Tag Archives: old world

Where is the Anthroplology-March 2008: Strasbourg and American Tourists

Strasbourg, France

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Strasbourg was a city rich in history, like many in Europe.  This now French city has maintained an exciting past being located on the borders of the French and Germany line.   After the rule of Romans and the Holy Rome Empire, a revolution in 1332 resulted in a broad-based city government Strasbourg declared itself a free republic from the Holy Rome Empire. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strasbourg)

The city’s famous cathedral was construction in the 12th century, was completed in 1439, and became the World’s Tallest Building.  The reason for its uniqueness to the town is that it was built with only one steeple leaving it nonsymmetrical.  The first modern newspaper was published in Strasbourg in 1605.  Johann Carolus received permission by the city to print and distribute a weekly journal written in German.  During a dinner in Strasbourg in 1792, Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle composed “La Marseillaise“. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strasbourg)

During the French revolution, Strasbourg’s status as a free city was revoked.  In 1794, there was talk of tearing its spire down, because it violated the principle of equality.  During the Franco-Prussian War and the Siege of Strasbourg, the Prussian army heavily bombarded the city.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strasbourg) 

In 1871 after the wars ended, the city was annexed to the newly established German Empire at the treaty of Frankfurt (Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen).  As part of Germany, Strasbourg was rebuilt.  Massive fortifications were established around the city, which most of it is still stand today.  “Those forts subsequently served the French army, and were used as POW-camps in 1918 and 1945.”  Following the defeat of Germany in World War I, the city was again restored to French. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strasbourg)

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Having been influenced by Germanic culture, Strasbourg remained largely Alsatian speaking into the 20th century.  The fall of France in1940 during World War II, caused the city once again to be annexed by Germany.  After the war, Strasbourg was again returned to France.  The First World War did little damage to the city, but American bombers caused extensive destruction in1944.(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strasbourg)

“In 1920, Strasbourg became the seat of the Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine, previously located in Mannheim, one of the very first European institutions. In 1949, the city was chosen to be the seat of the Council of Europe with its European Court of Human Rights and European Pharmacopoeia. Since 1952, Strasbourg has been the official seat of the European Parliament”. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strasbourg)

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The cities lay out geographically was ideal for defenses with a river that was created to protect the center of the town.  Currently the city is larger then the town’s center, but it provided necessary defenses at the time of its construction.

In addition to this cities great history and European archaeology, any amateur anthropologist being observant to the different types of people visiting the city can currently examine cultural anthropology.  As I lived in Germany and traveled, my husband and I noticed cultural behaviors and clothing differences among American tourists, non-American tourists, European natives, and locals.  Often the people you could hear the best were Americans.  In truth, my ears picked up anyone speaking English since it was a rarity to hear.

In tourist groups with guides, American tourist seem just like any other tourists visiting the city’s sites, but there are still things that help in pointing them out.  What they choice to wear in public can often identify American tourists.  Some of the most common attire seems on these tourists are a form of athletic shoes, fanny packs, baseball hats, cowboy hats, and tourist souvenir shirts.  These clothing trademarks stand out against the European outing fashion.  When I would go out shopping for grocery’s to clothes the local people were dressed to impress.  I recall seeing many women ranging from 50-75 plus wearing fur costs, many of the other people looked like they had walked out of fashion magazines from New York City or Los Angeles.  People strutted their personalized looked when they walked out of the house.  I asked my Germany neighbor how some of the women could wear such high and pointy stilettos on the cabal stone walk ways, her reply was why would they not.  She then pointed out how easy it was to tell tourists from the locals because they would wear shoes that were athletic shoes, not matching their attire, or a more sensible shoe to allow for the walking around.   

On a deeper cultural level, American are stereotypically considered a nation where English is the most common language proving to most Americans a false security about not needing to learn as many other languages as people in other countries.  Often an American person will have taken one foreign language later in their teenage or college life and typically forgot most of that language.  Other people from different countries learn several different languages.  Germany people learn English and Germany when they are in elementary school and then learn another or two language in their teen years of schooling.  These languages are typically their weaker languages in later years, which is similar to Americans language development in secondary education. 

The significances to American typically only knowing English fluently, causes several observation notes of interest.  I have seen tourists that speak loudly to others in their party, in English.  Often these types of people might compare people, food, architecture, and culture differences to “not be as good as the things back home”.  They typically have large need for personally space around themselves in a crowd of people they do not know.  Often English comments are discussed at a volume level load enough to hear from 10-20 feet away.  These commend are herd by many of the people walking by and often those comments are in the local tongue with a disgusted “American” inserted among the words.

