Tag Archives | Anthropology

Want to Change the World? Read This First

260px-The_Earth_seen_from_Apollo_17Richard Heinberg writes at Common Dreams:

History is often made by strong personalities wielding bold new political, economic, or religious doctrines. Yet any serious effort to understand how and why societies change requires examination not just of leaders and ideas, but also of environmental circumstances. The ecological context (climate, weather, and the presence or absence of water, good soil, and other resources) may either present or foreclose opportunities for those wanting to shake up the social world. This suggests that if you want to change society—or are interested in aiding or evaluating the efforts of others to do so—some understanding of exactly how environmental circumstances affect such efforts could be extremely helpful.

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French Artist’s Reconstructions Of Early Hominids Look Like They’ll Move At Any Minute

PIC: Elisabeth Daynès (C)

PIC: Elisabeth Daynès (C)

Read The Smithsonian article and head on over to IMGUR if you want to see the pictures without a slideshow to wade through.

Won’t be seeing any of these at the Creationist Museum, will we? (Then again, they have a dinosaur you can saddle up and ride just like Adam and Eve!)

Via The Smithsonian.

This hyper-realistic depiction of Lucy comes from the Atelier Daynès studio in Paris, home of French sculptor and painter Elisabeth Daynès. Her 20-year career is a study in human evolution—in addition to Lucy, she’s recreated Sahelanthropus tchadensis, as well as Paranthropus boisei, Homo erectus, and Homo floresiensis, just to name a few. Her works appear in museums across the globe, and in 2010, Daynès won the prestigious J. Lanzendorf PaleoArt Prize for her reconstructions.

Read more at The Smithsonian.

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Americans Are the Weirdest People in the World: Here’s Why

WeirdTalesv36n1pg127_False_Teeth_ModelAnthropologist Joe Henrich and colleagues have studied the American mind, and comparing it to the rest of the world, their findings suggest that the nation’s citizens are the “weirdest” in the world. Must explain why journalists like Louis Theroux and Jon Ronson spend so much of their time here.

Via PSmag:

I had to wonder whether describing the Western mind, and the American mind in particular, as weird suggested that our cognition is not just different but somehow malformed or twisted. In their paper the trio pointed out cross-cultural studies that suggest that the “weird” Western mind is the most self-aggrandizing and egotistical on the planet: we are more likely to promote ourselves as individuals versus advancing as a group. WEIRD minds are also more analytic, possessing the tendency to telescope in on an object of interest rather than understanding that object in the context of what is around it.

The WEIRD mind also appears to be unique in terms of how it comes to understand and interact with the natural world.

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The First Ancient Human Artists Were Women

handprints

Did women invent art? National Geographic reports:

Women made most of the oldest-known cave art paintings, suggests a new analysis of ancient handprints. Most scholars had assumed these ancient artists were predominantly men, so the finding overturns decades of archaeological dogma.

Archaeologist Dean Snow analyzed hand stencils found in eight cave sites in France and Spain. Snow determined that three-quarters of the handprints were female. Women tend to have ring and index fingers of about the same length, whereas men’s ring fingers tend to be longer than their index fingers.

“People have made a lot of unwarranted assumptions about who made these things, and why,” said Snow, whose research was supported by the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration.

Because many of these early paintings showcase game animals, many researchers have proposed that they were made by male hunters. The new study suggests otherwise.

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Is This What The Proto-Indo-European Language Spoken 6,000 Years Ago Sounded Like?

PIEIt sounds like the Satanic incantations hidden in the fadeout of Beatles album. io9 writes:
Linguists have recently reconstructed what a 6,000 year-old-language called Proto-Indo-European might have sounded like. This language was the forerunner of many European and Asian languages, and now you can listen to how it may have sounded. Proto-Indo-European (PIE) was spoken by a people who lived from roughly 4500 to 2500 B.C. The question became, what did PIE sound like? As linguists have continued to discover more about PIE, this sonic experiment is periodically updated to reflect the most current understanding of how this extinct language would have sounded when spoken some six thousand years ago. Since there is considerable disagreement among scholars, no one version can be considered definitive.
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Mummy Analysis Reveals Drug Use By Sacrificed Inca Children

sacrificeFor the Incas, coca and alcohol served simultaneously as keys to the sacred and tools of coercion and control, National Geographic fascinatingly reports:

The bodies of 13-year-old Llullaillaco Maiden and her younger companions Llullaillaco Boy and Lightning Girl (three Inca mummies found near the lofty summit of Volcán Llullaillaco in Argentina) have revealed that mind-altering substances played a part in their deaths and during the year-long series of ceremonial processes that prepared them for their final hours.

