Sunday 31 August 2014

Patronizing the Paleolithic: And I Don't Mean Like A Diner At Your Favourite Restaurant

I've been thinking about the implications of what I said yesterday about the Clovis "points" being the first example of a stone artifact that bears unequivocal evidence of its maker's intention to haft it to a shaft. If you missed it, here it is, for you, Dear Reader, direct from its one-day-long run on Palaeoanthropologica at Facebook.

I've remarked on this before, in my critique of Belfer-Cohen and Hovers' "In the Eye of the Beholder: Mousterian and Natufian Burials in the Levant," Current Anthropology 33:463-471, 1992. 
Rather than labelling us intellectual bigots, perhaps Belfer-Cohen, Hovers and others should examine the implicit beliefs and motivations that lead them to accept very tenuous arguments for what are called symbolic or ritual behaviors on the part of Neanderthals and other Middle Paleolithic hominids. Moreover, when they treat a portion of reindeer backbone or pig manidible as grave offerings, isn't it just a little patronizing . . . to suggest that "the mundane 'grave goods' associated with Middle Paleolithic skeletal remains may reflect the simplicity of the material culture and of the social organization."
Is not this tantamount to saying that there's a direct relationship between the presence/absence of 'grave goods,' their 'sophistication,' and the degree of cultural ability? Since this is something that Belfer-Cohen and Hovers would argue against, I find it interesting that they would introduce such a notion at this point in their argument. A pig mandible, if it were in fact shown to be an object placed with a purposely buried individual (and could be demonstrated to have had some symbolic meaning to that hominid, which would be difficult to argue from the archaeological evidence), should not be looked down upon as 'mundane' (or that it represented an incipient kind of symbolic behavior) simply because it does not conform to the investigator's (culturally bound) ideas of what constitutes 'sophisticated' funerary offerings. [(!) I'm thinking as I put this passage into today's blurt.] I would add that the enigmatic structures mentioned in their paper, such as "talking tubes" or "eternal flames" associated with Natufian burials, do not carry such inherent meanings—these are constructions of their excavators and are not self-evident. I'm struck by the ease with which Belfer-Cohen, Hovers and others accept such inferences and speculation as a reasonable construal of the archaeological remains. 
And so, when I went off yesterday about hafting and Clovis points, it emanated from the same place in my viscera whence came my lecture to Belfer-Cohen and Hovers.

To the rank and file of paleoanthropology, I say just this.

The object pictured below—a "Levallois Point" from Kebara Cave—

is not the equivalent of the things pictured below—Clovis points from the East Wenatchee Clovis Site (also called the Richey-Roberts Clovis Site or the Richey Clovis Cache).

And, unless you're prepared to admit that you're ascribing similar motivations and cognitive abilties to the authors of both 'types' in the same way that you would when praising a child for tacking a piece of lath at right angles to a 4x4 and calling it an airplane, as far as I'm concerned, you can publish your rubbish in PLOS ONE, claiming that experiments clearly demonstrate the ability of a "Levallois point," or any pointy piece of rock, to pierce animal hide, or to open a hypothetical mortal wound in a hypothetical warm-blooded creature. But, know that it and similar work will always be tantamount to saying to the kid, "Let's take it up on the roof and see if it'll fly." And you thrust it into the air. And, well, fly it does! Just like a fighter jet plane in a strafing dive—except that it didn't pull up at the end, which is just an incremental improvement and doesn't detract from the thing's ability to fly straight down at great speed. And you can document it, and others will model it, and still others will multi-dimensionally image it in ways that no one has done before. And the referees will jump on it and say, "Oooooh! You have to publish this, Dude!"

And then I can say that it's not a lot like the flight of an SR-71. But you'd wag your finger at me and tell me that to say so is an example of my culturally bound, or ethnocentric, or ageist, or even racist, value judgement, and not worthy of an enlightened anthropologist. And all I can say in response is that you're being patronizing toward your favourite bipedal ape species, and not recognizing it in the way that a truly contextual anthropologist would. Furthermore, we're no closer to the truth of what went on in the Paleolithic, now that you've published your scientistic mumbo-jumbo. And you might say, "But, hey, at least we're keeping 'the conversation' going." And, of course, I'd demur, and say, "Why that conversation? Can't we be a little less silly and a lot more reasonable? We might as well be publishing about the possibility that Neanderthals built houses of cards, since we know they could knock off a mammoth with a sharp rock, and a house of cards is easy by comparison." [A house of cards. There's a metaphor for these times.]

