Category Archives: death

Riel-Salvatore on the reality and hype of Upper Paleolithic burials

From A Very Remote Period Indeed:

On the variability of Upper Paleolithic burials: Hype, facts and fiction (and Neanderthals?)

A new study of mine (written with Claudine Gravel-Miguel of ASU) is getting a bit of press, and I really want to write a post on AVRPI to serve as a proper companion piece to it, since the narrative in the press is already slipping away from what the paper actually says. In short, our paper does not say that Upper Paleolithic burials were not more sophisticated than those of Neanderthals. Rather, it emphasizes how heterogeneous Upper Paleolithic burials are (a point I recently also mentioned in relation to ‘Venus’ figurines), and that many of them were fairly simple. As a result, we need to be very careful about using exceptionally lavish as representative of Upper Paleolithic burials as a whole, as emphasized in the official CU Denver press release “Early human burials varied widely,” which is a bit meta, being illustrated as it is by… one of the Sungir burials, arguably some of the fanciest Upper Paleolithic burials known!

Man in an Upper Paleolithic burial in Sunghir, Russia. The site is approximately 28,000 to 30,000 years old. 
Not a typical Upper Paleoilthic burial!

continue reading at A Very Remote Period Indeed.

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Posted by on February 27, 2013 in death, European prehistory, Upper Paleolithic


Linguist Jürgen Untermann has died

Surely one of the most important researchers of ancient Iberian languages and also of Italian ones, Jürgen Untermann has left his signature all around the bibliography regarding Iberian, Celtiberian and Italic languages. His life ended on February 7th 2013 at the venerable age of 84.

Source: Ama Ata[es], photo from Diario de Navarra.

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Posted by on February 10, 2013 in death, Germany, Iberia, Italy, linguistics


Ivano Nasidze is gone

For those with an interest in population genetics, Nasidze was one of the names we found once and again some years ago, as some of the details of the genetic structure of Humankind and, very specially the peoples of the Caucasus, was being unraveled. 
Ivano “Vano” Nasidze died suddenly while at work at the Genetics department of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology of Leizpig. He was just 48. 
BMC’s Investigative Genetics has published a small obituary (PDF) written by his colleague Manfred Kayser, briefly discussing some of his findings, which are no doubt landmarks in the process of self-rediscovery of Humankind in its own genetic structure.
For what they were… also wants to salute the life and works of this prime quality geneticist.
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Posted by on July 11, 2012 in death, obituary, population genetics


From the Net: ‘Evidence of Massacre in Bronze Age Turkey’ (Past Horizons)

Determining social relationships between populations in the past can be difficult. Trade can be inferred from evidence such as pottery with foreign designs, or non-local foods. Warfare can be determined from the presence of mass graves or cemeteries of adult males displaying trauma, or weaponry showing signs of frequent use. However, trauma is not always a sign of conflict with external populations. It can also reflect the normal struggles of daily life or even interpersonal violence within the community.
Skeletal collections with trauma found from the Neolithic period in Anatolia suggest that injury was caused by daily activities and lifestyle, rather than systematic violence. However, shortly after this period there is an increase in trauma associated with violence that may suggest an increase in stress within and between populations in this area. In order to examine this conclusion, a new article by Erdal (2012) looked at the skeletal remains of a potential massacre site from the Early Bronze Age in Turkey.

… full story at Past Horizons.


Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Bronze Age, death, Turkey, West Asia


Çatalhöyük: people buried together probably not related

As you probably know, Çatalhöyük (near Konya, Turkey) is one of the most emblematic sties of Middle Neolithic. 
As genetic research was fruitless (bone contamination, degradation), a study of dental morphology was done in order to estimate if people buried together were related, because close relatives should have close dental morphology. The result was negative for all but (maybe) one tomb, strongly suggesting that the Çatalhöyük community did not give any importance to relatedness at least for funerary rituals and related beliefs. 

Posted by on June 29, 2011 in Anthropometry, death, Neolithic, religion, Turkey


A little homage to Benoît Mandelbrot

Benoît Mandelbrot was one of the great geniuses of our era, comparable to Einstein, Hawkins, Maldacena and very few others. He died on October 14 at the venerable age of 85.
Of Jewish ethnicity, born in Poland, raised in France, living in France, Switzerland and the USA, he stands as a universal genius by all standards.
He like no other helped us to discover the beauty and importance of Chaos mathematics and its physical implications. He is best known for defining the concept of fractals, a pillar of Chaos theory.
His best known quote, which is a beautiful synthesis of poetry and deep intellectual provocation is this one:
Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line.
A quote I just love.
In spite of his unique greatness he never received the Nobel Prize, what says nothing good about this media-hyped Scandinavian honor. He did receive many other prizes and honors in his life however, all well deserved.
To the left, photo of the deceased genius (2007, from Wikipedia) and some magnifications of the famous Mandelbrot set, arbitrarily chosen for their beauty (M=10⁻¹, M=10⁶ and M=10⁹). All from The Chaos Hypertextbook.
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Posted by on October 17, 2010 in Chaos, death, European history, science, USA