Volume 14 February 2007
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1. Executive News
Welcome to the first issue of WAC’s e-newsletter for 2007. This is an exciting year for WAC, since it includes three Inter-Congresses:
- The WAC Inter-Congress on Archaeological Theory in South America will be held in San Fernando del Valle de Catamarca, Argentina, from July 3rd to 7th.
- Threats to Archaeology - its importance, its values and its development will take place on 20-27 May at Kingston, Jamaica.
- ‘Archaeological Invisibility and Forgotten Knowledge. Ethnoarchaeology, Hunter-gatherers. Ephemeral cultural aspects. 5th-8th September, Lódz, Poland.
Apart from this, WAC-6 will be held from 29th June – 4th July 2008 in Dublin, Ireland, and preparations for that are now starting to gear up. The launch of the web site for WAC-6 should take place in a few days.
WAC has made two submissions since our last newsletter, the full text of which are on the WAC web site. On 2nd February, we sent a submission to the Cultural Property Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of State supporting Cyprus' recent request to include coins more than 250 years old on the list of archaeological materials whose import into the U.S. is restricted through bilateral agreement. The second submission emerged from one of the resolutions passed at the Plenary at the WAC symposium ‘ Cultural Heritage and Indigenus Cultiural and Intellectual Property Rights’. On 26th February, we sent a letter to H. E. Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khafalifa, President, United Nations General Assembly expressing concern about the recent vote by the Third Committee of the General Assembly to postpone voting on the adoption of the draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We expressed our full support for the Declaration in its present form, as passed by the Human Rights Council in June 2006. We appealed for a consolidation of the consensus and for the Declaration to be passed as soon as possible.
I would like to inform members that the WAC Executive will be meeting at the Inter-Congress in Argentina in July. We will also have a meeting of Executive members who attend this year’s Society for American Archaeology conference in April in Austin, Texas. If members have issues they want raised at either of these meetings of the Executive, they should direct their correspondence to WAC’s Secretary, Ian Lilley, on firstname.lastname@example.org. WAC will also have a booth at the SAA, and we would greatly appreciate members coming along to help staff this.
Also, our journal Archaeologies has moved to Springer, and members and friends who are at the SAA are invited to attend the launch of Archaeologies at Springer. The launch party will be held at the Hilton Austin, meeting room 404, from 7-9pm. If you are attending the SAA, please come along and help us celebrate!
Finally, we are trying a slightly leaner look for this newsletter for 2007. Accordingly, we are looking at including fewer items from other newsletters and more from WAC members. Therefore, I would like to encouragement to all members to contribute the newsletter. Contributions should be emailed directly to Madeleine Regan, Madeleine@ideasandwords.com.au
All the best for 2007,
Claire Smith, for the Executive
2. WAC News
WAC Inter-Congress, Jamaica
Plans for the WAC Inter-Congress in Jamaica are progressing, and several interesting session rationales have been posted on the WAC list-server. The deadline for the submission of individual abstracts was extended until February 28, 2007. This is an exciting year for Jamaica, and indeed much of the Caribbean. The Cricket World Cup will take place from March 5 to 24th, and March 25th recognises the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade.
The theme for this WAC Inter-Congress is ‘Threats to Archaeology - its importance, its values and its development’. People who would like to know more about this Inter-Congress should visit the WAC web site, or email Evelyn Thompson, email@example.com.
WAC-6 in Ireland 2008
Following on the initial excitement of the successful bid to hold WAC-6 in Ireland in 2008 (June 29-July 4) planning for the congress has been progressing well. We are delighted to announce that the the email for inquiries about the congress is firstname.lastname@example.org and the website address is www.ucd.ie/wac-6. This site will be live from 5th March. We look forward to receiving lots of visitors to the website and to WAC-6 itself.
As in previous congresses the programme will be organised by themes, each with several sessions and we look forward to developing the programme with your contributions in terms of proposals for themes and for sessions, papers and posters. The main venue for WAC-6 will be the campus of University College Dublin. The layout of the campus is well-suited to facilitate easy movement and good communication between different venues and exhibition spaces. On the Wednesday (2nd July 2008) the congress tour will be to the World Heritage Site of Brú na Bóinne (the Boyne Valley), including the Neolithic passage tomb complex focused on Newgrange and the site of the Battle of the Boyne fought in 1690.