But, then I'd sit back, remembering that you're publishing in PLOS ONE and I'm just a blogger, who, everyone knows, is sitting in my virtual pajamas in my in-reality-dead mother's basement, tapping away in my totally uniformed and (thankfully for the discipline) ineffectual way for anyone to read and believe, but who, if so, is demonstrating that they're ill-equipped to tell the difference between my pseudo-science and your 'real' science—the best reason ever for dismissing blogging out of hand. And here I'll stay.

Oh, and by the way, here's a picture of that SR-71. Just one specification will help you comprehend how far above my lath and 4x4 creation this mechanical beast was. Maximum speed: Mach 3.3 (3,540+ km/h at 24,000 m—give or take its operating ceiling). For those of you who, like me, are a little unable to fasten on the real implications of such numbers, think of it this way—the fastest rifle bullet emerges from the firearm's muzzle at around Mach 3.

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird

My lath and 4x4 airplane sat on the top of the porch for weeks before I resigned myself to the fact that it'd never fly—no matter how much I willed it to.

SUBVERSIVE SHIRTS—The online store. Exclusively at the Subversive Archaeologist and street fairs around the Pacific Northwest Order Online

Saturday 30 August 2014

The Slippery [Not] Slope of Historical Sciences: Archaeologists Take Note

I'n't geomorphology wonderful!

For as long as there've been people to visit Death Valley, there've been aware of a persistent natural mystery. What is moving those rocks around. Check it out. These aren't like crop circles. No one's out there pushing these things around, leaving no footprints. And you can forget alien teenagers out joyriding trying to befuddle the small-brained bipedal apes. This stuff is real. 

It doesn't surprise me, and it shouldn't surprise any thoughtful geomorphologists, that there's a perfectly good natural explanation. [Middle Paleolithic archaeologists and paleoanthropologists should probably pay close attention, here.]

These playas are dead horizontal. So, no solifluction. Aeolian forces? Hardly likely. Any other possibilities? Well, even on extremely gentle slopes ice is capable of moving objects along non-random paths, specifically little spicules. Butzer described it in Archaeology as Human Ecology. It's one of the many cryoturbation processes known to occur in the frostier places on Earth. But, Death Valley? One of the—and one annum recently the—hottest place on the planet? Yep. Death Valley. It gets cold there in the winter. And, now, some poor sods who were braving the sub-freezing days and nights noticed one of these rocks, making its progress across the valley floor.

They took some time lapse photos and stitched them into a movie. See below.

Crazy, huh? I love it!

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Monday 25 August 2014

Cleaning House

The term "cleaning house" has a denotative and a connotative sense. Today I've been tidying World Headquarters—its stratified dirty dishes, hundreds of shelf-impoverished books, random clothing in need of washing, and doing what I can to forestall the symptoms of a hangover. That's the denotative sense.

But The Subversive Archaeologist [at least] tries to clean house—figuratively speaking—when it comes to paleoanthropological nitwits and their equally not witty inferences of Middle Paleolithic behaviour.

Nothing new there. Right?

Only one problem.

For what seems like ages I've been back-burnering my subversive activities in favour of you-wouldn't-believe what other doings around here. I've talked previously about my psychological aversion to being ridiculed and marginalized, and the effect that it's had on my intellectual and personal lives.

But there've been other reasons for my frequent, and prolonged, absence from these pages.

You know about my efforts to sell Subversive memorabilia, most recently via "Subversive Shirts," online and in reality at the Blaine Gardeners' Market on Saturdays. It's a hobby, although I've ever hopeful that my trademark will one day go 'viral' and I'll suddenly have orders coming in from all over the planet. It's all right to dream, no? [FYI, I laughed so hard just then while I was typing that I aspirated a mouthful of wine and nearly coughed my lungs out, in that paroxysm rushed to the kitchen sink to spit, and split open my forehead on  a hanging frying pan. It's a good day.]

