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"Origins of Settled Life; Göbekli and Çatalhöyük"



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The Cosmic Hunt



The Greek version of a familiar myth starts with Artemis, goddess of the hunt and fierce protectress of innocent young women. Artemis demands that Callisto, “the most beautiful,” and her other handmaidens take a vow of chastity. Zeus tricks Callisto into giving up her virginity, and she gives birth to a son, Arcas. Zeus’ jealous wife, Hera, turns Callisto into a bear and banishes her to the mountains. Meanwhile Arcas grows up to become a hunter and one day happens on a bear that greets him with outstretched arms. Not recognizing his mother, he takes aim with his spear, but Zeus comes to the rescue. He transforms Callisto into the constellation Ursa Major, or “great bear,” and places Arcas nearby as Ursa Minor, the “little bear.”

As the Iroquois of the northeastern U.S. tell it, three hunters pursue a bear; the blood of the wounded animal colors the leaves of the autumnal forest. The bear then climbs a mountain and leaps into the sky. The hunters and the animal become the constellation Ursa Major. Among the Chukchi, a Siberian people, the constellation Orion is a hunter who pursues a reindeer, Cassiopeia. Among the Finno-Ugric tribes of Siberia, the pursued animal is an elk and takes the form of Ursa Major.

Although the animals and the constellations may differ, the basic structure of the story does not. These sagas all belong to a family of myths known as the Cosmic Hunt that spread far and wide in Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas among people who lived more than 15,000 years ago. Every version of the Cosmic Hunt shares a core story line—a man or an animal pursues or kills one or more animals, and the creatures are changed into constellations.

Folklorists, anthropologists, ethnologists and linguists have long puzzled over why complex mythical stories that surface in cultures widely separated in space and time are strikingly similar. In recent years a promising scientific approach to comparative mythology has emerged in which researchers apply conceptual tools that biologists use to decipher the evolution of living species. In the hands of those who analyze myths, the method, known as phylogenetic analysis, consists of connecting successive versions of a mythical story and constructing a family tree that traces the evolution of the myth over time.

My phylogenetic studies make use of the extra rigor of statistical and computer-modeling techniques from biology to elucidate how and why myths and folktales evolve. In addition to the Cosmic Hunt, I have analyzed other major families of myths that share recurring themes and plot elements. Pygmalion stories depict a man who creates a sculpture and falls in love with it. In Polyphemus myths, a man gets trapped in the cave of a monster and escapes by insinuating himself into a herd of animals, under the monster’s watchful eye.

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"Did warfare fuel the birth of advanced civilization?"



"This study is part of a larger, worldwide comparative research effort to define the factors that gave rise to the first societies that developed public buildings, widespread religions and regional political systems — or basically characteristics associated with ancient states or what is colloquially known as 'civilization.' War, regional trade and specialized labor are the three factors that keep coming up as predecessors to civilization." 

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"Dreams are like water..."



 "Another researcher tells a similar story in the film. While spending the better part of a week working in the cave studying a series of images of lions, “every night I was dreaming of lions,” he tells us. “And every day was the same shock for me. It was an emotional shock. I mean, I am a scientist, but a human too.  And after five days I decided not to go back in the cave because I needed time just to relax and take time to absorb it.”

“And you dreamed not of paintings of lions but of real lions?” Herzog’s voice interjects into the film. “Of both!” the young archaeologist replies. “Of both, definitely.”

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Family as the building block of hunter-gatherer societies. Not ours.




Human remains discovered beneath the floors of mud-brick houses at one of the world's first permanent settlements, were not biologically related to one another, a finding that paints a new picture of life 9,000 years ago on a marshy plain in central Turkey.

Even children as young as 8 were not buried alongside their parents or other relatives at the site called Çatalhöyük, the researchers found.


Çatalhöyük covered 26 acres (10.5 hectares), and its people — estimated to be as many as 10,000 — would have made a living by growing crops and herding domesticated animals. It was built on a marshy plain in central Turkey.

Before Çatalhöyük, most people on the planet made their living as hunter-gatherers, moving around the landscape in order to survive. In the period after Çatalhöyük was founded, more agricultural settlements were created in the Middle East, paving the way for large cities and the birth of the first civilizations.

When archaeologists first dug up the site in the 1950s and '60s, they found that the settlement contained no streets. Its plastered mud-brick houses were bunched up against each other, and the inhabitants entered them by way of a ladder on the roof. Inside the homes, the people drew art on the walls and created spear points and pottery.

They also buried their dead (up to 30 of them per house) beneath the floors.


They found that the people buried beneath the floor of each house were, in general, not related to each other. With the possible exception of one building, this occurred throughout the entire site for as long as the settlement existed.

"It doesn't look as if there was a strong genetic component to determining who would be buried together," Pilloud said. The discovery suggests people living at Çatalhöyük were not tied to each other through strong bonds of kinship, she added.

