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Re: top archaeology discoveries

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  • George Thomas
    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
    Message 1 of 6 , Dec 11 9:33 AM
      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
      of "takes".

      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.

      Mark Lewine

      -----Original Message-----
      From: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com on behalf of Bob Muckle
      Sent: Wed 12/10/2008 5:44 PM
      To: SACC-L@yahoogroups.com
      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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