Thursday, May 18, 2017

When warfare and climatic challenges threaten food security

an ancient people adapt to sustain life within a challenging high-altitude environment

What do we know about ancient farming on the Bolivian altiplano near Lake Titicaca? Probably, we know very little. We might be aware that the number one superfood is quinoa, and that it comes from somewhere near Lake Titicaca in Bolivia.

Perhaps your box of Ancient Grain will tell you that the grain is 3 or 4,000 years old. If you have climbed the steps to The Temple of the Moon on an island on Lake Titicaca, you know the effects on the human body at an altitude of over 13,000 ft. Or, if you have been on a tour to the ancient site of Tiahuanaco, you are convinced that organized communities did survive in that breath-stealing region.

Well, there is much more to know about the ancient farming people of Ayawiri living in the hinterlands of Lake Titicaca 3,000 years ago; Dr. BrieAnna Langlie has agreed to enlighten us.

Dr. Langlie received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Washing-ton University in St. Louis in 2016. Currently she is an in-structor at Loyola University. She specializes in paleoethno-botany and is interested in the development and long-term sustainability of agricultural systems.

The history of the crops of the Andes is rich territory for her interests. She has been studying how terraced fields, cropping schemes and food-ways were affected by war-fare and climate oscillations for Ayawiri between AD 1100 and 1450.

She is also involved in ongoing and collaborative research on agricultural terraces, and the domestication of quinoa, potatoes, and other Andean crops. How did the people manage to farm, raise or herd cattle in this challenging environment and fight the Incas who were savage warriors?
Please remember that admission to this and to all CAS meetings is free and open to the public.

the palimpsest

I am up to page 97 of In the Footsteps of Eve: The Mystery of Human Origins by Lee R. Berger, paleoanthropologist, when I stop to open my mail to find articles that you, our readers, have sent me. One is “In Smashed Bones of a Mastodon, a dispute over Early Humans” . Is everyone is looking for human origins?
Dr. Berger is searching in South Africa and Dr. Demere
is looking in California.

Dr. Berger discovered an 117,000 year old fossil footprint of a five foot woman on a southern African beach that he calls Eve and he explains what she was thinking about and how he knows all about her. His idea is that South Africa is the landscape of our “most immediate ancestors during the past 200,000 years,” and
not the area of Ethiopia, where Lucy was discovered. He allows that new discoveries could change everything.

In 1992 smashed mastodon bones, bone fragments, 5 rounded rocks and objects resembling hammers were found in San Diego County. Dr. Thomas A. Demere, a paleontologist, and some colleagues say that this is evidence that prehistoric humans – “or another lost species” occupied what is now California 130,000 years ago. The crossing of the Bering Straits has been thought to be much later, making this interpretation of the bones very controversial. NYT 4/27/2017.

The second article in my mailbox is, Scientists Recover Ancient Human DNA from Cave Dirt: Genetic Material without the Bones by Gina Kolata. German scientists have developed methods of finding DNA “even where it seemed impossibly scarce and degraded.” It is very complicated.
Finding DNA in dirt is more difficult than getting it out of bone, but Dr. Hendrik Poinar and his students are using tablespoons on their dig in Colorado. The possibilities of what this technique might allow us to know is amazing— if it works! NYT International 4/28/2017.

New discoveries and new methods appear almost daily in the search for human origins. For more information google the headlines and open the New York Times articles.

Deb Stelton

Gobekli Tepe

A new view of the past

The April 2017 presentation by guest speaker Ms.Margery al-Chalabi was a compelling tour de force
of Middle Eastern culture and history from prehistory to the current death and destruction of ISIS in Iraq.

Noteworthy was her plea for greater attention to protection of the archaeological past. Certainly
attention to Middle Eastern vandalism by Isis has been matter of concern, but it isn’t clear that the plague of vandalism and robbery of museums has been adequately reported.

Predating Stonehenge by 6,000years arguably Göbekli Tepe is the most important archaeological
site in the world.” It shows that the erection of monumental complexes was within the capacities of huntergatherers and not only of sedentary farming societies. As excavator Klaus Schmidt once put it,
“First came the temple, then the city.”

But recovering Gobekli Tepe didn’t come easy.

Klaus Schmidt has made one of the most startling archaeological discoveries of our time: massive carved stones about 11,000 years old, crafted and arranged by prehistoric people who had not yet developed metal tools or even pottery.

The megaliths predate Stonehenge by some 6,000 years.The place is called Gobekli
Tepe, and Schmidt, a German archaeologist who has been working here more than a decade, was convinced it's the site of the world's oldest temple.

Our heartfelt thanks to Ms. Margery al-Chalabi for an afternoon, filled with her photos and personal accounts that were as exciting as they were informative.

Show and Tell - The Moche

Ray Young Speak Out

CAS President Ray Young, our Peruvian scholar and world traveler has prepared a special
Moche brief program for the May CAS meeting. Ray’s presentation will precede the CAS guest Speaker.

In 1987 a dangerous drama was unfolding in Peru where armed huacaros, grave robbers, were
plundering a royal tomb.

Upon learning of the depredation local constabulary literally dragged Walter Alva from a sickbed
to confront the outlaws!

Alva arrived at the crime climbed the Huaca tomb pleaded with the
armed huacaros reminding them that this was their patrimony and
offered to hire them to excavate the site. In that moment Dr. Walter
Alva became a national and international hero.

The site, Sipan, was the richest tomb or discovery ever made in
the New World. The Lords, and people, of Sipan were the Moche.
The discovery of the Sipan tomb was a story that captured the imagination of MexiMayan Travel. A subsequent voyage that included CAS members was arranged. The group investigated the site and was granted a memorable one-hour meeting with Dr. Walter

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

What’s Happening

The Oriental Institute, Breasted Hall, 1155 E. 58th St, Chicago IL 60637 . Wed, Jun 7, 7–9pm, Andrew George, professor of Babylonian, University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies: The Epigraphic Survey at 93: Changing the Face of Archaeology with New Digital Technologies at Chicago House in Luxor, Egypt.

Oriental Institute, La Salle Banks Room, Wed. May 31, 12:00–1:00 PM: Lecture by
Emanuel Pfoh, Aspects of the Political Anthropology of the Southern Levant during the Late Bronze Age. CONICET / National University of La Plata, Argentina. Fulbright Visiting Research Fellow, the Oriental Institute, University of Chicago