It's not the consumer cultural anthropology we so desperately need yet, but.....OK, I think I may have stumbled onto something here. During my subcontract archaeological stint still ongoing along a new powerline running N-S, east of Austin, Texas, we found (along with rock-hard lumps of drought-dried clay and pebbles from flooding episodes) a small fossil. It looks like a conical object comprised of thin bands, coiled much like a Rabdotus snail shell, but far more subtle. I took the thing home to my sourcebooks and looked it up.
IT'S A SHARK COPROLITE. So clearly the list grows and evidence mounts toward public "Wowzer" needs and the search for the spectacular. (The incidental music from Jaws might be appropriate for public displays). No issue over "sinking teeth" into this discovery, and no need for squeamishness about "holding this coprolite in our hand," whether carpal or cerebral. The thing is -- well -- a fossil (that's F-O-S-S-..... etc), and hard as a rock.
Also, no camera crew was on hand for my reprised "EUREKA" of discovery, and I only executed one double-take. Since I have thus dropped the publicity ball, we should consider contacting both Letterman and Leno.
By the way, the complete Audubon Fossil guide plate illustration shows that the base (thick end) of a pointy shark "coprolite" appears to be made up of those thin bands tied in knots and tucked in neatly. Evidently sharks developed complexity in matters that we poor humans neglected in our "rise" to "civilization" and those other things we rose to.
Priorities, priorities. But can such information SELL?
Re: top archaeology discoveries
Posted by: "Lewine, Mark" mark.lewine@...
Date: Wed Dec 10, 2008 4:24 pm ((PST))
An analysis from a social-cultural anthropologist who merely dabbles at
archaeology with his Field School certificate:
The 'Top Ten' discoveries hint at the "let's find the special goodies"
syndrome or consumer archaeology...if you read your list, for example,
the reader (constructed by western consumer culture) skips over the
items that merely hint at material evidence of cultural patterns and heads
toward the items that you can see with your mind's eye, hold in your
mind's hand, like the African shipwreck, the oldest oil painting (oldest
anything is great to a westerner) Roman statues, old bone and teeth of
an early hunter in Europe. In order to gain funding for my
archaeology center, I have interested television and print media to come out to
our site and film a student "discovering" a special object. Once we put
back the discovery right after she found it so the camera man could
film it as she was coached to repeat her "Wow! Look at this! for a couple
But, Bob, there you go again with the coprolites! No one wants to hold
them in any kind of hand or eye, much less sink your teeth into this
relic of the past. This too may simply reflect cultural relativity as
the focus of the traditional British culture is well known for obsession
with bathroom humor...yes, those Carry-On movies and Benny Hill
and...hey, why not create a BBC series on the Search for Coprolites- starring
a well-known British or even Canadian archaeologist figure!? Wow, an
archaeologist t.v. show! For coprolite searches, perhaps Pepto Bismol
or Ex Lax or any of those other wonderful products related to this kind
of processual archaeology might get it and sign on.
on behalf of Bob Muckle
Sent: Wed 12/10/2008 5:44 PM
Subject: [SACC-L] top archaeology discoveries
'Archaeology' magazine has revealed its "Top 10 Discoveries of 2008."
They are described in the Jan/Feb 09 issue.
It doesn't appear to have been a stellar year for archaeological
discoveries. The list includes the discovery of how Maya blue pigment was
created; a Wari masked mummy; an inscription that apparently gives insight
into Iron Age concepts of the soul; the oldest known oil painting;
bone and teeth from a 1.2 million year old H. erectus in Europe, toe
bones suggesting shoes 40,000 years ago, an African shipwreck, statues of
Roman emperors, and the earliest evidence of whaling. Oh yeah....the
list also includes the discovery of some ancient coprolites from Oregon.
I think I'm going to tell David Letterman about the list. He might rank
the coprolites # 1 and let me read it on the air.
Why don't cultural anthropologists, biological anthropologists, or
linguists put out top ten lists? Too high-brow?
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