Oldest written melody in history

January 17, 2011

There is the oldest known animated cartoon, 5,200 years old.  There is the oldest known musical instrument, between 7,000 and 9,000 years old.

Now, also, here is the oldest known written melody, too – from 1400 BCE.

Are we to assume that for at least 5,000 years, music was all improvised?  Would that make jazz the oldest musical form?

In the YouTube comments, there is what may be oldest known copyright dispute, too.

Michael Levy performs on the lyre in the video, and he’s the authority on ancient music who put the thing together.  His explanation and website offer a lot more that teachers of world history might use to bring these ancient arts to life.  He explained at YouTube:

This unique video, features my arrangement of the 3400 year old “Hurrian Hymn no.6”, which was discovered in Ugarit ,ancient northern Canaan (now modern Syria) in the early 1950s, and was preserved for 3400 years on a clay tablet, written in the Cuneiform text of the ancient Hurrian language – it is THE oldest written song yet known! Respect, to the amazing ancient culture of Syria…السلام عليكم

Although about 29 musical texts were discovered at Ugarit, only this text, (text H6), was in a sufficient state of preservation to allow for modern academic musical reconstruction.

In short, the Cuneiform text clearly indicated specific names for lyre strings, and their respective musical intervals — a sort of “Guitar tablature”, for lyre!

Although discovered in modern day Syria, the Hurrians were not Syrian — they came from modern day Anatolia. The Hurrian Hymn actually dates to the very end of the Hurrian civilisation (c.1400BCE) . The Hurrian civilization dates back to at least 3000 BCE. It is an incredible thought, that just maybe, the musical texts found at Ugarit, preserved precious sacred Hurrian music which may have already been thousands of years old, prior to their inscription for posterity, on the clay tablets found at Ugarit!

My arrangement here, is based on the original transcription of the melody, as interpreted by Prof. Richard Dumbrill. Here is a link to his book, “The Archeomusicology of the Ancient Near East”:

A photograph of the actual clay tablet on which the Hurrian Hymn was inscribed, can be seen here:


The melody is one of several academic interpretations, from the ambiguous Cuneiform text of the Hurrian language in which it was written. Although many of the meanings of the Hurrian language are now lost in the mists of time, it can be established that the fragmentary Hurrian Hymn which has been found on these precious clay tablets are dedicated to Nikkal; the wife of the moon god.

There are several such interpretations of this melody, but to me, the fabulous interpretation just somehow sounds the most “authentic”. Below is a link to the sheet music, as interpreted by Clint Goss:


In my arrangement of the Hurrian Hymn, I have attempted to illustrate an interesting diversity of ancient lyre playing techniques, ranging from the use of “block and strum” improvisation at the end, glissando’s, trills & tremolos, and alternating between harp-like tones in the left hand produced by finger-plucked strings, and guitar-like tones in the right hand, produced by use of the plectrum.

I have arranged the melody in the style of a “Theme and Variations” – I first quote the unadorned melody in the first section, followed by the different lyre techniques described above in the repeat, & also featuring improvisatory passages at the end of the performance.

I am also playing the lyre horizontally – a much more authentic playing position, as depicted in ancient illustrations of Middle Eastern Lyre players:


This also seems a much more stable playing position to me, and I find it much easier to improvise with string-blocking etc when the lyre is held in this manner.

My arrangement of the melody is much slower than the actual academic interpretation – I wanted the improvisations in the variations on the theme to stand out, and to better illustrate the use of lyre techniques by a more rubato approach to the melody.

All of my 9 albums of mystical, ancient lyre music are now available from iTunes . . .