I also spent huge blocks of time looking for, planning for, and finally acquiring, a small piece of property here in Birch Bay. The big blue patch is the Salish Sea, which communicates with the Pacific Ocean through the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the southwest and through narrow waterways to the northwest in this image—via the Georgia Strait, Desolation Sound, then Queen Charlotte Strait, and finally Queen Charlotte Sound; lastly, the Salish Sea includes Puget Sound, directly to the south of this image, on which lie the cities of Bellingham, Tacoma, and Seattle, among many, many, others.

Here's what it looks like on the ground.

This bit of green backs on to an active beaver pond. For reals! The buildable area is small, so I needed to plan for a large, above-ground, open living space to substitute for a 'yard.'

And this is what I found!

In the short term, I'll be standing pat, waiting for either my Apple stock to double or Subversive Shirts to go viral! No worries. It just means that I'll be able to turn my gaze, once again, to the Middle Paleolithic and archaeological mythology, in general.

Finally, I've recently taken a term position with AMEC, herding the interim reporting cats for a large dam project in northeastern BC.

So. All sorts of conflicting concerns. Stay with me, though. I'll be spending more time here in the near term than at any other time in the past 1.5 to 2 years.

Fun will be had! As Slartibartfast famously once proclaimed, "Great things are afoot!"

SUBVERSIVE SHIRTS—The online store. Exclusively at the Subversive Archaeologist and street fairs around the Pacific Northwest Order Online

Sunday 24 August 2014

Neanderthals, Mushrooms, and Twine, and . . . Wait! What?

I gotta tell ya. The shine is really off the apple of paleoanthropology these days.

I think this pretty much says it all—from Hardy et al. (2013) "Impossible Neanderthals? Making string, throwing projectiles and catching small game during Marine Isotope Stage 4 (Abri du Maras, France). Quaternary Science Reviews 82:23-40.
[One] line of argument often generally speaks of “Neanderthal” capabilities or behaviors as if this group of hominins always did the same things no matter the temporal or ecological circumstances . . . 
Can you think of an assertion that is more blatantly ridiculous from an evolutionary perspective, and at the same time such a reductio ad absurdum of the arguments that they're referring to, regardless of those arguments' particulars? Here are their antagonists:
Wynn, T., and R.L. Coolidge. (2004). “The expert Neandertal mind.” Journal of Human Evolution 46:467–487. [Both  friends of the Subversive Archaeologist.]
Fa, J.E., J.R. Stewart, L. Lloveras, and J.M. Vargas. (2013). “Rabbits and hominin survival in Iberia.” Journal of Human Evolution 64:233–241. [A paper that was refereed by, among others, Clive Finlayson.] 
Stiner, M.C., and S.L. Kuhn. (2009). “Paleolithic diet and the division of labor in Mediterranean Eurasia.” In: Hublin, J.J., and M.P. Richards (Eds.), The Evolution of Hominin Diets: Integrating Approaches to the Study of Palaeolithic Subsistence. Springer, New York, 157–169. [Two people of inestimable intellectual stature, even if they're on the other side of the paleoanthropological fence from yours truly.]

Hardly what I'd call anti-Neanderthal ranters and ravers. So. Bzzzzt. You are the weakest link. Goodbye!

Even if the Neanderthals were—merely—another species adapting genetically and behaviorally to its circumstances—like, say, a bacterium or a fungus—no paleoanthropologist in their right mind would propose such a counter-intuitive and . . . just wrong . . . hypothesis. This is wrong on so many levels.

So, Hardy et al. are already skating on thin ice as far as this subversive is concerned. And IT'S ONLY THE FIRST PARAGRAPH!

If that were the end of their REFEREED JOURNAL ARTICLE, it would be bad enough. But, of course, it doesn't end there. And we have Quaternary Science Reviews to thank for it, together with the so-called referees, of course. Quaternary Science Reviews should be demoted to stenographer at the New York Times* for publishing such so-called research.

But, don't listen to me! I'm just a jaded underemployed academic with an [hand] axe to grind.

