Welcome to the Four Stone Hearth Blog Carnival #33, ‘specializing’ in the four fields of anthropology. The previous edition of 4SH can be found at Testimony of the Spade, and the next edition will be hosted by Our Cultural World. The main page for Four Stone Hearth has additional information on the carnival, and you can submit entries via Blog Carnival.
The usual rule with blog carnivals is “one post per blog.” This rule is ignored because in several instances, a post was self-submitted (which is the usual way posts are submitted to carnivals) from a particular blog, and a different post was nominated for that same blog. It would be wrong to ignore either kind of submission, so I chose to ignore the one post per blog rule.
The order of listings here is in the order that they appear on my computer screen given the technology I’m using to keep track, with only one very logical exception. The decision to place each post in a particular subfield category is arbitrary and capricious.
If you submitted a post and do not see it, this is because I screwed up. I receive several hundred emails a day, so this is possible (actually, likely). Just send me an email with your link and I will put it in the carnival right away. Similarly, if you find errors or other problems, just let me know. Don’t yell at me, just tell me what to fix.
If you have a post on this carnival, please link to the carnival from your site.
This is an exceptionally outstanding set of posts for this or any carnival. I’m sure you will enjoy visiting and reading each and every one of these submissions.
Image and Text at Kati en Bici
…[A] lecture by Xu Bing titled “Between Image and Text” caught my attention. Xu Bing is a graphic artist who works mainly with print-making. His work explores the communicative balance between images and text. … Xu Bing had spent three years carving 4,000 wooden character-stamps to make the scroll. A non-Chinese-reader would look at the scroll and see nonsense, but assume that a Chinese-reader would find meaning in it. … However, the characters Xu Bing had carved were, in fact, nonsense. They were fake. They did not exist among the thousands and thousands of real Chinese characters floating around in reader/writer repertoires. … So, what does a piece like this say?
A different sort of landscape photograph at Kati en Bici
Ken Gonzales-Day wandered around California taking pictures of trees for his series Hang Trees. These trees were (or might have been) used in lynchings in the 19th century. Landscape photographs often neglect considerations of human interaction and influence, reproducing the classic definition of Nature as “a place without humans.” Therefore, the places where humans are is not part of Nature. By focusing on trees used in lynchings, Gonzales-Day is taking an image generally taken to symbolize natural beauty, peace, and strength and reconstructing the landscape as a point of social conflict between human beings
Sounds familiar: People on online dating sites are experiencing frustration because it does seem that the internet in many ways is just the same old bar scene. This is one of the findings of research by anthropologist Susan E. Frohlick. She is conducting an ethnographic study of online dating among women age thirty and above.
Australian anthropologist is Japan’s first-ever foreign geisha at anthropologi.info
A documentary film-maker and academic with a doctorate in anthropology from Oxford University, Fiona Graham has just become what she says is the first non-Japanese in 400 years to debut as a geisha. But she hasn’t become a geisha for private reasons: She is now recording her life on film
‘Cultural studies’ as a term of abuse at Savage Minds
In my neck of the woods ‘cultural studies’ is a term of abuse. In fact it functions a bit like the phrase ‘family values’ but in reverse. ‘Family Values’ is a completely amorphous concept, but being labeled with it means (in certain circles) that You Win, while managing to make the term ‘cultural studies’ stick to what someone else does is–regardless of what this term actually means–means They Loose. … There seems to be two versions of this sort of labeling. The first is when professors consider themselves ‘scientific’ while their foes are ‘just doing cultural studies’.
BBC: “Aboriginal archive offers new DRM” at Open Objects
It’s a fascinating example of how real world community practice can be translated into online viewing. As the article says, “[f]or example, men cannot view women’s rituals, and people from one community cannot view material from another without first seeking permission….”
One of Rome’s major monuments has gone missing at Archaeoastronomy
What is there on the Campus Martius? … The Campus Martius was an area of ground on the north side of Rome, prone to swampiness. It lay outside the the early boundaries of Rome, which meant it could be used for a variety of things not allowed in the City. It’s here the Mausoleum of Augustus is found. There are temples and altars. It was also the closest place to the walls where the army could legally muster. This made it an important area, so it’s not surprising that Augustus gave it his attention. One of the things he set up there Heslin notes is an obelisk. We have a record of the erection of the obelisk and its use from Pliny’s Natural History …
Forget Angkor. Sure, it’s one of the largest religious monuments in the world, and you gotta admit that with spectacular architecture, sculpture and bas-reliefs there’s no wonder over two million people visited Cambodia last year. But the archaeological sites in Southeast Asian are so much more than the 11th century temple to Vishnu.
Neanderthals, Now in Color! at A Very Remote Period Indeed
Over the past few years, pigment use has been claimed to differentiate the symbolic capacity of Homo sapiens from those of Neanderthals, and as one of the defining elements of ‘modern behavior.’ This is partly why the discovery of pigment use – presumably by early Homo sapiens – dating back to 167 kya in South Africa was such big news this past fall (Marean et al. 2007). The basic idea here is that the purposeful collecting and shaping of blocks of coloring material is indicative of behavior in which colors were used to transmit socially-mediated information….
UFOs versus the Rainbow Serpents at Archaeoastronomy
One of the advantages of tripping to other libraries is that you get to browse journals you’d otherwise miss. One example is the Journal of the Royal Institute for Anthropology, which I wouldn’t see at Leicester. That is a pity because I’m missing some stuff like Close encounters: UFO beliefs in a remote Australian Aboriginal community by Eirik Saethre.
