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Monday, 8 June 2009

Glorious Past -ancient farmers, fishermen and hunters surprise scientiests

Today:

  1. Early agriculture left traces in animal bones
  2. New research reveals the earliest evidence for corn in the New World
  3. Ironware piece unearthed from Turkey found to be oldest steel
  4. Archeologists discover temple that sheds light on 'Dark Age'
  5. Ironware piece unearthed from Turkey found to be oldest steel
Short stories:
  1. Huge undersea mountain found off Indonesia: scientists
  2. Ancient Humans Knew Sustainable Fishing
  3. Mammoths Roasted in Prehistoric Kitchen Pit
  4. Inscription from the time of Alexander the Great - found in Baktria, land of origin of ancient Bulgarians
Lol, I know my posts get longer and longer, even though I edit the articles so much. But since I see no comments on this blog, I take it you don't care how long are the articles. So, enjoy!

Early agriculture left traces in animal bones

Washington, D.C.—Unraveling the origins of agriculture in different regions around the globe has been a challenge for archeologists. Now researchers writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences* report finding evidence of early human experiments with grain cultivation in East Asia. They gathered this information from an unlikely source―dog and pig bones.

The dog and pig bones, as well as bones of other animals analyzed in the study, come from an archaeological site in a region of northwest China considered to be a possible early center of East Asian agriculture. Chemical traces within the dog bones suggest a diet high in millet, a grain that wild dogs are unlikely to eat in large quantities, but that was a staple of early agricultural societies in northwest China.

The bones come from a Neolithic site known as Dadiwan, in China's western Loess Plateau, excavated first by a Chinese team in the late 70s and early 80s, and in 2006 by a team from the University of California, Davis, and Lanzhou University in China. Humans occupied the site during two main phases, from 7,900 to 7,200 years ago (Phase 1) and from 6,500 to 4,900 years (Phase 2). Though some fossil remains of millet plants have been found in both of these deposits, the fossils don't directly reveal how much millet contributed to the local diet.

The researchers found that the most of the dog bones from the Phase 1 deposits bore the isotopic signature of a high millet diet. This suggests that these dogs were domesticated and fed by humans who harvested millet. Bones of pigs from the site tell a slightly different story. In the Phase 1 deposits, the pig bones don't show signs of millet in the diet, so they were probably wild pigs hunted and eaten by people. But pig bones from Phase 2 do have the isotopic signature of millet, so they were probably domesticated by this time. source

My comment: It's rather interesting that humans domesticated dogs, before they domesticated pigs. I mean, they can eat pigs and they did not eat dogs (I hope). That probably suggests that they were herding goats or something, because otherwise, they simply wouldn't need dogs.

New research reveals the earliest evidence for corn in the New World

Among the hundreds of plants that have been domesticated in the New World, none has received as much attention or been subject to as much debate as corn, or maize (Zea mays L.), arguably the most important crop of the Americas. Controversies have existed for years over what the wild ancestor of maize is and where and when it was domesticated.

An international team of scientists led by Dolores Piperno, archaeobotanist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, and Anthony Ranere, professor of anthropology at Temple University in Philadelphia, have discovered the first direct evidence that indicates maize was domesticated by 8,700 years ago, the earliest date recorded for the crop.

It is certain that maize was originally domesticated in Mexico from a wild plant called "teosinte," and genetic studies of modern populations of teosinte and maize suggested this event occurred somewhere in the Central Balsas Valley region of tropical southwest Mexico. However, no research on early prehistoric human settlement and agriculture had been carried out there. Piperno and the team searched this region of Mexico for locations that showed human occupancy for the time period they thought to be critical to maize domestication, from approximately 8,000 to 9,000 years ago. They discovered sites dating to this age, excavated them and analyzed the stone tools and plant remains they retrieved. Microfossil (starch grain and phytolith) analysis from a rock shelter called Xihuatoxtla, conducted in part with Irene Holst at the Smithsonian Tropical Research provide direct evidence for the domestication of maize and a species of squash.

The evidence corroborates a large quantity of previous research carried out in the lowland tropical forest south of Mexico by Piperno and other investigators that indicated maize spread to Panama approximately 7,600 years ago and was well established in northern South America about 6,000 years ago.

The archaeological record establishes tropical southwest Mexico as an important region where early agriculture occurred in the New World and adds maize to the roster of important cereals (others are wheat and barley from the Middle East) that were cultivated and domesticated by 9,000 years ago. source

My comment: What I don't get is who domesticated the corn there. Which civilisation? If we talk about Asia, we'd say it was some Chinese or Japanese Jomon or Harapian. But who did it in South America. And notice how late we found our about all the wonderful fruits and vegetables of the Americas. If you think about it, discovering the potato was one of the reasons to end starvation in Europe. This is highly suspicious. And if you compare it with the previous article, it turns out that corn was domesticated before pigs and even before dogs. That would suggest that humans went for agriculture before they became farmers. Which kind of contradicts the idea we were mindless hunters.