Under biochemical analysis, the Maiden’s hair yielded a record of what she ate and drank during the last two years of her life. This evidence seems to support historical accounts of a few selected children taking part in a year of sacred ceremonies—marked in their hair by changes in food, coca, and alcohol consumption—that would ultimately lead to their sacrifice.

Her surging consumption of both coca and alcohol, which were then controlled substances not available for everyday use, show she appears to have been selected for sacrifice a year before her actual death: “We suspect the Maiden was one of the acllas, or chosen women, selected around the time of puberty to live away from her familiar society under the guidance of priestesses.”

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The Oldest Known Guide To Dreaming

book of dreamsThe 3,300-year-old Dream Book, via the British Museum:

The meaning of dreams is a subject that fascinated the ancient Egyptians. This hieratic papyrus, probably dates to the early reign of Ramesses II (1279-1213 BC).

On each page of the papyrus a vertical column of hieratic signs begins: ‘if a man sees himself in a dream’; each horizontal line describes a dream, followed by the diagnosis ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and then the interpretation. For example, ‘if a man sees himself in a dream looking out of a window, good; it means the hearing of his cry’. Or, ‘if a man sees himself in a dream with his bed catching fire, bad; it means driving away his wife’.

It is uncertain who the original owner was, but it passed into the hands of the scribe Qeniherkhepshef. The Dream Book was part of an archive, including a wide variety of literary, magical and documentary material, which passed down through [his] family.

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The Mazzeri Dream Hunters Of Corsica

mazzeriOn the French isle of Corsica, the chilling prehistoric occult practice of dream hunting, performed by psychically-gifted individuals called mazzeri, is still done by a small number today. Drawing from descriptions by anthropologist Dorothy Carrington, TerraCorsa reveals:

The activities of the mazzeri stem from the Corsican hunting and foodgathering peoples of the pre-Neolithic times (before about 6000 B.C.)

The mazzeri are dream-hunters, who go out at night to kill an animal. They recognize in the face of the animal someone known to him, nearly always an inhabitant of his village. The next day he will tell what he has seen and the person mentioned will die in the space of time running from three days to a year, and always within an uneven number of days. If an animal is only wounded by the mazzere, then the person it represents will meet an accident or illness, but not death.

To be a mazzere it is necessary to have a psychic gift that opens the door to the parallel world.

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Dozens Of 20-Inch-Tall, Dreadlocked People Spotted In Indonesian Forest

Perhaps heightening the mystery is the mind-bending possibility that Indonesia many thousands of years ago may have been home to a species of little people distinct from humans. Have they been hiding? Via the Jakarta Post:

Rangers patrolling the Way Kambas National Park (TNWK) in Lampung claim to have sighted dozens of pygmies in a number of areas across the park. Allegedly the pygmies sport dreadlocks, measure no more than 50 centimeters tall and do not wear clothing.

“The first sighting was on March 17…When the rangers were about to approach them, they immediately hid behind trees and vanished. They ran very fast” said TNWK spokesman Sukatmoko.

He added that several rangers patrolling the park claimed the pygmies were seen moving to the PT Nusantara Tropical Fruit (NTF) plantation. “Apparently, many fruit trees are grown in the NTF plantation area. The pygmies might have entered the plantation for food,” said Sukatmoko.

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Pile Of Hundreds Of Ancient Sacrificed Skulls Discovered In Mexico

Imagine going swimming in the (now drained) lake, not knowing what lay below. Via Live Science:

Archaeologists have unearthed a trove of skulls in Mexico that may have once belonged to human sacrifice victims. The skulls, which date between A.D. 600 and 850, are “potentially evidence of the largest mass human sacrifice in ancient Meso-America.”

[The site is] in a now drained lake called Lake Xaltocan. To date, more than 150 skulls have been discovered there, as well as a shrine with incense burners, water-deity figurines and pottery suggesting a ritual purpose.

The findings shake up existing notions of the culture of the day, because the site is not associated with Teotihuacan or other regional powers. The shrines and the fact that sacrifice victims were mostly male suggest they were carefully chosen, not simply the result of indiscriminate slaughter of a whole village.

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