Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Climate change, human population growth, or both? Upper Paleolithic subsistence shifts in southern Greece

Britt M. Starkovich, Maria Ntinou


Changes in subsistence patterns during the Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic at Klissoura Cave 1 in southern Greece indicate that some shifts track local climatic changes, while others do not. Specifically, increases in ungulate species diversity correlate with wetter periods, and greater abundance of certaindry-loving small game animals (e.g., great bustard) might correspond with dry periods. Other large-scale diachronic shifts, such as the increased importance of low-return hares and partridges, occur over theoccupation of the site irrespective of environmental conditions. We hypothesized previously that this relates to local human population growth over the course of the Paleolithic. New data from a nearby site, Kephalari Cave, augment this hypothesis. The site complements the Aurignacian and Gravettoid occupations at Klissoura and also contains a robust late Upper Paleolithic component. Ungulate species diversity is high at Kephalari, and there is a greater reliance on low-return small animals (including fish) than at Klissoura. In this paper, we examine changes in the faunal spectra alongside preliminary charcoal data from the two sites. These data are analyzed in the contextof regional environmental change in orderto determine the extent to which climatic change or population growth drove subsistence shifts insouthern Greece during the Late Pleistocene.

Village of Kephalari, Corinth, Southern Greece

Monday, August 31, 2015

Λαογραφικό Μουσείο Σαρακατσαναίων - Τασούλα Μαλιαχώβα

Sarakatsanoi Folklore Museum

Late Palaeolithic and Early Mesolithic finds from the Pindus Mountains of western Macedonia (Greece)

Paolo Biagi, Renato Nisbet & Nikos Efstratiou

August 2015


The discovery of Late Palaeolithic and Early Mesolithic tools along watersheds that surround Samarina, and the slope of Mount Vasilitsa, improves our knowledge on the seasonal peopling of the high altitudes of the Pindus Mountains. They show that at the end of the Pleistocene, and the very beginning of the Holocene, groups of late hunter-gatherers moved across the favourable hunting landscapes of the alpine pastures above 1500m.

In contrast with the late Neanderthal bands that systematically exploited the abundant Samarina chert resources (Efstratiou et al. 2011), these hunter-gatherers carried with them good-quality flint nodules to produce their weapons. The presence of end scrapers and other tools, mainly bladelets, might indicate that they also performed other activities connected with hunting. Although the location of the allochthonous flint sources used for making the chipped stone tools recovered around Samarina is at present unknown, good-quality flint outcrops are known in the lowlands surrounding Lakes Ioannina and Kastorià. Future research will explore the exploitation of the above resources between the end of the Pleistocene and the Early Holocene in order to explain the provenance, and the movements of the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene hunting communities of the Pindus Mountains.

Friday, August 14, 2015

From Mesa to Monte Verde

   Michael Kunz, BLM/Arctic Field Office
   Tony Baker, Denver Colorado
   Presented at the Alaska Athropological Association
   38th Annual Meeting
   Fairbanks, March 9-12 2011

Thursday, August 13, 2015

I Forgot to Remember to Forget

Tony Baker    
March 25, 2009

"In 1955 Elvis Presley recorded I Forgot to Remember to Forget and in February of 1956 it became his first number one record. How many baby boomers remember this? In 1957, Marie Wormington wrote in her famous Ancient Man in North America that non-fluted points (Figure 1) were found with extinct Pleistocene mammoths in Mexico (p.97). How many readers remember this?

"Archaeologists, like individuals of other disciplines, have a tendency to forget facts that don't fit their understanding of the world. Now they don't really forget them, they just fail to remember them in their writings and presentations. I believe they do this to present a clean and concise explanation. On the other hand, if they presented all of the contradictory information associated with their explanation, it would appear as conjecture instead of a solid theory. The peopling of the New World has also suffered from this forgetfulness and so this paper has the purpose of remembering some of the forgotten facts.

(read more)

                                                  Fluted Clovis Points (13,300 - 12,900 cal. BP)
El Jobo, Monte Verde (14,800 - 13,800 cal. BP)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Horse and camel hunting by prehistoric humans in North America

Vol. 18 Spring 2015
Popular Archaeology

New dates for horse and camel butchering sites in Canada  [St. Mary's reservoir on the edge of the Blackfoot Kainai (Blood) Reserve, Alberta] push the clock back [on Clovis].

