In Russia

As you may have noticed, preparing for my second trip to Russia has really diverted my attention from blogging. May stamp out some dispatches as time permits, but expect post intensity to remain low until I get back.

Boston St. Petersburg Aug. 3
St. Petersburg Samara Aug. 13
Samara Novosibirsk Aug. 16
Novosibirsk Vladivostok Aug. 20
Vladivostok Fairbanks Aug. 24
Fairbanks Boston Aug. 28  … ⇒

In the field: Mead Site, Tanana Valley, Alaska

In the field: Mead Site, Tanana Valley, Alaska

Fairbanks, Alaska: I’m headed out tomorrow morning to the Mead Site in the middle Tanana Basin for the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ 2016 Field School in Subarctic Archaeology, led by UAF’s Ben A. Potter. I wove a strange trail into archaeology, so this is actually my first participation in an active excavation — and I’m all the gladder for this one’s richness: intricately stratified loess deposits ranging in age from 1.4 to 14+ ka BP (including two Pre-Clovis components) that have already offered perhaps the New World’s oldest known residential features and the earliest examples of artwork from boreal America.  … ⇒

White bone in Golok: A field report

My good friend Hannibal Taubes writes:

Incidentally, RE your black bone / white bone post, I asked my Tibetan teacher if she’d heard any such expression. She’s a 50-something Golok woman from a village at the foot of Mt. Amnye Machen. According to her, Tibetan rus means “bone” and also means “clan” (ch. 部落). (To be honest, I’m not sure what “clan” means here; there seem to be a number of different Tibetan words in use that mean something like that,  … ⇒

The week in bioRxiv

Improving access to endogenous DNA in ancient bone and teeth

Peter B. Damgaard, Ashot Margaryan, Hannes Schroeder, Ludovic Orlando, Eske Willerslev, Morten E. Allentoft
February 6, 2015; doi:

Poor DNA preservation is the most limiting factor in ancient genomic research. In the vast majority of ancient bones and teeth, endogenous DNA molecules only represent a minor fraction of the whole DNA extract, rendering traditional shot-gun sequencing approaches cost-ineffective for whole-genome characterization.  … ⇒

The "basketball hypothesis" of Indo-Europeanization

The "basketball hypothesis" of Indo-Europeanization

Image by Archaeology of Kuban, via La Gran Época.

New archaeological findings (see also this interview) from Kuban, north of the Caucasus and east of the Sea of Azov, 4500 BP:

The height of these four prehistoric inhabitants of Krasnodar was recorded as 2.1m (~6’11”) for the men and 1.97m (~6’6″) for the women.

The Novotitarovskaya Culture is classified as a relative of Yamnaya or component of the Yamnaya horizon.  … ⇒