Welcome to the 92nd edition of the Four Stone Hearth archaeology / anthropology blog carnival!
I signed up to host months ago — there was no way I could have anticipated that my turn at bat would happen to coincide with big news in the study of human origins. But things happen when they happen, and as a result this edition of FSH is a bit beefier than anybody could have guessed.
But to avoid losing sight of individual items in the flurry of big-news posts, let’s start with the individual links, shall we?
Harking back to a comparable slice of time (but in a much colder clime), Joakim Storck of Manufacturology describes an exercise in historical ironmaking at the Stockholm National Museum of Science & Technology. Also in Scandinavia, Martin Rundkvist of Aardvarchaeology critiques Tom Christensen’s interpretation of a figurine from Lejre on Zealand, Denmark.
In warmer parts of the globe, teofilo of Gambler’s House has written up a good (continuing) series of posts on the transition from atlatls to bow and arrow in North America. Called Atlatls to Bows, the series consists of six parts so far:
On a primatological tangent, Raymond Ho of The Prancing Papio dissects media inaccuracies in Philippine tarsiers: Not world’s smallest primates, not marsupials.
And if you were hoping for a taste of modern cultural anthropology, I’ve got two good posts for you. Krystal D’Costa of Anthropology in Practice presents For the Love of the Game: A Look at Fans and Disappointment. Meanwhile, Franco Bejarano of CulturePotion discusses The inducement of hypermasculinity through Pop Culture.
But of course, the big anthro/archaeo news of the past fortnight is the release of a draft sequence of the Neandertal genome — and with it, comparisons to the genomes of five present-day humans from various parts of the world. Among the findings drawing the most attention is the evidence that shortly after early modern humans migrated out of Africa, some of them seem to have interbred with Neanderthals, leaving scattered bits of Neanderthal DNA in the genomes of modern non-Africans.
Some in the mainstream media kept a semi-professional outlook on this — like ScienceDaily, MSNBC, New Scientist, Wired, Discover, and even a good New York Times article. But then the Times went and spoiled things by diving into the prurient potential of the news with a ridiculous op-ed piece.
In the meantime, anthrobloggers (at least the good ones) have been filling in where the professional writers have somewhat fallen down. John Hawks in particular has been burning up his keyboard — check out his pieces entitled NEANDERTALS LIVE!, The Neandertal fraction, and (my favorite) Libidinous Neandertal men and the women who loved them. Christie Wilcox of Observations of a Nerd provides an alternate explanation of the news in her illuminating post Ancient Sex Scandals: Did We Get It On With Neandertals?
And if this hasn’t yet given you your fill of Neandertalia, why not turn yourself into one? For some time now, a kiosk at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History has allowed you to turn your face into something resembling that of a Neandertal (or, for that matter, you could opt for Homo heidelbergensis instead). Just in time for the recent news, the software behind this fun has been turned into an app called MEanderthal — for iPhone and Android. Take a picture of yourself (or a friend), and you can turn back the dial on aging — way, WAY back.
Well, that’s it for this edition of Four Stone Hearth — I hope you’ve enjoyed your visit to my humble site! Meanwhile, my deepest thanks to all the contributors to this issue. The next edition of Four Stone Hearth will be hosted by The Prancing Papio — make sure to check it out on May 26th. In the meantime, should you find (or write) an interesting blog post about anthropology or archaeology, please do email a link to it to the next edition’s host.