We are also organising an active and varied social programme which we think will complement the academic programme and help to make WAC-6 a truly memorable event. We look forward to welcoming you to Ireland!
Gabriel Cooney, Academic Secretary, WAC-6
3. News from WAC Members
from Lawrence Foanaota, Solomon Islands National Museum
A preliminary archaeological survey was made at the end of 2006 in the Southern most end of Isabel Province of the Solomon Islands by Dr. David Roe from the School of Anthropology, Archaeology and Sociology, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, James Cook University in Townsville, the Field Archaeologist, Mr. Lawrence Kiko of the National Museum's Archaeology Section, and Lawrence Foanaota.
During that brief survey the team was able to find some pieces of pottery during the last day of the fieldwork. This was the first evidence of pottery to be found on the island and since it was on the last day that these fragments were found, further archaeological work will be carried out probably with some test excavations hopefully in July this year.
James Cook University offered Lawrence a two-year appointment as Adjunct Appointment as a Senior Research Fellow with the University. It began on November 1, 2006 and will finish on October 30 2009. Lawrence will be working and collaborating closely with James Cook University, Sydney University and Bergen University of Norway in several joint archaeological and anthropological research projects also involving the National Museum in the Solomon Islands.
from Barbara J Little, US National Park Service
Historical Archaeology: Why the Past Matters, by WAC member Barbara J.
Little, is now available from Left Coast Press:
http://www.lcoastpress.com/index.php This book addresses the goals of historical archaeology, the kinds of questions it asks, and the ethical and political concerns it raises. Snapshots of key sites, including Jamestown, San Luis, West Oakland, Australian convict sites, the African Burial Ground, the Garbage Project, among others, show what historical archaeology can provide that neither of its parent disciplines can offer alone. A major section of the book shows how historical archaeology is inextricably linked to public education, justice issues, and our collective understanding of the past.
from Sean Ulm, University of Queensland, Australia
NOW AVAILABLE for FREE download or in hard copy.
Coastal Themes: An Archaeology of the Southern Curtis Coast, Queensland
Coastal archaeology in Australia differs in many respects from that of other areas, with the potential to examine relatively fine-scale variation. Nevertheless, there has been a general tendency in Australian archaeology to play down the variability and to subsume the evidence into broader homogenising models of Aboriginal cultural change. This case study clearly and self-consciously addresses the need to focus on local and regional patterns before moving on to more general levels of explanation.
Coastal Themes builds a detailed chronology of Aboriginal occupation for the southern Curtis Coast in Queensland. Innovative analyses refine radiocarbon dates and explore discard behaviours and post-depositional processes affecting the integrity of coastal archaeological sites. The resulting insights highlight major changes in Aboriginal use of this region over the last 5,000 years and disjunctions between the course of occupation in this and adjacent regions.
ISBN 1 920942 93 9 (Print version) $49.50 (GST inclusive)
ISBN 1 920942 96 3 (Online)
First published December 2006
Other Terra Australis titles now available for FREE:
The Archaeology of the Aru Islands, Eastern Indonesia (Terra Australis 22) edited by S. O’Connor, M. Spriggs and P. Veth
What’s Changing: Population Size or Land-Use Patterns?: The Archaeology of Upper Mangrove Creek, Sydney Basin (Terra Australis 21) by Val Attenbrow
from Ajay Pratap, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India
The Ancient History, Culture and Archaeology Department of the Banaras Hindu University, India, hosted an international seminar (with the association of Infinity Foundation, USA) about the History of Science and Technology in India. Dr. Ajay Pratap, Reader, dept. Of history at the same university presented a paper `On the Syllabus of Teaching Ancient Indian Science and Technology at the Department of History, Bhu'.
While there was, in this seminar, a heated debate on various issues related with the topic of the seminar. Dr. Pratap, among other things, thought it fit to raise the issue of a problematic discourse of `high' and `low' traditions of science in India. It was to be observed that most speakers were comfortable enough to mention the texts of the high tradition pertaining to science and technology but nary a mention was made of ethnic iron-workers like the Kol and the Agaria who have no written records but have been producing iron at a small-scale since at least the 18th century.