Map of North America showing stages of Ice Age retreat with associated ages. Wally's Beach, as an active site, would have been located within the 12 - 15 ka region on the map. (T. Kostolany, Wikimedia Commons)

Advanced radiocarbon dating techniques have revealed that a prehistoric kill and butchering site attributed to the Clovis People was active approximately 300 years earlier than previously dated. Animal remains butchered with stone tools near Wally’s Beach, Alberta, Canada, currently represent evidence that prehistoric humans hunted now-extinct horse and camel species near the end of the last Ice Age. The site contains the only known evidence to date for horse and camel hunting in the Americas during that time period.

As documented in a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences*, Michael Waters of Texas A&M University and colleagues from two other institutions re-dated the remains using advanced sample purification techniques. The remains were previously dated to around 13,000 years ago and ascribed to the Clovis People. The authors produced 27 new radiocarbon ages that suggest that Wally’s Beach was active around 13,300 years ago, approximately 300 years before the generally accepted earliest date range for the Clovis culture. The new timeframe, the authors report, allows the Canadian site to be examined in the context of human hunting and the well-documented extinction of numerous large mammal species near the end of the last Ice Age. Added to other North American sites that demonstrate mammoth, mastodon, sloth, and gomphothere hunting, Wally’s Beach suggests that prehistoric humans hunted six of the 36 now-extinct genera of large mammals for at least 2,000 years before the animals vanished from the North American landscape around 12,700 years ago, according to the authors.*

*Article #14-20650: “Late Pleistocene horse and camel hunting at the southern margin of the ice-free corridor: Reassessing the age of Wally’s Beach, Canada,” by Michael R. Waters, Thomas W. Stafford, Jr., Brian Kooyman, and L. V. Hills.
Source: Adapted and edited from the PNAS press release, Large mammals hunted by prehistoric humans

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sewell Wright: The Initiation of Agriculture

Evolution and the Genetics of Populations, Volume 4: Variability Within and Variability Within and Among Natural Populations
Sewall Wright

[blog comment

Sewall Wright is considered to be a founder of the field of population genetics.  If you've been following my blog, you can probably guess that I don't think anything terribly significant happened, from a human evolutionary perspective, in the last thirty thousand years [probably more].  Wright was wrong about agriculture serving as a measure of peak genetic intelligence. Wright couldn't have known about the detailed timeline of megafauna extinctions that happened at the end of the Pleistocene which obviated the need for full scale domestication of animals and plants.  Still, he could have looked into the culture of hunter gatherer societies, especially the Algonquian and Siouan speaking peoples of Massachusetts, Illinois and Wisconsin, where he had lived.  He surely didn't bother to do this and instead, rambled off authoritatively about something he knew nothing about.  I cringe when I read this.  In fact, many Native American groups had managed to live in concert with their natural environment for thousands of years, and had not exterminated the animals on which they depended to the same degree as Eurasians. Surely this must be a measure of intelligence. 

It's also clear from Wright's comments that he knew nothing about the broader picture of agriculture in Africa, and confined his comments to the African northeast 'corner'.

These kinds of dogmatic statements still permeate many academic genetic anthropology, linguistic and population genetics discussions. 

My view:  apart from a few alleles like lactase persistence, there is no evidence that agriculture made us happier, smarter, or healthier.]

page 456:

"The initiation of agriculture and livestock breeding was a revolutionary advance from the hunting and gathering way of life, which could hardly occur until the genetic basis of intelligence had reached an advanced grade.  It is fair to assume that the regions in which these appeared first were at the peaks in the genetic basis for intelligence.  This implies a peak at southwest Asia at least 10,000 years ago, and presumably long before this, and peaks in China and Middle America where agriculture developed later but largely independently.  The genetic and cultural advance in each of these regions was not, however, restricted to a single people.  Neighboring people had presumably stepped each other up genetically and culturally by the analogous shifting balance processes and continued to do so thereafter.  Livestock breeding, however, could be practiced to advantage in semi-dessert grasslands not suitable for agriculture, by nomadic peoples in whom different genetically based traits would be favored by selection from those favored among settled farmers and inhabitants of the cities.  All peoples in Southwest Asia and the northeast corner of Africa presumably had high but somewhat diverse genetic capabilities and soon acquired relatively advanced but diverse cultures."

