Health & Safety for Academic Archaeologists (Part 2)

George Crawford:

I have personally encountered some seriously ridiculous practices; nearly all from summer dilettante professors playing at archaeology. With a few exceptions, they get people hurt, destroy sites, and make foolish decisions.

Originally posted on Middle Savagery:

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With summertime coming around again, it is time for archaeologists to post photos of breathtakingly dangerous practice. I wonder sometimes if the digital age will eventually help improve practice at archaeological excavations through public censure and raised awareness. I’m not sure–my first Health & Safety for Academic Archaeologists (part 1) was posted in 2011 when I was shocked and outraged at stunning disregard for the wellbeing of workers displayed in photographs in the New York Times. But have things changed? Apparently not.

I was alerted to this particular instance from BAJR’s Facebook page, and there are nearly 100 similarly outraged comments below the link. The university backing the project has been notified by members of BAJR, but can we all agree to stop this now? This is not something that we should be teaching students. Projects that post photos like this should not be funded and should come under serious censure.

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Pleistocene Man-Eaters

George Crawford:

“Humans are still part of the food chain.” I cannot stress this enough when talking to the public about “where are all the bodies?”

Originally posted on GeorgiaBeforePeople:

The sum total of paleoindian skeletal material ever discovered could fit inside a single coffin and with room to spare.  This isn’t true of Pleistocene Homo sapiens  remains found in Europe where bogs and caves are more common than in America.  Also, humans lived in Europe for tens of thousands of years, whereas humans occupied the vast spaces of America for just the last few thousands years of the Pleistocene, another factor that explains this disparity in abundance of remains. The rarity of human fossil remains from America makes it impossible to determine how often Homosapiens fell prey to large predators on this continent.  Despite the absence of evidence, I have no doubt America’s large carnivores were man-eaters at least some of the time.  The sole mystery, one that will probably never be solved, was the frequency of this behavior.

Humans are still part of the food chain.  The region including India…

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A Pleistocene Species of Bison (Bison antiquus) Survived in Canada until 4830 Calender Years Ago

George Crawford:

INTERESTING STUFF…

Originally posted on GeorgiaBeforePeople:

The terminal radiocarbon dates for North America’s Pleistocene megafauna consistently translate to about 12,000 calendar years BP.  Because these dates are so consistent for so many different species, scientists assume Pleistocene megafauna became extinct 12,000 years ago.  I hypothesize this date reflects when these species became rare and local in distribution and not when these species actually became extinct.  The chance that bones will become preserved in the environment for thousands of years is low and depends on unlikely circumstances.  For example a flood has to rapidly cover remains of an animal with sediment before scavengers consume the carcass, and the soil chemistry has to have anti-bacterial qualities that prevent microbial consumption.  Then, a man has to be lucky enough to even find it.  An animal had to have been abundant in its environment to appear in the fossil record. I believe most species of Pleistocene megafauna continued to exist more recently than…

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Prehistory Day 2015

Here are a few photos of the Blackwater Draw Open House and Prehistory Day.  Thanks to everyone who came out and especially those who dedicated a Saturday to make this event possible.  As usual, we were all so busy that we didn’t take too many photos, especially during the rush.  Here are a few to whet the appetite for next year.  An estimated 250 people attended throughout the day.  The weather was as fair as it gets and a good time was had by all.

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The North Bank Excavations ca. 1963

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Photo courtesy of James Warnica, El Llano Archaeological Society.

Here is a great photo-mosaic from the North Bank excavations in the early 1960s.  The humans in the background examining the stratigraphy really put the Clovis-age mammoths in their proper scale.  Unfortunately, Mammoth IV in the background is covered in this photo.

The Last of the Mammoths

Dwarf Mammuthus primigenius, cousin to our own Columbian mammoth.

When the pyramids were being built, there were still wooly mammoths.  A few anyway.  Probably more on earth than there are rhinoceroses NOW; today!

Keeping time in perspective is the most difficult task when talking to or writing for the public.  Way back in college I kept notebooks of correlating timelines from around the world.  I still do this to some degree but it grows too fast to be really useful.  Twenty-plus years ago I started a project in Adobe Illustrator (that alone should give some perspective of technology) to create a graphic concordance; but it was too big to handle without making it a job.  Anyway, facts like that above are very useful for keeping a perspective of time.

A few other tidbits from this interesting blog post*:

Oxford University was over 300 years old when the Aztec Empire (Mexica) was founded.”  Oxford ca. 1100 C.E., Aztec alliance 1428 – 1521 C.E.

“The last use of the guillotine was in France the same year Star Wars came out” (1977).

“When pilgrims were landing on Plymouth Rock, you could already visit what is now Santa Fe, New Mexico to stay at a hotel, eat at a restaurant and buy Native American silver.”  (Santa Fe, New Mexico founded 1610, Plymouth Colony founded 1620).

AND, FOR THE BASEBALL FANS OUT THERE:

“The Ottoman Empire still existed the last time the Cubs won the World Series.”

*I use these types of “factoids” with caution as the Internet is a sketchy resource at best.  Do your research!