Tag Archives | Anthropology

Decapitated victims discovered at excavation in Mexico

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Archaeologists have recently uncovered the remains of decapitated victims of human sacrifice left by the Aztecs.

Martin Barillas via Spero News:

Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History announced on August 20 that archaeologists have found the macabre remains of human sacrifice left behind by Mexico’s Aztec ancestors.

Known as a tzompantli in the language of the Aztecs, Nahuatl. The find consists of a rack of the skulls of human sacrificial victims that was once part of the Templo Mayor complex in Tenochtitlan – the capital of the Aztecs that is now Mexico City.

The tzompantli was found on Calle Republica de Guatemala, a street that runs at the eastern end of the colonial-era Metropolitan Cathedral in the modern city’s central square. This is the first such skull rack that has been found that is mortared together. The human skulls found by the researchers were used almost like bricks. Some of the skulls had holes pierced through them at the temples.

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WSU researchers see link between hunter-gatherer cannabis use, fewer parasites

Jordan Greentree (CC BY-SA 2,0)

Jordan Greentree (CC BY-SA 2,0)

Washington State University conducted an interesting study that points to the benefits of cannabis use. Hunter-gatherers that smoke cannabis have a lower rate of infections by parasites. Though, the researchers are quick to note that the study has its limits.

Washington State University via EurekAlert:

VANCOUVER, Wash.–Washington State University researchers have found that the more hunter-gatherers smoke cannabis, the less they are infected by intestinal worms. The link suggests that they may unconsciously be, in effect, smoking medical marijuana.

Ed Hagen, a WSU Vancouver anthropologist, explored cannabis use among the Aka foragers to see if people away from the cultural and media influences of Western civilization might use plant toxins medicinally.

“In the same way we have a taste for salt, we might have a taste for psychoactive plant toxins, because these things kill parasites,” he said.

In an earlier study, Hagen found that the heavier tobacco smokers among the Aka also had fewer helminths, parasitic intestinal worms.

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Ancient Settlements Grew Bigger And Denser Much Like Our Modern Cities

We can probably learn something from the fate of the large ancient settlements that failed. From Tech Times:

Modern cities with large populations and dense areas tend to be productive. Remarkably, these characteristics also appear to have been exhibited by ancient settlements. Findings of a new study revealed that ancient cities with bigger and denser settlements allowed their inhabitants to become more efficient.

Figure 2. Maps of the Basin of Mexico. A: Location within Mexico [34]. B: Settlements dating to the Formative period (circle size is proportional to population; colors range from yellow through red to white denoting increases in elevation; gray area shows the extent of Mexico City in 1964) [35]. C: Settlements dating to the Aztec period. During the latter period settlement expanded into the shallows of the lake. Today, settlement covers the entire basin and the lake has been drained. (PLOS ONE)

Figure 2. Maps of the Basin of Mexico.
A: Location within Mexico [34]. B: Settlements dating to the Formative period (circle size is proportional to population; colors range from yellow through red to white denoting increases in elevation; gray area shows the extent of Mexico City in 1964) [35]. C: Settlements dating to the Aztec period. During the latter period settlement expanded into the shallows of the lake. Today, settlement covers the entire basin and the lake has been drained. (PLOS ONE)

For the study published in the journal PLOS ONE on Feb.

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Shell ‘Art’ Made 300,000 Years Before Humans Evolved

The geometric pattern on Pseudodon DUB1006-fL. Click for more images at Nature.

The geometric pattern on Pseudodon DUB1006-fL. Click for more images at Nature.

One of the main themes of Graham Hancock’s bestselling book Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind was that the emergence of painting some 40,000 years ago marked a shift in human consciousness, possibly brought about via consciousness expanding substances. Now a clam shell buried between 430,000 and 540,000 years ago with artwork etched onto it has emerged, reports New Scientist. What might this mean?

The artist – if she or he can be called that – was right-handed and used a shark’s tooth. They had a remarkably steady hand and a strong arm. Half a million years ago, on the banks of a calm river in central Java, they scored a deep zigzag into a clam shell.

We will never know what was going on inside its maker’s head, but the tidy, purposeful line (pictured above right) has opened a new window into the origins of our modern creative mind.

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Guidestoned 2014 Documentary Kickstarter

“Man is a rational animal who always loses his temper when he is called upon to act in accordance with the dictates of reason.”
– Oscar Wilde

Help us dig up the Time Capsule.

Let’s dig up the Time Capsule together.

Guidestoned 2014 Kickstarter

Over the past 2 years some fellow filmmakers and I have been filming a documentary surrounding the Georgia Guidestones that we have appropriately dubbed Guidestoned. What has interested us more than the monument and its designers is people’s collective perception of its message. Which was surprisingly positive in person, something I admit was unexpected. Throughout filming the documentary we met groups of people ranging from Mormon Missionaries that travel the world, to a crystal ball stealing Nazi biker gang, and everything in between. Mostly all were welcoming and kind, save a few. This documentary is filled with so many different perspectives. Folks show their true character, which the Guidestones tend to bring out in people.… Read the rest

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Anthropology unlocks clues about Roman gladiators’ eating habits

anthropology

via Phys.org:

Roman gladiators ate a mostly vegetarian diet and drank ashes after training as a tonic. These are the findings of anthropological investigations carried out on bones of warriors found during excavations in the ancient city of Ephesos.

Historic sources report that gladiators had their own diet. This comprised beans and grains. Contemporary reports referred to them as “hordearii” (“barley eaters”).

In a study by the Department of Forensic Medicine at the MedUni Vienna in cooperation with the Department of Anthropology at the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University of Bern, bones were examined from a gladiator cemetery uncovered in 1993 which dates back to the 2nd or 3rd century BC in the then Roman city of Ephesos (now in modern-day Turkey). At the time, Ephesos was the capital of the Roman province of Asia and had over 200,000 inhabitants.

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Neanderthals Created Cave Art

A new discovery at Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar suggests that Neanderthals were, contrary to their poor reputation, cave artists (and created the hashtag). Report via Chicago Tribune:

Belying their reputation as the dumb cousins of early modern humans, Neanderthals created cave art, an activity regarded as a major cognitive step in the evolution of humankind, scientists reported Monday in a paper describing the first discovery of artwork by this extinct species.

Gorham's Cave.jpg

Gorham’s Cave. Photo by Gibmetal77 (CC)

The discovery is “a major contribution to the redefinition of our perception of Neanderthal culture,” said prehistorian William Rendu of the French National Center for Scientific Research, who was not involved in the work. “It is a new and even stronger evidence of the Neanderthal capacity for developing complex symbolic thought” and “abstract expression,” abilities long believed exclusive to early modern humans.

In recent years researchers have discovered that Neanderthals buried their dead, adorned themselves with black and red pigments, wore shell and feather jewelry and cared for the elderly and infirm, all evidence of complex thought.

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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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