversity vs. geographic/language diversity at a very fine scale. They find a strong relationship between language (as measured by cognates: words with a common origin) and genetics (Y chromosome lineages). They do this on Sumba, the island in the south central area of Indonesia, just south of Flores"

Genetic vs. Language Diversity

Here's a quote from the PNAS abstract:

Numerous studies indicate strong associations between languages and genes among human populations at the global scale, but all broader scale genetic and linguistic patterns must arise from processes originating at the community level. We examine linguistic and genetic variation in a contact zone on the eastern Indonesian island of Sumba, where Neolithic Austronesian farming communities settled and began interacting with aboriginal foraging societies 3,500 years ago. Phylogenetic reconstruction based on a 200-word Swadesh list sampled from 29 localities supports the hypothesis that Sumbanese languages derive from a single ancestral Austronesian language.

Here's something I spotted via Anthro-L, and looks at a military application and its use in preserving Native American languages.

The Phraselator II

When Terry Brockie first learned of the Phraselator, a speech interpretation device developed by the military as a way to easily translate Arabic words into English, he immediately wanted to get one. He saw great possibilities for using the machine to record the elders of his tribe saying words and phrases in their native tongue, and thus preserve his tribe’s language for future generations. In 2005, Brockie visited a popular tribal elder, 109-year-old Theresa Lamebull, whose collected knowledge amounted to a living linguistic history of a large chunk of the Gros Ventre tribe’s culture.

Next up are a few posts which look at food and drink, which of course no birthday party should be without. Our first contribution is served up by Archaeozoology, and looks at culinary life from a porcine perspective.

The Question of Islamic Pig Prohibition

"This blog looks at dietary taboos, focussing specifically on the prohibition of the pig in Islamic culture and exploring possible reasons for its prohibition."

And lingering a moment longer at the very readable site that is Archaeozoology, a rare and welcome addition to the blogosphere, I thought this would be good topical addition to a birthday-themed blog carnival.

The Archaeozoology of Luxury

"In general, a diet with much variety can be called luxurious because it will contain items that are not strictly optimal in terms of the ratio of costs versus nutritional value. Another possible characteristic of a luxury diet is the selection of the prime quality parts of an animal, or derived from animals killed before their optimal slaughter age.

Given the loss for the producer, this latter makes the product more expensive. The same is true for animals killed outside the optimal slaughtering season.Luxury items are not always easy to detect, however. All archaeological information contains bias. Certain animal food products leave no remains that survive in most soil types e.g. meat or fish that has been filleted and de-boned before being brought onto site."

Julien over at A Very Remote Period Indeed has this offering on that popular drink we obtain from the humble grape.


Not much time to post this week since my "free time" has been coopted by the family unit to help in crushing crates and crates of grapes in preparation of this year's supply of
Castello Salvatore... I just got home now, and I'm exhausted; we crushed about 40 cases of grapes tonight: Cabernet Sauvignon (yeah!), Pinot Noir (hm), Zinfandel (not my call). Should make for a good range this year, though.

Now, to make this relevant to archaeology, I should mention that the fantastic (and very well-written) book
Ancient Wine by Patrick McGovern was brought up in conversation a number of times this evening.

Next, it's time to head back out of the dining room in the direction of imagery and design on which to feast our eyes, and in the first instance we pay a visit to JJ Higgins' site, Random Version. As far as I'm aware, the site is still in development, with more material planned, so it's probably worthwhile checking back for updates from time to time.

Random Version

video files

jj higgins - elsewhere

I'm an artist working in installation (more of an art practice than making the objects that the general population considers art) And my research is in the non-place, the anthropological views of the social space, and the interaction/intervention in social space. The idea of the machine, with the audience as the mechanism, is something of interest to me -through the practice of play. And play we do not enough.

As we don our smoking jackets and spark up those Cuban cigars, it's to the site of the urban anthropology magazine, Stimulus Respond which we now repair; this online magazine is currently in the process of evolving from its published format of 'cyber' to paper - which I hope helps to wrap up, in a semi-symmetrical style, this blog carnival, which as we will recall, opened by noting that the first wedding anniversary is represented by paper itself.

Stimulus Respond

The 'Magic' issue of Stimulus Respond has just arrived from the printers. Looks great! Pre-orders will be dispatched on Thursday in order to avoid the UK postal strike and it's after-effects. After this, our aim is to have the magazine available at stockists from Monday.

Todd Ochoa - His Illness
Carrie Clanton - Scientific Magic
Junko Theresa Mikuriya - On the Walls of the Caves are Shadows
Tolu Ogunlesi - On Beauty
James K Walker - The 23 Enigma

And our very last visit is to Nomadic Thoughts, where the author, who if memory serves correctly, is Will, recently celebrated his own 25th birthday,


As he included a list of anniversaries that coincided with his own birthday, I followed this link to the History Channel, in order to see their compilation of notable events that took place on previous October 10ths. For their main historical event, they've gone for the Battle of Tours, in AD 732.

At the Battle of Tours near Poitiers, Frankish leader Charles Martel, a Christian, defeats a large army of Spanish Moors, halting the Muslim advance into Western Europe. Abd-ar-Rahman, the Muslim governor of Córdoba, was killed in the fighting and the Moors retreated from Gaul, never to return in such force. Charles was the illegitimate son of Pepin, the powerful mayor of the palace of Austrasia and effective ruler of the Frankish kingdom.

After Pepin died in 714 (with no surviving legitimate sons) Charles beat out Pepin's three grandsons in a power struggle and became mayor of the Franks. He expanded the Frankish territory under his control and in 732 repulsed in onslaught by the Muslims. Victory at Tours ensured the ruling dynasty of Martel's family, the Carolingians. His son Pepin became the first Carolingian king of the Franks, and his grandson Charlemagne carved out a vast empire that stretched across Europe.

Thanks everyone for reading, and the next Four Stone Hearth, number 26, will be hosted 2 weeks from now on October 24th, over at Eric Michael Johnson's blog, 'The Primate Diaries', so until then, I bid you adieu.

image: 'Birthday' - Marc Chagall, 1915

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