Cave of Forgotten Dreams

Stone-age cave paintings, Chauvet, France

http://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/journalstar.com

The site that I found the most interesting was the Chauvet Cave in France. Something about it caught my imagination in a way that the other sites we studied did not. The way the cave was formed itself was one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed. The salt falling from the ceiling as it slowly dripped to the floor covering everything with this beautiful shimmering appearance. The rock art or cave paintings were by far the most breath taking out of everything that was observed in the cave. The horses and mountain lions; I could stare at them for what appears to be forever. The artistic style and the way the individual painted the pieces were breath taking. It was almost like they were meant to be preserved forever. The way that the scientists that discovered the cave were able to describe how the individuals that were living there all that time go and how they painted is unbelievable. The best part of the film was when the scientist took us on a tour to show the path of the man that painted with his palms. He had a broken or bend pinkie finger, which made his hand prints extremely unique. He walked a long way placing his hand prints anywhere be desired. I do not know if the way he did it or the fact that he did it was important or significant to his culture at the time. It could have very well been because he was bored and had nothing better to do, but he did take a lot of time on the “art project.”

I would consider this site to be rather important to understanding the culture at the time and the way the people lived back when the animals were the size of them. The home or ceremonies that were took place in the cave must have been remarkable. The cave also shows how the ancient people lived. There was tons of animal bones present. This was either for eating or cave bears that were also present with the individuals inside the cave. There much have been a rather interesting culture at the time. I would have enjoyed the idea that families lived there and functioned in my “normal idea” of what a society would be. That honestly makes no sense, but I can dream. This site captures the imagination in ways that other ones did not. The fact that it can only be visited during special times or during certain seasons was odd, but I like it. I think that it is one of the better ways to preserve the site from being destroyed. Most human beings tend to destroy what they touch, even if it wasn’t meant to happen that way. I would like the cave to be preserved for the rest of our time on this planet.

Clogged Arteries: Say what?

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Coronal 3D volume rendered CT reconstruction showing carotid artery disease. Bilateral carotid, bilateral subclavian, and brachiocephalic calcification of Hatiay (mummy 23), a male Egyptian scribe aged 40–50 years, who lived during the New Kingdom (1570–1293 BCE) and was found near modern day Luxor. (Credit: From "Atherosclerosis across 4000 years of human history: the Horus study of four ancient populations," Thompson et al, published Online First in The Lancet, 10 March, 2013)

Coronal 3D volume rendered CT reconstruction showing carotid artery disease. Bilateral carotid, bilateral subclavian, and brachiocephalic calcification of Hatiay (mummy 23), a male Egyptian scribe aged 40–50 years, who lived during the New Kingdom (1570–1293 BCE) and was found near modern day Luxor. (Credit: From “Atherosclerosis across 4000 years of human history: the Horus study of four ancient populations,” Thompson et al, published Online First in The Lancet, 10 March, 2013)

“This is not a disease only of modern circumstance but a basic feature of human aging in all populations,” said Caleb Finch. “Turns out even a Bronze Age guy from 5,000 years ago had calcified, carotid arteries,” Finch said, referring to Otzi the Iceman, a natural mummy who lived around 3200 BCE and was discovered frozen in a glacier in the Italian Alps in 1991.”

The findings provide an twist to our understanding of atherosclerotic vascular disease, which is a leading cause of death in the developed world. I have always associated the build up of plaque with the way that we are eating, but that might still be the case? The mummy that is being used could have more of a backstory that would contribute to the way he was eating. The individual in question could have been of a higher class, which would mean that he would have had more access to meat and more access to social feasting. That would explain why the main had a build up of plaque in his arteries. The article never addressed this possible issue. It is still amazing that they found a mummy that has a plaque build up. I would consider it to be considered a “modern disease” because of all the access to fast food and the huge access to large amount of food. But it also is a connection to the amount of animal products that individuals are ingesting. I wonder if there were way that ancient people were trying to fit the disease? Did people back that many years ago exercise? Has there been any evidence of that? I know that there were athletes, but did the average everyday person workout or at least try to?

“We found that heart disease is a serial killer that has been stalking mankind for thousands of years,” Thompson said. “In the last century, atherosclerotic vascular disease has replaced infectious disease as the leading cause of death across the developed world. A common assumption is that the rise in levels of atherosclerosis is predominantly lifestyle-related, and that if modern humans could emulate pre-industrial or even pre-agricultural lifestyles, that atherosclerosis, or at least its clinical manifestations, would be avoided. Our findings seem to cast doubt on that assumption, and at the very least, we think they suggest that our understanding of the causes of atherosclerosis is incomplete, and that it might be somehow inherent to the process of human aging.”

The connection of human aging is rather interest. I would have liked the article to explain this concept more. It would have made the “process of human aging” easier to understand. I get that the build up of plaque could just be part of the aging process, that even if an individual were to live a health life style that they would still have plaque build up, but does that fact in what the individual is eating or what the individual does to maintain their healthy lifestyle? I don’t understand how aging itself is what helps plaque build? I wonder if they are factoring in the possibility of genetics? Some individual are more likely to have heart disease due to genetic issues, rather than the individual’s environment. I would like to find an article that looks into this issue deeper. There are still a lot of unanswered questions about the subject. I know the finding is rather new, but I feel like the article was premature in being posted. It leaves the reading wanting to know more about what is going on with the individual in the study or what is means by “process of aging.”

Kitty Walking Across the Pages of History

Photo: Emir O. Filipović

Photo: Emir O. Filipović

Centuries ago, a cat walked across the above Medieval Manuscript. While looking through a stack of medieval manuscripts from Dubrovnik, Croatia, University of Sarajevo doctoral student Emir O. Filipović stumbled upon a familiar set of splotches marring the centuries-old pages. Years ago, a mischievous kitty had left her ink-covered prints on the book.