"I'm not trying to argue that biological relationships would not have been perhaps meaningful to the people at Çatalhöyük," Pilloud said. But rather, biological kinship "wasn't the sole defining principle much like we presume it was in the hunter-gatherer era."

The results support one idea scientists have put forth: that Çatalhöyük society was determined by membership in houses in which a group of people passed down rights and resources, Hodder said.

"Membership of the house was not based on biological kin but on a wide range of processes by which people could join the house," he explained.

Each house may have had access to its own tools, hunting grounds, water sources and agricultural lands. The organization of each house at Çatalhöyük may have in fact encompassed several actual homes at the site.

"What distinguishes each entity is their co-ownership of a series of resources," Hodder said.

The change from biological to more practically based bonds may have been the result of the Çatalhöyük people's move to adopt an urban lifestyle, based on agriculture. That could have altered their view of family relationships.

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Internet - The Early Days



"Lundeborgís location has puzzled more  than one researcher (Fig. 2). It is described as ìstrangely peripheral on Fyn, cramped in between the forest-districts of inner Fyn and the Great Beltî (N‰sman 1991, 171; my translation). It has even been maintained that ìthe prominence of the region cannot be explained alone by the topography of the landscape, the fertility of the soil, good access or strategic position.


Yet a particular aspect of the location has escaped attention. Lundeborg is facing the Great Belt, one of the most trafficable central Danish waters, and the principal channel between the Baltic and the North Sea. Quite atypically for a Danish coastal settlement, Lundeborg is not in a sheltered fjord  or inlet, but on a directly exposed coast. Compared to the nearby medieval towns Svendborg and Rudk¯bing, Lundeborg has little maritime foreland, and no natural harbour (Crumlin-Pedersen et al. 1996, 86). Neither does the site refer to the strangulation-point between Nyborg, Sprog¯ and Kors¯r, fortified since the 12th century to control traffic through and across the Belt. Rather, Lundeborg is located at the point where the island Langeland splits the Great Belt into three waters: Fynske ÿhav, LangelandsbÊlt and SmÂlandshavet. This position has interesting implications.  Besides being equally accessible from each of these waters, and obviously from the terrestrial hinterland on Fyn, Lundeborg was accessible from a corridor of long-distance traffic, at a point that could be approached by visitors from remote regions without moving too close towards any settled districts and intimidating potential enemies on the ground. Likewise, it could be rapidly escaped if a conflict emerged. The scope of interregional contacts in the Baltic Sea region in the Late Roman Iron Age is brought out by the so-called Ejsb¯l-horizon of sacrificial weapondeposit, found in regions facing southern Danish Waters, but containing weapons and artefacts from central Scandinavia. In an age of sea-warriors, the sight of boats with foreigners ñ certainly armed, be that for defence or attack ñ might be enough to provoke an unwarranted conflict. Lundeborg was an obvious location for avoiding an unintended offence of peace.


From the Late Roman to the Merovingian Period, then, we find sites with intense evidence of long-distance exchange in the south-west Baltic area in very similar locations: At an open coast near the entrance to a narrow strait or sound that would demand foreign vessels to navigate uncomfortably close to inhabited coastal regions. The locations chosen were hardly optimal for controlling traffic. But they were locations where traffic from a large area convened, and to which foreigners could count on a neutral passage, even if no authority could guarantee peace but the landing place itself.  The locational principle of these sites was open access. Their archaeology suggests that this was exactly the quality that served their purpose: They were places of convention, of formal meeting or assembly between peers and their retinue from near and distant regions to confer and collaborate on politics, exchange, cult, and other matters of common concern.  Unlike the sites to complement or replace them in the following period, there is nothing in the location, or in the archaeological material, to indicate that they served generally for receiving or transmitting large cargoes. By nature of the activities taking place, they acted as  centres of distribution. The distribution concerned individual things, personal relations and power ñ things and relations that held value and whose protection was important to the people concerned. But they did not involve transhipped bulk-cargoes that posed marked constraints or demanded special landing facilities

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"Ancient Amazon civilisation laid bare by felled forest"


Signs of what could be a previously unknown ancient civilisation are emerging from beneath the felled trees of the Amazon. Some 260 giant avenues, ditches and enclosures have been spotted from the air in a region straddling Brazil's border with Bolivia.

The traditional view is that before the arrival of the Spanish and Portuguese in the 15th century there were no complex societies in the Amazon basin – in contrast to the Andes further west where the Incas built their cities. Now deforestation, increased air travel and satellite imagery are telling a different story.

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O mito da Invasão Ariana



Muito interessante, muito bem escrito. A minha unica preocupação é o reinante nacionalismo hindu que se encontra na arqueologia indiana.

De qualquer modo, a must read.

The evidence of science now points to two basic conclusions: first, there was no Aryan invasion, and second, the Rigvedic people were already established in India no later than 4000 BCE. How are we then to account for the continued presence of the Aryan invasion version of history in history books and encyclopedias even today?

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