Category Archives: Anthropology

Four Stone Hearth 88

Welcome to the St. Patrick’s Day special edition of Four Stone Hearth 88. Four Stone Hearth is a fortnightly anthropology blog carnival. Topics covered span the four major fields of anthropology: archaeology, socio-cultural anthropology, bio-physical anthropology and linguistic anthropology. If you would like to host the carnival, please write to Martin Rundkvist. The next issue will be hosted at the Greg Laden’s blog on 31 March.

Online Degrees.net has posted their 100 best blogs for anthropology students. It is a wonderful resource that I recommend checking out. Now on with this round of carnival posts.

Archaeology

Luis over at the blog Leherensuge reports on the alleged archaeological forgery at Glozel. The controversy revolves around a hoard of objects that appear to date from different time periods. The death of the principle protagonist, Emile Fradin, has renewed interest in these alleged artefacts. Are these the genuine article or just another Piltdown. Decide for yourself.

Over at Testimony of the spade, Magnus Reuterdahl reflects on how extant abbeys can give us a greater appreciation for those which over time have falling into ruin.

Martin Rundkvist over at Aardvarchaeology, has mixed feelings about his Magnum opus entitled “Domed oblong brooches of Vendel Period Scandinavia.” Martin relays how sticking to your “scholarly ideals” is not always the easiest road to career advancement.

Biological anthropology
In a recent post, I discuss the trend towards decreased head size starting around 30,000 years ago, which continues today.

Carl Feagans at ahotcupofjoe looks at the dispersal of early Homo out of Africa.

Last year, amidst much media fanfare everybody came to know about our 47 million year old purported ancestor “Ida”. This was indeed a spectacularly preserved fossil specimen, which preserved the outline of the body as well as the stomach contents. However, the scientific community at the time aired scepticism about the claim that it was on the evolutionary line that led to us. Many palaeontologists and primatologists were quick to point out that this primate looked more lemur-like. Well, it turns out that they were right. In a paper published in the Journal of Human Evolution shows that this species, Darwinius masillae, belonged to an extinct branch of primates, most closely related to lemurs and lorises. Brian Switek of the Laelaps gives a synopsis of the paper, while Eric Michael Johnson at Primate Diaries gives a very accessible account of the whole affair.

John Hawks is a fly on the wall at a symposium on genetics and genealogy of the African Diaspora. He reports on Fatimah Jackson’s genetic work in Africa and African-Americans, in particular the idea of “ethnogenetic layering”.

Raymond Ho at the Prancing Papio blog has a review of a paper on the changing mating systems in Sichuan snub-nosed monkeys. The pieces offers some plausible evolutionary reasons for the shift from polygynous to polygamous mating systems.

Linguistic anthropology
Valerie Williamson writes about Siberian languages, which are on the verge of extinction. The race is on for linguists to document these languages before they disappear completely.

Socio-cultural anthropology

In the spirit of the occasion, anthropologyworks has compiled a bibliography of social anthropology articles on Ireland and the Irish.

Krystal, over at Anthropology in Practice, talks about a street vendor in her city that has started to take coffee orders via text message. Is this merely a fad or society simply adapting to our greater reliance on digital media?

Ronald Kephart a.k.a. the Cranky Linguist reports on the educational malpractice of teaching religion as science at Liberty University.

Eric Michael Johnson reports on the Itineraries of Exchange symposium. This piece gives us an insight how indigenous groups have managed to maintain traditions and self-determination in the face persecution, racism, and exploitation.

Also check out Eric’s article on Coca Cola’s over-exploitation of water resources in India. It seems that the slogan “Good Till the Last Drop” has a more pernicious meaning.

A Very Remote Period Indeed has a wonderfully titled piece “Mad Neanderthals, peer review and scholarly publication”. Controversy has surrounded the journal Medical Hypotheses since its very conception. This journal is unique in that it doesn’t have a peer review system, while promoting controversial and thought-provoking ideas. However, Julien Riel-Salvatore tells of the comment he published in this journal in response to an article that proposed that Spongiform Encephalopathies may have led to the demise of the Neanderthals. Julien does not think the biggest problem is with the journal’s incredibly low standards but rather with the academic publishing house Elsevier, who by purchasing Medical Hypotheses has given it an air of legitimacy.

That’s it for another edition of Four Stone Hearth. Happy St. Patrick’s Day to one and all!

Image Credits
Golden snub nosed monkey from artsonearth,
CocaColaIndia by Carlos Latuff under the Wikimedia Commons licence.
Marilyn Monroe reading James Joyce. Flickr creative commons licensed content by user I, Puzzled.

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Four Stone Hearth submissions

I will be hosting a St. Patrick’s Day special edition of Four Stone Hearth on Wednesday, March 17th. Four Stone Hearth is a fortnightly anthropology blog carnival. If you have read or written any interesting blog posts on archaeology, socio-cultural anthropology, bio-physical anthropology or linguistic anthropology in the last few weeks, please email me a link and I’ll be sure to include them.