Instead, listen to the authors. They really know where it's at.
The other [line of argument] emphasizes an increasing recognition of the variability of Neanderthal behavior and the elucidation of previously unrecognized behaviors including personal ornamentation a wide and varied diet . . . , and even maritime navigation . . . .
A smiling Clive Finlayson and a vulture 'skin.' According to Clive, the Neanderthals were preferentially offing black-feathered birds for their colourless feathers [black being, as you're very well aware, not a colour—but rather, the absence of colour], although that's not how the stenographic media portrayed this incomprehensible paleoanthropologist's claim. Clearly the Neanderthals weren't capable of aesthetic symbolic thought if they went around wearing the feathers of an excrement-eating seeker after carrion.

This recognition of behavioral variability through space and time argues for adaptation of Neanderthal groups to local conditions . . . .
Indeed. These authors have made a fatuous claim—that 'others' deny that the Neanderthals could adapt to local conditions. Those 'others?' The pieces of work [yes, that was deliberate] to which Hardy et al. are referring? Por ejemplo,

1. Finlayson, Finlayson, and Finlayson (see above) and the alleged Neanderthal penchant for black vulture feathers [a class of bird that begins its meal at a dead quadruped by sticking its hairless neck up the poor dead beast's anus and scarfing until it opens up a big enough hole in its rear to access the really good stuff];

2. A bunch of surface finds on a Greek island that LOOK like Mousterian flakes, extrapolated to a Middle Paleolithic high sea level stand occupation requiring boats.
Ferentinos, G., et al. (2012). “Early seafaring activity in the southern Ionian Islands, Mediterranean Sea,” Journal of Archaeological Science 39:2167–2176.
We have a delivery of one very large Straw Man. Who wants to sign for it?

BUT, Hardy et al. don't stop there. Lions and tigers and bears! Oh, my! Mushrooms and twine! Middle Paleolithic mushroom butchery, and stone tools wrapped in string. And raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens! Okay, I might've exaggerated a bit there. But I was serious about the mushroom butchery. "Ahh, mushroom butchery," you say. "Wait! What?"

No kidding. Well, maybe not mushroom butchery. But the authors make much of their finding some fungal spores on one of their stone tools. They suppose that it could even be mushroom spores. I ask you, what novel and, of course, highly adaptive neanderthal behavior would be implied by the presence of mushroom spores on a stone artifact? I think we can rule out mushroom harvesting. What about slicing and dicing? Julienned [no doubt black] mushrooms, anyone? Why did I never think of this before? Neanderthal haut cuisine? Welcome to Chez Thog. Tonight we're offering a nice little mushroom nappé on our signature vulture ala Marsala. With a freshly plucked black-feather garni.

And then there's the little matter of the string, wrapped around the artifacts. The title mentions projectiles. I'm guessing a vicious variant of the well-known South American bolo, but with sharp flakes instead of ho-hum spherical projectiles.

Ya see, the authors went looking for anything of interest [to them] that they could find in any 'residues' they could see on any stone artifacts they recovered. Of course, they gave no thought to the way that those 'residues' arrived on those flakes, preferring instead to assume that they were the result of Neanderthal use of the flake for particular purposes, which, of course, would be straightforwardly inferable from whatever it is they found. For example, twisted plant fibres.
These fibers are not twisted in their natural state (K. Hardy, 2008; Hurcombe, 2008) which suggests that they were twisted by the inhabitants of the Abri du Maras and may therefore provide evidence of the manufacture of string or cordage. In previous woodworking experiments involving incising, planning, whittling, scraping, and boring (Hardy and Garufi, 1998), no twisted fibers were observed. Unpublished experiments conducted by BH involving the scraping, cutting, and slicing of a variety of non- woody plants (roots, tubers, reeds, etc.) also produced no twisted fibers such as those observed here. While not definitive, the lack of twisted fibers in these experiments lends some credence to the hypothesis that these derive from cordage.
You see, we are told, only fibrous plants, first of all, have fibers. And fibrous plant fibers aren't twisted in the naturally occurring fibrous plants. So if you find twisted plant fiber in a residue on a stone flake, it must've been unnaturally twisted first, and it must then have been incorporated in the residue of use during some other non-naturally occurring event. Ipso facto, something must have been purposefully twisting the plant fibers to make something out of twisted plant fiber. And, of course, the only thing that could be made from purposefully twisted plant fiber is twisted fiber cordage. Now, to be fair, the authors only suggest. But SOOOOOO much is implied by their mere suggestion that they might as well have come right out and said Neanderthals made string and tied it around their artifacts. Hence, my joke re: a vicious bolo. So, let's see that twisted plant fiber!