[blog note:  Here, Wright makes a bizarre switch from a general discussion about the transition to agriculture, to a discussion about Indo-European languages, clearly, by association, attempting to equate Indo-European languages with "peak genetic intelligence." ]

"Linguistic evidence indicates the establishment of an important center of diffusion in east-central Europe some 5,000 years ago from which wave after wave of peoples moved in all directions.  The Hittites carried an Indo-European language of the western (centum) type into Asia Minor and established an empire 4,000 years ago.  A thousand years later the Iranians, who had moved east into what is now Southern Russia and Turkestan, brought an Indo-European language of the eastern (satem) type into the original cultural center and later established the Persian Empire.  They also carried another Aryan dialect to India.  Other tribes moving south from the east central European center reached Greece in several waves which, after mixing with the indigenous people, produced classical Greek civilization."

[There you have it.] 

[For an alternative view:  The Oxford Handbook of Archaeology and Anthropology of Hunter-Gatherers, Part VII:  Future Directions in Hunter-Gatherer Research, Vicki Cummings, Peter Jordan, and Marek Zvelebil, editors, Oxford University Press, 2014.]

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Mi'kmaq Nation - A Story of Survival

Statistics for Eight Holocene-Aged American Ancient DNA Samples

Raghavan et al.
July 21, 2015

Supplementary Material

"Fig. S13. Heat maps plotting outgroup f3 statistics of the form f3(X, Ancient; Yoruba) for Anzick-1 and seven Holocene-aged samples from the Americas using a SNP chip genotype dataset consisting of worldwide populations (Section S1). This analysis is complementary to the results presented in main text Fig. 4, with the difference between the two stemming from slightly different ancestry painting and masking methods. The plots in the main text are based on masking ‘Method 1’ while the following results are based on ‘Method 2’ (see Section S5). Overall, we find similar results from the two methods relating to the ancestry of these ancient samples and the early genetic diversification patterns amongst Native American ancestors."
Anzick-1 [Rasmussen et al 2014]
10,705 ± 35 14C years BP (approximately 12,707–12,556 calendar years BP)
mtDNA D4h3, Y-chromosome Q1a2* [ISOGG], Q1a3* [Karafet et al]

Kennewick [Rasmussen et al 2015]
8,340–9,200 calibrated years before present (BP)
mtDNA X2a, Y-chromosome Q-M3 [Rasmussen et al.]
MARC1492 [this paper]
Listuguj Mi’kmaq
400 years BP
mtDNA A2+(64)
939, Lucy Islands, West Coast British Columbia [this paper]
Measured collagen based radiocarbon age of 5710±40 BP was obtained for 939 (Beta-317343). Conventional age of 5930±40 BP was also reported by Beta Analytic Inc.  Correlated two-sigma age range:  6260-5890 cal. BP.
mtDNA D4h3a7
Enoque65 [this paper]
Serra da Capivara, Piaui, Brazil
~ 3500 cal BP
mtDNA A2e
Chinchorro mummies [this paper]
Arica, Chile
~5800 cal BP
mtDNA A2

Pericúes, Las Palmas Culture [this paper]
Piedra Gorda, Baja California, Mexico
800-300 years BP

MA577, Selknam (Ona) Culture
Emperaire (1946-1949) and Rousson & Willems mission collections,
Musée de l´Homme in Paris, France.
Isla Grande, Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia
mtDNA D1g5
Map (ancient DNA sample locations shown in cyan blue)
mtDNA evolutionary tree


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Saturday, August 8, 2015

John Noel, Mi'kmaq Chief (1829-1911)

John Noel, (1829-1911), chief of the Indians of Halifax, Lunenburg, Hants, Kings, Colchester, and Cumberland Counties, Nova Scotia. Dressed in typical Micmac ornamented coat, with red sash; and with round silver medal presented to Micmac chief by George III

