Anthro in the news 5/30/11

• On time (or not)
The BBC carried an article about the findings of a multidisciplinary research team from Portsmouth University that the Amondawa people of the Brazilian Amazon have no abstract concept of time. Blogger’s note: see next item.

• Just try it: be bored
At a recent TEDx conference in Sydney, corporate anthropologist Genevieve Bell urged people to stop fiddling with their mobiles and embrace boredom in order to fuel creativity. Bell is the Director of Interactive Research and Experience Research at Intel in Portland, Oregon. She also said, “It’s harder to be bored than ever.”

• Our gossip, our selves
A letter to the editor of The New York Times noted that anthropologists, along with psychologists, sociologists, psychiatrists, physiologists, biologists, and other scientists can contribute to studying why and how people gossip, as the “culture of gossip is more prevalent and powerful now than ever before.” This claim is based on social media, such as Facebook, where content is mainly about friends and family.

• Giving her credit
The Christian Science Monitor carried a review of A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother which credits Ann Dunham, a cultural anthropologist, with giving her son confidence, intelligence, ambition, idealism, and humor.

• Battle of the Buddha (he would not be pleased)
First the Taliban and now Chinese capitalism. China is planning to the launch a huge copper mine in Mes Aynak, Afghanistan. It will destroy an important Buddhist site. Archaeologists were originally given three years to do conservation work, but President Karzai reduced it to one year. Dr. Omar Sultan, renowned archaeologist and Culture Minister, says that with funding and a team of 40 archaeologists, the essential conservation work can be done on time.

• A dung deal
The Incas’ rise to power depended significantly on llama dung as fertilizer. A new study, picked up by The Times (London) argues that llama dung allowed the Incas, around 2,700 years ago, to switch from reliance on growing quinoa to maize and that this transformation allowed Inca expansion. According to Dr. Alex Chepstow-Lusty of the French Institute of Andean Studies in Lima, who led the study: “Maize and muck were the essential ingredients to drive the expansion of the Inca Empire.” The study is published in the journal Antiquity.

• More pyramids in Egypt
According to an article in Australia’s Herald Sun, satellite imaging has discovered 17 buried pyramids in Egypt and thousands of other tombs and buildings dating to the time of the pharoahs. The article quotes archaeologist Sarah Parcak of the University of Alabama, who used the technique to identify tombs that were pillaged during the recent political revolution. Findings are documented in a film to be broadcast on BBC.

• Rescue archaeology along the Chad-Cameroon pipeline
Africa News covered an international conference in Yaounde, Cameroon, from May 24-26, on rescue archaeology along the Chad-Cameroon pipeline. Raymond N. Asombang, senior lecturer in archaeology at the University of Yaounde is quoted as saying that the conference generated useful recommendations, but they are only recommendations. Blogger’s note: what about the so-called “affected people” who live along the pipeline?

• A real Indiana Jones
The real-life world of Liverpool University archaeologist John Garstang is displayed in a new exhibition at Liverpool University. Garstang, an expert on the Hittites, first put his work on display in the Liverpool Museum in 1941 which was severely damaged in the May Blitz.

• Chimp parenting tips
Australia’s Sunday Herald Sun featured distinguished primatologist Jane Goodall in an article discussing what her chimpanzee research indicates about human parenting, especially the importance of an offspring’s mother. Dr. Goodall will visit Australia in June.

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