You're going to have to look closely. Very closely. Because, in each case, the string is represented by single strands of plant fibre. Remember that one micron is a thousandth of a millimetre. So, the fibre in image A is approximately a half a millimetre long. OMG! Those must have been some really nimble-fingered Neanderthals! Especially if you consider the strand [well, strand fragment] in image B. Frankly, I think the only thing that's being twisted here is reality. The tragedy for paleoanthropology is that it got published.

All right. So, I'm having fun. But what if those inferences are true? What if the mere presence of a [very] short strand of twisted plant fiber was slam-dunk evidence for cordage manufacture in the Middle Paleolithic? Or fungal spores for mushroom butchery. Did it ever occur to these authors to wonder just how those residues arrived on some stone artifacts in a collapsed rock shelter in France?

Evidently not. I'll pause here to make a suggestion to the authors. If there were a way to test your MP residues for the presence of rodent DNA I think it'd be a good idea.

I'm being presumptuous. I know. But I need to remind Hardy et al. that archaeological sites are dynamic depositional environments. Just because a piece of chipped stone is discarded or lost doesn't mean that it's state at that moment is the state in which it'll remain for the next 40 or 50 or more thousand years. Take a look at the stratigraphic profile that the authors helpfully provide.

Those brown squiggles? They're undoubtedly tree roots, even though we're not treated to a key in this publication. And those spaces labelled TERRIER? That's French for 'burrow.' These are two examples of my reason for reminding the authors that even a collapsed rock shelter is a dynamic depositional environment—for all time!

Burrowing anythings are burrowing for just one thing—to make a comfy place to hide out, have babies, keep warm, you name it. And, if there are two burrows visible in the twentieth century, you can be fairly certain that there were others in earlier centuries, to say nothing of earlier MILLENNIA! And, like Clive Finlayson's happy-go-lucky, vulture-loving Neanderthals who don't mind a bit of shit lying around, neither do rodents. They live in their shit and their piss. What's your best guess as to the possibility that the burrowing furry creatures that made those TERRIERs left shit residue on the stone artifacts that happened to be incorporated in their home-sweet-homes? And what, d'ya think, those small furry creatures ate? Plants? Maybe fibrous ones? Hardy is personally responsible for the so-called experimental work that underpins many of this paper and others' wondrously fantastic middle-range linking arguments. I wonder. Has Hardy done any experiments that show the condition of the plant fibres that make a progress through a rodent gut? ? ?

I hardly think so. And I'm wondering if Hardy et al. thought hard, at all.

I hope you enjoyed this trip down yet another rabbit hole—speaking of small, furry, burrowing creatures, in this case a lagomorph.

*The so-called newspaper that, among other ginormous gaffes, gave us the aluminum tubes that Saddam Hussein was supposedly using to weaponize chemical weapons.

Tuesday 19 August 2014

Exasperastes Chapter 2: A Seasoning For Everything.

The Paleoanthropological Canon: King James Version.


Chapter 1: Continueth

François Bordes channelling a
Neanderthal, to demonstrate just
how bloody difficult it is to make a
hand axe from scratch
13 And They gave their hearts to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that the Neanderthals did under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons and daughters of Bordes to be exercised therewith.
This 'hand axe' was made by a
Native American, not a
Neanderthal. And it's not
a 'hand axe' fer gawd sakes!
It's just a biface on a flake,
chipped every which way
but loose, maximizing raw
material use. How good is that?
14 [I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all of palaeoanthropology is credulous, and that doeth more to vex my spirit than an empty fridge or a glass with a hole in its bottom.]
15 That which is a tortured argument is made straight: and that which is wanting in logic cannot be critiqued, come Hell or high water. [Thou knowest whereof I speak. The tricks of charlatans and snake-oil merchants oft be the same as those of palaeoanthropologists.]
Clive Finlayson, of Finlayson, Finlayson, & Finlayson, modelling the latest in
fashionable Neanderthal apparel from the -60014 Gorham's Cave Collection.
Hand-picked black vulture feathers drape effortlessly over the fortuitously broad shoulders of the
greatest living exponent of paleoanthropological fantasy. But he's not alone. The audience is vast, and,
it would seem, limitlessly credulous.
16 They commune and take much good French red wine at conference centres, saying, Lo, We are come to great estate, and have begotten more wisdom than all they that have been before us in palaeoanthropology: yea, our hearts had great experience of wisdom and knowledge! And so say all of Us!
17 [And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.
18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that presumeth to increase knowledge only increaseth his own sorrow and scuttleth his own career.]

