Harrison Eiteljorg II and I have launched a forum to discuss our project on web publishing aimed squarely at archaeologists. We have published in the CSA newsletter four articles on the subjects, and we presented our project in front of a sizeable audience in Oslo, at the 17th EAA annual meeting. There was much discussion about it there. I summarise here a few points: it was suggested that purpose-built websites based may help archaeologists reaching the Web. In particular, could provide a good framework to start publishing data. It was emphasised the necessity for linking to social media. --My personal stance on this is that each team should publish their data as best as possible, with websites following standards and guidelines, but adapted to the necessities coming from individual projects. Each project is unique. I also do not believe in social media to publish data. These sites are great to communicate, and it is easy to set up personal or project-wide pages on the social media ... Read the rest of this entry »
Sunday, October 02, 2011 3:20:50 PM
I have attended the 17th EAA annual meeting in Oslo last September. The conference has provided o... Read the rest of this entry »
Saturday, October 01, 2011 6:47:20 PM
I am pleased to announce that my virtual training suite (VTS), an electronic module aimed at students unfamiliar with key electronic resources for archaeology, is now available for download. I hope to be able to update that short course in the near future. I would add to the list of useful resources the The Ancient World Online blog, especially for its list of (mostly) free e-journals. The VTS remains still useful and fairly updated for now, so please have a look if you do not know it already. The guide is suitable for students from FE to postgraduate level, and staff may find useful too.
Saturday, July 30, 2011 1:43:20 PM
Another important paper on human evolution has been published, this time in PlosONE, using evidence from the archaeological site of Buran-Kaya III located in Crimea (Ukraine). In a twist that simply reinforces my feeling that research in human evolution is still too cutting-edge to actually prove anything one way or another, Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans did coexist in Europe according to this latest study. I wrote less than two months ago about the possibility that they did not coexist, according to the latest study then. I did express some caution then on some headlines ("preliminary results"; "not that important"). I am not against any of the studies: each advances our understanding and is valuable, but it is frankly ridiculous what is being deduced or inferred from such regional studies on much larger scales. Researchers in the field do not do that, but just about everyone else does it given the interest on the topic. The final result will be, as usual, that many... Read the rest of this entry »
Sunday, July 17, 2011 8:07:22 PM
I am happy to announce that the edited volume Exotica in the prehistoric Mediterranean is now out. This volume was ideated after a successful session that I organised at the 13th meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists, Zadar, Croatia. All papers have been peer reviewed and checked for quality (including proof reading). As editor, I wrote some interstitial texts to group and bridge the papers, so that readers can follow a single narrative cover to cover or access any contribution independently. The type of contributions make it suitable for both students and researchers. It is possible to treat the papers as advanced studies of exotica using a broad selection of methodological approaches and interests as you would expect from a reader for students or as an up to date summary of recent research by leading researchers. I am particularly happy to note the international character of the volume, with contributors based in 11 countries. The volume is relatively compact at 216 ... Read the rest of this entry »
Saturday, July 09, 2011 8:07:55 PM
If you are based in the UK, then you can watch a new program, Planet of the Apemen, a docu-drama that should present some of the current research. It will air today (Thursday 23 June 2011 at 20:00 on BBC One and the second part will be next week). You can find an article presenting the program in BBC News. The program is in two parts and includes reconstructions. I have no connection with the BBC program. I expect however that some "most likely" theories will be presented, but if you followed my previous posts or news about discoveries relevant to early humans, you should know that some topics are not settled yet within the archaeological community. Alternative theories deemed to be at least possible may still overturn our understanding.
The BBC produced Walking with Cavemen in 2003, a series on the same topic that I did not like. Recent docu-dramas such as Atlantis also have left me wishing for something different. I think that it would be best in some cases to show the... Read the rest of this entry »
Thursday, June 23, 2011 2:01:00 PM
The University of Tübingen has announced the publication of a paper reporting the discovery and dating to 17 mya (million year ago) of a hominoid (great ape) found in Swabia, southern Germany.
Böhme, M., et al., Bio-magnetostratigraphy and environment of the oldest Eurasian hominoid from the Early Miocene of Engelswies (Germany), Journal of Human Evolution (2011), doi:10.1016/j.jhevol.2011.04.012.
This is a significant study presenting a probable dead-end in ape evolution that was previously unknown and providing a glimpse on movements of great apes that may have relevance in the study of human evolution. It looks like that great apes, including hominids, moved across long distances and populated nearby continents (Europe from Africa) at very early periods. Although this discovery is only the oldest so far, hominoids are known to have populated Europe later, and the second oldest example dates to about 14 million years ago. This trend of repeated attempts to populate... Read the rest of this entry »
Wednesday, June 22, 2011 6:01:00 PM
In May 2011 Pinhasi et alii have published a paper suggesting that Neanderthals living near the Caucasus Mountains had disappeared before the arrival of anatomically modern humans. Despite this, the two species of hominins must have met and interbred since there are remnants of Neanderthal DNA in contemporary humans according to research by David Reich. The research suggests that the two species met outside Europe, most likely in the Middle East. It is also possible that limited populations of Neanderthals surviving in Europe after 40,000 years ago may be responsible for the interbreeding. The results from DNA obtained by Reich actually demonstrate that all humans that moved out of Africa have traces of the interbreeding, and not just Europeans. It is too early to decide what happened: all authors are involved in further research and more surprises are still possible. If these preliminary results will be confirmed however, next top question will be why Neanderthals were declining in... Read the rest of this entry »
Monday, May 23, 2011 8:32:04 PM
On Wednesday 18 May 2011 I have attended the meeting "Central Mediterranean Prehistory: Current Debates and New Directions" at the University of Durham, organised by Dr Robin Skeates and Ms Agni Prijatelj. I found it particularly interesting for me, but then I am biased since I was one of the speakers. I summarise here some of the points made during the day, mainly for those who could not participate. I have to say that the detail of the report depend on my personal interests: I am not chronicling or summarising the event. Robert Leighton presented the first paper, about Pantalica. He has carried out a GPS survey in 2010 recording the location of several rock-cut tombs. He reported that from his estimate there are less than 4,000 tombs in Pantalica, with ca. 5,000 consistently reported in the literature (both are estimates). Regardless of the exact number of tombs, Pantalica is a very large cemetery, but is still poorly studied. He drew some attention towards the non-funerary... Read the rest of this entry »
Saturday, May 21, 2011 9:43:07 PM
On Thursday 5th May 2011 a public debate on The Value of the Arts and Humanities in the 21st Century had been organised at the University of Sheffield. I have attended the event and I decided to write a personal report about it. Among the participants were (in alphabetic order) David Blunkett; Mike Braddick; Robert Hewison; Peter Hitchens; Nigel Shardlow; and David Sweeney. Parts of debate, especially exchanges between David Blunkett and Peter Hitchens were openly of political nature, and will not be discussed here. Controversial ideas, or ideas that received no support from other discussants are also ignored here.
The reason for having such a debate is the threat to public funding of arts and humanities in European and American universities following the budget cuts resulting from the current global economic crisis. The "debate" consisted of short presentations (without slides) from the panellists and a short debate within the panellists, partly addressing very few questions... Read the rest of this entry »
Saturday, May 07, 2011 4:07:00 PM