1)”An Ancient Lyre”: http://bit.ly/dhCozi

2)”King David’s Lyre; Echoes of Ancient Israel”: http://bit.ly/9PCIua

3)”The Ancient Biblical Lyre”: http://bit.ly/9hTDje

4)”Lyre of the Levites”: http://bit.ly/9baWuM

5)”Apollo’s Lyre”: http://bit.ly/dhCozi

6)”Ancient Times — Music of The Ancient World”: http://bit.ly/aRF5PD

7)”The Ancient Greek Modes”: http://bit.ly/cZks0o

8)”The Ancient Greek Lyre”: http://bit.ly/bxO7Ra

9)”Ancient Visions — New Compositions for an Ancient Lyre”: http://bit.ly/dCPmRN

Physical CDs are also available anywhere in the world from CD Baby, for 3 of my best selling albums:

“An Ancient Lyre”: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/mlevy4

“King David’s Lyre; Echoes of Ancient Israel”: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/mlevy

“Lyre of the Levites”: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/mlevy2

For full details about my albums of lyre music, and the fascinating ancient historical background, please visit my official website:


Tip of the old scrub brush to Pharyngula, who used the video only in passing, oddly enough.

World history teachers, take quick note! Paleolithic sources

September 7, 2010

More accurately, sources on the paleolithic.

K. Kris Hirst at About.com blogs about archaeology at least weekly — I just subscribe to her stuff and get it when it comes.  So, file this under “I get e-mail.”

This week, she’s got stuff world history teachers could use on the old stone age.  See if this doesn’t pique your interest:

From K. Kris Hirst, your Guide to Archaeology

It’s the beginning of a new school year, and as every one knows, World History begins with the Paleolithic period–the Old Stone Age, the evolutionary moment from which all of our amazing human culture derives. Keep that trowel sharp!

Guide to the Stone Age
The Stone Age (known to scholars as the Paleolithic era) in human prehistory is the name given to the period between about 2.5 million and 20,000 years ago. It begins with the earliest human-like behaviors of crude stone tool manufacture, and ends with fully modern human hunting and gathering societies…. Read more

Control of Fire
The discovery of fire, or, more precisely, the controlled use of fire was, of necessity, one of the earliest of human discoveries. Fire’s purposes are multiple, some of which are to add light and heat, to cook plants and animals, to clear forests for planting, to heat-treat stone for making stone tools, to burn clay for ceramic objects…Read more

The Invention of Footwear
Believe it or not, we humans have worn shoes of one sort or another for some 40,000 years! Read more

The Ileret Footprints
Not as well known and much younger than the Laetoli footprints are the Ileret footprints, two sets of fossilized footprints of a possible Homo erectus or Homo ergaster discovered at the FwJj14E site, near the modern town of Ileret in Kenya. Read more

See what I mean? Go see what else she’s got.  Some of us are going into the third week, and are already past that lecture . . .

Four Stone Hearth #88: Sit, read and warm yourself

March 20, 2010

Four Stone Hearth #88 rests nicely in the St. Patrick’s Day edition at Ad Hominin.

World history and geography teachers, take special note.  There are real gems in this one.

Lots more stuff.  Which articles do you find compelling?

Odd update, January 23, 2013:  The link to “List of the 100 best blogs for anthropology students” is dead; it went to a page from OnlineDegrees.net.  I have an odd request from that site asking me to remove the link because it’s “over-optimized,” and they are trying to get straight with Google.  It all sounds shady to me.

My apologies, Dear Reader, for having linked to such a shady source as OnlineDegrees.net.  I’ll try to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.


Texas State Dinosaur an affront to creationists

October 22, 2009

Texas has a new State Dinosaur.

Scientists are working to make a good model of the beast for the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, as reported in the October 6 Fort Worth Star-Telegram (often referred to locally as the “Startle-gram,” but still one of America’s good-to-great newspapers).  David Casstevens reported:

The official state dinosaur would look big even inside Cowboys Stadium.

The creature stood 15 feet tall at the shoulders.

Sixty feet long, head to tail, it weighed 20 tons or more.

Sadly, despite being native to Texas, the species lived and died without ever tasting brisket.

“It was a herbivore,” paleontologist Dale Winkler said.

The quadrupedal sauropod — sort of a giant prehistoric giraffe — was the state’s first vegetarian.

Winkler, an SMU professor, stood with several other men around a workbench inside a building west of Azle, arms folded, their eyes studiously fixed on a rare and wondrous object, the skull that once contained the very small brain of Paluxysaurus jonesi.