Mi'kmaq Portraits Collection of the Nova Scotia Museum (Link)

Biography of John Noel's adoptive father Chief Peminuit Paul (Link)

Micmac Woman, 1865

Micmac Woman, unknown artist (1865) at the New Brunswick Museum

Mi'gmaq Ideograms

About Mi'kmaw(Mi'gmaq) 'Hieroglyphics'
Muin'iskw (Jean), Crowfeather (Dan)
Mi'kmaw Spirit Webpage

In 1652, Father Gabriel Druillettes, a Jesuit missionary to the Abenaki, reports seeing the Mi'kmaq use ideograms to record lessons in the "Jesuit Relations" of that year:

"Some of them wrote out their lessons in their own manner. They made use of a small piece of charcoal instead of a pen, and a piece of bark instead of paper. Their characters are novel, and so individual that one could not know or understand the writing of the other; that is to say, that they made use of certain marks according to their own ideas as of a local memory to preserve the points and the articles and the maxims which they had remembered. They carried away this paper with them to study in the repose of the night."

(read more)

MARC1492 from Mi'gmaq PrehistoricTjigog

Raghavan et al.
July 21, 2015

Supplementary Material


Old Mission Point (ClDq-1) is located on the banks of the Restigouche River, near the town of Atholville in northern New Brunswick, Canada (Fig. S1). The site represents the prehistoric village of Tjigog, the place of summer aggregation for the northern Mi’gmaq (80-83). Rediscovered in 1968 by Martijn’s (84) archaeological surveys of Gloucester and Restigouche counties, the site was only excavated in 1972 and 1973 by Turnbull (85, 86) after construction workers unearthed human remains in a nearby gravel pit. The discovery of the burials left the skeletal assemblage badly commingled and fragmented, however, Turnbull’s (85) report features several photographs of in situ graves representing both primary and secondary internments, specifically in the form of bundle burials (see 87 and 88 for bundle burial descriptions). Artifacts recovered from the burials include a toggling harpoon head, worked bone, copper tube and shell beads, an axe head, rare pieces of cordage and braided plant-fibre textile, as well as remnants of beaver fur and birch bark (86, 88). Turnbull’s excavations also uncovered possible domestic architecture near the burial area in the form of post moulds, as well as over a thousand ceramic sherds featuring punctate, dentate-stamped, and pseudo-scallop shell designs (85). A single charcoal sample taken from a hearth feature associated with the ceramic finds gave an uncalibrated radiocarbon date of 2030±130 BP (RL-343) (89). With permission from the Listuguj Mi’gmaq community, the human remains recovered from the site underwent bioarchaeological assessment beginning in 2011 at Memorial University, where it was determined that at least 5 adults and 9 juvenile individuals (MNI=14) were included within the skeletal assemblage. Samples from a loose tooth (right mandibular first premolar (RPM1) - MARC1492) associated with a middle adult female individual (Skeleton #4) within the Old Mission Point assemblage were taken for ancient DNA analysis. The mandible of this individual in question was well-preserved unlike many of the skeletal elements found elsewhere in the assemblage, however, the in situ right first, second, and third molars (RM1, RM2, RM3) all feature a great deal of occlusal dental wear. The only remaining left molar (LM3) does not feature occlusal wear to the same extent. It is surmised that this female individual preferentially chewed on the right side of the mandible, the reason for which may be explained by the presence of a moderately healed periapical abscess located in the area of the left mandibular first and second molars (LM1, LM2) resulting in antemortem tooth loss. Uncalibrated radiocarbon AMS dates obtained on ultrafiltered bone collagen from the right femorii of 4 of the adult skeletons, (UCIAMS-125912, UCIAMS-107245, UCIAMS-107246: Skeleton #4, UCIAMS-107247) as well as the lower extremities of 4 of the juvenile skeletons (UCIAMS-125908, UCIAMS-125909, UCIAMS-125910, UCIAMS-125911) ranged from 2405-415 BP. This time range overlaps with the previous uncalibrated charcoal radiocarbon date (89), and along with the ceramic finds, suggests that Mi’gmaq individuals were living and being buried in the area as long ago as the early Middle Woodland period (ca. 2150-1650 BP) and up and until the Late Woodland (ca. 650-400 BP) or Early Historic (ca. 400-250 BP) periods (90). These findings lend support to the idea that Old Mission Point represents the oldest known long-term use Mi’gmaq cemetery in the Canadian Maritimes region to-date (88). The sampled individual was dated to ~400 BP after correcting for marine reservoir effect. (Table S2).