A little fun for a change from the Subversive Archaeologist. Hell! If y' can't beat 'em, join 'em!

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Monday 18 August 2014

"Intelligent Design" "Science" in Paleolithic Archaeology? I'm Shocked.

It'll come as no surprise to you that I just can't let the "Handaxe as Art" and "Levallois Technique as Science" crowd get too complacent.

Wait! I misspoke. I meant that I can't let them continue in their complacency without now and again reminding them that they're on very shaky empirical ground.

Today, I'm going to try a new tack. So different, in fact, that I think it's positively brilliant. [I might as well—it's unlikely they'll think so!]

Okay. Here it comes. To say that the shape of a so-called hand axe is predetermined is tantamount to claiming that the God of Abraham created every living thing on earth.

Here's why I can say so with confidence. I'll start with an rock.

"Why a rock?" you ask. You have to ask? I should have thought it'd be obvious. Look at how smooth it is. How perfectly rounded it is. How beautifully elliptical it is. Surely this must be the work of some minor deity! Or, perhaps, even, a major one. This rock came out of the ground all rough and angular, and by [name your favorite deity]'s grace, today it is a work of uncommon beauty and symmetry. Observe. And be amazed.

Okay. I'm being a bit sarcastic. Do you blame me? This rock, with its no-doubt angular but roughly oblong beginnings, has undergone a gradual process of evolution at the 'hands' of—not a god—but of flowing water. Simple as that. By a random process of attrition—the removal of as little as a molecule at a time of its original mass, by friction and percussion against other similar clasts—this rock has attained an almost perfectly symmetrical ellipsoidal shape in three dimensions, and a very nearly burnished surface. However did it get this way?

Well, I've already let the cat out of the bag. It wasn't a deity—an intelligent creator. Just good ol' Nature—what a geoarchaeologist would term a natural process. You know! The sort of natural process that a good archaeologist is supposed to rule out before claiming that an extraordinary bipedal ape was the creator.

"But wait!" you say. "Nobody's suggesting that this lump of [What is it? Quartzite?] is an act of God. I know where you're going with this. And I think you're setting up a straw man argument!"

Hey! Settle down. It would be a straw man if it weren't that paleoanthropologists have always looked at the shape of hand axes as desired end products of a purposeful set of flake removals. I don't have to go into detail to remind you of the innumerable times you've read drivel like this in the literature . . .
Production of large flakes as blanks for bifaces–handaxes are notably rare in the Qesem Cave assemblages (e.g., Fig. 3, and a roughout on a large flake, Fig. 4). Raw material used for handaxes was non-homogeneous, relatively low quality flint that differed from the materials used for any of the other production trajectories. It appears that the hand axes were made on large flakes, but apart from the single preform made on a large flake there are no traces of their production in the form of detached flakes or very large cores. The production of large flakes in the Lower Paleolithic is considered a conspicuous and characteristic cultural phenomenon . . . . The use of large flakes for shaping handaxes at Qesem marks the end of this tradition. (“Qesem Cave: An Amudian Site in Central Israel,” Gopher, A., R. Barkai, R. Shimelmitz, M. Khalaily,  C. Lemorini, I. Heshkovitz, and M. Stiner. Journal of The Israel Prehistoric Society 35, 69-92,  2005.)

Look at Figure 4. If you threw this presumed "roughout" into the sandy gravels on a modern-day beach in North America's Pacific Northwest, what shape do you think it would eventually take?

Right-y-oh! A nicely rounded teardrop in plan; in all likelihood a somewhat flattened ovoid when viewed from the distal end. I'll leave it up to you to imaginate what it would look like from the side.

The bipedal ape and the energetic sand and gravel beach have one fundamental similarity. Neither the ape nor the ocean NEEDS to have the least concern for the ultimate shape of this lump of rock for it to turn out either as something Gopher et al. would want to call a hand axe, or that I'd want to call—simply—a biface. As Gopher et al. so kindly point out, this "roughout" began as a big flake. If the ape removed flakes repeatedly, following a random pattern that affected all of the flakable edges equally, the result would be an angular version of the nicely rounded alternative that was subjected to the whims of ocean waves.

