Speaker for the Dead

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I'm a PhD candidate focusing on geometric morphometric and molecular research for both ancient and modern human skeletal remains.
In general, my interests span across bioarchaeology, physical/biological anthropology, and forensic anthropology.
This blog has anthropology related posts with some added quirkiness reflecting my personality.
If you have an anthro blog and want me to follow you back, just message me!
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casethejointfirst:

Today I had the privilege of donning a face mask, two pairs of gloves, and a Tyvek suit at Connolly Caves in order to collect a human coprolite! I must say, it was a pretty cool experience!

Archaeologists in Peru investigate village of “shark hunters”

archaeologicalnews:

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The mysterious town of Gramalote was undergoing meaningful changes, archaeologists say.

Recent excavations have allowed [archaeologists] to find a temple where, 3,500 years ago, the first fishermen of the village of Gramalote, on the sea near Huanchaquito, officiated their mysterious rituals.

It’s a rock structure located in the highest area of the town. There’s a central ceremonial patio, with steps, and what could be a platform. There is still evidence of a fire, possibly one that was left to burn for years.

Private areas were also found in the back of the temple. The interesting thing about these spaces is that they were all connected by a long hallway, and the floor was made of stone. Read more.

theolduvaigorge:

The last of its kind? Radiocarbon, ancient DNA and stable isotope evidence from a late cave bear (Ursus spelaeus ROSENMÜLLER, 1794) from Rochedane (France)

  • Hervé Bocherens, Anne Bridault, Dorothée G. Drucker, Michael Hofreiter, Susanne C. Münzel, Mathias Stiller and Johannes van der Plicht

We report here a new discovery of a cave bear left metatarsal 3 from Rochedane, an archaeological site near Montbeliard (French Jura) that yielded only Lateglacial and Holocene material, with no evidence of pre-LGM deposits, a context that made this bone a possible candidate for being a post-LGM cave bear in western Europe. To test this hypothesis, this bone was analyzed for mitochondrial DNA, which confirmed its attribution to cave bear of the Ursus spelaeus lineage, and a direct radiocarbon AMS dating on well preserved collagen (%C, %N and C/N well in the range of fresh collagen) yielded an age of 23,900 +110 -100 BP (28,730-28,500 cal BP, one sigma range). Its carbon and nitrogen isotopic values were similar to those of slightly older cave bears from the Swabian Jura, around 300 km to the East, suggesting that the ecological preferences of cave bears remained unchanged until the extirpation of this species in western Europe. Interestingly, the genetic type U. spelaeus was replaced by Ursus ingressus around 28,000 14C BP in the Swabian Jura. In contrast, the older type U. spelaeus apparently persisted in France ca. 3000 years longer. Traces left on the cave bear metapodium have been left by human activity on this bone, as it was the case for older cave bear bones from the Swabian Jura. This case study shows that cave bear remains found in post-LGM sites or layers may be candidates to be late survivors of this extinct species, but without direct radiocarbon AMS dated on well-preserved collagen (demonstrated by actual chemical composition results) and ancient DNA confirmation of the species attribution, such evidence can only be considered dubious” (read more/open access).

(Open access source: Quaternary International 339/340: 179-188, 2014 via Academia.edu)

Archaeologists discover Roman 'free choice' cemetery - Yahoo News

strangeremains:

Rome (AFP) - Archaeologists in Italy have uncovered a cemetery in the 2,700-year-old ancient port of Rome where they believe the variety of tombs found reflects the bustling town’s multi-cultural nature.

Ostia “was a town that was always very open, very dynamic,” said Paola Germoni, the director of the sprawling site — Italy’s third most visited after the Colosseum and Pompeii.

"What is original is that there are different types of funeral rites: burials and cremations," she said this week.

Read more at Yahoo News

oosik:

Flakes from Flat Surfaces (Winn 2003)

I did some more test flaking on obsidian slabs to observe the shape of the flakes removed. Flakes were removed with pressure using an Ishi stick with a copper tip and another with an antler tip on the 1st test [Photo 1]. And a 2nd test was performed with percussion using both copper and antler [Photo 2]. All of the slabs were photographed afterward showing the slabs as well as the tools used.