“The photo of the cat paw prints represents one such situation which forces the historian to take his eyes from the text for a moment, to pause and to recreate in his mind the incident when a cat, presumably owned by the scribe, pounced first on the ink container and then on the book, branding it for the ensuing centuries. You can almost picture the writer shooing the cat in a panicky fashion while trying to remove it from his desk. Despite his best efforts the damage was already complete and there was nothing else he could have done but turn a new leaf and continue his job. In that way this little episode was ‘archived’ in history.”

This is by far one of cutest and coolest stories that I ran into while surfing the Internet about new in archaeology. I think that most people tend to forget about the small things when it comes to archaeology. No one stops to think about the weirdness or the “paw-prints” of history (pun win!). Something like this is actually pretty amazing. I know that today we know that individuals throughout time have been believed to have pets, but how much proof if there? This is one thing that can be considered proof. People back then has pain in the ass cats, just like how we do today. They love paper and messing up the work that we are currently working on. The past is deeply connected to where we are now. I know this is a huge leap from just having some inked cat paws on a Medieval Manuscript, but it makes history not seem so far away. It makes being able to relate to the pass and understand that we have all gone through the same struggles.

The picture above has actually turned into a “cat meme,” which is rather cool take on learning something new about history. It is connecting us even further to history and helping people discovered or even care more about the past. There is a huge cat following on the Internet. Anything with cats and people will eat it up. This is a pretty creative way for the cat that left her paw prints to get people interested in medieval history. That probably wasn’t the intension of the cat, but it got the point across. She was probably more interested in food or pets. 🙂

Eastern Europe Appears to be an Important Pathway in Human Evolution

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Fossilized jawbone. (Credit: Mirjana Roksandic, University of Winnipeg)

.     The jaw fragment is now dated to be at least around 397,000 years old and could even be older than 525,000 years. The finding is significant because the fossil is distinct from its western contemporaries, suggesting it comes from the time before receding glaciers made it possible for isolated populations of primitive humans in Western Europe to mingle with their counterparts from Asia and Africa to form a complex hybrid representing many regions and periods. The fossil lends weight to the suggestion that the Balkan Peninsula could have been a gateway involved in the movement of populations from Asia to Europe.

“During this time, humans in Western Europe started to develop Neandertal traits, which are lacking in this specimen,” Roksandic says. “Humans in southeastern Europe were never geographically isolated from Asia and Africa by glaciers and accordingly, this resulted in different evolutionary forces acting on early human populations in this region.”

The new finding suggests there is valuable evidence to be found elsewhere in southeastern Europe, which could fill in missing pieces of the puzzle that connects the final dots of human evolution.

.     This is a rather important part of history. This is what makes the studying of our ancestors so profound and interesting. The fact that the original evolutionary line of Homo sapiens started so far back in history is extraordinary. This is why context and archaeology is important. It has helped opened the door for us to understand how we came to be. This could possibly explain how we are here and where this evolutionary boom came from. It could in fact prove some religions wrong that only believe in the ideals of creationism. Is that a good thing or is that a bad thing? I guess it comes down to an individual understanding the importance of religion in the first place. Is it there for individuals to try and understand what they cannot see or it is there to be blindly followed and strip away creative thought? I think religion and evolutionism can still exist and be present in the world. Just because a missing link can be bridged does not mean that there isn’t something out there that can not be explained. That is what makes evolution beautiful. That is what gives life it’s mystery and its ability to change at the switch of a light. This finding may or may not be the link that we have spent several years looking for in order to fully understand why Homo sapiens evolved in the first place, but it does not have to be seen as something wrong or evil. It should be seen as an object of learning and something that makes up stronger as a species.

The Ice Age Lion Man: World’s Earliest Figurative Sculpture

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40,000 years old: Lion Man sculpture. Photo: Thomas Stephan, © Ulmer Museum

40,000 years old: Lion Man sculpture. Photo: Thomas Stephan, © Ulmer Museum

The Lion Man is a beautifully sculpted piece of art work. It is stated that the Lion Man has been calculated to take a highly skilled carver at least 400 hours using flint tools (two months’ work in daylight). This means that the carver would have had to be looked after by hunter-gatherers, which presupposes a degree of social organization. The sculpture itself has been dated to be around 40,000 years old; using radio-carbon dating of other bones found in the strata. What was really striking about the sculptor of the Lion Man sculptor is that he or she had a mind capable of imagination rather than simply representing real forms. The individual had to have a brain powerful enough to think beyond what was presented to it in everyday life.

That is beyond incredible. I have studied the evolution of humans for most of my academic career, but this is beyond exciting to hear. Human are far more complex creatures than what was originally thought. Even back 40,000 years ago they had dreams, visions and coherent imagination that was able to be transformed only using flint tools. I know that technologies have changed over the past several decades, but I still wouldn’t be able to make anything this beautiful only using a flint tool set. My craftiness with hand tools is minimum to say the least. It would take an individual not only with advanced crafting skills, but an individual that had an advanced understanding of spatial awareness. I am just assuming, (but it would make sense), that the sculpture was made out of one piece of material. That really does not leave room for mess up, after putting at least 400 man hours into something this beautiful. But it brings up the question: what was it made for? Was it something that had a religious/spiritual purpose or was it just a beautiful sculpture for individuals to admire? Then it makes me want to ask questions about what the individual that was commissioned to carve the sculpture. What was that individuals role in the society? If it did in fact take 400 man hours, non-stop for 2 months, how was that individual  able to just sit there for days and carve this piece of art? I’m assuming this individual was either an elder or someone with a higher power level within the society. Maybe it was an individual that use to be a hunter-gather but was injured and could not go out into the field anymore? I am interested in keeping up with the story and learning more about the piece.