Anthro in the news 11/12/12

• Healing after the storm

The seven-acre site for public art in Atlantic City. Photo: Ryan Collerd for the NYT.

In Atlantic City, New Jersey, Hurricane Sandy spared the first phase of a five-year, $13 million public art project that organizers hope will enhance the city’s image. An article in The New York Times quotes Joseph Rubenstein, an anthropology professor at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey who is active in community groups and has worked to enhance Atlantic City with gardens and murals: ”I do think it has healing potential poststorm.” He added that the city’s growth has been centered on the boardwalks, or nearby, and public art “…has to be in combination with work on the rest of the city.”

• Big mining vs. local people in Alaska

Two Kenai Peninsula College anthropology professors concluded that a degradation of the water in Bristol Bay from a major mining project could have devastating nutritional, cultural and religious impacts on the villages in the region. Their study, part of a larger impact assessment carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency, was in response to a request by nine Dena’ina and Yup’ik villages in the region. Bristol Bay is home to one of the world’s largest sockeye salmon fisheries.

• AAA revised ethics code

The American Anthropological Association announced that its members approved a new ethics code after a five-year review. The revised code was favored by 93 percent of those who voted. In a news release, the association said that the new document is organized according to seven principles, including “do no harm” and “be open and honest regarding your work.” The new document says it is intended to “foster discussion, guide anthropologists in making responsible decisions, and educate.”

• Outreach for middle school students in Connecticut

Approximately 100 Hamden Middle School students participated in three days of hands-on learning at Quinnipiac University’s Bristol-Myers Squibb Center for Science Teaching and Learning. “They’re learning a little about what anthropologists do and how the science of anthropology works,” said Lucie Howell, director of the center, which works with a network of scientists and educators to advance the art of science education from kindergarten through the university level. The students worked with faculty in the university’s anthropology faculty as well as members of the Quinnipiac Future Teachers organization on a half-dozen activities to better understand the science, methodologies and techniques.

• Take that anthro degree and…

…Become a successful art gallery owner. Stan Mabry moved to Nashville, Tennessee, more than 25 years ago after working at Sotheby’s art auction house in New York. He opened his business, Stanford Fine Art, in 1987. He is also a world jiu-jitsu champion. In an interview, he says the martial art fits in perfectly with his love of fine art.

..and become an influential  conservative news commentator and author. The Washington Times carried an interview with Michael Savage about his work and especially his radio show, “The Savage Nation,” the third-largest program in the U.S. with over 10 million listeners. Savage has master’s degrees in medical botany and medical anthropology and a Ph.D. in epidemiology and nutrition sciences from the University of California, Berkeley. Author of 28 bestselling books, his latest is Train Tracks: Family Stories for the Holidays.

• Et tu, kitty

The cat shelter draws tourists from all over the world. Paolo Marchetti for The International Herald Tribune

Cats have prowled the streets of Rome for hundreds of years, most recently finding refuge with an association of volunteers who tend to strays amid the ruins of a site where Brutus is thought to have stabbed Julius Caesar in 44 BCE. The shelter, in an underground space abutting a cherished archaeological site. It consists of several bright, cage-lined rooms that hold dozens of strays at a time and has gained fame, and donations, as a popular tourist draw. But Italy’s state archaeologists have told the association that it has to go, saying the illegal occupation risks damaging a fragile ancient monument. The cat lovers have no intention of leaving.

• Bulldozing cultural heritage in Australia

Waratah Coal has been accused of breaking indigenous heritage laws at one of its large mine projects in central Queensland, with allegations that roads and a camp have been built without consulting local Aboriginal groups over the cultural significance of the site. ARCHAEO Cultural Heritage Services has issued a report accusing a senior Waratah Coal representative of “denigrating” local Aboriginal groups in dismissing the indigenous origins of stone artificts  found on the mine exploration site. The report is based on an assessment of the site by inspectors on behalf of the Wangan and Jagalingou people, who are native title claimants to the land. Waratah Coal is obliged to meet cultural heritage and native title protection laws under the state government-issued exploration permit. ARCHAEO senior archeologist Simon Gall said in the report that despite “numerous requests,” Waratah Coal failed to detail the extent of exploration before inspectors arrived at the site: “The survey team noted that a number of new tracks and potentially the exploration camp site itself may have been graded/dozed without the undertaking of a cultural heritage inspection.”

• Digging Detroit

According to an article in The Detroit News, a team of undergraduate and graduate students at Wayne State University  are excavating a site in Detroit, MIchigan, under supervision of  assistant professor Krysta Ryzewski, to learn about a working class community that was displaced in the 19th century to make way for a train station.

