Category Archive 'Amerindians'
24 Jul 2015
The Register describes the findings of genetic research reported in a paper in Nature, titled “Genetic evidence for two founding populations of the Americas.”
A long-vanished race of humans, whose descendants now survive only among certain indigenous peoples in Australasia and in the Amazon jungles, may have been the true, original Native Americans, according to new genetics research.
The clue to the existence of this mysterious “Population Y” has been found by boffins probing the genes of various native-American peoples. Amazingly, the researchers found that a couple of tribes in the Amazon jungle actually had quite a lot in common genetically with others in Australia, New Guinea and the Andaman Islands.
It’s well known, of course, that humanity spread from its original cradle in Africa out across Asia and thus south to Australasia and separately north – via the Bering Strait land bridge, then in existence – to North America.
The first emigrants across the Bering were the First Americans. What’s not totally clear is exactly when they arrived, how many of them there were, what other groups arrived at what point etc. Given that they were arriving via a travel route just south of the ice sheets which then covered a lot of the northern globe, it’s generally thought that they didn’t come in a continuous stream, but more probably in waves when conditions were favourable.
One widely-held theory has it that the First Americans arrived in one wave of fairly genetically similar people, and this theory fitted pretty well with the observed genetics of native-American people both North and South. But the Amazon-Australasia linkage has pretty much upset that applecart.
“We spent a really long time trying to make this result go away and it just got stronger,” says Professor David Reich of the Harvard Medical School.
Read the whole thing.
Unmentioned besides is a possible third group, the Solutrean Hypothesis, a theory based on archaeological evidence which proposes also some Trans-Atlantic settlement of the Americas.
03 Mar 2015
The gorget found February 13, 2015, in Newtown, Ohio is engraved with an image that appears to be half bird and half cat.
WVXU reports the recent discovery of a rare Native American pendant dating to the 5th Century A.D. in Ohio. Only 8 examples of the same style and period have ever been found.
Contractors digging a trench for a fiber optic box north of Newtown’s administrative hall earlier this month found human remains. They called police who quickly realized it was a burial site and not a crime scene. They, in turn, called the Cincinnati Museum Center. …
â€œWhen the police department actually called us, when I talked to them, he said they found some human remains and he said there was a plate with it. And I kind of knew exactly what he meant because we had found these other two back in 1981,â€ says Rieveschl Curator for Archeology Bob Genheimer.
Genheimer says the plate is actually a gorget, a decorative seashell, with the image of an animal carved on it.
â€œA gorget is an ornamental item. These gorgets have three holes in them. They have two at the top for suspension and thereâ€™s one in the middle where they possibly could have been attached to clothing or something else,â€ he says. â€œAnd on the inside, they are engraved.â€
Two other gorgets found in Newtown had images of an opossum and a panther carved on them. This one had a hybrid: part bird, part cat.
â€œAnywhere else in the world, you would refer to this as a griffin. But thatâ€™s not something thatâ€™s very viable in the Americas.
â€œWe believe that the bird may be a Carolina Parakeet. Which, as many people know, is now an extinct bird, but used to be prevalent in the southern United States and as far north as here,â€ Genheimer says.
16 Aug 2014
Flaked blade recovered from Chesapeake Bay.
Business Insider describes one of the North American finds strikingly resembling Solutrean tools from Western Europe, which suggest the possibility of some Paleolithic settlement of North America from Europe.
Most researchers believe the first Americans crossed the Bering Strait from Siberia about 15,000 years ago and quickly colonized North America. Artifacts from these ancient settlers, dubbed the Clovis culture after one of their iconic archaeological sites in Clovis, New Mexico, have been found from Canada to the edges of North America.
But in 1974, a small wooden scallop trawler was dredging the seafloor, about 230 feet (70 meters) below the sea surface and nearly 60 miles (100 kilometers) off the coastline in the Chesapeake Bay.
“They hit a snag, or a hang, as they like to say, which meant that something pretty heavy was in their net,” said Dennis Stanford, an archaeologist with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., who has analyzed the find.
When they pulled up their net, they found the partial skull of a mastodon, a distant cousin of the woolly mammoth that began its slide into extinction about 12,000 years ago, Stanford said. The fishermen also noticed a flaked blade made of a volcanic rock called rhyolite.
The fisherman couldn’t lug the skull back to shore in their tiny wooden boat, so they sawed off the tusks and teeth, tossed the rest overboard and eventually handed portions to the crew as souvenirs. Capt. Thurston Shawn gave the remaining tusk portions, teeth and knife to a relative, who donated the remains to Gwynn’s Island Museum in Virginia. There they sat, unnoticed, for decades.
But while doing his doctoral dissertation, Darrin Lowery, a geologist at the University of Delaware, noticed the teeth and the tusk at the museum. …
By measuring the fraction of radioactive carbon isotopes (elements of carbon with different numbers of neutrons), the team found that the mastodon tusk was more than 22,000 years old.
There was no way to date the blade precisely, but the deft flint-knapping technique used to make it was similar to that found in Solutrean tools, which were made in Europe between 22,000 and 17,000 years ago.
Melting glaciers raised sea levels and submerged that area of the continental shelf about 14,000 years ago, so the knife must have been at least that old, Stanford added.
In addition, both pieces showed characteristic weathering that indicated they were exposed to the air for a while and then submerged in a saltwater marsh, before finally being buried in seawater.
That finding suggested that the two artifacts were possibly from the same environment â€” such as the marshes found between sand dunes that are often set back from the seashore. That would have been a perfect place for mastodons to find food, Stanford said.
“They like to chew on bushes and more rough shrubbery,” Stanford said.
To Stanford, Lowery and their colleagues, the discoveries suggest that people lived along the East Coast more than 14,000 years ago â€” potentially thousands of years before the Clovis culture emerged there. These first American colonizers may have even crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Europe, Stanford said.
Read the whole thing.
The problem with the theory of Solutrean settlement is that, so far, at least, DNA studies argue against the hypothesis.
03 May 2013
Bernardino di Betto, called Pintoricchio or Pinturicchio, Detail from The Resurrection, 1494, Musei Vaticani
Restoration of a painting of the Resurrection of Christ by Pinturicchio, commissioned by Pope Alexander VI to ornament his Papal apartments found that the painting’s background features “nude men, who are decorated with feathers and seem to be dancing.”
Antonio Paolucci, the director of the Vatican Museums, announced that these figures have been recognized as representations of Native Americans which were painted on the basis of their description by Christopher Columbus in 1494, in the direct aftermath of his first voyage of discovery to the New World.
The painting had been long neglected because of the unsavory character of Rodrigo Borgia (Alexander VI). Subsequent popes closed and abandoned his apartments, which were only re-opened for the first time after his death in 1503 in 1889 by Pope Leo XIII.
Via the Dish.
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