Friday, January 30, 2009

Winter in Montreal and the life archaeological

Day before last, we received another 23cm of snow in my fair city. The resulting digging and shoveling gave me a rare occasion to use skills I usually put into use mostly during the summer months, when I'm working in the field... but then I realized something.... do you know how to tell you have archaeologists living on your block after a snowstorm? You look for the car that's been dug out and looks like it's sitting in an excavation unit!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Paleo tidbits

A couple of paleo items in the news today:

In other important news, Inside Higher Ed has a feature on the closing of the research section (18 world-renowned researchers laid off) at the UPenn Museum of Archaeology (which I mentioned in yesterday's Four Stone Hearth), and how that fits into a broader trend of universities closing sundry museums as a way to save or make money. The piece also refers to the closing of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University as another indicator of this trend, usually explained as a response to the 'extraordinary times' we're living through. Hm.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Four Stone Hearth: "A New Hope" Edition

Oh yes, you read that right... a new hope! Hot on the heels of last week's US presidential inauguration and in the spirit of embracing our best inner citizenship, we gather 'round the Four Stone Hearth tonight and peer intently towards an uncertain, hopeful future, waiting with bated breath at the boundless possibilities it might bring...

Speaking of the US presidential inauguration, you could do worse things than jump across the Atlantic and check out what the fine folks of the Moore Group have to say about Obama Archaeology. You read that right, but you may not read what you expect if you read the post!

And over at Aardvarchaeology, Martin offers some good thoughts about how the new administration's desire to restore science to its rightfully place can profitably be integrated in cultural heritage management policy.

Not all is good and well archaeologically in the land of Uncle Sam, however, as the UPenn Museum is apparently slashing and burning its archaeological research program! Want to hear more about this? Even better, want to try to make a difference? Then by all means, heck out what Alex at Anthrosite and Mike at Publishing Archaeology suggest you can do it about (I've signed!).

On the other hand, if you prefer being bummed out about how to best manage and understand our collective human past, make your way to Afarensis' somber assessment of what the Discovery Channel may be encouraging with some of its new programming.

But let's drop the long faces, shall we? Instead, why don't you take this as an opportunity to look back to cherished moments of our past, nice memories... like your 'first time.' Oh yeah, what an experience that was, no? The awkward fumbling as you try to figure out how to handle it and exactly what do to with it... you don't remember? Well, Metin at The Real Eolith certainly does.

Hey! Get your mind out of the gutter!! What the hell did you think I was talking about? Shameful, truly! But hey, if that kind of thinking floats your boat, you might just want to consult Greg's post at Neuroanthropology wherein he explores 'What these enigmatic women want.' And while you're there, why don't you take the time to explore that fine, fine blog some more. Don't know where to start? How about Daniel's post on 'Subjectivity and Addiction: Moving Beyond Just the Disease Model' where he discusses how how cultural models and causal thinking get in the way of understanding addiction.

Ah, but now, you've whetted you appetite and you want more blogs to keep you full of interesting anthropological tidbits? An easy way to satisfy your burning craving might be to mozy on over to Middle Savagery and see what Colleen has to suggest you check out.

After consuming that feast of technologically-mediated information, why don't you pause a second and ponder the relationship between language, media, culture and technology, with some help of my good friend Steve at Glossograhpia. Good stuff that.

What? That's too 'here and now' for you? You want more old stuff? How about some new reflections about the recent paper on the cranial morphology of Homo floresiensis, courtesy of Jordan over at On Being Unexceptional? Or Greg's post on the fantastic mystery of the Younger Dryas? What, you want older? Then how about Terry's reflections on the 'Out-of-Africa' model of modern human origins over at Remote Central? Older still? Seriously? Ok, ok, I got you covered... over at Babel's Dawn, Blair offers explores whether abstract thought predates Homo sapiens.

And that's it for this Four Stone Hearth. And after all of that is done, the embers of the hearth will burn and dim into the night, until the campfire goes out altogether... only to be lit again in two weeks' time when Colleen gets her anthro fire on and hosts the next FSH at Middle Savagery.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Call for submissions - Four Stone Hearth

In a few days' time, the blog carnival known as Four Stone Hearth will be hosted on this humble blog. I've already received some contributions, but if you write or have recently written anything having to do with the human conditions (past, present, physical, linguistic, or otherwise), feel free to send me a link so I can include it in the next installment of FSH. Between what I've already received and what I've dredged up from the anthropological underbelly of the interwebs, it should be a good one! But, you know, there's always room to make it better!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Scales of observation in forager studies

From R. Layton's Time and Change: Crisp Snapshots and Fuzzy Trends:

"... while anthropological field studies provide an adequate time scale to explain the mechanisms and proximate causes of human-animal interactions in particular circumstances, archaeological or evolutionary time scales are necessary to explain the long-term processes that brought those conditions about. The emergent properties of an ecological system are generated by the long-term interaction of species. The consequences of such interaction may well not be apparent within the time-span of participant observation, nor could they be understood by simply adding up a series of ethnographic 'snapshots.'" (Layton 2008: 8)


Layton, R. 2008. Time and change: Crisp snapshots and fuzzy trends. In Time and Change: Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives on the Long-Term in Hunter-Gatherer Societies (ed. by D. Papagianni, R. Layton, and H. Maschner), pp. 1-13. Oxbow Books, Oxford.


Despite all appearances to the contratry, I am still alive, albeit not exactly well. I'm still reeling from a lingering and exceedingly lasting cold, and have already started what the new term at McGill. Blogwise, the situation has not been helped by my sidekick in blogging, A Very Remote Laptop Indeed, which begun refusing to connect to the web in the early days of December. However, there are lots of goodies in store for the comoing months, so check back soon and often...