Anthro in the news 1/24/11

• Oprah supports Aboriginal women’s heritage
A documentary about how an Australian Aboriginal elder balanced preserving her ancestors’ heritage and revealing their sacred history is showcased on Oprah Winfrey’s website. The film is called Sprits in the Stone. Several archaeologists worked on the project which involves a 45,000 year old rock art site belonging to the Jawoyn people. The film will be released in December 2011. To view the film trailer, visit

• Modernity and murder in a honeymoon paradise
The Mauritius brand as an ultimate destination for newlyweds took a sad twist after a recent murder there. Sean Carey, cultural anthropologist at the University of Roehampton, writes in the Guardian about high-end tourism, local inflation, crime, and international brand maintenance in Mauritius. He gives a shout out to British social anthropologist Ernest Gellner and his observations about on the pains of transition to modernity.

• Viagra for altitude sickness: beware of side effects
Medical anthropologist Theresa Graedon is a syndicated columnist and, with Joe Graedon, she writes a column called People’s Pharmacy. This past week, the Graedons responded in the LA Times to a question from a reader about whether or not Viagra is effective for altitude sickness. The response: check with your doctor before you travel since treating yourself for altitude sickness could have side effects. Blogger’s note: This is a great topic for Jon Stewart’s Daily Show.

• Archaeology of bunga bunga in Italy
A new archaeological project in Italy is excavating what is claimed to be the lost tomb of Caligula, the first century emperor famous for his debauchery and for appointing his favorite horse a senator. An Italian politician has been quoted as saying: “Compared with Berlusconi, Caligula was a prude.” Blogger’s note: another great topic for the Daily Show. What’s going on this week?

• Save Somaliland’s rock paintings
The Sunday Times of London carried a plea from British-Somali archaeologist Sada Mire for world heritage protection for ancient rock paintings she discovered in Somaliland. Poverty, looting, and road building are the major threats.

• In memoriam
Geoffrey Egan, archaeologist at the Museum of London, died suddenly of coronary thrombosis on December 24, 2010, at the age of 59 years. He was a noted medieval and post-medieval finds expert and was probably the first archaeologist to head one of the City of London’s guilds. His doctoral thesis was on lead seals used by London’s cloth merchants as a guarantee of provenance and quality.

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