SMU Department of Anthropology

3-D mapping of Guatemala’s “Head of Stone” confirms ancient Maya buildings buried beneath forest cover

Looters-tunnel-400x300%2032k.jpgAn archaeological team co-led by SMU archaeologist Brigitte Kovacevich has made the first three-dimensional topographical map of ancient monumental buildings long buried under centuries of jungle at the Maya site “Head of Stone” in Guatemala.

The map puts into 3-D perspective the location and size of Head of Stone’s many buildings and architectural patterns, which are typical of Maya sites.
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Modern-day bamboo tool-making shines light on scarcity of Stone Age tools from prehistoric East Asia

Replica%20stone%20tool%20400x300.jpgThe long-held theory that prehistoric humans in East Asia crafted tools from bamboo was devised to explain a lack of evidence for advanced prehistoric stone tool-making processes. But can complex bamboo tools even be made with simple stone tools?

A new study suggests the “bamboo hypothesis” is more complicated than conceived, says SMU archaeologist Metin I. Eren. A modern-day flint knapper, Eren and colleagues replicated the crafting of bamboo knives and confirmed that it is possible to make a variety of bamboo tools with the simplest stone tools. However, rather than confirming the long-held “bamboo hypothesis,” the new research shows there’s more to the theory, Eren says.

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Dallas Morning News: Texas interstates driving economy, growth

censusinterstates004.JPGSMU cultural anthropologist Caroline B. Brettell is quoted in the March 6, 2011 issue of the Dallas Morning News in the section “From the Front Page,” an in-depth look at the news.

The article by reporters Michael E. Young and Ryan McNeill, “Texas interstates driving economy, growth” discusses a geographic analysis of the state’s population by the Dallas Morning News and how the major interstates are driving change and urbanization.

Brettell, a professor in the SMU Department of Anthropology, comments on the new model of urbanism with multiple centers.
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Discovery News: Henry VIII’s eccentricities possibly explained

henry-viii-278x225.jpgEmily Sohn, science writer for the Discovery News Online Blog, covered the research of bioarcheologist Catarina Whitley on King Henry VIII.

Whitley, who completed her research at SMU and now works for the Museum of New Mexico, asserts that the former British monarch could have had a rare blood type that caused reproductive issues, as well as major physical and mental illness.
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Anthropologists link human uniqueness to hunter-gatherer group structure seen in present-day foraging societies

Human hunter-gatherer group structure is unique among primates, according to new research, suggesting human ancestral social structure may be the root of cumulative culture and cooperation and, ultimately, human uniqueness.

Photo: Thomas N. Headland with an Agta man (Credit: Headland)
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Blood group anomaly could explain Tudor king’s reproductive problems and tyrannical behavior

Blood group incompatibility and a genetic condition could explain Henry VIII’s reproductive woes and his dramatic mid-life transformation into a physically and mentally-impaired tyrant, says new SMU research by bioarchaeologist Catrina Banks Whitley.

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LA Times: Ancestors may have left Africa earlier than thought

1_Out_of_Africa.sff.jpgMajor news outlets around the world covered the announcement Jan. 27 of important new research findings that significantly shift the date for migration of human ancestors out of Africa. The announcement was made by a team of archaeologists that included Anthony Marks, SMU professor emeritus in the Department of Anthropology, who analyzed the evidence for the finding, Paleolithic stone tools.

In a story by the Los Angeles Times, Marks is quoted as saying the tools are the “first material evidence” that people ventured out of Africa 60,000 years earlier than previously thought.

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New findings reveal that modern humans left Africa much earlier than previously thought

RT_sci_jan28_Armitage.jpgAn international team of scientists, including Anthony Marks, professor emeritus at Southern Methodist Univeristy, have rejected the existing view that modern humans left Africa around 70,000 years ago. Their data reveal that humans left Africa at least 50,000 years earlier than previously suggested and were, in fact, present in eastern Arabia as early as 125,000 years ago.

These “anatomically modern” humans — you and me — had evolved in Africa about 200,000 years ago and subsequently populated the rest of the world.

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Archaeology: “Undiscovery of Year” to Meltzer for refuting comet theory

Archaeology magazine, published by the Archaeological Institute of America, recognized
SMU archaeologist David Meltzer and his colleague Vance Holliday of the University of Arizona for their “undiscovery” that the important ancient Clovis culture didn’t die out from the impact of a comet.

Melter and Holliday, who published their research in the October issue of Current Anthropology, challenged the controversial theory that the impact of an ancient comet devastated the Clovis people, one of the earliest known cultures to inhabit North America.

Nothing in the archaeological record suggests an abrupt collapse of Clovis populations, say Meltzer and Holliday. (Image: NASA)
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