100 best anthropology blogs

The Online Degrees.net blog has compiled a comprehensive list of the 100 Best Blogs for Anthropology Students. This is a fantastic resource for anybody interested in anthropology.

Four Stone Hearth #75

Welcome to Four Stone Hearth number 75. Four Stone Hearth is a fortnightly anthropology blog carnival. Topics covered span the four major fields of anthropology: archaeology, socio-cultural anthropology, bio-physical anthropology and linguistic anthropology. If you would like to host the carnival, please write to Martin Rundkvist. The next issue will be hosted at the Afarensis blog on 23 September. So without further preamble, let’s get on with the show.

Archaeology
Martin Rundkvist talks about his experience digging at a Middle Neolithic coastal site in Sweden. Among the finds were small potsherds and a fine example of Pitted Ware.

A recent article in the journal Nature reports on the “oldest handaxes” in Europe. John Hawks gives his interpretation regarding the significance of these bifaces, suggesting that although Lower Pleistocene hominins had the technology to produce bifacial handaxes, they were not a necessity.

Biological anthropology
Anybody who has been following anthropology news for the past few weeks will be well aware of the spirited reaction that a recent editorial in Scientific American generated. The article calls for the adoption of more open practices with regard to accessing human fossils. I have written a piece where I give my own take on the issue.

Matthew Wolf-Meyer reviews Jonathan Marks’ latest book “Why I am not a scientist”. Jonathan Marks is a controversial anthropologist, who sticks to his guns in this, his latest work. Ever thought provoking, Marks is bound to stir up some debate among anthropologists and scientists alike.

There has been a lot of debate regarding whether Central European farmers were the descendants of indigenous hunter-gathers or the result of a demic diffusion from the southeast. Dienkes reports on a new study which suggests that Central European farmers were in fact probably not descended from local hunter-gatherer groups.

Stephen Wang asks the age old question of how similar Neandertals were to us and how they thought about the world.

Linguistic anthropology
The Innovation in Teaching blog explains the concept of a “focused gathering”, a term coined by anthropologist Clifford Geertz. The post goes on to discuss how this concept helps us better think about classroom dynamics.

Socio-cultural anthropology
Over at Neuroanthropology, Daniel Lende has a revealing piece which looks at food crises in Lesotho and the role funerals play in coping with these food shortages. In another post Daniel takes on the recent “research” by researchers Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, which is plagued by poor methodologies and a pseudoscientific approach to neuroscience. Greg Downey follows this up with his own take on some of the methodological flaws of the investigators, principally their inflexibility in the face of contradictory evidence.

Rex over at the Savage Minds blog suggests that the real question anthropologists should ask regarding internet addiction is not whether it exists but rather “how and in what forms do preexisting cultural structures predispose people to think something is true?”

Greg Laden debunks the fallacy that culture overrides biology. This part of a larger series on the common misperceptions that people have regarding biology.

Idris Mootee thinks that industrial designers need to think like cultural anthropologists. He uses the example of how different cultures adopt their own particular posture while sitting. By being aware of this, designers can better accommodate the needs of the end user. Joana Breidenbach of the Culture Matters blog is of a similar opinion:

“Design thinking has many overlaps with the anthropological approach, such as starting out with as little preconceived ideas about the research topic as possible and gaining an empathetic understanding through immersion during fieldwork.”
Lian explores the the archaeology of the worship of Celtic deities in Roman Britain.

Lorenz at the antropologi blog reviews Thomas Hylland Eriksen’s new book “Engaging Anthropology”. In it, he addresses the question of why anthropologists fail to engage the general public. In a similar piece that appeared in Times Higher Education, anthropologist Nancy Scheper-Hughes asserts that part of the problem may lie with universities:

    “Scholars who want to reach diverse publics – through popular writing, speaking or participating in social activism – are not only under-rewarded by their universities, they are often penalised for ‘dumbing down’ anthropological thinking, cutting social theory into ‘soundbites’, ‘vulgarising’ anthropology, sacrificing academic standards or (in the US) for playing to the anti-intellectual, illiberal American popular classes.”

Anna Barros shows how trends are subject to selection. She demonstrates how memes can be transmitted from person to person and how they respond to selection pressures.

One more thing…
Each of the four fields of anthropology can offer us a glimpse into our past. Perhaps more importantly, they can take us on a journey and show us the steps which got us to where we are today. Photography offers yet another way of archiving the past. To use the clichéd metaphor – photographs are moments frozen in time. A Flickr photostream by Jason Powell wonderfully bridges the gap between the past and the present, through the medium of photography. Enjoy!

http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=71649

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Anthro blog carnival: Four Stone Hearth 74

The 74th Four Stone Hearth anthropology blog carnival is available over at Adam Henne’s Natures/Cultures blog. Catch up on the latest on anthropology blogging. The next Four Stone Hearth will be hosted here on the 9th of September. Send any anthropology submission for the upcoming carnival to Martin Rundkvist or me (be sure to replace [AT] with @ in the email addresses).