4. News Items
- New website launched
- Other news items
Two new publications from Archaeolingua
The Archaeology of Fire: Understanding Fire as Material Culture
Edited by Dragos Gheorghiu and George Nash
Published by the award winning Archaeolingua Press, Hungary, The Archaeology of Fire is a thought-provoking volume that brings together twelve leading scholars from Europe and America. The themes, ranging from ethnographic studies in Western Siberia and Arctic Canada, the science of Iron Age kiln technology in France to theoretical approaches towards early hominid hearth technology, provide in-depth analysis, whilst other papers within the volume discuss a series of overviews that incorporate other mechanisms, such as prehistoric burial and mortuary practices in north-western Europe.
This volume offers students and researchers a range of papers that deliberately question some of the traditional views associated with the role of fire. In the past, fire and the hearth usually represented a means of cooking, heat and illumination. Moreover, the evidence of fire and its functionality was relegated to the miscellaneous sections of the archaeological literature. However, it is clear form this volume that the role of fire extends beyond a mere functional one. Fire is meaningful, powerful and supernatural and was integral to the successful development of past societies.
This volume has contributions from Kevin Andrews, Françoise Audouze, Roberta Robin Dods, Marie-Chantel Frère-Sautot, Dragos Gheorghiu, Anthony Harding, Ann-Marie Kroll-Lerner, George Nash, Ulla Odgaard, Paula Purhonen, Ralph Rowlett and Raimond Thörn.
Anthropology of the Indo-European World and Material Culture
Marco V. García Quintela, Francisco J. González García & Felipe Criado Boado (e.p.) Anthropologie du Monde Indo-Européen et Culture Matérielle . V Colloque International d'Anthropologie du Monde Indo-Européen et de Mythologie Comparée : Santiago de Compostela 22-24 / September / 2004. Archaeolingua, Budapest .
In this book we explore the interest of one inroad which does not belong to any one individual, organized school or academic group operating today. At the root of this Anthropology of the Indo-European World and Material Culture, lies an attempt to bridge a gap using proposals that were common tender in the 1930’s and 40’s, when a series of scholars from different countries and scientific backgrounds had no qualms about turning to sociology or anthropology, or even psychoanalysis, in order to interpret the physical and material cultural features, as well as religious, mythical and ritual features of the different peoples who were the historical successors of the Indo-Europeans.
For more information and details of sales contact:
Úri utca 49.
Tel./Fax: +361 375 8939
New website launched
Australian Archaeological Association
The AAA website has been given a face-lift, retaining the old functionality and adding new content. You can find it at:
SHA Presents the 2007 John L. Cotter Award in Historical Archaeology
Williamsburg, Virginia -- The Society for Historical Archaeology has presented its 2007 John L. Cotter Award in Historical Archaeology to Dr. Carol McDavid for her outstanding achievement in using historical archaeology to engage local communities. Established by the SHA in 1998, this award is named for John Lambert Cotter (1911-1999), a pioneer in historical archaeology education and an advocate for the discipline. Each year, the SHA presents this award to an individual in the first five years of their career in recognition of a single, outstanding achievement. Dr. McDavid is being honored in 2007 for helping stimulate discussions about Diaspora studies and critical theory in public archaeology. Drawing on social theory, community-based strategies, and new technologies, McDavid has explored how to create a public archaeology discourse that is more democratic, open, multivocal, and relevant to archaeology’s diverse audiences. In doing so, McDavid has changed the way archaeologists can both learn about and share archaeological research with the public.
Dr. McDavid’s research focuses on broadening the stories that can be told about African American archaeology sites. She seeks to both expand the audiences for African American history and to tie this regional history to the worldwide African Diaspora. For her first project, she engaged the public in deciding whether, and how, to publicly interpret 19th century African American life at the Levi Jordan Plantation Project in Brazoria, Texas. Archaeological research on the plantation, conducted by Kenneth L. Brown at the University of Houston, had recovered evidence relating to the activities of all those who once lived and worked there, both prior to and after emancipation. After first making sure that local descendants approved and were involved, McDavid set up an interactive Internet web site where community members helped archaeologists decide how to present and discuss the history of this plantation. Through these web pages, community residents and members of the broader, interested public added oral history recollections about the plantation and joined archaeologists in deciding what the artifacts recovered from the property tell us about life in 19 th century rural Texas. The original web site is archived at www.webarchaeology.com , and plans are underway to update the site in the future.