Ironware piece unearthed from Turkey found to be oldest steel

Tokyo (PTI): A piece of ironware excavated from a Turkish archaeological site is about 4,000 years old, making it the world's oldest steel, Japanese archaeologists said on Thursday.

Archaeologists from the Middle Eastern Culture Center in Japan excavated the 5-centimetre piece at the Kaman-Kalehoyuk archaeological site in Turkey, about 100 kilometers southeast of Ankara, in 2000. The ironware piece is believed to be a part of a knife from a stratum about 4,000 years old, or 2100-1950 B.C., according to them.

An analysis at the Iwate Prefectural Museum in Morioka showed that the ironware piece was about 200 years older than one that was excavated from the same site in 1994 and was believed to be the oldest steel so far made in 20th-18th centuries B.C.

The ironware is highly likely to have been produced near the Kaman-Kalehoyuk site as a 2-cm-diameter slag and two iron-containing stones have also been excavated, Kyodo news agency quoted the archaeologists as saying.

Hideo Akanuma, an archaeologist at the Iwate Prefectural Museum, said the fresh finding led to a change in the history of iron and steel production, noting that such production was earlier thought to have begun in the Hittite kingdom dating in the 14th to 12th centuries B.C. source

My comment: Wow I'm not exactly surprised, but I won't talk about Thracians now. It's kind of far from their homeland, but I start to think that maybe great civilisations were more than one even in the same time. What I wonder is where are those cities they occupied. Because if you think about Thracian gold, to manufacture such works of art, you need a highly developed society which can provide time for perfection of the artisans. But we see only tombs! Where are the cities!


Click here for some adorable pictures of cave painting.
And one ridiculous article from an Ukrainian political scientist how Buddha was Ukrainian (and Arian). Fun! I don't know since when political scientist know so much about religion and history, but life never ceases to amaze me :) (P.S. Unfortunately, that article disappearted. But it was quite fun!)

Archeologists discover temple that sheds light on 'Dark Age'

April 15th, 2009

The discovery of a remarkably well-preserved monumental temple in Turkey — thought to be constructed during the time of King Solomon in the 10th/9th-centuries BC -- sheds light on the so-called Dark Age.

Uncovered by the University of Toronto's Tayinat Archaeological Project (TAP) in the summer of 2008, the discovery casts doubt upon the traditional view that the transition from the Late to the Early Iron Age was violent, sudden and culturally disruptive.

Ancient sources — such as the Homeric epics and the Hebrew Bible — depict an era of widespread famine, ethnic conflict and population movement, most famously including the migrations of the Sea Peoples (or biblical Philistines) and the Israelites. This is thought to have precipitated a prolonged Dark Age marked by cultural decline and ethnic strife during the early centuries of the Iron Age. But recent discoveries — including the Tayinat excavations — have revealed that some ruling dynasties survived the collapse of the great Bronze Age powers.

"Our ongoing excavations have not only begun to uncover extensive remains from this Dark Age, but the emerging archaeological picture suggests that during this period Tayinat was the capital of a powerful kingdom, the 'Land of Palastin'," says Timothy Harrison, professor of Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Toronto and the director of the project. "Intriguingly, the early settlement at Tayinat shows evidence of strong cultural connections, if not the direct presence of foreign settlers, from the Aegean world, the traditional homeland of the Sea Peoples."

Excavations uncovered the temple's southern approach, which once faced a broad stone-paved courtyard, and consisted of a monumental staircase and porticoed-entrance, supported by a large, ornately carved basalt column base.

In addition, fragments of monumental stelae — stone slabs created for religious or other commemorative purposes — carved in Luwian (an extinct language once spoken in what is now Turkey) hieroglyphic script, were found.

"The building's central room was burned in an intense fire." added Harrison. source

My comment: Hm, I might have to update my knowledge of the Bible, because I don't remember the Sea People. And I wonder who they were and where they migrated to. But that's not so important. The important thing here is that the Bible obviously isn't the best source of information around and this discovery proves it-an extremely rich temple that oddly burnt into a great fire. A prospering city that doesn't fit the archaeological context. Like I wonder how many more.


Short stories:

Huge undersea mountain found off Indonesia: scientists

May 29th, 2009
A massive underwater mountain discovered off the Indonesian island of Sumatra could be a volcano with potentially catastrophic power, a scientist said Friday.

Indonesian government marine geologist Yusuf Surachman said the was discovered earlier this month about 330 kilometres (205 miles) west of Bengkulu city during research to map the seabed's seismic faultlines.

The cone-shaped mountain is 4,600 metres (15,100 feet) high, 50 kilometres in diameter at its base and its summit is 1,300 metres below the surface, he said.

"It looks like a volcano because of its conical shape but it might not be. We have to conduct further investigations," he told AFP.

He denied reports that researchers had confirmed the discovery of a new , insisting that at this stage it could only be described as a "seamount" of the sort commonly found around the world.

