NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, October 20, 2021, online via Zoom: Our Featured Speaker will be our own Thatcher Rogers, research associate at the Jornada Research Institute, discussing "Becoming a 'Pueblo': Late Prehispanic Shifts in the Sierra Blanca as Viewed from Robinson Pueblo" - reflecting his investigations in the Northern Jornada Mogollon (Lincoln) area. As usual, hop online about 6:45 PM to get settled, and Thatcher will begin his talk at 7PM sharp.

NEXT FIELD TRIP = TBA - watch this space for details as they develop.

Science

Human Migration Patterns, DNA, and Vikings

Human genomeReaders of this here blog know that our basic policy is to focus upon archaeological developments in our own region because there's certainly plenty of it. However, readers also know that our policy includes an exception whenever news of advancements in DNA research is involved. Behold:

A 10-year DNA study of human remains from Viking-Age burials across Europe and beyond (generally, 750 CE - 1050 CE) is leading anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians to redefine who Vikings were. The DNA results revealed many cases of individual and group mobility, such as four brothers buried together in one Viking grave in Estonia, and a pair of cousins buried hundreds of miles apart from each other - one in Oxford, UK, and the other in Denmark. Additionally, the DNA results revealed that Vikings from certain areas preferred specific destinations for raiding and trading - refuting the traditional assumption that Vikings conducted their sailing expeditions wherever the winds of fortune carried them.

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Obsidian and Human Travel Patterns

Obsidian core  flakesObsidian was valued by ancient cultures for its sharpness and durability. Archaeologists commonly find obsidian nodules or worked obsidian in the form of points, knife blades, etc., in archaeological sites throughout the Western Hemisphere and beyond. Because of the particular way obsidian is formed, each source of obsidian has a unique geochemical signature. Thus researchers can identify where the obsidian that was used to make a particular artifact originally came from. The source provides clues about how the humans who made the artifacts interacted with other groups, either via trade or migration. In our own region, artifacts and raw material originating from the obsidian deposits at Mule Creek, New Mexico, have been found at archaeological sites up to 120 miles away.

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Online Via Zoom: Our May 19, 2021, Featured Speaker, John Stocke, PhD

Our monthly GCAS general meeting happens on Zoom on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, 7 PM: Stocke_john As is our Zoom custom, our brief-if-any business meeting will be immediately followed by our Featured Speaker, John Stocke, Colorado University-Boulder professor of Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences (1985-2017), who returns to discuss Ethnic Astronomy with us. If you recall any of his past presentations such as the significance of The Pleiades, or aspects of Polynesian celestial navigation, you know to join us online at 6:45 to get situated before Dr. Stocke begins at 7:00 PM sharp. A Q&A session will follow the talk. Check your email inbox for your Zoom invitation about one week before the presentation, and learn more about Dr. Stocke's ongoing projects here.

/s/ webmaster


Meet D-Stretch: the Archaeologist's Friend

Picto 3 - natural Picto 3 - StretchSome avocational archaeologists have already learned of the fascinating technology of D-Stretch, aka decorrelation stretch, a digital imaging tool that was originally developed to enhance (i.e., "stretch") the color differences in aerial photographs. Today, this technology has become more widely used and user-friendly to boot. It is now an essential tool to analyze rock art images, especially ones too faint for the naked eye to see.

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New Studies in Archaeoacoustics

StonehengeRegular readers of this here site know that we generally prefer focusing our news on what's happening archaeologically in our own Southwest US/Northern Mexico region. However, we remain open-minded enough to occasionally publish news from further afield, especially when it contains implications for our own area. In this case, the article's headline is fully descriptive:

"A Remarkable New Study Suggests That Stonehenge Was Built to Amplify Sound During Ancient Ruling-Class Rituals - The stones also worked as a sound chamber, keeping outside noise out."

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How DNA Research Affects Study of Past Cultural Events

Certain advances in DNA research have recently hit the mainstream press. Bonus: the scientists include one who is a familiar friend to many of us in the GCAS. Please enjoy the following excerpts. [Spoiler alert: if you want to surprise yourself about the identity of our mystery scientist, read the whole article linked above but do not read below the fold here]:

"The Reich lab, the foremost unit in the country for research into ancient DNA, is responsible for more than half the world’s published data in the field. Having so far sequenced the DNA of more than ten thousand long-dead individuals from all over the globe, the lab is almost halfway through a five-year project to create an atlas of human migration and diversity, allowing us to peer deep into our past. The work has produced startling insights into who we are as a species, where we have come from, and what we have done to one another. Hidden in the human genome is evidence of inequality, the displacement of peoples, invasion, mass rape, and large-scale killing....“This is an example of the power of ancient DNA to reveal cultural events,” Reich [said]...It also shows how DNA evidence can upset established archeological theories and bring rejected ones back into contention....

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Cultural and Ethical Implications in the Fossil Trade

Amber-field-cnnLoss of important scientific data does not just happen with cultural artifacts like Mimbres pottery. It happens with fossils, too. GCAS member Kathryn McCarroll links to an article discussing the international trade in blood amber, a fossil-rich amber mined only in Myanmar. Paleobiologist George Poinar recently wrote that "...scientifically valuable fossils...end up in carvings and jewelry and [are] lost for future generations...."

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A Brief Detour into Paleontology

Some scientific news is just too good not to share.

About four years since its discovery, scientists have confirmed that a series of fossil dinosaur tracks, stumbled upon in a trailside rock fall in Grand Canyon National Park, are 313 million years old, making them "...by far the oldest vertebrate tracks in Grand Canyon...More significantly,...they are among the oldest tracks on Earth of shelled-egg-laying animals, such as reptiles, and the earliest evidence of vertebrate animals walking in sand dunes."

As Charlie Pierce says, "Dinosaurs lived then to make us happy now."

/s/ webmaster


More DNA Research on How the Americas Were Populated

Map-1050We of the GCAS prefer to keep this here website focused on the archaeological advances made in our own region, but we always make an exception for any DNA research that comes our way. [Maps on right via New York Times.] As reported in the New York Times of July 8, 2020, a new comparative study of the DNA of more than 800 people from Polynesian islands and South America's Pacific Coast discloses contact between ancient Polynesians and indigenous South Americans around 1200CE.

 

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Drone Technology For Archaeologists

Drone 1 Drone BeeThe use of drone technology is becoming more prevalent in a number of industries and businesses, and the field of archaeology is no exception. [At left, two examples of what drones look like - webmaster]

Archaeologists have been using drones to investigate and map archaeological sites as a preliminary step to the time and expense of a formal excavation, although they also employ drones throughout the entire process of some excavations. As opposed to high-resolution satellite imagery, drone equipment is especially useful for making multiple, rapid, low-altitude images that can then be incorporated into more traditional site-mapping methods to make the results of an archaeological investigation more precise.

 

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