The Portable Antiquities Scheme and the Indifference of Government at Archaeoastronomy
Like many works of genius the PAS is deceptively simple. It’s a scheme that encourages people in England and Wales to report archaeological finds. That’s people. not archaeologists. I know archaeologists are people too, but this is an open scheme. It allows all sorts of people to participate, not only in putting information in, but getting information out. If you visit the PAS website you can browse their photos and interrogate their databases. In terms of providing a service of use to everyone, there isn’t anything like it anywhere else in the world. Great but why does it need to be a national scheme?
Two Carausian Aurei from the Midlands at Portable Antiquities Scheme
Two gold coins of the emperor Carausius have just been found on a construction site in the Midlands. They were reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme and archaeologists are investigating the find further. Gold coins of Carausius are extremely rare, until now only 23 being in existence. The last example found was in 1975 in Hampshire and it is quite possible that we will have to wait for over 30 years before another one sees the light of day.
Conspiracy Theories as Historical Just so Stories at Archaeoporn
In a recent episode of the Simpsons, we are taken back to the 90′s and introduced to Marge’s time at college. As her story unfolds, we are introduced to her history professor, a younger and more lecherous (hopefully) version of Howard Zinn. Every lecture of this young firebrand (who just seems more interested on the effect of his feminist rants on the libido of his freshman students) is focused on the conspiratorial nature of white protestant land owning males in the construction of history.
This latest offering from The Archaeology Channel is one of the best I’ve seen, and documents the discovery and ongoing research into the 1996 find from On Your Knees Cave, of human remains dating back 10,000 years, and thus some of the oldest bones ever recovered from this part of North America.
Funerals and Feasts in Pre-Pottery Neolithic B at Archaeozoology
A recent article by Goring-Morris and Horwitz (2007) examined the evidence for funerary feasting in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B of the Near East. The site, Kfar HaHoresh located in northern Israel, is the first centralised mortuary-cum-cult site identified in the Neolithic of the Levant, and it has been suggested that the site functioned in a manner similar to the ancient Greek amphictyony, that is a central shrine serving neighbouring villages.
Biological Anthropology and Palaeoanthropology
White skin & wheat? at Gene Expression
Regular readers of this weblog know that I have somewhat of an obsession with skin color genomics, and am puzzled by some issues, both empirical and theoretical, and have been attempting to generate plausible explanatory scenarios for what we know, and what we expect. But in the process I assume a lot, so I’m going to hit the primary background assumptions in this post, since I’ll be posting the topic a fair amount for the near future.
Human Evolution on Trial – Species – by Terry Toohill at Remote Central
Our conception of how life on earth is organised is influenced by the mythconceptions we inherit. This affects how we view both the development of species and the boundaries between them. And of course it affects how we view not just their lives but our own.
Syphilis: The View from Bioarchaeology at Afarensis
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases recently published an interesting article called On the Origin of the Treponematoses: A Phylogenetic Approach. The paper used data from 21 genetic regions in 26 geographically separated strains of the Treponema bacterium. … So, how and where did venereal syphilis originate? …
Syphilis origin pinpointed? at John Hawks Weblog
People sometimes wonder why it matters where syphilis came from. Or worse, they suspect that it is just a front — a way to play “blame the victim” by putting the origin of the scourge in ancient Americans. This is truly an anthropological topic — the science of origins is confounded with the subsequent cultural interactions of these populations.
Christopher Columbus’ Package of Love, Syphilis at Anthropology.net
… for some time Columbus has been blamed for bringing syphilis to the East. But a skeleton of a man was found in north eastern Britain with signs of bone lesions similar to those causes by syphilis. Preliminary dates of this skeleton suggested that the man had died around 1442, exonerating Columbus for a bit. Here’s a link to that paper, ‘”The syphilis enigma”: the riddle resolved?’ … Since then, anthropologists re-evaluated the date and suggested that the fishy diet of the region somehow affected the dating technique, making the skeleton seem older than it is. With all this confusion over paleopathology and dating techniques, a genetic analysis of the Trepanoma bacterium seemed much more logical.
Know Your Pathology: Calculus at Archaeozoology
In this edition of ‘Know Your Pathology’, we shall examine the subject of calculus, also known as calcified plaque. This consists of micro-organisms, which accumulate in the mouth, embedded in a matrix partly composed of the organisms themselves and partly derived from proteins in the saliva (Roberts and Manchester, 2005: 71). It accumulates faster when there is a high protein and/or carbohydrate diet favouring an alkaline oral environment …
Monstrous Hope: Reply to Coturnix at Greg Laden’s Blog
In my view, Coturnix’s main point is that a range of evolutionary biologists, including geneticists, reacted to Judson’s post with vitriol and nastiness because she used a few key words that struck a negative cord with them. Coturnix even claims that Coyne’s response to Judson is more wrong than Judson’s initial commentary! Well, I completely agree with Coturnix.
Last speaker of Eyak recently passed away at Paleoglot
…Marie Smith Jones, the last speaker of Eyak, an Alaskan language …, sadly just passed away in her sleep a few days ago. Maybe most people wouldn’t bat an eye to that tragic news, but any warm-hearted ethnologist at heart should. It’s now one branch of Athabaskan-Eyak-Tlingit gone in the blink of an eye. The good news at least is that she was blessed with longevity, living to 89 years of age. Although she survived through a lot of adversities in her life, she evidently overcame them with determined strength. Unfortunately, although she begat nine children, none of them have learned Eyak because of the taboo when they were growing up of speaking a Native language, hinting at the destructiveness that racism brings.
Endangered languages at Damon Lord’s Blog
It is always terrible when a language dies. A language dies every two weeks, and it’s projected that half of the 6,000 tongues will die out by the end of the 21st century. A quick search highlights the case of the late Charlie Muldunga, the last speaker of Amurdag, … So much culture, knowledge, and tradition dies, when a language dies. Such wisdom is often locked away in its pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary amongst others.