SMU Department of Anthropology
Southern Methodist University anthropologist Christopher I. Roos is a member of an interdisciplinary team of researchers examining how humans in the Southwest have responded to changes in the surrounding forests over multiple centuries, including forest fires and climate. The research is funded by a four-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
The project is about forest fire history, fuels and forests, how human activities have changed them, and the influence of drought and dry conditions. Continue reading
440-year-old parish survey by priest in Yucay Valley of Peru explains Inca decline under Spanish colonialism
The native Andean population in the Yucay Valley of Peru was able to bounce back in the short term from disease, warfare, and famine, but was ultimately reduced by repeated disasters and colonialism.
Science journalist Ker Than interviewed SMU archaeologist Brigitte Kovacevich about her Maya research in Guatemala. His article “Lost City Revealed Under Centuries of Jungle Growth” published April 26 on the daily news web site of National Geographic.
Kovacevich, an assistant professor in the SMU Department of Anthropology, is an expert in Meso-American cultures and co-leader of an international scientific team that has been granted permission by the Guatemalan government to work the site of Holtun, or “Head of Stone,” which has never before been excavated.
Eren’s latest research tests the long-held theory that prehistoric humans in East Asia crafted tools from bamboo, which archaeologists in the past devised to explain a lack of evidence for advanced prehistoric stone tool-making processes. Eren research asked “Can complex bamboo tools even be made with simple stone tools?”
A modern-day flint knapper, Eren 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, he says.
3-D mapping of Guatemala’s “Head of Stone” confirms ancient Maya buildings buried beneath forest cover
An 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.
Modern-day bamboo tool-making shines light on scarcity of Stone Age tools from prehistoric East Asia
The 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.
SMU 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.
Emily 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.
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)