Social and reproductive behavior of Paleolithic humans

Early humans seem to have recognized the dangers of inbreeding at least 34,000 years ago and developed surprisingly sophisticated social and mating networks to avoid it, new research has found.

The study, reported in the journal Science, examined genetic information from the remains of anatomically modern humans who lived during the Upper Palaeolithic, a period when modern humans from Africa first colonized western Eurasia. The results suggest that people deliberately sought partners beyond their immediate family and that they were probably connected to a wider network of groups from within which mates were chosen, in order to avoid becoming inbred.

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History of Catalonia

The territory that now constitutes the autonomous community of Catalonia in Spain was first settled during the Middle Palaeolithic era. Like the rest of the Mediterranean side of the Iberian Peninsula, the area was occupied by the Iberians and several Greek and Carthaginian towns were established on the coast before the Roman conquest. The area that is now Catalonia was the first area of Hispania conquered by the Romans. It then came under Visigothic rule after collapse of the western part of the Roman Empire. In 718, the area was occupied by the Moors and became a part of Muslim ruled al-Andalus. The Frankish Empire conquered the area from the Muslims, beginning with the conquest of Roussillon in 760 and ending with the conquest of Barcelona in 801, as part of the creation of a larger buffer zone of Christians against Islamic rule counties known as the Marca Hispanica.

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A New History of the First Peoples in the Americas

The miracle of modern genetics has revolutionized the story anthropologists tell about how humans spread out across the Earth.

Europeans arriving in the New World met people all the way from the frozen north to the frozen south. All had rich and mature cultures and established languages. The Skraeling were probably a people we now call Thule, who were the ancestors of the Inuit in Greenland and Canada and the Iñupiat in Alaska. The Taíno were a people spread across multiple chiefdoms around the Caribbean and Florida. Based on cultural and language similarities, we think that they had probably separated from earlier populations from South American lands, now Guyana and Trinidad. The Spanish brought no women with them in 1492, and raped the Taíno women, resulting in the first generation of “mestizo”—mixed ancestry people.

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The Oxford Handbook of Human Development and Culture

The Oxford Handbook of Human Development and Culture provides a comprehensive synopsis of theory and research on human development, with every chapter drawing together findings from cultures around the world. This includes a focus on cultural diversity within nations, cultural change, and globalization. Expertly edited by Lene Arnett Jensen, the Handbook covers the entire lifespan from the prenatal period to old age. It delves deeply into topics such as the development of emotion, language, cognition, morality, creativity, and religion, as well as developmental contexts such as family, friends, civic institutions, school, media, and work. Written by an international group of eminent and cutting-edge experts, chapters showcase the burgeoning interdisciplinary approach to scholarship that bridges universal and cultural perspectives on human development. This “cultural-developmental approach” is a multifaceted, flexible, and dynamic way to conceptualize theory and research that is in step with the cultural and global realities of human development in the 21st century.

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The Oxford Handbook of Childhood and Education in the Classical World

The past thirty years have seen an explosion of interest in Greek and Roman social history, particularly studies of women and the family. Until recently these studies did not focus especially on children and childhood, but considered children in the larger context of family continuity and inter-family relationships, or legal issues like legitimacy, adoption and inheritance. Recent publications have examined a variety of aspects related to childhood in ancient Greece and Rome, but until now nothing has attempted to comprehensively survey the state of ancient childhood studies. This handbook does just that, showcasing the work of both established and rising scholars and demonstrating the variety of approaches to the study of childhood in the classical world. In thirty chapters, with a detailed introduction and envoi, The Oxford Handbook of Childhood and Education in the Classical World presents current research in a wide range of topics on ancient childhood, including sub-disciplines of Classics that rarely appear in collections on the family or childhood such as archaeology and ancient medicine. Contributors include some of the foremost experts in the fieldas well as younger, up-and-coming scholars. Unlike most edited volumes on childhood or the family in antiquity, this collection also gives attention to the late antique period and whether (or how) conceptions of childhood and the life of children changed with Christianity. The chronological spread runs from archaic Greece to the later Roman Empire (fifth century C.E.). Geographical areas covered include not only classical Greece and Roman Italy, but also the eastern Mediterranean. The Oxford Handbook of Childhood and Education in the Classical World engages with perennially valuable questions about family and education in the ancient world while providing a much-needed touchstone for research in the field.