They are members of a team that is meticulously reconstructing the dinosaur’s framework.

An articulated skeleton of the beast, which roamed this part of the country more than 100 million years ago, will become the centerpiece of DinoLabs, a dinosaur exhibit at the new $80 million Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, which opens Nov. 20.

Texas is the ample belly of the nation’s Bible Belt, don’t you know.  Creationists could not let such science endeavors proceed without their version of a blessing, provided in this case by a letter to the editor by a local guy named Richard Hollerman:

Unwarranted assumptions

David Casstevens’ Oct. 6 story tells of work to restore a dinosaur, Paluxysaurus jonesi, that will soon have its place in the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. (See: “Dinosaur skeleton to lead exhibit”)

Thousands of professing Christians, including scientists with advanced degrees, deny basic elements of his account and views held by unbelieving paleontologists. (1) Consistent Christians believe God created dinosaurs relatively recently — about 6,000 years ago — whereas skeptical scientists assert they lived 100 million years ago. (2) Christians contend that dinosaurs were created as dinosaurs instead of evolving from prehistoric life that spontaneously sprang from nonlife 3 billion years ago. (3) Consistent Christians believe that dinosaurs became extinct after the worldwide Noaic flood 4,500 years ago.

We totally reject the unfounded assertion that this dinosaur “roamed this part of the country more than 100 million years ago” — as the reporter asserts. The discerning reader can verify this by consulting the Institute for Creation Research ( www.icr.org), Answers in Genesis ( www.answersingenesis.org), Apologetics Press ( www.apologeticspress.org) and others showing the fallacy of the evolution model and reasonableness of recent creation, along with the creation and extinction of dinosaurs.

I encourage the Star-Telegram to report these findings in a way that harmonizes with established facts instead of blindly accepting unfounded assertions by unbelieving paleontologists.

— Richard Hollerman, Richland Hills

You should be impressed that so many other local residents have differing views.  The newspaper published several letters in response to Hollerman, on October 17:

Good science vs. non-science

After reading Richard Hollerman’s Oct. 14 letter, “Unwarranted assumptions,” I gather that he believes that only atheist scientists think that dinosaur fossils are millions of years old.

That is incorrect. The vast majority of scientists, regardless of religious beliefs, think that the evidence is overwhelming that dinosaur fossils are millions of years old. If he needs some examples of scientists who are Christian, specifically evangelical Christians, I would point out Mary Schweitzer, Keith Miller, Francis Collins, Richard G. Colling and Stephen J. Godfrey, who are biologists and paleontologists and are also evangelical Christians. Were it not for space limitations I could list thousands more.

This is not about belief vs. disbelief. It is about good science vs. non-science.

— Bill Robinson, Arlington

Hollerman and “thousands of professing Christians” have declared that their religious beliefs trump science, and they have a constitutional right to their notions. On top of that, they also have their churches, family units, private schools, home schooling, colleges that teach pseudo-science and the amazing Creation Museums in which Noah built a third tier on the “ark” to keep dinosaurs at a respectful distance. Fine.

Those of us who do not share the beliefs of “thousands” ask only that you use the aforementioned resources to educate your young, accustom yourselves to the thought of life in a Third World country and leave the rest of us alone!

— Jackie Bell, River Oaks

According to creationists, science is correct about the following:

Chemistry, computer science, mathematics, engineering, sociology, systems science, psychology, medicine, nuclear science, agronomy, astronomy, nanotechnology, acoustics, biophysics, condensed matter physics, electronics, fluid dynamics, geophysics, plasma physics, vehicle dynamics, solar astronomy, meteorology, limnology, soil science, toxicology, marine biology, parasitology, anatomy, biochemistry, structural biology, entomology, cetology, phylogeny, algebra, calculus, cartography, geopolitics, criminology, agriculture, language engineering, pathology, pediatrics, nutrition, physical therapy and dermatology.

But for some reason, according to creationists, science is wrong about evolution. How is that even possible?