McDavid’s research model for community involvement earned her a Masters Degree in Anthropology at the University of Houston and later a Doctorate in Archaeology at Cambridge University in England. She now serves on the Board of Directors of the Levi Jordan Plantation Historical Society and provides ongoing input related to the organization’s public archaeology programs. Currently, McDavid continues her community engagement research as Project Director for Public Archaeology at the Yates Community Archaeology Project, which is sponsored by the Rutherford B. H. Yates Museum in Houston’s 4th Ward. This program focuses on the history and preservation of Freedman’s Town, a vibrant and historically important African American community whose founders comprised some of Houston’s earliest citizens. Freedmen’s Town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an historically significant neighborhood. She also serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Harris County Heritage Society.
In introducing Dr. McDavid’s accomplishment’s during the award ceremony, Dr. Paul Shackel summarized for the Society’s members why McDavid is a deserving recipient of the 2007 John L. Cotter Award in Historical Archaeology: Carol’s “civil engagement helps to address contemporary social issues and is a model for the next generation of archaeologists who want to be socially responsible and engaged with descendant communities.”
For further information on Carol McDavid, or for background information on the above mentioned community archaeology programs, contact:
Project Director for Public Archaeology
Yates Community Archaeology Project, Rutherford B. H. Yates Museum, Inc.
Other news items
UNESCO-University and Heritage Newsletter (Nº 12)
The monthly electronic newsletter of Forum UNESCO – University and Heritage (FUUH) was first published in April 2006. The newsletter provides information on the activities of members as well as UNESCO’s in the numerous fields of natural and/or cultural heritage.
The newsletter can be accessed on the website: http://universityandheritage.net/Boletin_FUUP/2007-12_eng.pdf
The following items have been sent by Dru McGill, Center for Archaeology in the Public Interest ( http://www.indiana.edu/~capi) Indiana University
Item 1: SAA Committee on Ethics Resource Pages
The SAA Committee on Ethics has put together a series of Web pages to encourage discussion of ethical issues and to promote ethics education in archaeological training.
We welcome you to visit -- as well as link your Web site to -- the SAA's new archaeological ethics resources page, with a range of information on:
- Electronic Resources
- Codes, Charters, & Principles
- Bibliographies (An Introduction to Ethics, Gender Equity, Indigenous Communities, Looting & Collecting, The Nation & the Law)
- Ethics Syllabi
- Recent News
- SAA Ethics Bowl (with dozens of hypothetical case studies)
Put together and updated quarterly by the SAA Committee on Ethics, these pages provide an excellent resource for those exploring archaeological ethics for the first time and seasoned professional alike.
Please visit: www.saa.org/aboutSAA/committees/ethics/Introduction.html
To suggest a link, or for questions, contact Dru McGill at
Item 2: SAA Archaeology Ethics Bowl
The Society for American Archaeology’s Committee on Ethics is pleased to announce the Fourth Annual Ethics Bowl. Graduate and undergraduate students are invited to organize a team of 3 to 5 participants with a faculty advisor to take part in the event at the SAA 72nd Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas on April 26, 2007. Rules and procedures for the Ethics Bowl and the 2004-2006 case studies can be downloaded from:
To sign up for 2007, contact one of the organizers: Julie Hollowell ( email@example.com ), Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh ( firstname.lastname@example.org ), or Dru McGill ( email@example.com ).
Contact us soon! The deadline for organizing a team is March 15th!
Chuuk (Truk Lagoon) submerged World War II site documentation
In July 2006, a volunteer-based research project began under the supervision of Mr. Bill Jeffery Principal Investigator (PI) at Chuuk Lagoon (Truk) in the Federated States of Micronesia. Funded in part by the Earthwatch Foundation, the project is a multi-year, multi-disciplinary study of the now submerged World War II battleground at Chuuk.
The project involves the collaboration of three primary investigators, with unique yet intertwined research goals, seeking to tie together marine biology (PI, Maria Beger), archaeology (PI, Bill Jeffery) and corrosion studies (PI, Dr Ian MacLeod). Bradley L. Garrett M.A. is currently seeking funding from PADI Project AWARE to serve as the team GIS coordinator as well as a volunteer team leader. The project aims to record the cultural and biological values, health and longevity of the sites in close association with the Chuuk government and community and to engage active participation from the international community.