I asked my Germany neighbor about how they felt about American tourists in their country.  For the most part, American tourists were just like any other tourists to her.  She did note frustration to careless comments Americans often made about different cultures loudly expressed in public.  Often locals would make comments about what they said, since most people understand English if they do not speak it very well in European countries due to their required education programs.  American act as if they are the only ones that understand what they say, but the truth is that many other people pick up on those “believed to be private English comments among the foreigners”.  Add the clothing typical to ideal American family vacationing in Europe and Americans stand out.

After living in Germany for over a year, I realized these silly differences in behavior, cultural, and interpretation of American tourists throughout Europe.  My husband and I found American tourists to annoying as the locals found them at times.  I realized know how a few loud and careless remarks made by Americans in other countries added to the perpetual believe of the rude, uncultured, or stupid American cliché that give Americans a bad name.  I learned that just because you do not understand your environment or culture around you, sometime others understand you.

I hope this personal insight to my experiences in Europe, focusing on the City of Strasbourg, as an example of tourism at an annoying level to the locals, has shown you that cultural anthropology is always around you. 

The only tip I would offer to future American tourists is to be more aware of your surroundings and the things you say.  It is ok to make comments that others will not like, just say them in your friend’s ear kept it among your comrades and maybe level some of the silly tourist cloths at home, if you are looking to blend in with the natives.  

Adrienne Elder

 note: the first half of this articles information came from Wikapidia and the second and third images. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StrasbourgAll other pictures on this article came from Adrienne Elder.

Where is the Anthropology?: The Mississippians of the Cahokia Mounds in Illinois

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The Cahokia Mounds, located in Collinsville Illinois, were created around 700 AD by people the archaeologists have called Woodland Indians.  Later, another group named by archaeologists as the Mississippian Indians, continued to build the mounds in 800 AD until they mysteriously abandoned the site in 1400 AD.  They have left no written record that has been found so the true tribal names of these groups are unknown to the excavation and scholars.  This is the largest known civilization north of Mexico City.  This particular site of the Mississippians is the largest in the United States with 109 out of the 120 mounds recovered out of several other mound locations scattered along the Mississippi river and a few sites located further west, east of the Appalachian Mountain range.  Out of the 109 Historical Preservation Agency of Illinois preserved 68 mounds covering 2200 acres (890 hectares) of land (Cahokia Mounds Museum Society, 2001, 1-2).  “The remnants of the Mississippian’s central city [is] now known as Cahokia for the Indians who lived nearby in the late 1600s” (Cahokia Mounds Museum website, 2003 http://www.cahokiamounds.com/Introduction.html).   

These two groups of prehistoric Indian cultures, mainly the Mississippians, developed a complex and long lasting society.  They had an “advanced civilization: widespread commerce; stratified social, political, and religious organization; specialized and refined crafts; and monumental architecture”, and agriculture system for corn/Maze, squash and other native plants (Cahokia Mounds Museum website, 2003 http://www.cahokiamounds.com/Introduction.html).  The cities structure had a large opening field surrounded by smaller mounds with the largest mound at the Northern end of the open field being the temple mound or “Monks Mound”.  Other mounds further out continue to diminish in size and social importance of the occupancies during the time of the Mississippians.  This town included a large wall around the town center that archaeologists have reconstructed in place to divide the social rankings of the city (Cahokia Mounds Museum Society, 2001, 9-12).  

 Cahokia Mound

There is evidence of a large trading system between other native groups during the time of the Mississippian and Woodland due to the location of the Cahokia site.  The Cahokia site is geographically located at the convergence of three major rivers; Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois and four ecozones; Mississippian Valley, Ozarks, Prairies, Eastern Woodland. The rivers junction creates fertile land from the expansive flood plain called the “American Bottom”.  “It stretched 70 miles along the Mississippi from present day Alton, Illinois, to Chester, Illinois, and was up to 12 miles wide from the river east to its bluffs” (Cahokia Mounds Museum website, 2003 http://www.cahokiamounds.com/settingstage.html).  Spring rains swelled the American Bottom land’s streams replenishing the lands for cultivation by renewing the nutrients essential for the wide-scale agricultural (Cahokia Mounds Museum website, 2003 http://www.cahokiamounds.com/settingstage.html). 


