Posted on Friday, September 14, 2012 @ 03:09:46 EDT in NDN
Stone points found in an Oregon cave suggest a whole group of people existed at the same time as the Clovis.
A newly discovered American culture was present during, or even before, the Clovis culture in western North America.
The Western Stemmed culture of at least 13,200 years ago is defined by its distinctive projectile points.
Evidence is mounting that multiple migrations led to the first populating of the Americas.
Bases of three Western Stemmed projectile points found in Oregon's Paisley Caves.
The first known people to settle America can now be divided into at least two cultures, the Clovis and the recently discovered "Western Stemmed" tradition, according to new research. Read More...
Researchers excavating an Oregon cave, found traces and unique tools made by a second people, who lived more than 13,200 years ago. The discovery, described in the latest issue of Science, strengthens the idea that that people moved into the Americas in several waves of migrations, not just one.
Posted on Saturday, September 01, 2012 @ 00:36:12 EDT in NDN
DNA clues from 14,300 year old human faeces (Image: Jeff Barnard/AP Photo/Press Association Images) Read More...
What a difference a day makes. Some 25 hours after a comprehensive genetic study suggested humans colonised North America in three successive migrational waves, a new study suggests there might have been a fourth.
Genetic evidence published on Wednesday by David Reich of Harvard Medical School in Boston suggests that there were at least three migrations into the Americas from Asia. The first, sometime before 13,000 years ago, was the most important, leaving descendants throughout the two continents. The other two came later, and remained in the far north (Nature, DOI: 10.1038/nature11258).
However, while Reich used samples from contemporary Native American groups in Canada, Central and Southern America, he had virtually no data from those in the US, because of political problems over the use of samples.
Today, Eske Willerslev of the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and colleagues report results of their analysis of stone tools and human DNA from the Paisley Caves in Oregon. The result suggests there may have been two migrations before 13,000 years ago rather than one. Because Reich identified two later migrations, the new result suggests there may have been four migrations into the Americas in total.
Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 @ 01:03:15 EDT in NDN
The Young Man of Chan Hol II skeleton was laid to rest 10,000 years ago when sea levels were much lower (Image: Eugenio Acevez/Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia/REUTERS)
One of the first humans to inhabit the Americas has been stolen – and archaeologists want it back.
The skeleton, which is probably at least 10,000 years old, has disappeared from a cenote, or underground water reservoir, in Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula.
In response, the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in Mexico City has placed "wanted" posters in supermarkets, bakeries and dive shops in and around the nearby town of Tulum. They are also considering legal action to recover the remains.
The missing bones belong to a skeleton dubbed Young Man of Chan Hol II, discovered in 2010. The cenote in which it was found had previously yielded another 10,000-year-old skeleton – the Young Man of Chan Hol, discovered in 2006.
The earlier find has anatomical features suggesting shared heritage with Indonesians and south Asians. Other skeletons found in cenotes in the area with similar features may date to around 14,000 years ago. Such finds imply that not all early Americans came from north Asia. This deals yet another blow to the idea that the Clovis people crossing an ancient land bridge between Siberia and Alaska were the first to colonise the Americas. Clovis culture dates to around 13,000 years ago.
Both skeletons were laid to rest at a time when sea level was much lower than it is today and the cenote, now about 8 metres below the water, was dry. Archaeologists have also found the remains of elephants, giant sloths and other animals in the caves, giving an indication of what the ancient humans ate.
INAH researchers have been aware of creeping theft of specimens from cenotes, but they lack the resources to guard the hundreds of sites that dot the peninsula.
Posted on Saturday, March 24, 2012 @ 00:26:27 EDT in NDN
New evidence suggests Stone Age hunters from Europe discovered America
New archaeological evidence suggests that America was first discovered by Stone Age people from Europe – 10,000 years before the Siberian-originating ancestors of the American Indians set foot in the New World. Read More...
A remarkable series of several dozen European-style stone tools, dating back between 19,000 and 26,000 years, have been discovered at six locations along the US east coast. Three of the sites are on the Delmarva Peninsular in Maryland, discovered by archaeologist Dr Darrin Lowery of the University of Delaware. One is in Pennsylvania and another in Virginia. A sixth was discovered by scallop-dredging fishermen on the seabed 60 miles from the Virginian coast on what, in prehistoric times, would have been dry land.
The new discoveries are among the most important archaeological breakthroughs for several decades - and are set to add substantially to our understanding of humanity's spread around the globe.
The similarity between other later east coast US and European Stone Age stone tool technologies has been noted before. But all the US European-style tools, unearthed before the discovery or dating of the recently found or dated US east coast sites, were from around 15,000 years ago - long after Stone Age Europeans (the Solutrean cultures of France and Iberia) had ceased making such artefacts. Most archaeologists had therefore rejected any possibility of a connection. But the newly-discovered and recently-dated early Maryland and other US east coast Stone Age tools are from between 26,000 and 19,000 years ago - and are therefore contemporary with the virtually identical western European material.