— Mark Stevens, Fort Worth

Millions of professing Christians, including intelligent people from all religions and all walks of life, view the basic elements of paleontology as reasonable and logical. (1) Bones found in the different layers of soil show a chronological time line extending much further than 6,000 years ago. (2) Evolution is an observable, rational concept that is ongoing even in today’s “educated” world. (3) Claims that dinosaurs became extinct in a worldwide flood 4,500 years ago are laughable.

Uneducated Christians contend that dinosaurs became extinct in the Noaic flood, yet if you read the Bible it says Noah took two of every animal into the ark to preserve the different species. Did he overlook dinosaurs? Were they deemed unfit to survive by God?

Being raised as a Southern Baptist, I was taught that God guided evolution to fit His plan. Even the most devout Christians in my church had enough intelligence to see the facts that were right before their eyes. I encourage Star-Telegram readers to open their minds and their eyes to prevent the corruption of future generations and find a way to harmonize their beliefs with established facts instead of blindly accepting unfounded fantasies from uneducated Christians.

— Terry Brennan, Haltom City

I sat in total amazement after reading Hollerman’s letter disagreeing with the history of the Paluxysaurusjonesi. To cite Genesis as a historical reference is almost laughable, except for the fact that there are people who honestly believe the Adam and Eve story of creation. To believe that humans lived in this form, only with less clothing, millions of years ago is incredulous to say the least.

I give thanks that there is a science that disproves these myths. Why can’t these folks see the divine spirit in the creation and evolution of life forms on our planet, rather than actually believing what is in the Bible literally? I find it exciting that there are higher forms of being, and that new knowledge is being revealed every moment of every day.

— Betsy Stell, Arlington

I don’t know whom Hollerman was referring to in his letter when he wrote about “Consistent Christians.” I guess he means “fundamentalists” since they’re the only ones who believe in Bronze Age myths rather than modern science. Or perhaps he means people who believe the pseudo-science in the silly, anti-evolution Christian fundamentalist Web sites he cited.

The truth, of course, is that every scientific discipline from archeology to zoology contributes to the vast body of knowledge and huge amount of evidence supporting evolution. Thanks, Star-Telegram, for publishing facts and not allegorical stories written by Middle Eastern tribesmen thousands of years ago.

— Terry McDonald, Grapevine

I was impressed by the Star-Telegram’s reporting on the restoration of the fossil Paluxysaurus jonesi by the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. The article gave the facts and some feel-good information about the people involved in the reconstruction of the dino fossil.

However, Hollerman’s letter would be a joke if it weren’t for the fact that so many people really do think that the Earth is only 6,000 years old and will deny the fact that the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old. It has been proven by scientific method.

Creationists have a distorted view because the one book that they use (written 2,000 years ago by primitives) disagrees with the science that proves the existence of natural history. The age of this fossil is not unfounded but rests on the work of many thousands of scientists over a couple of hundred years in scores of different scientific disciples. The scientific method that is used to vet new and existing research is a crucible that is used to sort facts from fallacy and has been used to debunk fake, false and misleading science for a couple of hundred years.

We would still be living in caves without the scientific and technological advances that we enjoy today. I applaud the Star-Telegram for its fair and unbiased science reporting. Keep it up.

— Charlie Rodriguez, Arlington

Meanwhile, e-mails between members of Texas Citizens for Science chase another interesting facet:  Where in Texas is there enough Jurassic rock to support such a find?

Oh, those scientists!

More information:

Tip of the old scrub brush to Annette Carlisle, a member of Texas Citizens for Science.

Cast away a note in a bottle, in the Paluxy River:

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Four Stone Hearth #69 at Wanna Be an Anthropologist

June 21, 2009

Four Stone Hearth #69 plunges into summer, at Wanna Be An Anthropologist.

Quite a thorough edition — there is a lot gathered there, including links to posts about the summer digging of several projects.

There’s a bunch of discussion on open access journals, too, which should be of particular interest to anyone with students doing projects these days.

4 Stone Hearth 68 + remote central = good convergence

June 5, 2009

4 Stone Hearth’s 68th incarnation rises at remote central, among my favorite archaeology/anthropology/ancient history blogs.