The Mississippian people benefited from the American Bottom with the advantage in farming, economics, and society.  They interacted with nomadic Plains dwellers, Northeastern forest people, and other Mississippians in the Southeast providing resources and ideas to the Cahokian city.  From this central conjunction, Mississippians traveled by water and land “along trade routes already established by the Woodland and, to some extent, the Archaic peoples” (Cahokia Mounds Museum website, 2003 http://www.cahokiamounds.com/Mississippians.html).  In traded goods the Mississippians gained copper from The Great Lakes area, mica form the Appalachian and seashells from the Gulf of Mexico.  (Cahokia Mounds Museum website, 2003 http://www.cahokiamounds.com/Mississippians.html).
The Cahokia Mounds have been compared to the mounds and cities built by the ancestral people of the Maya, Inca and Aztec civilizations with many cultural and innovative advancements being of similar orientation.

“Despite striking similarities to features of cultures in Mexico and elsewhere, there is no scientific evidence that several Mississippian trademarks – flat-topped temple mounds, calendric systems, and ceramic styles – were the result of anything other than independent invention.  No Mexican artifacts have been found in the American Bottom or in any other part of this country outside the Southwest.

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But above all, the early Mississippians somehow acquired the knowledge of growing corn, or maize, a technology that had originated in Mexico 4000 years earlier and slowly spread to other parts of the Americas.  Coupled with improvements in the flint hoe, it was this adaptable and prolific plant, and the steady food supply it created, on which the powerful civilization at Cahokia was built.”

(Cahokia Mounds Museum website, 2003 http://www.cahokiamounds.com/Mississippians.html

These mounds are part of the mystery of human civilization in North America and are still being studied today.  The Cahokia Mounds Museum Society still conducts summer field studies of mounds and other sites on the premises.  The museum contains many of the artifacts and reconstruction based on materials found.  This site is continuing to provide archaeologists with more information about the ancient American civilizations that existed in the New world. 

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If you want to read and learn more about the Cahokia Mounds visit their website at: http://www.cahokiamounds.com/cahokia.html -Adrienne Elder 

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These are some articles that I have found on the Internet about the Cahokia from the Science Daily website. If you want to read the full articles go to Archaeology Spotlight Articles on the site.  There are the article summaries.

 Archaeologists Identify Oldest Existing Mound Complex In New WorldScienceDaily (Sep. 23, 1997) The earliest existing mound complex built by humans in the new world has been identified in Louisiana by a team of archaeologists and researchers from around the United States including Jim Feathers, a University of Washington research assistant professor of archaeology. Details of the discovery appear in the Sept. 19 issue of the journal Science.

Geological Origins Of Ancient Figures Yield Clues To Cahokian Society ScienceDaily (Mar. 15, 2000)— CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Nearly 1,000 years before St. Louis became known as the Gateway to the West, another expanding culture had created a major ceremonial mound complex that is now called Cahokia. By all accounts, Cahokia was huge, consisting of hundreds of platform mounds, supported by a population numbering in the thousands. At issue, however, has been whether Cahokia was part of a regional trade network that stretched from the Great Plains to the South Atlantic.    

Artifact Analyses Dispute Assumptions About A Prehistoric Society ScienceDaily (Aug. 3, 2001)— CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Fragments of red stone artifacts – bits of smoking pipes, decorative ear lobe spools and a figurine, all plucked out of rich prehistoric soil in the U.S. Midwest – used to tell one story about the complex culture and the ancient people who left them behind. Now they tell another. 

 Discovery Of Ax Heads Furthers Understanding Of Cahokian Society ScienceDaily (Aug. 6, 2001)CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A team of archaeologists, including students, working under a blazing summer sun on a high hill near O’Fallon, Ill., have made a rare find.  

New Technique Helps Solve Mystery Of Ancient Figurines ScienceDaily (Jul. 7, 2003)CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Thanks in part to new spectroscopic technology, researchers have solved a great mystery concerning some of North America’s oldest pieces of sculpture.  

 

Article: Linguistic-No Easy Answers In Evolution Of Human Language

Linguistics Anthropology is the study of human language since that is a characteristic that makes humans unique.  This article shows how bird songs in some birds are now helping in gaining a better understanding of the development of human language.  This brings together biologic, culture, archaeological, and linguistics together with science to learn more about the complex social interaction of human language and communication.  ENJOY, I did and learn about new bread discoveries in linguistic anthropology. 

ScienceDaily (Feb. 21, 2008)The evolution of human speech was far more complex than is implied by some recent attempts to link it to a specific gene, says Robert Berwick, professor of computational linguistics at MIT. 