Posted on Sunday, March 18, 2012 @ 23:49:48 EDT in NDN
The Iroquois, for example, are well known for their incessant warfare and their training of males to be immune to pain. They are also well known for their merciless treatment of prisoners of war. Captives were forced to run a gauntlet, their fingernails were pulled out and their limbs hacked off, and they were finally decapitated or roasted alive at the stake – after which their remains were consumed in cannibalistic feasts.
Marvin Harris, Cannibals and Kings: The Origin of Cultures, Glasgow, 1978, p. 69
The Kwakiutl Indians have asserted, when interrogated, that the practice of cannibalism only became general about a hundred years ago. White men who travelled in their territory were able to witness many of their ceremonial dances, and two of them, Hunt and Moffat, brought back first-hand information about their customs. They say that sometimes slaves were killed for the benefit of Hamatsas [the cannibal members of the Kwakiutl], and that at other times the Hamatsas contented themselves with snatching mouthfuls of flesh from their own tribesmen – usually from the chest and upper arms of well-fleshed individuals.
They vouch for an example of ritual cannibalism which took place near Fort Rupert. A Kwakiutl shot and wounded a slave, who ran away and collapsed on the beach at the water's edge. He was pursued by the tribesmen, including a group of the ‘Bear Dancers’ and Hamatsas. The slave's body was cut to pieces with knives while the Hamatsas squatted in a circle round them crying out their terrible cry: ‘Hap! Hap! Hap! Hap!’
Helpless to intervene, Moffat and Hunt watched the Bear Dancers snatch up the flesh, warm and quivering, and growling like the Grizzly they represented, offer it to the Hamatsas in order of seniority.
The wife of the dead slave was at the time in Fort Rupert, and, like Hunt and Moffat, witnessed the slaughter of her husband, helpless to avert it. But she had a weapon that the white men did not possess: she could throw a curse over the Hamatsas.
‘I will give you five years to live,’ she shrieked at them from the walls of Fort Rupert. ‘The Spirit of your Dancing is strong, but my spirit is stronger still. You have killed my husband with knives; I shall kill you with the point of my tongue.’
Within five years of this episode, the white men report, every member of the tribe who had taken part in the killing of this slave was dead. In memory of the grim episode, a rock on the beach where the ritual feast took place was carved into the likeness of the Baxbakualanuxsiwae mask.
The tradition died hard. A Hamatsa demanded that another slave – this time a female – should dance for him. She stood a moment looking at him in terror, and said: ‘I will dance. But do not get hungry. Do not eat me!’ She had hardly finished speaking when her master, a fellow member of the tribe, split her skull open with an axe, and the Hamatsa thereupon began to eat her flesh. This actual Hamatsa was still alive towards the end of the nineteenth century, and on interrogation remarked, among other things, that it is very much harder to consume fresh human flesh than the dried flesh of corpses that have been left to mummify in the trees and then brought down to appease the Hamatsa's hunger. He also said that it was common practice to swallow hot water after a mouthful of flesh taken from a living body, as it was believed that this would cause the inflammation of the wound made by the teeth. All cannibal tribes, of course, file their teeth to sharp points in order to deal more effectively with their food.
There was a variant of the practice whereby the returning Hamatsa ran riot among the members of his tribe, biting flesh from them. Sometimes he brought a corpse with him – that of a slave or some victim captured and killed for the purpose. He ate part of this corpse after his ceremonial dance was completed, but because this was the first corpse to be devoured by him since his initiation, it was prepared with extra elaborate care. One of the most important details was the removal of the skin at the wrists and ankles, for the Kwakiutls believed that to eat of either hand or foot would result in almost immediate death. This is one of the many examples of the divergences of custom in this respect; to the Kwakiutls, hands and feet were tabu; but among the Mangeromas of the Amazon jungles, whose customs we shall be examining in due course, the palms of the hands, and the soles of the feet, were looked upon as the greatest delicacies, and were reserved for those of the tribe who for one reason or another demanded priority.
Most recently, that is to say at the very end of the nineteenth century, it seems that the barbarous practices among the Kwakiutls had become modified to a very great extent: the ceremonial was retained, but symbolism played a larger and larger part in the ceremonial, replacing the physical act. For example, the late-nineteenth-century Hamatsa did not necessarily bite a mouthful of flesh from the chest or the arm. Instead, he caught a piece of skin between his teeth and sucked at it hard, to extract the taste of blood. Then, with a sharp knife, he would snip off a piece of skin and pretend to swallow it. However, instead of swallowing it in fact, he put it into his hair behind his ear, to lie there until the ceremonial dancing was over. Then it was returned to the owner, who was thus assured that a piece of his own skin would not eventually be used to his harm in some piece of witchcraft.
It was, as it were, the beginning of the end. From the horrors of that house on the mountainside in which Baxbakualanuxsiwae and his hideous attendants practised their fiendish rites, the customs of the Kwakiutls have been refined to a ritual dance with gestures hardly more dangerous than mime.
Garry Hogg, Cannibalism and Human Sacrifice, pp. 70-72