Tim has done an outstanding job of shaking good stuff out of the internet tree:  Did cooking make humans smartKris Hirst on the human transition to agriculture (every history teacher needs this one);  The new discovery of a Miocene era ape, in Europe; and returning to a topic I spend so many years listening to at the Senate Labor Comittee, is tobacco worse than cocaine?

That’s just scratching the surface.  Go see.

Four Stone Hearth #64 at Quiche Moraine

April 12, 2009

Do you have to know geology to get the title of that blog?

Four Stone Hearth 64 is hosted by Quiche Moraine.  Lots of good stuff.  F’rinstance:

With a few hours, an ambitious teacher could get 20 or 30 good bell-ringers out of FSH.  Bell ringers based on real research — what a concept.

A modern version of an ancient hearth - State Cooking Pot of Utah, the Dutch oven - photo by Jason Slemons

A modern version of an ancient hearth - State Cooking Pot of Utah, the Dutch oven - photo by Jason Slemons

Basic climate skeptic’s pseudoscience

March 7, 2009

Anthony Watts want to make a case that rising ocean levels aren’t connected to human activities, there’s nothing we can do about it, there’s nothing we should do about it, or something.  Looking for a touchstone in history, Watts said:

In 2002, the BBC reported that a submerged city was found off the coast of India, 36 meters below sea level.  This was long before the Hummer or coal fired power plant was invented.  It is quite likely that low lying coastal areas will continue to get submerged, just as they have been for the last 20,000 years.

Submerged city?  Hmm.  Not in the textbooks published since 2002.  What’s up with that?

NASA Earth Observatory photo of the Gujarat Gulfs, including the Gulf of Cambay (Khambhat), where a lost city was thought to have been found in 2001; later research indicates no city underwater.

NASA Earth Observatory photo of the Gujarat Gulfs, including the Gulf of Cambay (Khambhat), where a "lost city" was thought to have been found in 2001; later research indicates no city underwater.

Oh, this is what’s up:  Watts links to a BBC news story, not a science journal — one of the warning signs of Bogus Science and Bogus History, both.   The news story talks about preliminary findings in 2002 that did not hold up to scrutiny.  Measurement error was part of the problem — the pattern of the scanning radar sweep was mistaken for structures found on the sea floor.  Natural formations were mistaken for artificial formations.  When the news announcement was made, archaeologists and other experts in dating such things had not be consulted (and it’s unclear when or whether they were ever brought in).  The follow-up didn’t support the story, notes Bad Archaeology.  Terrible archaeology to support pseudo climate science?  Why not?

This doesn’t deny Watts’ general claims in his post, but it is too indicative of the type of “find anything to support the favored claim of denial” mindset that goes on among denialists.  (There is evidence of a much lower waterline in the area during the last ice age; water levels have risen, according to physical evidence, but probably not inundating the what would be the oldest civilization on Earth.)

It will be interesting to watch what happens.  Will Watts note an oopsie and apologize, or will the entire group circle their Radio Super wagons around the issue and call it a mainstream science plot against them?  Will Watts correct his citation, or will they move on to cite the disappearance of Atlantis as evidence that warming can’t be stopped?

Anybody want to wager?

What sort of irony is there in a guy’s complaining about a scientific consensus held by thousands of scientists with hundreds of publications supporting their claims, and his using one news report almost totally without any scientific corroboration in rebuttal?


Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones, for real

July 19, 2008

Don’t know how I missed this story earlier: Actor Harrison Ford won election to the Board of Directors of the Archaeological Institute of America (AIA).

In 1992, this hollow rock-crystal skull was sent to the Smithsonian anonymously. A letter accompanying the 30-pound, 10-inch-high artifact suggested it was of Aztec origin. (James Di Loreto & Donald Hurlburt/Courtesy Smithsonian Institution)

Caption from AIA's Archaeology: "In 1992, this hollow rock-crystal skull was sent to the Smithsonian anonymously. A letter accompanying the 30-pound, 10-inch-high artifact suggested it was of Aztec origin. (James Di Loreto & Donald Hurlburt/Courtesy Smithsonian Institution)"

He doesn’t just play one on the silver screen — he is one. Or at least, he’s part of the professional association. The press report from AIA stressed Ford’s support for archaeology and knowledge.