Berwick will describe his ideas about language in a session at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Feb. 17. The session is called “Mind of a Toolmaker,” and explores the use of evolutionary research in understanding human abilities. Some researchers in recent years have speculated that mutations in a gene called Foxp2 might have played a fundamental role in the evolution of human language. That was based on research showing that the gene seems to be connected to language ability because some mutations to that gene produce specific impairments to language use, and because our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, lack both these gene mutations and the capacity for language. But the claim that the gene mutation is directly connected to the development of language is very unlikely to be right, says Berwick, who holds appointments in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.This kind of straightforward connection is just not the way organisms are put together,” he says. When it comes to something as complex as language, “one would be hard-pressed to come up with an example less amenable to evolutionary study.” And the specific Foxp2 connection is based on a whole chain of events, each of which is speculative, so there’s little chance of the whole story being right. It’s so chaotic, it’s like weather forecasting,” he says. “The noise overwhelms the signal.”Rather, language is almost certainly the result of a far more complex and subtle interplay among a variety of factors, Berwick says, and it may never be possible to connect it to specific genetic changes. “There are some things in science that are very interesting, but that we’re never going to be able to find out about,” he says. “It’s a sort of romantic view some people have, that anything interesting can be understood.”

Even defining something as complicated as language in a precise way is daunting, as ongoing disputes over the significance of language experiments with apes, parrots and dolphins have made clear. Berwick says, “If you can’t define what it is, why study it from an evolutionary point of view?”

It’s more likely, Berwick says, that the role of the Foxp2 gene in language is somehow peripheral to the capacity for language itself. He compares it to a printer in a computer system–it’s part of the overall system, but it’s not fundamental. Berwick thinks a more productive approach to studying the evolution of language is to examine it in terms of deeper, internal mechanisms.In his own research, Berwick has compared the structure of languages with the structure of bird songs, and has found interesting connections that may lead to a better understanding of some aspects of language.

Both bird songs and all human languages seem to share some underlying characteristics related to their metrical structure, Berwick says. There’s an underlying sing-song beat that is pronounced in poetry, music and in the songs of birds that may reveal a fundamental aspect of how our brains process language. Future research could probe this link further, even looking at possible connections between other specific genes, in both birds and humans, that might be connected to this sense of metrical structure.Ultimately, the important thing is to understand that language is, at bottom, something that takes place inside the human mind and is independent of any particular sound, sight or motion. The same internal mental construction could be expressed through verbal speech, through writing or through sign language without changing its basic nature, Berwick says. “It’s not about this external thing you hear,” he says. “It’s about the representation inside your head.”

Adapted from materials provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 

Article: Cultural-Cleopatra’s Cosmetics And Hammurabi’s Heineken: Name Brands Far Predating Modern Capitalism

This article talks about commodity brands and the debates the origins possibly not coming form the western civilization.  The article blends cultural and archaeological anthropology together to arrive at the conclusion of where fashionable name brands started.  I find it interesting how fashion and brands have been cultural important for centuries, based on this article.  This brings to mind a different observation about fashion and style in different cultures and the social significances and labels that seeming become attached.  The example that I have observed is the fashion clash of Europeans and the tourists.  But then again, outsiders to a culture never look like they real fit in, something about them causes them to stick out.

The article comes across as a think piece.  So read it and think about the connections it has to what you have noticed or read, it could be anthropological without you even realizing it.  Enjoy.

ScienceDaily (Feb. 19, 2008) — From at least Bass Ale’s red triangle–advertised as “the first registered trademark”–commodity brands have exerted a powerful hold over modern Western society. Marketers and critics alike have assumed that branding began in the West with the Industrial Revolution. But a pioneering new study in the February 2008 issue of Current Anthropology finds that attachment to brands far predates modern capitalism, and indeed modern Western society. 

In “Prehistories of Commodity Branding,” author David Wengrow challenges the widespread assumption that branding did not become an important force in social and economic life until the Industrial Revolution. Wengrow presents compelling evidence that labels on ancient containers, which have long been assumed to be simple identifiers, as well as practices surrounding the production and distribution of commodities, actually functioned as branding strategies. Furthermore, these strategies have deep cultural origins and cognitive foundations, beginning in the civilizations of Egypt and Iraq thousands of years ago.

Branding became necessary when large-scale economies started mass-producing commodities such as alcoholic drinks, cosmetics and textiles. Ancient societies not only imposed strict forms of quality control over these commodities, but as today they needed to convey value to the consumer. Wengrow finds that commodities in any complex, large society needs to pass through a “nexus of authenticity.

