Anthro in the news 11/28/11

• Forensic anthropologists testify in child murder trial in Scotland
BBC News reported on a trial in Scotland involving testimony from two forensic anthropologists: Sue Black, a professor of human anatomy and forensic anthropology at Dundee University and Dr. Cunningham, a lecturer in anthropology at Dundee University. Both worked on a report which was presented in court.

• Forensic anthropologists working on murder cases in Texas
Dr. Jennifer Love is forensic anthropology director of the identification unit at the Harris County Medical Examiners Office. She and other forensic anthropologists are looking into several murder cases from as far back in 1981.

• First international student at Sikkim University
The Telegraph (India) reported on Sikkim University’s first foreign student. Tatsuki Shirai from Japan joined Sikkim Government College last year to study sociology and the Eastern Himalayas. The student came to Sikkim on a scholarship from the Hitosubashi University in Tokyo. He will return to Hitosubashi University next year to complete his undergraduate program in sociology and cultural anthropology.

• Arab spring of archaeology in Egypt?
Nature carried an article about the politics of doing archaeology in Egypt under the reign of Zawi Hawass. According to the article, “Many archaeologists working in Egypt are reluctant to speak about Hawass on the record out of fear that he could regain influence in the country. But in private, several researchers say that Hawass was intolerant of opposition and blocked excavation permits to those who published results or theories that clashed with his own.” Megan Rowland of the University of Cambridge, who recently completed a master’s degree on the political significance of Egypt’s antiquities during the revolution, is quoted as saying that “researchers who crossed Hawass became targets of intense criticism or had their permits revoked.”

• DNA sheds light on ancient “twin” burial
Two infants buried together nearly a thousand years ago in a single grave found at what is now the Angel Mounds State Historic Site in Indiana have long been thought to be twins. Scientists using an automated DNA sequencing system at the Indiana Molecular Biology Institute at Indiana University-Bloomington have learned that they were not biologically related. Charla Marshall, adjunct professor of anthropology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, led the team of researchers. Marshall and three co-authors report their findings in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

• Ancient tuna fishing
The New Scientists reports on findings that deep sea tuna fishing occurred 42,000 years ago in island southeast Asia. Sue O’Connor at the Australian National University in Canberra and colleagues found evidence in deposits at the Jerimalai shelter on Timor-Leste, including 38,000 fish bones from 23 different taxa, including tuna and parrotfish that are found only in deep water. ABC Australia carried an interview with some of the researchers about fish hooks found at the site.

• Software to help locate fossils
According to a piece in Science Daily, Glenn Conroy, professor of  physical anthropology and colleagues at Western Michigan University, have developed a software model that mimics the workings of the human brain. So far it has proved productive in pinpointing fossil sites in the Great Divide Basin, a 4,000-square-mile stretch of rocky desert in Wyoming

• In memoriam
Allen R. Maxwell, professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Alabama, died November 16, 2011, at the age of 71 years. He retired from the University of Alabama in 2010 after 36 years of service to the department of anthropology. Maxwell was recognized for raising the national academic profile of the department, beginning with a major revision of the anthropology curriculum when he joined the faculty in 1974. Maxwell published more than 80 scholarly articles or book chapters and gave 68 major conference presentations. His work as an ethnographer and linguist centered on the peoples of Borneo, especially Brunei and Sarawak. He enjoyed an international reputation for the depth of his understanding of Borneo’s many cultures.

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