Around the Web

Neanderthal News: Obviously the big news this week is the publication of a draft sequence of the Neanderthal genome in the May 7, 2010, issue of the journal Science. If you’re like me you need to know how this effects you Gen Anth lectures. Check out this awesome blog published by the Special Libraries Association – Biomedical and Life Sciences Division, which leads with the keen observation that Science has become a major player in paleoanthropology publication. As expected other blogs picked up the Neanderthal story including the reliable John Hawks. Best LOLZ goes to Boing Boing with a pic of a couple of skeletons caught in a compromising position, the comments section is also a riot. In other Ice Age news, some guy in Manitoba brought Wooly Mammoth blood back to life Jurassic Park style. Can’t wait for the petting zoo!

Habban in the House: And while I’m name checking Boing Boing, check out this cool picture of an Arab musician playing some kind of bagpipe-like instrument, which we learn through the miracle of crowd sourcing is called a Habban.

Coastal Archaeology and the Oil Spill: According to retired archaeologist Noel Stowe, the Deep Water Horizon oil spill and its clean-up poses an imminent threat to thousands of archaeological sites along the Gulf coast. Stowe claims that if the oil spill washes ashore and comes into contact with shell middens then it will be impossible to carbon date them, moreover the use of heavy machinery in the clean-up could potentially crush shell middens into dust.

Mapping with Lidar: More archaeology news! Husband and wife team Diane and Arlen Chase successfully used airplane mounted laser sensors, or lidar, to map a Mayan urban complex in Belize known as Caracol. After decades of on-the-ground surveys and field research they were astounded when lidar completed scanning the area in only a matter of days. The Chases estimate that at its peak, the site hosted a population of 115,000 spread over 80 square miles and are convinced that lidar will revolution the archaeology of heavily forested tropical environments.

Teaching with Twitter: I read with great interest this report by Bill Caraher about using Twitter to communicate with students in a large lecture class, for I too will teach an introductory course that meets once a week at night this fall. Somewhat disappointed, Bill notes that Twitter did not provide “the social media plus education utopia” he had hoped for, but he plans to try again.

In the Nick of Time: Female circumcision, is there anything that prompts more westerners to say, “You know, somebody ought to go over to that African continent and just straighten the whole place out.” The American Academy of Pediatrics released a surprising statement promoting the practice of reducing genital mutilation in the United States by offering to “nick” baby girls (their words) in a ritualized bloodletting that one of the author’s compared to an ear piercing. The comments section on this article are quite interesting.

NYC Underground Scene: Better than any episode of Dirty Jobs is this article about the working lives of “sandhogs,” tunnel diggers laboring 600 feet below the surface of Manhattan. No word yet on the CHUDs.

Obligatory Depressing Arizona Paragraph: Last week the governor of Arizona signed a bill prohibiting ethnic studies courses in public schools, a move advocated by the State Chief of Schools who claimed that Tuscon’s schools were teaching Mexican-Americans that they oppressed by Whites. WaPo blogger, Valerie Strauss sees a pattern here, “Legislators in many states seem intent on dictating to educators how to do their jobs, even though the lawmakers don’t really have a clue. We tried this once before, in a big law called No Child Left Behind, which was designed with the input of not a single teacher, and which spectacularly failed in its goal to close the achievement gap.” Syndicated columnist Eugene Robinson saw the move as adding insult to the injury of SB 1070 writing, “Mexican American students, it seems, should not be taught to be proud of their heritage.” It’s just the latest in a series of provocations that has included: President Calderon protesting SB 1070 to President Obama, the City Council of Los Angeles voting to boycott contracts with Arizona businesses, and a gang of White boys in Morgan Hill, California, having the wise idea of wearing American flag t-shirts on Cinco de Mayo as some sort of boneheaded statement. Sigh Chuck D said it best, yo.

Shades of Marvin Harris And finally, who among us hasn’t wondered, “Why don’t we put more cows on treadmills?” I’m definately using this next time I teach India’s Sacred Cow.

Seen something around the web that you want to share with the Savage Minds community? Email me at matthew.thompson@cnu.edu

Matt Thompson

Matt Thompson is Project Cataloger at The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia, and currently working on a CLIR ‘hidden collections’ grant to describe the museum’s collection of early 20th Century photography. He has a doctorate in anthropology from the University of North Carolina and a Masters in information science from the University of Tennessee.

6 thoughts on “Around the Web

  1. Somehow I don’t have much sympathy for nationalistic displays being confronted by other nationalistic displays. Surely the boneheaded-nes applies equally, if it applies at all.

  2. Hmm,

    Very astute observation, and one I’m surprised more aren’t making. More than that, this should trigger the memory of the disciplines role in the race concept, and all the wars that it helped to develop in the 20th century. As anthropologist, we have to be especially sensitive about sanctioning ethnicity taught at race and nationalism, which from the complaints, it was.

    Substituting the work ethnic for the word race, is meaningless when the outcome is the same, and when so many high school students already think of things in racial terms. We should be in the business of problematizing ethnicity, not promoting it. As Howard Zinn taught us in the People’s History of the United States, most people of every ethnic back ground have not been taught their history. Kids aren’t taught European history, they are taught the history of states and elites.

  3. “Mapping with Lidar” – Given the propensity of university PR offices (and the popular media) for hyperbole, one might be temped to skim over this story about mapping at Caracol as another overblown archaeological claim. But that is not the case. This is the real deal. The new map is nothing short of breathtaking, and it makes archaeologists like me incredibly jealous. This is really a major breakthrough in archaeological mapping.

    But more than that, it has the potential to mark a breakthrough in scholarly and popular understandings of Maya cities. There is still a lot of baloney about the Maya, both in the popular media and among professionals. Mysterious jungle dwellers, obsessed with ritual, etc. But the new map shows conclusively that Caracol was a REALLY BIG CITY, whose inhabitants made massive modifications of the landscape, for economic purposes (agriculture and exchange) as well as ritual and political purposes. The mysterious Maya are a lot less mysterious now.

  4. But the new map shows conclusively that Caracol was a REALLY BIG CITY, whose inhabitants made massive modifications of the landscape, for economic purposes (agriculture and exchange) as well as ritual and political purposes. The mysterious Maya are a lot less mysterious now.

    But I would assume that there nevertheless needs to be excavation of the newly mapped features to be able to say that that they are in fact contempo.

    The new map is nothing short of breathtaking, and it makes archaeologists like me incredibly jealous. This is really a major breakthrough in archaeological mapping.

    And do I understand correctly that 3D scanning is the next step?

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