Through history, these have taken the form of “the bodies of the ancestral dead, the gods, heads of state, secular business gurus, media celebrities, or that core fetish of post-modernity, the body of the sovereign consumer citizen in the act of self-fashioning.” Although capitalism and branding find in each other a perfect complement, they have distinct origins. Wengrow shows that branding has for millennia filled a deep-seated need for us humans to find value in the goods that we consume.

Sure to be provocative, “Prehistories of Commodity Branding” is necessary reading for a wide range of people, from those interested in the workings of ancient societies to anyone who is interested in understanding how marketing has developed into a powerful force in our lives.Journal reference: Wengrow, David “Prehistories of Commodity Branding” Current Anthropology 49:1 .

Adapted from materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals. 

Article Archaeology-New Technique Helps Solve Mystery Of Ancient Figurines

This is an article that highlights the Where is the Anthropology? for February 2008 on the Cahokia Mounds in Illinois.  This is the full text taking about new finds and discovers at the site and the new information that is being gathered through archaeology research and volunteers.

  

ScienceDaily (Jul. 7, 2003)CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Thanks in part to new spectroscopic technology, researchers have solved a great mystery concerning some of North America’s oldest pieces of sculpture. 

With the use of PIMA — a non-invasive Portable Infrared Mineral Analyzer — an interdisciplinary team of scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has identified the source and meaning of “spectacular late prehistoric” figurines found in several locales in the South and the Southeast — in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee. According to lead researcher Thomas Emerson, an archaeologist and the director of ITARP (Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Program), the figurines were made of Missouri flint clay from quarries near St. Louis. Artisans at Cahokia, the earliest and largest North American mound society, which was centered in southern Illinois, in all likelihood produced the iconic figurines in the 12th century during an “artistic explosion,” but the objects were moved at various times and to various places, where they eventually were found. There now is evidence that after they were moved, some of the flint clay icons were recarved and retrofitted as smoking pipes, indicating a radical change in their significance. “There is a vast difference between bowing to an ancestral being and smoking one,” Emerson said. The figures appear to have been disbursed only after Cahokia began to decline in the middle or late 13th century, suggesting that the transfers were associated with “the collapse of the old order.” Determining when Cahokia-made figures arrived at their new locations “is an important link in the interpretive chain,” the researchers wrote in the spring/summer issue of American Antiquity. In their research, Emerson and his team analyzed 13 museum specimens originally found in the South and Southeast to identify the mineral composition of the raw material. Figures included a resting and a conquering warrior, various squatting and kneeling men, frogs and frog pipes and a “chunky” game player. Cahokian-style figurines arecharacterized by a highly developed realistic portrayal of human or near-human figures; they are dressed in specific costumes and shown carrying out specific deeds. Occasionally, however, they seem to portray mythical acts or beings. The transported figures probably were used for long periods of time in their new locations. Their importance “doesn’t lie in economic power but rather in symbolic and ideological power.”  The association of these highly symbolic figures with Cahokia allowed the researchers to propose that many of the themes — for example, fertility and warfare — that later appear in Eastern Woodlands native cosmology, such as the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex,” were first codified in Cahokia in the 12th century.” Other researchers were Randall Hughes, Illinois State Geological Survey; Mary R. Hynes, ITARP; and Sarah U. Wisseman, Program on Ancient Technologies and Archaeological Materials.

Adapted from materials provided by University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign.

Article Archaeology-Discovery Of Ax Heads Furthers Understanding Of Cahokian Society

ScienceDaily (Aug. 6, 2001)CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A team of archaeologists, including students, working under a blazing summer sun on a high hill near O’Fallon, Ill., have made a rare find.  