DNA extraction: All laboratory procedures including pre-treatment, extraction, library construction and PCR set-ups were carried out in ancient DNA facilities at the Centre for GeoGenetics (Copenhagen). Fine drill heads were used with a Dremel drill operated on low-speed setting to obtain the powdered sample. The tooth was drilled by cutting off the end of the roots and drilling into the pulp chamber with special dental drill heads, thereby collecting ~50 mg of powder. The collected powder were digested overnight at 55°C in 1ml of a buffer consisting of 1 M urea, 0.5 M EDTA and 0.3 mg/ml Proteinase K (modified from 91). Following digestion, the supernatant was concentrated using a 30 kDa centrifugal filter unit down to 100-200 μl and purified through a Qiagen MinElute spin column (using Qiagen PN binding buffer) following manufacturer’s instructions. In the elution step, the column was incubated in 45 μl of Qiagen EB buffer at 37°C for 30 minutes, spun down, and re-incubated in 30 μl of EB buffer at 37°C for 15 minutes.

Library preparation and sequencing: Two blunt-end Illumina libraries were prepared using NEBNext DNA Sample Prep Master Mix Set 2 (New England Biolabs, E6070), as described in (39), with the following differences in the protocols. Ligation was performed for 15 minutes at 20°C using Illumina-specific adapters specified in (74) and the fill-in reaction was performed for 20 minutes at 37º C. The libraries were amplified as follows: 25 μl DNA library, 1X High Fidelity PCR buffer, 2 mM MgSO4, 200 μM dNTPs each (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA), 200 nM Illumina Multiplexing PCR primer inPE1.0, 4 nM Illumina Multiplexing PCR primer inPE2.0, 200 nM Illumina Index PCR primer, 1 U of Platinum Taq DNA Polymerase (High Fidelity) (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA) and water to 50 μl. Cycling conditions were: initial denaturing at 94°C for 4 minutes, 12 cycles of: 94°C for 30 seconds, 60°C for 30 seconds, 68°C for 40 seconds, and a final extension at 72°C for 7 minutes. PCR products were purified through Qiagen MinElute spin columns and eluted in 10 μl of Qiagen Buffer EB, following a 10-minute incubation at 37°C. A second round of PCR (two parallel reactions for each library) was set up as follows: 5 μl of purified product from first PCR round, 1X High Fidelity PCR buffer, 2 mM MgSO4, 200 μM dNTPs each, 500 nM Illumina Multiplexing PCR primer 1.0, 10 nM Illumina Multiplexing PCR primer 2.0, 500 nM Illumina Index PCR primer, U of Platinum Taq DNA Polymerase (High Fidelity), and water to 50 μl. Cycling conditions included an initial denaturing at 94°C for 4 minutes, 10 cycles of: 94°C for 30 seconds, 60°C for 30 seconds, 68°C for 40 seconds, and a final extension at 72°C for minutes. Both PCR products originating from one library were purified through one Qiagen MinElute spin column and eluted in 20 μl of Qiagen Buffer EB, following a 10-minute incubation at 37°C. The amplified libraries were pooled in equimolar quantities, run on Agilent Bioanalyzer 2100 and thereafter sequenced on HiSeq 2000 (100 cycles, single-read) at the Danish National High-throughput DNA Sequencing Centre.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Lanterns on the Prairie

The Blackfeet Photographs of Walter McClintock
Steven L. Grafe (Editor)

"Lanterns on the Prairie explores the motivations of the players in McClintock’s story and the historic context of his engagement with the Blackfeet. The photographs themselves provide an irreplaceable visual record of the Blackfeet during a pivotal period in their history."