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The Case Against Civilization – Did our hunter-gatherer ancestors have it better?

In “Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States,” James C. Scott, a professor of political science at Yale, presents a plausible contender for the most important piece of technology in the history of man. It is a technology so old that it predates Homo sapiens and instead should be credited to our ancestor Homo erectus. That technology is fire. We have used it in two crucial, defining ways. The first and the most obvious of these is cooking. As Richard Wrangham has argued in his book “Catching Fire,” our ability to cook allows us to extract more energy from the food we eat, and also to eat a far wider range of foods. Our closest animal relative, the chimpanzee, has a colon three times as large as ours, because its diet of raw food is so much harder to digest. The extra caloric value we get from cooked food allowed us to develop our big brains, which absorb roughly a fifth of the energy we consume, as opposed to less than a tenth for most mammals’ brains. That difference is what has made us the dominant species on the planet.

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Anthropology of Healing: An historical summary of medical anthropology

Throughout this historical tour of medical anthropology, a focus upon theory and practice with specific ethnographic examples demonstrates the variety of approaches that have constituted medical anthropological research over the years. Following the historical narrative, contemporary theoretical trends and controversies are explored in more depth.

This definition covers all the contemporary sites for medical anthropological study, and delineates the sub-field in terms of its current specialization, yet medical anthropology is a topic of study that has only recently, that is, within the last fifty years, become mature. The first half of the twentieth century, moreover, saw an anthropological concern with documenting the natural history of humanity—a preoccupation with ‘salvage ethnography,’ that is, with describing ‘primitive cultures’ in all of their aspects before they became part of an expanding global economy. Many ethnographic accounts aimed at describing a ‘whole culture,’ which entailed some discussion of health beliefs and practices, albeit as a means of elaborating on how the various aspects of the specific culture were functionally interrelated. Following the rapid expansion of a global capitalist economy, anthropologists turned their attention to specific cultural traits rather than striving to describe the ‘whole’ of any specific culture, as that would inevitably entail an ethnography of the whole world.

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Cultural Anthropology of Health and Healing

Three theoretical approaches exist in understanding human health. First, is the epidemiological or the ecological approach. This approach examines the way culture and the natural environment interact to create the patterns of which result in health and disease. The second is the interpretivist approach, which looks at the way cultures use symbolic meaning to describe and understand health and disease. The third is critical medical anthropology, which focuses on how socioeconomic and political factors affect human health.

Epidemiology is the study of factors that affect health and disease among populations and is considered a fundamental aspect of public health research. Epidemiology focuses on identifying disease risk factors based on how, when, and where they occur. By collecting this data, epidemiologists provide data for measuring the occurrence of health phenomena. Anthropologists may use this approach to examine cultural patterns such as food, work location, sexual activity, water, and medical practices that may affect or show a correlation with the prevalence of a particular disease.

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Healing Roots: Anthropology in Life and Medicine

Umhlonyane, also known as Artemisia afra, is one of the oldest and best-documented indigenous medicines in South Africa. This bush, which grows wild throughout the sub-Saharan region, smells and tastes like “medicine,” thus easily making its way into people’s lives and becoming the choice of everyday healing for Xhosa healer-diviners and Rastafarian herbalists. This “natural” remedy has recently sparked curiosity as scientists search for new molecules against a tuberculosis pandemic while hoping to recognize indigenous medicine. Laplante follows umhlonyane on its trails and trials of becoming a biopharmaceutical – from the “open air” to controlled environments – learning from the plant and from the people who use it with hopes in healing.

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The story of music is the story of humans

Where did music come from? Recent article discusses how music arose and developed.

How did music begin? Did our early ancestors first start by beating things together to create rhythm, or use their voices to sing? What types of instruments did they use? Has music always been important in human society, and if so, why? These are some of the questions explored in a new article. The answers reveal that the story of music is, in many ways, the story of humans.

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Read also: How Music and Instruments Began – The story of music is the story of humans

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