In what was considered to be an “ordinary” ancient farming village, the team, from the University of Illinois, has discovered a large cache of prehistoric stone ax heads called celts. The 70 celts are about 900 years old and belonged to the pre-Columbian residents of the Mississippi Valley. This is the second-largest cache ever found in the orbitof Cahokia, a major mecca from A.D. 700 to 1400. The last cache was found in the 1940s, and only five or six caches have turned up during the past 100 years – all clustered around Cahokia, an integrated system that includes a series of suburbs and villages. The ax heads, which were found buried in a pit next to a still-intact house floor, “are quite an impressive batch,” said UI archaeologist Tim Pauketat, leader of the UI field school that worked this summer at the Grossmann site near O’Fallon. “Stone ax heads such as these have been found at large important centers,” Pauketat said, “and may be a marker of ‘wealth’ or social status.” That the axes were hoarded is not unusual, he said. Neolithic people in Europe and 20th century people in New Guinea and Australia did the same thing. What is particularly fascinating about the lucky find, made by UI anthropology student Nicholas Wisseman on Friday, July 13, is that the 70 ax heads are pristine. “They were brand new when they were buried, so they probably were placed in the pit in some kind of commemorative ritual,” Pauketat said. The outlying farmstead in which the team is working “shows other hints of status, like big houses, for example, and these ax heads seem to clinch that interpretation,” he said. Wisseman, 19, found the ax heads when scraping around a floor looking for wall trenches. He “accidentally cut across the pit just outside the house, hitting stone with his shovel,” Pauketat said. “Nick was ecstatic. All of us were ecstatic.” One of the ax heads appears to be the longest one ever found in the area – 45 centimeters, and like the others, probably never meant to be used – “just an oversized ax head with which to impress other people,” Pauketat said. The 70 ax heads are made of an igneous rock called St. François, basalt or diabase, which comes from Ironton, Mo., in the Ozarks. This means, Pauketat said, “that the people had to fund a trip to the raw material site, haul the rocks in a canoe up the Mississippi, then make them at Cahokia.” Debris previously found on the valley floor at Cahokia supports the idea that the ax heads were made there. According to UI archaeologist Thomas Emerson, both the cache and the site are “very important, and with Professor Pauketat’s previous work around Cahokia, will revolutionize our understanding of Cahokian social and political complexity.” The dig is both an NSF research project led by Pauketat and a field school run by the UI.

Adapted from materials provided by University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign.

Article Archaeology-Archaeologists Identify Oldest Existing Mound Complex In New World

ScienceDaily (Sep. 23, 1997) The earliest existing mound complex built by humans in the new world has been identified in Louisiana by a team of archaeologists and researchers from around the United States including Jim Feathers, a University of Washington research assistant professor of archaeology. Details of the discovery appear in the Sept. 19 issue of the journal Science.

The complex of 11 mounds located near the town of Watson Break in northeast Louisiana was built between 5,000 and 5,400 years ago and predates other known existent mound complexes by 1,900 years, according to Joe Saunders, adjunct professor of geosciences at Northeast Louisiana University, who directed the project. He said a single burial mound found in Canada predates the Watson Break site and another now destroyed mound in Louisiana discovered in the1960s also may have been older. Saunders said archaeologists remain puzzled by such mounds, which are earthen structures several meters high. The mounds might have served a mix of religious, agricultural or domestic purposes but give indications that they only could have been built with planned engineering, he said. Saunders and his colleagues have been able to piece together a picture of life at the newly discovered site. They found that hunter-gatherers lived at Watson Break seasonally, living on river animals and plants. These people caught fish from spring to fall and also ate turkey, deer, raccoon and other animals. In addition, seeds found at the site indicate the mound dwellers collected plant species that later became the first domesticated plants in eastern North America, Saunders said. Feathers’ contribution to the project was to date soil sediments found in mound fill using a technique called thermoluminescence. It uses heat and light to measures the number of electrons trapped in crystalline material and then calculates how long they have been trapped. Feathers operates the only thermoluminescence dating lab in the US that works with archaeological material.

Adapted from materials provided by University Of Washington. 

Article Archaeology-Artifact Analyses Dispute Assumptions About A Prehistoric Society

ScienceDaily (Aug. 3, 2001) — CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Fragments of red stone artifacts – bits of smoking pipes, decorative ear lobe spools and a figurine, all plucked out of rich prehistoric soil in the U.S. Midwest – used to tell one story about the complex culture and the ancient people who left them behind. Now they tell another.  