The Archaeological Institute of America is North America’s oldest and largest non-profit organization devoted to archaeology. With more nearly a quarter of a million members and subscribers and 105 local chapters, it promotes archaeological excavation, research, education, and preservation on a global basis. At the core of its mission is the belief that an understanding of the past enhances our shared sense of humanity and enriches our existence. As archaeological finds are a non-renewable resource, the AIA’s work benefits not only the current generation, but also those yet to come in the future.

“Harrison Ford has played a significant role in stimulating the public’s interest in archaeological exploration,” said Brian Rose, President of the AIA. “We are all delighted that he has agreed to join the AIA’s Governing Board.”

AIA was chartered by Congress in 1906 — a full decade before the Boy Scouts of America, for comparison — with a charge to help enforce the Antiquities Act (16 U.S.C. § 431).

More interesting, and more useful in the classroom, are the story and sidebar in the online magazine of the Institute, which notes that the crystal skull stories involve faked artifacts — and even that the idol in the opening scene of the very first Indy movie involves a faked artifact.

“Legend of the Crystal Skulls: The truth behind Indianapolis Jones’s latest quest” tells a great story by Jane MacLaren Walsh, a true story, the best kind for history buffs.

Sixteen years ago, a heavy package addressed to the nonexistent “Smithsonian Inst. Curator, MezoAmerican Museum, Washington, D.C.” was delivered to the National Museum of American History. It was accompanied by an unsigned letter stating: “This Aztec crystal skull, purported to be part of the Porfirio Díaz collection, was purchased in Mexico in 1960…. I am offering it to the Smithsonian without consideration.” Richard Ahlborn, then curator of the Hispanic-American collections, knew of my expertise in Mexican archaeology and called me to ask whether I knew anything about the object–an eerie, milky-white crystal skull considerably larger than a human head.

I told him I knew of a life-sized crystal skull on display at the British Museum, and had seen a smaller version the Smithsonian had once exhibited as a fake. After we spent a few minutes puzzling over the meaning and significance of this unusual artifact, he asked whether the department of anthropology would be interested in accepting it for the national collections. I said yes without hesitation. If the skull turned out to be a genuine pre-Columbian Mesoamerican artifact, such a rare object should definitely become part of the national collections.

I couldn’t have imagined then that this unsolicited donation would open an entirely new avenue of research for me.

Great story. In the classroom, it shows the methods of archaeologists and historians. Walsh reveals how archaeologists work, and along the way she details a lot of the history that prompts adventure stories like the Indiana Jones series.

Archaeology, the real stuff, never nukes the fridge.

File these links and this article away. The new movie in the “Mummy” series with Brendan Fraser in the starring role, is due out August 1, “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.” The new movie is set on a dig in China, presenting more opportunities to use popular entertainment as an entré to real history, and real science (and probably all sorts of historical errors to correct).

But while the latest Indiana Jones epic reunites Jones with Marian Ravenwood played by Karen Allen, Rachel Weisz doesn’t appear in the pending Mummy installment. Weisz was replaced by another actress playing Evelyn O’Connell.

Archaeology marches on! Carnivals to catch up

May 7, 2008

Testing, grading, trying to correct errors, and meanwhile progress continues.

Four Stone Hearth’s 40th edition is out today at the redoubtable Remote Central — but I missed #39 at Hominin Dental Anthro.

Real science is almost so much more interesting than faux science. #39 features the discussions about the claims that the Hobbits had dental fillings. While such a claim is damaging either to the claims of the age of Homo floresiensis or to the claims about the age of the specimens and, perhaps, human evolution, no creationist has yet showed his head in the discussion. When real science needs doing, creationists prefer to go to the movies. There is even a serious discussion of culture, and what it means to leadership of certain human tribes, with nary a creationist in sight.