The Project has two, one month seasons per year (16 th July-11 th August and 22 October-17 November) scheduled for 2007 and 2008.
For further information contact Bill Jeffery and checkout the Earthwatch website < http://www.earthwatch.org/site/pp2.asp?c=dsJSK6PFJnH&b=1170739 >
Bradley L. Garrett , International Centre for Archaeology Underwater , firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill Jeffery, James Cook University, Australia and FSM National Historic Preservation Office, Pohnpei email@example.com
The European Archaeological Heritage Prize 2007
CALL FOR NOMINATIONS
The European Association of Archaeologists instituted the European Archaeological Heritage Prize in 1999. An independent committee awards the prize annually to an individual, institution or (local or regional) government for an outstanding contribution to the protection and presentation of the European archaeological heritage. In principle, this can be any contribution that is outstanding and of European scope or importance – it does not have to be a scientific contribution. The prize for 2007 will be awarded during the Annual Meeting of the EAA in Zadar, Croatia, in September.
The EAA Committee for the European Archaeological Heritage Prize consists of:
Anastasia Tourta (Greece),
Jürgen Kunow (Germany),
Romuald Schild (Poland) and
Willem Willems (Netherlands; chairperson).
The Committee will discuss all serious proposals for the award.
Nominations may be made by any of the following:
• Members of the Association (all grades of membership)
• Professors and heads of departments of archaeology in European universities and institutes
• Directors of governmental heritage management organisations and agencies in European countries (members of the Council of Europe)
• Non-governmental archaeological, heritage, and professional organisations in European countries
The closing date for receipt of proposals is 1 May, 2007.
Nominations, with full citations, should be sent to the EAA Secretariat, c/o Institute of Archaeology CAS, Letenská 4, 118 01 Praha 1, Czech Republic,
or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Excerpts from other archaeological newsletters (used with permission)
5(a) SALON (two editions fromXXXXXXXX)
SALON - the Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter
SALON - the Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter
Salon 158: 12 February 2007
SALON Editor: Christopher Catling
- Archaeologists protest against impending destruction of Roman health spa
Archaeologists protest against impending destruction of Roman health spa
Archaeologist Ahmet Yaras, head of the Allianoi excavation team, is spearheading a campaign to save the site of a well-preserved Roman spa in western Turkey from being submerged. If they cannot halt the planned reservoir, they want to persuade the government to delay the flooding for another five years so that they can finish the excavations.
Allianoi is a hot-springs area 18 kilometres north east of the ruins of ancient Pergamon that was used as a spa in Hellenistic times. It was constructed under the reign of the Roman emperor Hadrian during the second century AD. In addition to the spa, the Allianoi site includes public squares, streets, gates, bridges, fountains and buildings. Together, they encompass about 50,000 square metres, of which about 20 per cent has been excavated since archaeological work began in 1998. ‘Allianoi is in an absolutely astonishing state of preservation,’ says Felix Pirson, head of the Istanbul branch of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI).
The site is threatened by a reservoir to be created by the 700-metre-long Yortanli Dam, which was scheduled to start operation in 2005. Protests over Allianoi have postponed the planned flooding, says Mark Snethlage, policy and campaigns officer for Europa Nostra, the pan-European federation for cultural heritage, but the Turkish Parliament is said to be close to voting for the flooding to begin.
SALON - the Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter
Salon 157: 29 January 2007
Feedback – Aegean island of Keros
Salon 156 contained a report on the work of our Fellow Colin Renfrew on the Aegean island of Keros, in the Cyclades. Professor Lord Renfrew says that the Associated Press article which served as the basis for the Salon report was garbled and attributed words to him that he did not speak. For example, he has not said that the broken Cycladic figurines found on the island are linked to ‘a fertility cult tied to the mother goddess of Neolithic times’; he has refrained from seeking to explain what the finds on Keros might mean, saying instead that ‘their significance is as yet unclear’.
A more accurate account of Professor Lord Renfrew’s work can be found in a report by our Fellow Norman Hammond published in The Times on 12 August 2006. In that report, Professor Renfrew says that numerous fragments of marble bowls and figurines could be picked up from the land surface when he visited the island as a student in 1963. Looters who scoured the island for figurines to sell to collectors in the 1960s and 1970s were so voracious that little remained for archaeologists to investigate fifteen years later. It is therefore difficult, going back to the island in recent years, to tell whether the pieces of figurine and bowl that have survived were broken in ancient times or by modern looters.
