One of the final group lessons in upper’s history lessons is a discussion of migration patterns and types. To begin these discussions with DW, we began looking at the flow of the hominids from Africa. DW used JV’s map from two years ago hence the submarine trenches and ranges. She used the hole punch to color code the various hominoid groups.
Last night we attended a lecture by Dr. Thomas Strasser of the University of Rhode Island. He was the featured speaker for this month from the history, anthropology, and archeology departments. His findings were presented and subsequently discussed in the NY Times.
My notes are being posted because the boys all had issues with the lack of information posted on screen and filtering out the importance of material solely from the spoken lecture. Great pictures, however.
Stone Age Sea-fairing in the Agean – Implications of the Plakios Survey.
- A very famous anthropologist has written that there is no way that any pre neolithic (farmers) peoples lived on islands.
- An island is too small to accommodate a population of hunter gathers (mesolithic and paleolithic peoples)
- Were not “smart” enough to form boats or other process planned craft.
- He wrote a book that quoted himself as the primary proof that this does not exist.
- He has gone around for years and lectured on this, and his theory has never been challenged.
- His primary evidence was that no finds have been made, primarily in the Agean, from the pre-neolithic times.
- Then there was an oops moment. Mesolithic tools were found on Crete (site E) along with extinct animals’ bones (hipos, elephants, deer) It appears that these animals were run off the cliffs and then butchered the animals. The professor said that Crete was an anomaly.
- Then jinkies! On the island of Kythnos remains of mesolithic period round houses. The afore mentioned scientist wrote a scathing attack on the find. “The researcher didn’t know what he was looking at.”
- The theory was being tested to the breaking point at Alonnisos where a female humoscapian scull was found with deep sea tuna bones and bone hooks.
So to Dr. Strasser’s new theory
Researchers began to look for ways to predict where neolithic and mesolithic sites might be found. They found four similarities among the sites in mainland Greece.
- Fresh water nearby
- limestone caves for living
- south facing caves (northern hemisphere) to collect the heat from the sun
- steep bathymetry of the nearby ocean (quick descent to 100m)
Dr.Strasser spent his days looking for sites that would meet this description in Crete. He found this to be more difficult that suspected. There are very few rivers that do not dry up in the summer. Eventually he found two. There he and a specialist found Mesolithic microliths (small sharply pointed or flattened pieces of stone which may have been used for arrowheads).
They were not what he expected. He expected to find chert or obsidian (the island doesn’t have this material) because that is what he was taught in school was what was used. However, the microliths are made from quartz. Quartz is very common in African microliths but is not often found in Europe.
Even more surprises awaited in the second site – the Preveli Gorge. There they discovered not just Mesolithic items but also Paleolithic items (pre-homosapeans). There were lots of hand axes both ovate and triangular. Neanderthals made nicer hand axes so these are assumed to be older than Neanderthals. Then a cleave was found. Cleavers were made by the first Hominoids (the species which came before homo erectus. Hominoids were the first to leave Africa 800,000 years ago. These pre-neanderthals’ tools are called Acheulean tools.
The geologists have worked to find an age of these tools. The final numbers for a Terminis antiquin (a time before which) is 110,000 to 80,000 – which is in an ice age and other ones found in dirt (petogenesis takes a while) is aged at around 130,000.