So say University of Illinois scientists, whose recent mineral analyses of red stone artifacts from Cahokia are upsetting an apple cart of important archaeological assumptions. Among other things, their study shoots down the idea that the great mound-building mecca in what now is southwestern Illinois traded extensively with distantcultures to the northwest. One of several Middle Mississippian chiefdoms, Cahokia was inhabited from A.D. 700 to 1400, and at its peak at about 1100, it had a population of 20,000. Cahokia was the most sophisticated prehistoric native civilization north of Mexico, a culture that seems to have been focused on religion. The new findings about the ancient culture are discussed in the current issue of Plains Anthropologist. Using X-ray diffraction and spectroscopic analysis, Thomas Emerson, an archaeologist, and Randall Hughes, a geologist, have discovered that most of the red stone fragments found at Cahokia are not made of the rare catlinite stone that originates in western Minnesota, but rather, are a more local Missouri red flint clay. This finding shatters the long-held belief that the presence of catlinite in Cahokia proved that the Cahokian people traded on a large scale with their Upper Mississippi River Valley neighbors. The new tests also show that the catlinite that was found at Cahokia arrived after the great Cahokian culture had disappeared – with Oneota people in the 14th century or with later protohistoric or historic groups in the 16th and 17th centuries. Extensive trade, Emerson said, “is often touted as an important factor in early civilizations,” but, based on the new evidence, such was not the case for Cahokia. “Essentially, our argument is that large-scale political and social complexity does not automatically entail large-scale economic networks.” False assumptions have always colored the study of red stone artifacts in general and red stone pipes in particular, the UI researchers wrote, including the general consensus that all aboriginal red pipes were made of catlinite. Because most investigators have been unable to distinguish between visually similar red siltstones, pipestone and catlinite, they have misidentified most archaeological specimens as catlinite. Moreover, until now, few mineralogical studies of red pipes have been conducted. The new study demonstrates that catlinite is mineralogically different from similar stones in that it doesn’t contain quartz. In their work, the UI team used a new piece of experimental equipment in the field: the Portable Infrared Mineral Analyzer (PIMA), which they are testing under a National Science Foundation grant. “The technique appears to be most useful as a first-line method of mineral identification and in those instances where destructive sampling is prohibited,” the authors wrote.

Adapted from materials provided by University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. 

 

Article: Archaeology-Geological Origins Of Ancient Figures Yield Clues To Cahokian Society

ScienceDaily (Mar. 15, 2000) — CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Nearly 1,000 years before St. Louis became known as the Gateway to the West, another expanding culture had created a major ceremonial mound complex that is now called Cahokia. By all accounts, Cahokia was huge, consisting of hundreds of platform mounds, supported by a population numbering in the thousands. At issue, however, has been whether Cahokia was part of a regional trade network that stretched from the Great Plains to the South Atlantic.  

“Cahokia was strategically centered at the juncture of the Missouri, Illinois and Mississippi rivers on the vast alluvial flood plain of the American Bottom,” said Thomas Emerson, a professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois and the director of the Illinois Transportation Archaeological Research Program. “An interesting debate has centered upon whether the artifacts found at Cahokia represent a vast social, religious and political complex that exerted a major regional trade influence, or merely exotic ‘prestige goods’ acquired by an elite few as a symbol of power.” When the Interstate-270 bypass was constructed around St. Louis, Emerson and colleagues recovered a number of artifacts, including numerous pipe fragments and five figurines that appear to have been ceremonially destroyed. “The stone figures portray female idols associated with agricultural symbolism and classic fertility myths,” Emerson said. “The figures had been smashed to bits, the fragments scattered in ceremonial pits in several structures, which were then set on fire.” By using a combination of X-ray diffraction, sequential acid dissolution and inductively coupled plasma analyses, Emerson and Randall Hughes, a geologist with the Illinois State Geological Survey, established the source of raw material used in the manufacture of the figurines and pipes. “Our mineralogical and geochemical analysis demonstrated that only the Missouri flint clay deposits could have served as the source of raw materials used in the Cahokia figurines,” Hughes said. “In addition, given the similarity of the figurines’ chemical and mineralogical composition, our study suggests that the carvers may have selectively quarried their raw materials from a single site, or from a few nearby and closely related sites, located within 30 to 40 kilometers of the mound complex.” Previously, many researchers and historians believed the Cahokia figures and pipes had originated in quarries located in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Minnesota and other faraway sites. “Because these highly crafted artifacts now appear to be a local product, we need to rethink the role Cahokia played in ancient society,” Emerson said. “Instead of serving as a major trade center, it appears that the people of Cahokia were more focused on a local rather than long-distance acquisition process.” The researchers presented their findings in the January issue of American Antiquity, the journal of the Society for American Archaeology.

Adapted from materials provided by University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign. 

Where is the Anthropology?- March 2008

Something that I thought might help in showing the interesting ways that anthropology is all around is to have a picture of the month. This will be of anthropology importance; a place, activity or a person that has to do with anthropology. I will give a clue a week to give everyone an opportunity to figure out what the picture is and the anthropological importance and how it applies.

near-french-and-german-borader-web-imager.jpg

This image is wanting you to figure out the cultural anthropological importance’s of the people and the location significances. This image is about cultural observation of your surroundings and other people in a typical place where people congregate. Good luck on this image and I hope you enjoyed last months.