Last year’s excavations at the site of Daskalio Kavos succeeded in locating a rich and undisturbed deposit, however, and from studying the fractured surfaces, Colin has concluded that the bowls and figurines were broken elsewhere and brought, already in fragmentary form, to the site. This conclusion is reinforced by the fact that very few of the pieces fit together, which they would if they had been broken in situ.
The lack of human remains associated with the figurines excludes the possibility that they came from a cemetery. Pottery found with the marble figures came from Naxos, Syros and Amorgos, and possibly from the Greek mainland. Professor Lord Renfrew believes that the marble figurines and bowls had equally diverse origins. The overall quantity of fine pottery and marble objects found at Daskalio Kavos ‘rivals the total from all the known Cycladic cemeteries’, he said, adding that the site can be described as ‘the first major ritual centre of Aegean prehistory’, antedating the Mycenaean shrine on the island of Milos, excavated by Professor Lord Renfrew some years ago, and other known sanctuary sites.
SALON - the Society of Antiquaries of London Online Newsletter
Salon 156: 15 January 2007
- Australia says ‘no’ to protection of rock art
- Is it safe to visit the Holy Sepulchre?
- Early migration site found in Russia
- Further Neanderthal research
- Ancient footpaths traced by satellite
- Smashed figurines on Keros
Australia says ‘no’ to protection of rock art
Previous issues of Salon have reported on the campaign by conservationists and aboriginal groups to designate and protect more than a million rock carvings on the Dampier Archipelago, a chain of islands off Australia’s Burrup Peninsula. According to a report published by the Australian National Trust the petroglyphs are at risk from acid rain resulting from existing and planned petrochemical plants in the region, and from blasting used to clear land for further development.
Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell has now rejected a petition and formal application to designate the rock art, saying that listing would hamper the oil and gas industry. ‘It's important that we protect our heritage but also protect our economy, protect our jobs’, Campbell said. Woodside Petroleum, who wish to develop a natural gas plant on the peninsula, say they will ‘rescue’ 150 of the best examples of the 6,000- to 30,000-year-old petroglyphs, a solution dismissed by Aboriginal groups as wholly inadequate. ‘They are destroying our Bible that's lying on the Burrup’, said Wong-Goo-Tt-Oo elder Wilfred Hicks. Green Party Senator Rachel Siewert said: ‘This is undoubtedly a heritage site, of not only national, but of world significance, and if he can't see his duty is to protect this area — to list it and protect it — he should step down as minister because he's incapable of carrying out his duties.’
Is it safe to visit the Holy Sepulchre?
Evidence that health and safety is not a peculiarly English obsession comes from Jerusalem, where the Israeli government has ruled that one of Christianity’s holiest shrines, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, violates health and safety rules because it has only one exit. The government has demanded that an emergency exit be built. Newspapers have hailed this as the first issue to unite the three Christian communities who run the church (Greek Orthodox, Franciscan and Armenian Orthodox); putting aside their rivalries, they are unanimous in opposing what Father Athanasius (for the Franciscans) called ‘an unprecedented violation’.
This is not the first time the Israeli government has sought to impose a second exit on the doorway: various plans for an emergency exit were debated for two years in the mid-1990s, to cope with the large surge in pilgrim visitors expected for the millennium. This time, however, the Government is claiming that it has a legal duty to find a solution, and it says it has identified various blocked openings where a second door could be opened up without harming the fabric of the building.
Early migration site found in Russia
Russian and American archaeologists are claiming to have found the earliest known settlement of modern humans in Europe at Kostenki, a site on the banks of the River Don, 250 miles south of Moscow. Artefacts from the site date to 45,000 BC. The Kostenki site is already well known to archaeologists, but new finds, published in Nature this week, push the date for the earliest human occupation back by around 5,000 years. They include the oldest dated bone and ivory needles with eyelets yet found in Europe, probably used for tailoring animal furs to protect the settlers from the harsh climate. An ivory carving from the site appears to show the head of a human being and marks an early attempt at figurative art.
‘The big surprise here is the very early presence of modern humans in one of the coldest, driest places in Europe’, said John Hoffecker of the University of Colorado at Boulder. ‘It is one of the last places we would have expected people from Africa to occupy first’, added Dr Hoffecker, who worked on the site with colleagues from the Russian Academy of Sciences in St Petersburg.