While you’re there, take a careful look at the header and general design of Hominin Dental Anthro. Very pretty layout, don’t you think?

#40 at Remote Central is every bit as good. World history and European history teachers will want to pay attention to the posts on extinctions on the islands of the Mediterranean. Any one of the posts probably has more science in it in ten minutes’ reading than all of Ben Stein’s mockumentary movie, “Expelled!” That’s true especially when science is used to skewer the claims of the movie, or when discussion turns to the real problems the mockumentary ignores.

Enjoy the cotton candy.

Gault site: Clovis Man in Texas, 2008 dig

February 18, 2008

We owe a great debt to newspapers, especially those shunned by bloggers as MSM (“mainstream media”). This article in the Austin American-Statesman is a key exhibit.

While the minions and poobahs at the Texas Education Agency work to frustrate the teaching of evolution in science classes, real Texas scientists practicing real Texas science dig away at the Gault Site, an archaeological dig that recently has yielded 1.5 million artifacts from ancient Texans, Clovis Man, living 13,500 years ago.

So far nothing indicates any of these ancient people were Baptist or creationist. Surprisingly, perhaps, they didn’t play football, either.

Pamela LeBlanc, a digger at the site wrote the article in first person.

The pasture, named for the Gault family who once farmed the land, made its debut into professional archaeology in 1929 when J.E. Pearce, founder of the UT archaeology department, excavated here. Over the years, visitors could pay a fee to dig at the farm, hauling off what they found and leaving behind shallow craters.

Today, it’s considered the most prolific site of its kind. Gault has generated more than half of the excavated artifacts from the Clovis people, long considered the first human culture in America. Until recently, most archaeologists believed the Clovis came from Asia across the Bering Strait land bridge at the end of the last ice age about 13,500 years ago, walked down the ice-free corridor of Western Canada and slowly spread across the Americas.

Collins and others believe people arrived in the Americas much earlier, probably by boat along the North Atlantic and North Pacific shores. And they believe this site will help prove it. “What we’re trying to do here is expand on our knowledge of the peopling of the Americas,” Collins says.

Even better, you can volunteer to help out at the site, to dig for prehistoric information.

To volunteer at the Gault site, contact Cinda Timperley at ctimperley@austin.rr.com. Membership in the Gault School of Archaeological Research is not required to volunteer, but members have priority. Membership is $10 for students; $45 for adults; and $65 for families. The school also needs non-monetary donations of everything from equipment to electrical work. For more information, call 471-5982.

Not only does the Austin paper print news that sticks in the craw of Don McLeroy, they give details on how you can participate in making such news.

Newspapers. Gotta love ’em.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Remote Central.

Also see Pamela LeBlanc’s earlier story about Lucy in Houson.

Texas A&M undergrads at Gault site, Texas Archaeological Society photo

Texas A&M undergraduate diggers at Gault site, earlier; Texas Archaeological Society photo.

More carnivalia, stoned version

February 18, 2008

Oh, remember to check out the latest 4 Stone Hearth.  This carnival of archaeology was posted at Our Cultural World last week, its 34th outing.

John Hawks has a post featured about Neandertal’s roaming habits, all determined from a tooth.  Interesting archaeology, interesting anthropology, and just how can they tell all that from one tooth? Hawks’ blog has articles I’ll use in U.S. history, world history, psychology, and maybe economics.  One of the best things about 4 Stone Hearth is the way it points to outstanding sources.

Got a tagger in your classroom?  He (rarely a she) may be interested in ancient taggers — if we may call them that.

If you live on the Pacific coast, or in the Caribbean, should you worry about your local volcano?  A Very Remote Period Indeed pointed to a paper that suggests the hominids found at Dmanisi were a family killed by a volcanic eruption — perhaps your local volcano can help you become immortal, after a fashion?

Also featured is an article about language development at a blog I only recently discovered, Not Exactly Rocket Science.  It’s another blog worth watching.

How a carnival should be done: 4 Stone Hearth

December 15, 2007

By now you should have learned this is not a place from which to get clockwork notes about blog carnivals to read. Sometimes I look at a carnival, and finding not much to interest me, I assume in all hubris that you won’t find much there, either. More often I get bogged down doing other things and just forget to note some.

