|Anthropology Around The World|
Archaeology - Archaeology Magazine
1 - More on the Burial of King Richard III
2 - Cave Paintings Found in Mexico’s San Carlos Mountains
3 - Neanderthal Fossils Uncovered in Coastal Greek Cave
4 - Elements in Baby Teeth Reveal Breast-Feeding History
5 - Prehistoric Dogs Were More Than Hunting Companions
6 - New Technique Pinpoints Sources of Volcanic Glass
7 - Plant Pathogen Identified in 19th-Century Potato Leaves
8 - Wetter Weather Spurred Human Innovations
9 - Anglo-Saxon Church Found Beneath Lincoln Castle
LEICESTER, ENGLAND—Researchers from the University of Leicester have revealed in the journal Antiquity that the remains of King Richard III had been buried in an untidy grave, “without any pomp or solemn funeral,” as the medieval historian Polydore Vergil had written. There were no signs of a coffin or a shroud, and the lozenge-shaped grave was too short for his body, which had been placed on one side of the hole. Additional evidence suggests that the defeated king’s hands may have been tied. Other medieval graves in the town had been carefully dug to the correct length and with vertical sides.
BURGOS, MEXICO—Nearly 5,000 paintings have been discovered in 11 different sites in northeastern Mexico, in an area thought to have been uninhabited during the pre-Hispanic era. More than 1,500 of the paintings were found in one cave alone. The images depict people, animals, and insects, as well as an atlatl and abstract objects, and are thought to have been created by at least three different groups of hunter-gatherers. “We have not found any ancient objects linked to the context, and because the paintings are on ravine walls and in the rainy season the sediments are washed away, all we have is gravel,” said Gustavo Ramirez of the National Institute of Anthropology and History. Scientists will attempt to date the paintings’ pigments.
TÜBINGEN, GERMANY—The remains of several Neanderthals have been found at the Kalamakia Middle Paleolithic Cave on the Mani Peninsula in southern Greece. “The site is currently very close to the sea. During glacial times the sea level was lower, so there likely would have been a coastal plain exposed in front of the site. This habitat would be ideal for the kinds of animals that humans hunted,” said Katerina Harvati of the University of Tübingen. Here the Neanderthals ate fallow deer, ibex, shellfish, and tortoise, whose shells were crafted into tools. Before this discovery, the only known Neanderthal fossil in Greece was a single tooth, even though it was known that Neanderthals inhabited other Mediterranean coastal areas.
CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS—By measuring the ratios of barium to calcium in the layers of enamel and dentin in baby teeth, Manish Arora of Harvard University’s School of Public Health says that it is possible to determine how long a child had been breast fed. Before birth, very little barium is deposited into the developing teeth. The barium level spikes and stays high after birth when breast milk becomes the source of nutrition. When solid food is introduced, the levels change again. To test the technique, Arora analyzed a 100,000-year-old Neanderthal baby tooth from Belgium. He estimates that the child was breast fed exclusively until seven months of age, when its diet was supplemented with solid food, and that weaning occurred at 14 months of age. Breast feeding is “a major determinate of child health and immune protection, so breast-feeding is important both from the point of view of studying our evolution as well as studying health in modern humans,” he explained.
EDMONTON, CANADA—Robert Losey of the University of Alberta studied prehistoric burials of dogs from around the world. He found that dog burials were more common in regions where the human population was dense, the dead were buried in cemeteries, and people ate a lot of aquatic foods, even though it had been thought the dogs were kept by humans primarily for hunting terrestrial game. In Eastern Siberia, where dog domestication is estimated to have occurred 33,000 ago, dogs were only buried for the past 10,000 years, and then only when a human was also being buried. “I think the hunter-gatherers here saw some of the dogs as being nearly the same as themselves, even at a spiritual level. At this time, dogs were the only animals living closely with humans,” Losey said. For example, one dog had been buried wearing a necklace made of four red deer tooth pendants, a human fashion at the time.
SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND—While at the University of Sheffield from 1965 to 1972, Professor Lord Colin Renfrew created a technique to match the chemical composition of obsidian tools with the chemical composition of particular volcanoes and their lava flows. Now, Ellery Frahm of the University of Sheffield has refined that process using additional magnetic analyses so that archaeologists can trace the origins of obsidian tools to a particular volcanic quarry. “This approach provides a deeper insight into our understanding of past human behavior and will hopefully enhance research into how different groups managed natural resources linked to their economies,” he explained.
NORWICH, ENGLAND—An international team of scientists has examined preserved nineteenth-century plant leaves and collected DNA from the fungus-like infection that wiped out Ireland’s potato crop in 1845. They found that this particular strain of Phytophthora infestans is genetically different from strains that cause infections in potato and tomato crops today. “Perhaps this strain became extinct when the first resistant potato varieties were bred at the beginning of the 20th century,” said Kentaro Yoshida of The Sainsbury Laboratory. The failure of Ireland’s potato crop led to the deaths of an estimated one million people between 1846 and 1851.
PARIS, FRANCE—Periods of wet weather in South Africa led to population growth and cultural advancement in modern humans during the Middle Stone Age, according to a comparison of the archaeological record and climate history read from a sediment core. The use of symbols, the development of complex language, the manufacture and use of stone tools, and the creation of jewelry all coincided with climate change, according to Martin Ziegler of the Cardiff University School of Earth and Ocean Sciences. “At the same time, large parts of sub-Saharan Africa experienced drier conditions, so that South Africa potentially acted as a refuge for early humans,” he added.
LINCOLNSHIRE, ENGLAND—Traces of a Christian church thought to be at least 1,000 years old have been found underneath England’s Lincoln Castle, constructed in the late eleventh century. The church is thought to have been built by the Anglo Saxons after the Romans left Britain, but before the arrival of William the Conqueror in 1066. “The discovery was totally unexpected, but it is well known that other Roman walled towns often contained some high-status use during the Anglo-Saxon period,” said Beryl Lott, historic environment manager for Lincolnshire County Council.