OK, so what does all this prove? Well, it seems that the type of tool used (copper or antler) as well as the method of removal (percussion or antler) have little impact on the shape of the flake removed! There may be some minor differences that I could not detect, but they are insignificant. Of course, this only applies to a flat surface which provides ideal conditions and repeatability. Is this knowledge of value when removing flakes from an irregular surface, such as a biface? I think it is. That is just my opinion, but the whole purpose of performing a test like this is to gain insight into what can be expected under typical conditions that are not perfect (the surfaces we encounter in bi-facial reduction). I’m going to make the assumption that the shape of a flake removed from any surface has little to do with the type of tool used (copper or antler) or the method of removal (percussion or pressure). Instead, I believe that the primary determining factors in the shape of any flake removed from any surface are primarily a result of the following.

  1. The shape of the surface where the flake is to be removed. The flake will follow ridges if they exist and it will fan out on flat surfaces.
  2. The point at which the pressure is applied (when pressure flaking) or the point of impact (when percussion flaking). This will determine the initial thickness of the flake as it begins its travel.
  3. The amount of applied force. This factor affects the mass and shape of the flake removed. More force is required to initiate fracture as the platform depth is increased (or the depth below the surface at which the pressure flaker makes contact).
  4. The direction of applied force, including both the depth (or downward) direction as well as the direction across the face of the bi-face whether it be at 90 degrees or diagonally.

Archaeologists excavate NY Colonial battleground

archaeologicalnews:

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LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (AP) — Archaeologists are excavating an 18th-century battleground that was the site of a desperate stand by Colonial American troops, the flashpoint of a massacre and the location of the era’s largest smallpox hospital.

The site’s multilayered history poses unique challenges for the dig, which is being conducted in a state-owned park that has served as a natural time capsule amid the summertime bustle in this popular southern Adirondack tourist destination.

"It’s a confusing and complicated site," said David Starbuck, the archaeologist who’s leading the project during the State University of New York at Adirondack’s annual six-week archaeology field school. Read  more.

lazy-slave:

Mammoth carved in ivory. Who knew SFU had all these things hidden away? Gorgeous. #sfu #mammoth #ivory #archaeology #workstudy @jenniferhalliday #artefacts

lazy-slave:

Mammoth carved in ivory. Who knew SFU had all these things hidden away? Gorgeous. #sfu #mammoth #ivory #archaeology #workstudy @jenniferhalliday #artefacts

(via oosik)

texantforimage:

Processing skeletal materials  burned is very monotonous.
You need to identify the most important fragments by the anatomical structure differences, then figure out the type of bone, lateralization and if you can, in a initial manner, individualize them.
Working with little fragments of burned bones is very simple, but very laborious because the goal is to find fragments for reconstruction of the long bones, cranium or another specific bone, that can help to discriminate the Minimal Number of Individuals represented in the sample.
The MNI or NMI in spanish “Número Mínimo de Individuos” is obtained by the identification of the most repeated fragments of bones, for example three left mastoid process, five right side gonion or twenty humerus condyle

texantforimage:

Processing skeletal materials  burned is very monotonous.

You need to identify the most important fragments by the anatomical structure differences, then figure out the type of bone, lateralization and if you can, in a initial manner, individualize them.

Working with little fragments of burned bones is very simple, but very laborious because the goal is to find fragments for reconstruction of the long bones, cranium or another specific bone, that can help to discriminate the Minimal Number of Individuals represented in the sample.

The MNI or NMI in spanish “Número Mínimo de Individuos” is obtained by the identification of the most repeated fragments of bones, for example three left mastoid process, five right side gonion or twenty humerus condyle

deservetoberescued:

St Leonard’s Church Crypt in Hythe, Kent.

Just incredible.

The skull with the side missing has a birds nest in. Vandals broke windows into the crypts and birds got in. One decided to nest within the skull.

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