I post about carnivals here when I think there is good material.

So, I gotta tell you: Run see the current 4 Stone Hearth, posted at remote central. It’s #29, and it’s a doozey.

4 Stone hearth image, 12-2007, dolmen in snow

For your geography classes, make a note here of Britain’s pyramid, “the inside story.” Didn’t know Britain had a pyramid?

See what I mean? How can you ignore stuff like that?

There are posts about volcanoes, posts about excavating shell mounds and prehistoric garbage dumps (no, Mr. Dembski, no Pebbles cereal boxes), your standard skeleton moving fees story, polyandrous sex and sexual dimorphism among human ancestors, and a couple of notes about the flooding of the Black Sea (“Noah’s flood”) and what that did to human civilization. And a bunch of other stuff.
This isn’t a kids’ carnival in any way. For your geography and history students, there is a lot of material in this one carnival about prehistory, material that simply will not be in the textbooks (but probably should be).

Great stuff. It’ll take a while to wade through all of it, and you will find material that will excite your students in class.

The next Four Stone Hearth is set for December 19th, at The Greenbelt.

Prehistory and art: Lesson plan material

October 7, 2007

Teachers looking for good interactive graphics on human migration in prehistoric times should take a look at the website of Australia’s Bradshaw Foundation. The map requires an Adobe Flash player, and I cannot embed it here — but go take a look, here. “The Journey of Man” seems tailor made for classroom use, if you have a live internet connection and a projector.

Ancient art is the chief focus of the foundation.

Ancient paintings, the Bradshaw paintings, at the Bradshaw Foundation Examples of some of the most famous cave and rock paintings populate the site, along with many lesser known creations — the eponymous paintings, the Bradshaw group, generally disappear from U.S. versions of world history texts. The Bradshaw Foundation website explains:

The Bradshaw Paintings are incredibly sophisticated, as you will see from the 32 pictures in the Paintings Section, yet they are not recent creations but originate from an unknown past period which some suggest could have been 50,000 years ago. This art form was first recorded by Joseph Bradshaw in 1891, when he was lost on an Kimberley expedition in the north west of Australia. Dr. Andreas Lommel stated on his expedition to the Kimberleys in 1955 that the rock art he referred to as the Bradshaw Paintings may well predate the present Australian Aborigines.

This ancient art carries a story that should intrigue even junior high school students, and it offers examples of archaeological techniques that are critical to determining the ages of undated art in the wild:

According to legend, they were made by birds. It was said that these birds pecked the rocks until their beaks bled, and then created these fine paintings by using a tail feather and their own blood. This art is of such antiquity that no pigment remains on the rock surface, it is impossible to use carbon dating technology. The composition of the original paints cant be determined, and whatever pigments were used have been locked into the rock itself as shades of Mulberry red, and have become impervious to the elements.

Fortuitously, in 1996 Grahame Walsh discovered a Bradshaw Painting partly covered by a fossilised Mud Wasp nest, which scientists have removed and analysed using a new technique of dating, determining it to be 17,000 + years old.

Texas history and geography teachers should note the Bradshaw Foundation’s work on prehistorica art in the Pecos River Valley: “Pecos Experience: Art and archeaology in the lower Pecos.” There is much more here than is found in most Texas history texts — material useful for student projects or good lesson plans.

Painting from Panther Cave, lower Pecos, Texas - Bradshaw Foundation

4 Stone Hearth #19

July 19, 2007

Prehistory and archaeology fans will want to check out the latest archeaology carnival from the 4 Stone Hearth series — Number 19 is up at Sherd Nerd.

Texans may want to pay particular attention to the links to John Hawks’s blog, where he talks about the coming display of Lucy, in Houston, with further links.  Hawks notes controversy among the U.S. community of Ethiopians; Texans may worry more about complaints from Texas creationists.

Either way, you need to check it out.  You can link back here, to my post on stories and history, too (thanks, Sherd Nerd!).

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