The people who lived at Kostenki might well have been trading with other groups, as most of the stone used for tool-making at the site came from 100 miles away and shells used to make ornaments came from the Black Sea, 300 miles away. ‘It is difficult to know whether it is simply one group of individuals moving over great distances, or whether it is an exchange of materials between two or more groups,’ said Hoffecker.
Bones from the site include hare and Arctic fox and fish, implying the use of snares and nets. The remains of other animals at the site, which were likely to have been hunted and eaten, include reindeer and horses. Among the tools found was a rotary drill, antlers, blades, scrapers and awls. The paper in Science says this is evidence for ‘fully developed Upper Palaeolithic industry on the central East European Plain’ and that the number of artefacts showed that it was a well-used site. They said that the arrival of modern humans in the region appeared to have taken place ‘several thousand years before their spread across Western and Eastern Europe’ and that the finds had ‘implications for both the timing and routes of modern human dispersal’.
Further Neanderthal research
Neanderthal research went into overdrive last year to mark the 150th anniversary of the identification of the type specimen, Neanderthal 1, at a quarry in the Neander Valley, near Düsseldorf, in August 1856 Ñü and 2007 began with the announcement of some early results from the two-year project to map Neanderthal DNA.
Two separate teams are analysing material taken from a 38,000-year-old fossil found in Croatia, which is the only one available that has not been contaminated by human and bacterial DNA. One group is led by Svante Pääbo, of the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, and a second team is led by Edward Rubin, of the US Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, in California. Mapping the Neanderthal genome will allow comparisons with humans and chimpanzees to look for the differences that make us human.
With about 0.03 per cent of the entire Neanderthal genome sequenced so far, neither team has found significant differences yet, but Dr Pääbo’s research has dated the evolutionary split between humans and Neanderthals back to between 465,000 and 569,000 years ago, with a best guess of 516,000 years ago, a revision of the current best guess of 400,000 years ago. Edward Rubin says his team has so far failed to find any evidence of genetic mixing (interbreeding) between humans and Neanderthals. ‘We don’t exclude it’, he said, ‘But we see no evidence for it in the last 30,000 or 40,000 years in Europe.’
Meanwhile a separate study has revealed significant physical differences between Neanderthals from northern and southern Europe. Dr Markus Bastir, of Hull York Medical School (HYMS), has compared 43,000-year-old Neanderthal remains from El Sidrón in Spain with Britain’s most substantial Neanderthal fossil Ñü discovered at Kent’s Cavern in Torbay in 1926. Publishing the results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Dr Bastir said they: ‘revealed an astonishing NorthÑüSouth morphological gradient and gives us an idea of typically southern-European Neanderthal facial shape’, with southerners having much broader faces with increased lower facial heights.
Gendered division of labour gave modern humans advantage over Neanderthals, according to Steven L Kuhn and Mary C Stiner of the University of Arizona, writing in the December 2006 issue of Current Anthropology. The study argues that ‘the competitive advantage enjoyed by modern humans came not just from new weapons and devices but from the ways in which their economic lives were organized around the advantages of cooperation and complementary subsistence roles for men, women, and children’.
The authors note that food remains from Neanderthal sites suggest their diets depended on large game. They also note the presence of healed fractures on female and juvenile Neanderthal skeletons, suggesting that they participated in the hunt. Upper Palaeolithic sites used by Homo sapiens, by contrast, have small animal and bird remains, bone awls and needles used to make clothes and shelters, and milling stones for grinding nuts and seeds. This is seen as evidence for the emergence of ‘female’ roles and crafts among Homo sapiens, allowing them to exploit the environment more efficiently, with the result that their populations would have outgrown those of the Neanderthals.
Ancient footpaths traced by satellite
Satellite imaging has been used to spot changes in vegetation that indicate the routes of 2,000-year-old pathways invisible to observers on the ground. Professor Payson Sheets, of Colorado Unversity, Boulder, collaborated with NASA-based archaeologist Tom Sever to trace processional footpaths used by people in the Arenal region of present-day Costa Rica.
