Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Paleolithic-Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition in Northern Europe, the Russian Steppe and Armenia

Figure 13, Hartz paper (pdf link), showing chronology of the Late Glacial and early Holocene in the Baltic and Upper Volga.

If you're back here reading my blog, then welcome back.  (I've been busy with other things in the last six months, and wasn't able to maintain the blog, which is the reason that I turned it off.)

I noticed recently an article by Carl Zimmer in the New York Times that discusses research in David Reich's lab at Harvard.  It proposes that there was a wave of "Ancient North Eurasians" that "moved into Europe after 7,000 years ago."

Needless to say, the idea that a massive wave of "Ancient North Eurasians" arrived from Lake Baikal only starting 7,000 years ago is quite deceptive.

Thinking about the Northern European Paleolithic-Mesolithic-Neolithic transition, it's illustrative to look at the record of the Late Glacial and early Holocene in the Baltic and Upper Volga. (See the graph on page 165 of the Hartz paper, referenced below and shown above.)

The Hamburgian-Swiderian-Epi-Gravettian technocomplex extended all the way across Northern Europe (from Scotland to the Russian Steppe).

So, to be blunt, those "Ancient North Europeans" and "Eastern European Hunter Gatherers", who, by the way, were very closely related, were probably in Europe since the Epi-Gravettian . . . and probably since the Gravettian.

Regarding Armenia, where the genetic data is showing some influence from "Eastern European Hunter Gatherers", there's preliminary archaeological evidence showing that Armenia has some Epi-Gravettian influence.  (See the reference 6 on Kalavan 1, below).  In fact, there's quite a bit of ethnographic evidence that Armenians maintained diplomatic ties with the Russian Steppe into the Neolithic. The Pazyryk Carpet is a good example (Reference 5.)

Let's just say that the process of population exchange between the Russian Steppe, Northern Europe and even Armenia, has very likely been going on long before the Neolithic.

I'll comment further on this topic as more ancient DNA data is published.

Wishing you a Happy Holiday.


1.  Hartz et al., New AMS-dates for the Upper Volga Mesolithic and the origin of microblade technology in Europe (pdf link).

 2.  Riede, Felix, "The Resettlement of Northern Europe", in The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology and Anthropology of Hunter-Gatherers, Oxford University Press, 2014.

3.  Ballin, Torben Bjarke, "An Upper Paleolithic assemblage from Howburn Farm, South Lanarkshire" (pdf link)

4.  Felix Riede blog post discussing the Hamburgian

5.  Pazyryk Carpet blog post

6.  Montoya, et. al., The Upper Palaeolithic site of Kalavan 1 (Armenia): An Epigravettian settlement in the Lesser Caucasus (pdf link)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fall Colours at Maisto-ghoa (Crowsnest Mountain)

Crowsnest Mountain in Southern Alberta.  (Photo courtesy of Two Travellers.)

A Blackfoot tradition to the naming of the mountain is that their enemy, the Crow, made a legendary last stand in the heights of Crowsnest Mountain.


Adolf Hungrywolf, The Blackfoot Papers, Volume 1, The Good Medicine Foundation, 2006. (Link)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Nany Tendjoukian Cooks Armenian

It's the "Week of Tasting" at my daughter's school.  To celebrate, I'm posting the photo and recipe of a close friend, Nany Tendjoukian, who happens to be Armenian (and who's grandparents were from Lake Van.)

Stuffed Vegetables, Armenian Style

The Vegetables:
Select an assortment of your favorite fresh vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, cabbage leaves - anything that can be stuffed. Wash them, scoop out their centers, and rinse the insides with lightly salted water. Set aside until ready to stuff.

The Filling:
1 1/2 to 2 lbs ground lamb (Armenian lamb, if you can find it, is the best. Ground beef or even ground turkey can be used.)
3/4 cup to 1 cup rice, uncooked
1/2 of a 6-oz can tomato paste, diluted in 1/2 cup water
salt, pepper, paprika to taste
1 Tbps. lemon juice
3/4 cup chopped parsley

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl, mixing with
your hands.

The Sauce:
1/3 cup dried sumac berries
dash of salt and sugar
1/2 of a 6-oz can tomato paste
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 cups water

1. Place the sumac berries in a tea strainer - or - wrap in cheesecloth and tie closed with twine.
2. Combine the sauce ingredients in a saucepan, and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat.
3. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Discard sumac berries.

To Assemble and Cook:
1. Fill the cavity of each prepped vegetable about 1/2-way with the meat-rice stuffing. Don't fill completely; leave room for rice to expand.
2. Place stuffed vegetables side-by-side in a large pot.
3. Pour sauce over the veggies. Place a small dish on top of the vegetables, then put small pot of water on top of the dish to hold the vegetables down during cooking.
4. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for about 45 minutes, until rice and vegetables are tender.
5. Allow Dolma to rest for 1/2 hour before serving.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Prehistoric Upland Lithic Procurement and Hunting Strategies in Denali National Park and Preserve, Central Alaska

Brian T. Wygal


The Bull River II site represents an important alpine tool production site in the central Alaska Range south of Broad Pass.  Initial test excavations produced a sizable lithic assemblage and charcoal dated to the Younger Dryas.  A lithic analysis comparing Bull River II and the undated Costello Creek assemblages reveals biface production was the primary activity at both locations.  Discovered at relatively high elevations (>1000 m.a.s.l.), the sites reflect an underrepresented Eastern Beringian site type related to upland resource procurement and offer a basis for testing seasonal land-use models.