There is no difference between the arguments of Creationists, Intelligent Design mavens, and these paleoanthropologists and thousands of others who claim that the so-called hand axe is a purposeful creation.

I rest my case. And, in that case, I'm going to get some rest.

Nighty, night!

SUBVERSIVE SHIRTS—The online store. Exclusively at the Subversive Archaeologist and street fairs around the Pacific Northwest Order Online

Friday 15 August 2014

I AM BEOWULF! Sort of. But Cooler!

Just. Check. This. Out.

I'll wait for the 14C dates. But, it's wonderful if it's true!

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Wednesday 13 August 2014

iPhone 6 on the way!

SUBVERSIVE SHIRTS—The online store. Exclusively at the Subversive Archaeologist and street fairs around the Pacific Northwest Order Online

Monday 11 August 2014

Credulity of Credulities! All is Credulity!

The Paleoanthropological Canon: King James Version.


Chapter 1

THE words of the Subversive Archaeologist, the son of Roy, king of the castle.
2 Credulity of credulities, saith the Subversive, credulity of credulities; all is credulity.
3 What profit hath John Hawks of all his labour which he taketh under the sun to laud the words of Blasco, Finlayson, Rosell, Marco, Finlayson, Finlayson, Negro, Pacheco, and Vidal's "The earliest pigeon fanciers," Scientific Reports 4:5971, 2014.
4 One unwarranted argument passeth away, and another cometh: but the overarching myth abideth for ever. So sayeth John of this work, "[this] work documents that hunting and eating these medium-sized birds was a recurrent part of Neandertal (and later modern human) diets. Once it was common to see "small mammal and bird hunting" in lists of behavioral traits limited to modern humans. Now we know that Neandertals regularly took large birds for feathers and medium to large birds for food. This isn't a single occurrence, it is a sampling of the behavior of people over tens of thousands of years. Plus, who knew? Rock doves are the wild progenitor species of common pigeons, and they are indistinguishable from fragmentary bone remains."
5 The media also ariseth, and the media taketh down the Kool-Aid of Finlayson's feathered Neanderthal clothing, and hasteth to the place that maketh the bile arise in the Subversive's throat.
6 The public opinion goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and returneth again according to its circuits, none the wiser. It knoweth not what to believe; believing only that to believe is to know. So said the empiricists of old, and the scientistic dinosaurs of these days.
7 All the untenable conclusions run into the Theoretical Sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again, and again, and again, multiplying and ramifying. Neandertals consumethed small birds, which they cuttethed apart with sharp rocks made with great thought afor, which shall be called Levallois. For, sooth, even unto domestication took the Neanderthals the pigeons, according to the final words of John; else why would he utter that pigeons of today and rock doves of the past are specifically indistinguishable from fragmentary remains? Innuendo passeth for inference. Inference for knowledge. Amen say the paleoanthropologists. Not so the Subversive Archaeologist.
8 All such claims as those of Blasco et alia are full of labour; some that may be so accurate, adding a line on the Holy vita, yet they be obvious, or goeth the conclusions without saying: the paleoanthropologist's eye is not satisfied with seeing what is not there, nor the ear filled with hearing that which makes no sound, it must make mountains out of rocks, even, and pebbles.
9 The thing that Blasco et alia inferred, it is that which shall now live evermore in science; and though that be done badly it is that which shall become the standard story: and there is no new thing under the sun—just the same inchoate prestations to the senior scholars whose sites and data are sacrosanct, and whose invocations of complex behaviour and mentation among Neanderthals and their ilk must be bowed to.
10 Is there any thing whereof John Hawks mayhaps can say, "Jeebuz, this is crap-o-la"? Middle Paleolithic pigeon fancying hath been already akin to other credulities of old time, which was before us, in such as purposeful burials, and blade industries, and birch tar, dental picks, care of the sick, and jawbones of red deer.
11 There is no remembrance of mitigated objectivity; neither shall there be any remembrance of any old thing they shall say but that those outrageous claims shall come after, always in the end, as it was in the beginning.

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