Hot Buttered Humanity!

POPATH Hot Buttered Humanity

With a subtitle like that, I’m either going to love it or hate it.  I love it.  It’s as eclectic as the mind of an anthropologist.  Check it out.

popanth-culture-soup-180x300“PopAnth translates anthropological discoveries for popular consumption. Academia does a lot of good work researching, decoding and understanding human societies – past and present. We discover all kinds of really cool stuff about human nature and culture. Anthropology can help us understand who we are as individuals and as a global society.

However, our discoveries are often locked away in academic journals. We take anthropology’s collective knowledge and translate it for mainstream audiences, much in the way that popular science books, tv shows and trivia quizzes make even the hardest of sciences accessible. We strive to provide you with the best of anthropology in a format that makes you go, ‘Wow! I didn’t know that!’ Our cross-cultural stories aim to help you discover things about yourself and the world you live in.

Welcome to the anthropocene!”

AND… They’re looking for contributors.  Maybe YOU can create something to contribute to the anthropological blogging world.

Panda’s Thumb

pandasNO, this is not a blog about pandas. Hopefully, most scientists will recognize the reference.

When I saw the title, I actually thought this was a Stephen Jay Gould tribute site.  Turns out that this is a great summation of EVOLUTION, EDUCATION, MEDIA, and other things SCIENCE.

“The Panda’s Thumb” is many things…

… And now it is a weblog giving another voice for the defenders of the integrity of science, the patrons of “The Panda’s Thumb”.

Keep up on education and evolution with the Panda’s Thumb.

Scholarly Links

This statement will make me sound old, but there was a sharp turning point in learning and the acquisition of knowledge in scholarly circles that, even now, we are just beginning to feel the full effect.  When the internet was inserted into worldwide culture it changed the way university students looked for knowledge.  Strangely though, this technology did not make a generation more technologically sophisticated than the previous and has arguably created a slew of end-users with no idea how the black boxes work.

601px-Medieval_writing_deskOn the other hand, I’m something of a Medievalist when it comes to learning.  As a drifting anthropology student with unfocused interests in ethnomusicology, paleontology, oral literature, archaeology, and ethnography, I spent long hours in libraries, often sitting on the floor, reading countless articles in journals such as Nature, Antiquity, or Proceedings of (fill in the Societies here).  It seemed that there was not enough time to catch up.  I was born at least a century too late to make the big contributions.  There was a lust for knowledge that had no concrete goal; just learn more.  And no one was in a hurry to leave the university.  It was life at it’s best.

I was not alone in these feelings when I was in college.  The cadre of my fellow students wanted to learn, taking or auditing courses in math or literature purely because they could.  I rarely see the same behavior amongst the students in the university where I work.  I’m sure they must be out there.  I just don’t seem to see them.  They certainly don’t haunt the library.  Maybe they are all sitting at home and scouring the web for articles to download, with e-books instead of musty, century-old, cloth bound journals.  That’s what I often find myself doing these days as well.  I carry many hundreds of articles around on my laptop, with thousands more at my fingertips through J-Store and other on-line facilities.  Too many to read every month and only a tiny fraction are even skimmed.  As a professional, one has to stay focused, as there are many rabbit holes to fall down on the internet.

When I sat down to type this this morning, my intention was to begin a series of good links to scholarly websites of real scientists (including social scientists) who contribute to the on-line community.  I personally try to high-grade my time on the Internet and find quality stuff there (it has become a “place” in our minds) so I will be posting links to the more interesting stuff I find.  Most of the folks I “know” from the web are great at sharing, and are certainly far better than I am.

So for students of science out there, let’s begin with the journal NATURE.  As archaeologists*, we are expected to be fairly well-rounded as we steal the best stuff from all the other (real) sciences.  Even if you don’t read it cover to cover, you should, at least, be aware of it’s existence!  $99 per year (51 issues) and available at every library worthy of the name, it covers the pulse of science world-wide and informs us just about any topic imaginable (and usually topics I’ve never imagined).

cover_natureI hope that never again will archaeological graduate student say to me “Nature? What’s Nature? Some sort of magazine?”


*Archaeologist (my ad hoc definition) – this word has multiple meanings. Meaning 1: I use the term “archaeologist” as a person in a scholarly sub-field of anthropology who studies humanity’s past, through the material manifestations of culture, ecology, biology, and using any and all the other -ologies that help us understand where we came from and who we are.  Meaning 2: The non-academic  title “archeologist” (note the dumbed-down spelling) is bestowed by state and federal agencies on mid-level bureaucrats who usually (but not always) have a basic background in anthropology or a related field but are generally relegated to overseeing compliance to environmental and cultural resource laws and regulations.  This version of archaeologist tends to oversee the letter of the law being carried out but not generally contributing, in their daily tasks, to the larger science or humanities.  Meaning 2 is where the great majority of us end up finding employment.

