Newspapers from 1836 to 1922 will be digitized and made available through the Library of Congress thanks to a grant from the NEH:
Rutgers to bring newspapers alive
So what’s the new thing I learned from the recent DNA-and-other-scientific-techniques analysis of the infamous Piltdown hoax fossils? Some people use the word “caveat” as a verb.
There it is, in the middle of the nicely open access article:
However, we caveat this by emphasizing that Bornean orang-utans have suffered from habitat loss and range fragmentation, two processes that can result in rapid shifts in the geographical distribution of genetic lineages (p. 7)
The internet helpfully tells me that the use of caveat as a verb in modern usage is considered awkward, and is most closely associated with Alexander Haig of “I am in control here” fame. Haig was a decade or two ahead of his time in his tendency to turn nouns into verbs.
There are a few caveats (“noun: a warning or proviso of specific stipulations, conditions, or limitations” -the OED) that may be worth keeping in mind regarding de Groote and colleagues’ article.
- The DNA analysis of the orang-utan and human bones that comprise the “Piltdown Man” fossils was mostly unproductive, the only positive result being evidence that two of the orang-utan teeth likely came from the same individual ape, who likely lived in western Borneo (that’s the conclusion that they caveated – now I’m doing it, too).
- Traditional morphometry (i.e, measuring the actual fossils) was more successful in confirming that the fossil teeth are actually from an orang-utan, and not from a different species of ape. I did not realize this was considered uncertain (there has been no doubt that the teeth are not hominin since the mid 1950s), and in fact a 1982 article in Nature they reference is titled “Piltdown Jaw Confirmed as Orang” but since the ape teeth were deliberately modified by the hoaxer, it’s good to get additional confirmation of the species identification
- This is kind of nifty:
In combination, the geometric morphometric analyses link the Piltdown I mandible and Piltdown II molar; traditional morphometrics link the mandible with the canine, and ancient DNA analysis links the canine and Piltdown II molar. Therefore, given the nature of the context, we consider it highly likely that the Piltdown hoaxer(s) used a single orang-utan specimen originating from southwest Sarawak to construct parts of both Piltdown I and II (p. 7)
- Radiocarbon dating attempts were a complete failure (contamination and other issues – probably not a big surprise).
- Microscopy and μCT scans provide some new details on modifications that were made to the bones.
- All this new research doesn’t really change anything about what was already known about the Piltdown hoax. The authors accuse Charles Dawson of being the sole perpetrator, but, as they acknowledge, Dawson has been “the prime suspect since the fraud was exposed in 1953.” (p. 12) Despite headlines like Human Ancestor Hoax At Piltdown Finally Solved and Study reveals culprit behind Piltdown Man, their new analysis doesn’t provide any evidence that incriminates Dawson any more or less.
DeGroote, I., et al.
2016 New genetic and morphological evidence suggests a single hoaxer created ‘Piltdownman’. R.Soc. Opensci.3:160328. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.160328
This vintage Toyota Land Cruiser spotted on the Eastern Shore of Virginia looks like a late 1980s FJ62. Two-tone blue, snorkeled, and aside from the mismatched wheels, not bad looking.
The special commemorative 50th-anniversary issue of the journal Post-Medieval Archaeology is available free online for a limited time via Taylor & Francis:
Table of Contents:
Editorial: ‘The greatest of these is charity’; 50 years of Post-Medieval Archaeology Alasdair Brooks
A short history of the Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology Harold Mytum
The medieval to early modern transition in a digital age: new developments relevant to the study of domestic buildings David H. Caldwell & Catriona Cooper
Globalization and the spread of capitalism: material resonances Audrey Horning & Eric Schweickart
Cities in the modern world
Peter Davies & Greig Parker
The archaeology of industry; people and places Marilyn Palmer & Hilary Orange
The post-medieval rural landscape: towards a landscape archaeology?
Jemma Bezant & Kevin Grant
The material culture of the modern world Mary C. Beaudry & Natascha Mehler
Standing buildings and built heritage
Adrian Green & James Dixon
Where the battle rages: war and conflict in Post-Medieval Archaeology Natasha N. Ferguson & Douglas Scott
The contemporary in post-medieval archaeology Laura McAtackney & Sefryn Penrose
The archaeology of post-medieval death and burial Layla Renshaw & Natasha Powers
Obituary: Lawrence Butler (1934 – 2014)
Yet another person concludes that the Toyota Tacoma QuadCab pickup truck is the best (new) vehicle for overlanding.
The Tacoma has been the gold standard for people who want a small off road truck for decades and while the “all new” model leaves a little to be desired in terms of keeping up with the new and strong competition as a whole, its missions specific dominance remains unchallenged. The Tacoma is right blend of capability and cost for maximum value to the overland traveler
2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD OffRoad QuadCab. Source: Toyota
Well, this could turn out badly. Hopefully the zooarchaeologist is using hyperbole to encourage Fish and Wildlife to figure out their own rules.
If a “huge” load of scientifically valuable prehistoric animal bones aren’t returned soon to the Museum of the Aleutians, they may end up in the trash in Canada, according to a frustrated scientist in Victoria, British Columbia, who is encountering tax problems while trying to avoid international legal difficulties.
It turns out that the $6,000 set aside for shipping three shrink-wrapped pallets of nearly a half million bones back to Unalaska is causing financial headaches for the private research firm, Pacific Identifications, according to zoologist and treasurer Susan Crockford.
“We had to pay taxes on these funds to carry them forward to this year. We are unwilling to pay taxes on these funds for yet another year,” Crockford said in an email to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “It means that if we cannot get the import permit required to ship the material by August of this year at the latest, we face having to do something unconscionable to professional archaeologists and research scientists: send all 57 boxes to the dump.”
Most likely, no federal permits are needed, according to Andrea Medeiros, a Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman in Anchorage, since the bones came from Native corporation land, and not federal property, under the terms of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act. However, Fish and Wildlife Service officials were still reviewing the requirements of international treaties involving endangered species and migratory birds.
Read the rest at Alaska Dispatch News
Filed under Archaeology, CRM
The University of Minnesota is conducting a field school at a historic site in Carver County first occupied in 1855 by Swedish-American farmer Andrew Peterson. Local newspaper the Chaska Herald has a photo essay showing the site and the tools of the trade.
Source: Mark W. Olson, The Chaska Herald
A three-year project at the Utah Division of State History has been completed, according to The Spectrum. Almost 120,000 site records have been digitized.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission of New York City is looking to hire a part-time archaeologist to assist with the review of cultural resource surveys, maintain a website, and assist in other duties.
Standard archaeology job qualifications apply, and New York City residency is required within 90 days. For more details, including pay rate, see the NYC Careers site.
Filed under Archaeology, CRM