The ultra-deep geological survey was conducted with the help of French scientists and international geophysical company CGGVeritas.

The scientists hope to gain a clearer picture of the undersea lithospheric plate boundaries and seafloor displacement in the area, the epicentre of the catastrophic Asian and tsunami of 2004. source


Ancient Humans Knew Sustainable Fishing

Michael Reilly, Discovery News

June 1, 2009 -- Early humans living off the coast of California may have been the first "farmers" of the sea.

By managing sea otter populations they maximized their harvest of abalone and mussels, making them pioneers in the art of sustainable fishery management, according to a new study.

Jon Erlandson of the University of Oregon and team of researchers collected thousands of shells from ancient settlements of the Chumash people in the Channels Islands near Santa Barbara, Calif., dating back to around 12,000 years ago.

They found that while people were harvesting millions of shellfish annually from the local kelp forest ecosystem, shell sizes remained relatively stable even as the local population grew and became more technologically advanced.

The trend suggests Channel Island settlers may have been the first to work out a sustainable form of fishing. When certain areas became depleted, they simply moved to another, effectively imposing a "no-take zone" in the old fishing grounds. And when harvests dwindled throughout the region, they switched to hunting and eating otters until shellfish numbers recovered.

In previous studies, researchers have documented human impacts on shellfish populations in the Mediterranean Sea as long as 25,000 years ago. And evidence from South Africa suggests humans were hunting the seas up to 120,000 years ago.source

Mammoths Roasted in Prehistoric Kitchen Pit

Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

June 3, 2009 -- Central Europe's prehistoric people would likely have been amused by today's hand-sized hamburgers and hot dogs, since archaeologists have just uncovered a 29,000 B.C. well-equipped kitchen where roasted gigantic mammoth was one of the last meals served.

The site, called Pavlov VI in the Czech Republic near the Austrian and Slovak Republic borders, provides a homespun look at the rich culture of some of Europe's first anatomically modern humans.

View a slide show of the prehistoric grill site here.

While contemporaneous populations near this region seemed to prefer reindeer meat, the Gravettian residents of this living complex, described in the latest issue of the journal Antiquity, appeared to seek out more super-sized fare.

"It seems that, in contrast to other Upper Paleolithic societies in Moravia, these people depended heavily on mammoths," project leader Jiri Svoboda told Discovery News.

Svoboda, a professor at the University of Brno and director of its Institute of Archaeology, and colleagues recently excavated Pavlov VI, where they found the remains of a female mammoth and one mammoth calf near a 4-foot-wide roasting pit. Arctic fox, wolverine, bear and hare remains were also found, along with a few horse and reindeer bones.

The meats were cooked luau-style underground.

Boiling pits existed near the middle roaster. He thinks "the whole situation -- central roasting pit and the circle of boiling pits -- was sheltered by a teepee or yurt-like structure."

It's unclear if seafood was added to create a surf-and-turf meal, but multiple decorated shells were unearthed. Many showed signs of cut marks, along with red and black coloration. The scientists additionally found numerous stone tools, such as spatulas, blades and saws, which they suggest were good for carving mammoths.

Some items might have held "magical" or ritualistic significance, according to the scientists. One such artifact looks to be the head of a lion. source


My comment: Again this red and black coloring like that odd spiraling civilisation in Romania. And notice the head of a lion. Where the hell have they seen a lion?


Inscription from the time of Alexander the Great - found in Baktria, land of origin of ancient Bulgarians
1 April 2009 | 12:51 | FOCUS News Agency
Baktra. Unique marble slab with the image of Alexander the Great and a passage of an inscription was discovered in archaeological excavations in the ancient Baktriya, Baktriya Press Agency informed.
The slab represents an ancient king on a horse heading Macedonian cavalry and Macedonian phalanx at the background.
An inscription written in an ancient language different from ancient Greek or ancient Egyptian languages, on which were written a large part of the stone inscriptions at the time of Alexander is placed from the right of the military arena. According to other assumptions the words of Alexander of Macedonia are written in baktriyan language protolanguage of today's Bulgarians.
According to archaeologists from the museum in the town of Balh – the baktriyan language is a language, which had been spoken by the soldiers of Alexander of Macedonia, which had unified languages and dialects in his multinational army. Found fragments of ancient Greek inscription at the same site, suggest a possible parallel text. source
My comment: Haha! Well, nice :) I wonder if the language turns out to be coptic. Though they said it wasn't ancient Egyptian languages, but maybe an earlier version of the coptic. Or whether that language had something to do with early Bulgarian or a Turk language. I mean, this is important, because genetic studies suggest Bulgarian are Thracian. If Thracian were the dominated culture, the new country inherited their language and as erm writer showed-Buglarian and Boharic coptic do have a lot in common. So, if this language has nothing to do with our language, then it must be a turk one. Or....I think that's extremely important, even if our Macedonian brothers won't like it. Though, maybe the language was just local and has nothing to do with Alexander the Great.

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