 

clue one: This is located in a country where English is not the dominate language used by the locals? Take note of the people in the image; this may become important in other clues.

clue two: This place has many visitors from around the world, but the most noticeable are English speaking ones.  They standout in more than one way.  This town became very important in 1952 and has a river surrounding the town.  What is the city?

clue three:  This city has been tossed between two countries for centuries.  The people that standout the most are the ones that talk loudly and have particularly weird way of dressing which is different to the way other visitors dress.  Who are the visitors and what is the name of the city?

Hint: Something red in the picture is not native to this area.

clue four: The name of the this city is a German name, but it is not in Germany.  This city has great importances to the European Union.  The people are often found in small groups scattered around the town in important buildings, restaurants, and stores.

Good luck with the final clue. 

Article- Archeology: Ancient Ceremonial Plaza found in Peru

This is an article I found on Yahoo News that deals with Archeology.  New finds have added further complexity to the understanding of human civilization development all over the world.  This discover in Peru brings a question of why around 3500BC and 3000 BC had civilizations development all over the world.  Archeology is still a field that can find  new information, but more often then not, an archeologists puzzles over the patch work of artifacts, sites, and remains to piece together a more holistic picture of our ancient ancestral history.  The world is big place and there are things waiting to be rediscovered.
 Ancient ceremonial plaza found in Peru

By ANDREW WHALEN, Associated Press Writer Tue Feb 26, 9:04 PM ET

LIMA, Peru – A team of German and Peruvian archaeologists say they have discovered the oldest known monument in Peru: a 5,500-year-old ceremonial plaza near Peru’s north-central coast. Carbon dating of material from the site revealed it was built between 3500 B.C. and 3000 B.C., Peter Fuchs, a German archaeologist who headed the excavation team, told The Associated Press by telephone Monday.The discovery is further evidence that civilization thrived in Peru at the same time as it did in what is now the Middle East and South Asia, said Ruth Shady, a prominent Peruvian archaeologist who led the team that discovered the ancient city of Caral in 2001. Shady serves as a senior adviser to Peru’s National Culture Institute and was not involved in the project.

The find also raises questions about what prompted “civilizations to form throughout the planet at more or less the same time,” Shady said.The circular, sunken plaza, built of stones and adobe, is part of the Sechin Bajo archaeological complex in Andes foothills, 206 miles northwest of Lima, where Fuchs and fellow German archaeologist Renate Patzschke have been working since 1992.It predates similar monuments and plazas found in Caral, which nonetheless remains the oldest known city in the Americas dating back to 2627 B.C.The plaza served as a social and ritual space where ancient peoples celebrated their “thoughts about the world, their place within it, and images of their world and themselves,” Fuchs said.In an adjacent structure, built around 1800 B.C., Fuchs’ team uncovered a 3,600-year-old adobe frieze — six feet tall — depicting the iconic image of a human sacrificer “standing with open arms, holding a ritual knife in one hand and a human head in the other,” Fuchs said.

The mythic image was also found in the celebrated Moche Lords of Sipan tombs, discovered on Peru’s northern coast in the late 1980s.Walter Alva, the Peruvian archaeologist who uncovered the Lords of Sipan tombs, said the plaza found in Fuchs’ dig was probably utilized by an advanced civilization with economic stability, a necessary condition to construct such a ceremonial site.The excavation was the fourth in a series of digs at the Sechin Bajo complex that Fuchs and Patzschke began on behalf of the University of Berlin in 1992. Deutsche Forschung Gemeinschaft, a German state agency created to sponsor scientific investigations, has financed the most recent three digs.The find “shows the world that in America too, human beings of the New World had the same capacity to create civilization as those in the Old World,” Shady said.Her discovery, Caral, made headlines in 2001 when researchers carbon-dated material from the city back to 2627 B.C., proving that a complex urban center in the Americas thrived as a contemporary to ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt — 1,500 years earlier than previously believed.

___Associated Press Writer Leslie Josephs contributed to this report. 

 Ceremonial plaza Image in Peru

German and Peruvian archeologists work at the circular 5,500-year-old sunken ceremonial plaza, built of stones and adobe, part of the Sechin Bajo archaeological complex in Casma, Andes foothills, 330 kilometers (206 miles) northwest of Lima, Feb. 2008. The archeologists say the plaza is the oldest known monument in Peru.

(AP Photo/ El Comercio”

 

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