• Interview with discoverer of Maya queen’s burial

Olivia Navarro-Farr, a professor from the College of Wooster,uncovered the remains of a Maya queen, Lady K’abel, who ruled from 672-692 CE and is still revered by Maya people. In this week’s Exploradio, WKSU explores a new understanding of the role of women among the ancient Maya.

• Communal bathing in Bronze Age Scotland

Archaeologists studying a Bronze Age site in highland Scotland believe that it could have been an ancient ceremonial meeting place. The Stronechrubie mound in Sutherland was active between 1000 and 2000 BCE. The evidence suggests that large amounts of water were being heated at the site, most likely for bathing. Archaeologist Graeme Cavers said that post-excavation work is continuing and the full findings will be completed by January 2013. He commented that not much is known about the Bronze Age in the area.

• It glitters

Artifact from 2,400-year old Thracian tomb in northern Bulgaria. AP Photo

Archaeologists have unearthed an almost 2400-year-old gold hoard in a Thracian tomb in northern Bulgaria, northeast of Sofia. According to team leader Diana Gergova, the gold artifacts include jewelry, a tiara with reliefs of lions and fantasy animals, and horse trappings.

• Bolivia returns a little mummy to Peru

A mummified toddler, dating to at least 700 years ago, has been recovered from antiquities traffickers and returned to Peru. Police in Bolivia seized it a Bolivian citizen tried to ship it in a cardboard box to an address in France. The mummy’s sex is uncertain, but was probably about two years old and from a pre-Inca culture of coastal Peru. The former director of Peru’s National Institute of Culture, Cecilia Bakula, said that not until 2009 did Peru include skeletal remains and mummies in its “red list” of endangered goods whose export is restricted. Julio Avalos, an archaeologist at Argentina”s National Institute of Anthropology and Latin American Thought, said he and his colleagues are frequently called by police to assess whether relics encountered at airports or for sale on the Internet are protected patrimony: “Most of it is Peruvian.”

• Neanderthal knock-out by projectiles and social capital?

The date when stone-age humans first invented the lethal technology of spears and arrows has been set back many thousands of years with the discovery of small stone blades dating to 71,000 years ago. Archaeologists believe the “bladelets” were used as the sharp tips for arrows or spears and were made by a relatively sophisticated technique involving the heat treatment of stone before shaping the final cutting edges. The fine stone blades were excavated from a site called Pinnacle Point on the southern coast of South Africa and are between 6,000 and 11,000 years older than the previous oldest known samples of spear and arrow blades. The research, led by Curtis Marean of Arizona State University, is reported in Nature. As quoted in the Christian Science Monitor, Marean said: “Every time we excavate a new site in coastal South Africa with advanced field techniques, we discover new and surprising results that push back in time the evidence for uniquely human behaviors…When Africans left Africa and entered Neanderthal territory they had projectiles with greater killing reach and these early moderns probably also had higher levels of hyper-cooperative behavior…These two traits were a knockout punch.”

• Kudos

Nicholas Dirks. Photo: Eileen Barroso/Columbia University.

Nicholas Dirks, an anthropology and history professor at Columbia University, will be the next chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, pending final approval the UC Board of Regents. Dirks is the Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and History at Columbia, and he has written three books on India.

Zhang Haiguo, an expert in dermatoglyphics, was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Prize for Anthropology by the Shanghai Anthropological Association. Zhang is in the department of medical genetics in Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s School of Medicine. For more than 30 years, he has  collected dermatoglyphic variables from China’s 56 ethnic groups in order to trace the origin and migratory routes of these populations. Under his lead, China’s Dermatoglyphics Study Group collected more than 150 samples through surveying more than 68,000 people from all 56 ethnic groups, making it the world’s first research of dermatoglyphic variables involving all ethnic groups of a country.

• In memoriam

Susan Beckerleg, social anthropologist, died at the age of 56 years. Her career combined academic research with social development consultancy. She studied social anthropology at the London School of Economics and the School of Oriental and African Studies, completing a Ph.D. on Swahili medicine. She worked at the universities of Birmingham, Warwick and Oxford, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and for the Medical Research Council in the Gambia, and she divided her time between homes in Britain and east Africa. She co-founded the Omari Project, which established a residential heroin rehabilitation center on the Kenyan coast, the only non-fee-paying service of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa. It continues to provide outpatient and outreach services. Her research into the lives of female heroin users led to improvements in their healthcare through training for staff and further work on drug use and policy development in the region.

John “Jack” Levisky, forensic anthropologist and York College professor, died at the age of 74 years. He   was involved in forensic work on a number of high-profile investigations, locally and nationally, including the remains of Albert DeSalvo, the alleged “Boston Strangler.” Teaching was his major passion, and he taught at York College for 33 years, continuing as an adjunct professor after his retirement. He was also a model railroad enthusiast, he played the accordion, and he flew small planes and later ultralights.

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