The repeated use of the paths to navigate rugged terrain between small villages and ancestral cemeteries over several centuries created shallow trenches which act as a sump to collect moisture. The response of vegetation to the extra water can be detected in infrared photography, even in places where thick vegetation has obscured the path, or where the trenches have been filled in by layers of ash from prehistoric volcanic eruptions.
Professor Sheets told the Second International Conference on Remote Sensing in Archaeology held in Rome in December that the same processional routes were used for more than 1,000 years, from roughly 500 BC to AD 600. People returned to them despite abandoning their villages because of eruptions from the nearby Arenal Volcano. Archaeological finds indicate that ritualistic feasting ceremonies took place at the cemeteries, where visitors cooked, ate, drank, slept and ritually smashed pots on the stone slab-covered graves. Sheets has been able to pinpoint sources of stone used for grave construction and to locate springs used during ceremonies.
Smashed figurines on Keros
Further evidence of ritualistic destruction Ñü this time of marble figurines Ñü has been found by our Fellow Colin Renfrew on the Greek island of Keros, which Lord Renfrew believes is ‘the earliest regional ritual centre in the Aegean, a hugely important religious site where smashed artwork was ceremoniously deposited’.
More than half of all documented Cycladic figurines in museums and collections worldwide were found on Keros and Renfrew’s team have now found many more broken figurines missed by looters who ransacked the islet in the 1950s and 1960s. ‘We’ve got hundreds of marble bowl fragments and many dozens of figurine fragments, which don’t seem to fit together’, Renfrew told the Associated Press. ‘You have a head here, a single foot here, a torso there, some thighs here Ñü and all very deliberately broken around 2500 BC, about 1,500 years before the cult of Apollo started on Delos.
There is no evidence that the Cycladic cult was linked to later Greek deities. Instead it is likely that the Keros remains represent a fertility cult tied to the mother-goddess of Neolithic times. Renfrew believes the figurines, which had details painted in bright colours, could have come from sanctuaries throughout the Cyclades, and pottery finds indicate the site attracted worshippers from all over Greece. ‘Maybe at some point in some life cycle, the figurines were ritually smashed and taken to Keros in some ceremony’, he said, ‘though there is little evidence of how they were used in everyday life.’
5(b) ICOMOS (Australia) (one edition from December 2006)
Australia ICOMOS E-Mail News No. 261
15th December, 2006
- Extreme Heritage
- Building Blocks: Interpretation Australia Association Conference
Advance Notice of the 2007 Australia ICOMOS Conference.
The 2007 Conference will be held in Cairns, Tropical North Queensland in conjunction with James Cook University from the 19 th -21 st July 2007. Extreme Heritage: managing heritage in the face of climactic extremes, natural disasters and military conflicts in tropical, desert, polar and off-world landscapes; will provide the perfect forum to bring together researchers and practitioners grappling with some of the most topical issues in heritage today. Sessions already proposed include
Off world heritage: the heritage of space exploration
People, climate change and heritage
Heritage and Identity
Managing disaster and risk preparedness
War of attrition: environmental effects of extreme climates.
Managing heritage in the wake of war and conflict
Advance Notice of the Interpretation Australia Association Conference
Darling Harbour, Sydney
November 6-9, 2007.
The 2007 IAA National Conference is being constructed to consider every layer of interpretation in Sydney.
A solid layer of natural values will underpin the gathering with Aboriginal heritage as a foundation stone. Other tiers of value will be assembled and considered with practical workshops at several industrial and built heritage sites and cultural landscapes.
The Conference Planning Team will assemble a compelling mixture of Australian and international speakers to provoke debate on contemporary issues in interpretation such as: conflicting perceptions; the challenge of Generation Y; interpretive public art; and moveable heritage.
The Building Blocks Conference will be preceded by the annual SEEN (Sydney Environmental Education Network) conference. We are planning to schedule several complementary training activities between the conferences. We are also constructing some irresistible post-conference tours.
For further information or to suggest a speaker or activity contact email@example.com
Australia ICOMOS Secretariat
Nola Miles, Secretariat Officer
Cultural Heritage Centre for Asia and the Pacific
221 Burwood Highway
Burwood Victoria 3125
Telephone: (03) 9251 7131
Facsimile: (03) 9251 7158
The WAC e-Newsletter is circulated every two months. The next issue will be at the end of April. Please forward your items by Monday 16 April to Madeleine Regan, editor.