The Four Stone Hearth Anthropology Blog Carnival

This is the 64th edition of the Four Stone Hearth anthropology blog carnival. The home page for Four Stone Hearth (aka 4sh) is here. The previous edition of the carnival was at Millard Filmore’s. The next edition of Four Stone Hearth will be at Primate of Modern Aspect.

As usual, we have a great diversity of topics in this carnival, including archaeology, linguistic anthropology, and biological anthropology. Please visit those posts that are of interest, comment on them, submit them to social networking sites, and tell your friends and family about how great they are. Remember, we are all anthropologists, and we’ve got to stick together to promote our academic, societal and political endeavors!


Quick, answer this question: What is art for? If, when I say “art,” you think of drawings and similar things, and you were a member of certain societies, your answer would be quick and easy: “Art is for magic. Don’t ask me any more questions; I’m not the shaman.” Or words to that effect. Or at least, this is somewhere between a reasonable assumption and an observation based on the available ethnographies. But how do we see shamanism in art in ancient, archaeological societies? How do we “know” that a particular element in ancient art signals shamanistic behavior? Kris Hirst has this covered: Shamans and Archaeology.

Typically, archaeologists have used the presence of a ritual-specific artifact or a rock art drawing of an anthropomorphic creature with animal characteristics to tentatively suggest the presence of a shaman within a given society. VanPool makes a cogent argument that by now anthropologists have identified a suite of cross-cultural traits that can be identified archaeologically and thus used to confidently argue for shamanism as a practice at an archaeological site or set of sites.


Afarensis asks: Chimps, Dogs, Or Ants: Which is a Better Model For Human Sociality? For me, the answer is obvious. Birds. But never mind me, what does the ol’ hominin have to say about it?

The idea that dogs might serve as models of human behavior is not a new idea. Dogs, like humans are highly social animals that evolved from other highly social animals. For example, one line of research looks at the ability of dogs and wolves to perceive and act on cues provided by humans (turns out wolves don’t pay that much attention to cues provided by humans).

(Wolves have also been used as models for land use patterns among temperate or subarctic long distance logistical hunting peoples. Which might make more sense in some ways.)


Is it a boy or a girl?

Sexing a pelvis is one of those things that takes practice. In fact, that’s one of the problems with it. There are very few things in a pelvis where you can just look at it and say, “that’s a male” without having a good deal of experience.

A primate of modern aspect addresses this ancient question: Quick and Dirty Pelvis Sexing.


Check out this video of Oliver Sacks on Neuroanthropology, then read to see how Daniel thinks neuroanthropology has advanced since. What’s that you say? Sacks wasn’t a neuroanthropologist? Well, you’ll just have to read it, won’t you.


I hate when this happens: Daycare Looters.

Not far from my home, in the woods down by the tracks, are the foundations of an abandoned railroad man’s homestead. Its name, Vinterbrinken (“Winter Slope”), survives in a nearby street name, though few know that anymore.

The house was built by the railroad company in the 1890s and was torn down, along with its barn, in the 1950s. The municipal archives have photographs of the buildings and the people who lived there, and they are all known by name…. Lately, the staff at a nearby daycare centre has been taking the kids down to the site and had them excavate parts of it,…

Teaching children about archaeology by engaging in criminal activity (looting) is not recommended by any archaeologist, including Martin at Aardvarchaeology.


In a follow-up on some earlier work, Mark Dingemanse discusses the Siwu funeral dirge in a post called A cultural revival?

Last summer I wrote about the ideophone kanana. Here is a funeral dirge in which that ideophone, evoking a tranquil silence, plays a central role. It would normally be sung during the wakekeeping, in the middle of the night.


This is very funny: Lego Archaeology. Go check it out.


From SNPwatch at The Spittoon: Genetic Variation May Explain Why Young Women Are At Greater Risk For Melanoma Compared to Young Men:

Melanoma, a rare but potentially deadly form of skin cancer, is more common in women under 40 than in men in the same age group. After age 45, the tables are turned: men are more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma.

Between the ages of 40 and 50 happens to be when many women enter menopause or perimenopause, a time of declining estrogen levels. This has prompted some researchers to suggest that estrogen exposure may play a part in melanoma risk.

In a report published last week in Clinical Cancer Research, researchers show that a genetic variation previously associated with several other cancers may be the link between estrogen and melanoma in younger women. The riskier version of the variation increases the odds a woman will be diagnosed with melanoma before age 40 more than fourfold.


“People are just animals.” If you say that word in Siwu, an African language, it sounds a certain way. A local bird “says” the same thing when making one of its natural calls. Which the Siwu speaking people find annoying, for obvious reasons. Please visit this multimedia post from The Ideophone to find out what the heck I’m talking about here.


Consider this:

…a model of the brain as an information processing and memory retrieving machine that manipulates information suggests catching a fly ball is a calculation and comparison problem; calculating the path and recalling previous experience to compare the current situation with previous experiences of catching (or failing to catch). In contrast, an ecological psychology approach ‘argues that the fielder observes the flight path of the ball and can react using the angle monitoring system.’

So which is it? Read this post at Neuroanthropology to find out: Catching fly balls: taking a step forward.


That’s it for this edition. Now you know what to do. Start clicking away!

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2 Responses to “The Four Stone Hearth Anthropology Blog Carnival”

  1. April 10th, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Colleen says:

    Thanks for the mention!

  2. December 28th, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Mark says:

    One of the reason I love blog carnivals-they offer an interesting way to find other great writers. I doubt I would have ever found Colleen’s blog, but seeing the pictures of Stonehenge after a snowfall made it well worth the time! It’s too bad we never see it photographed that way, it adds an element of interest.

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