Tips for Graduate Students

(Not my original work: from Southern Fried Science)

10 Tips for grad students to make the most of a scientific conference

By David Shiffman, on August 21st, 2013

I just returned from the Society for Conservation Biology’s International Congress for Conservation Biology. It was a great meeting, and I learned a lot. It also marked a milestone for me, as although I am just starting the 3rd year of my Ph.D.,  the ICCB was the 20th scientific conference I’ve attended. Inspired by this milestone, by Josh Drew’s recent post on the subject, and by the excellent graduate student networking workshop held at the ICCB, I wanted to share my tips and tricks for graduate students to get the most out of a conference

Please note that while these tips have served me well and are generally applicable to professional meetings in the sciences, they may not be appropriate for every field or every person’s goals for a conference.  Additionally, some may be considered quite basic, but I assure you that I’ve met people (particularly graduate students attending a conference for a first time) who don’t know them. I welcome a discussion in the comments.


Changes in Inheritable Traits

a.k.a. evolution.  It’s not all that scary or controversial until someone with a stake in your ignorance makes it that way.

From Understanding Evolution: “Unfortunately, many people have persistent misconceptions about evolution. Some are simple misunderstandings—ideas that develop in the course of learning about evolution, possibly from school experiences and/or the media. Other misconceptions may stem from purposeful attempts to misrepresent evolution and undermine the public’s understanding of this topic..”.

Download a pdf of this topic here.

or have a look at Berkley’s webpage here to understand some basic biology:

Also, a very simplified explanation of how diversity and adaptation work:

Breaking News About Paleoindians at Clovis!!!


Portales Daily News.  Note that there was no “Clovis” cultural group yet…\

News1936-1jpgNews1936-2jpgClick HERE for the pdf, with bonus Coronado article OR link below:

Prehistory Day at the Blackwater Draw NHL

Prehistory Day was successful, due to an excellent turnout, helpful volunteers, and great weather.  A special thanks goes out to the members of Mu Alpha Nu and their friends for helping out again this year.  Nearly 300 people turned out for the event which lasted all day with people trickling in until we closed at 5:00.


Chuck Hannaford discusses prehistoric tools and lifeways with interested visitors.


Mary Weahkee demonstrates traditional yucca fiber working.

Demonstrations included fiber working, sandal making, flintknapping, and hunting techniques used by ancestral New Mexicans.  Discussions ranged from general archaeology to gourd canteens, stone tools, and prehistoric containers.


Tommy Heflin teaches flintknapping to people of all ages and abilities.

The Portales flintknapping group, headed by Tommy Heflin, were a popular station at the event, helping create a new generation of flintknappers.

Every is attracted to the spear throwing range.

Everyone is attracted to the spear throwing range.  Isaiah Coan from the Office of Archaeological Studies was a great help with the kids.

The "touch-and-feel" tables create many opportunities for learning about the past and what it means to be human.

The “touch-and-feel” tables create many opportunities for learning about the past and what it means to be human.

From the abstract concept of "containers" as an artifact, a local boy learns about prehistoric life.

From the abstract concept of “containers” as an artifact, a local boy learns about prehistoric life.

Stacey Bennett shows her poster display created for the event.

Stacey Bennett shows her poster display created for the event.

We hope to keep the public outreach events a regular occurrence at Blackwater Draw.  Keep your eyes on the blog for future activities.


Kids of all ages can get in touch with the past at these events.  Hope to see you here next year.

First 2000 year long temperature reconstructions for individual continents

From the Archaeology News Network:

Past climate change varied remarkably between regions. This is demonstrated in a new study coordinated by the international Past Global Changes (PAGES) project, which reconstructed temperature over the past 1000 to 2000 years.

First 2000-year-long temperature reconstructions for individual continents

During the Little Ice Age between about AD 1250 and 1860 several cold relapses occurred, which stimulated artists to paint winter landscapes. The reproduced example was painted in 1601 by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, based on an older work by his father painted 1565 [Credit: Photo: S.U. Nussbaumer]

It is the first comprehensive temperature reconstruction on a continental scale. One of its main findings is that a general cooling trend, caused by different factors (e.g. orbital-driven insolation and changes in solar and volcanic activity), was ubiquitous across all continental-scale regions and was reversed by a distinct warm trend beginning at the end of the 19th century.

The scale of this project is impressive. Some 80 researchers from all over the world collaborated on the study, which has just been published in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience. In one of the widest-ranging efforts yet undertaken to reconstruct climate across the globe, the international author team evaluated data from all continents to track the evolution of temperatures over the past one to two millennia.