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Crabby Appleton



Posts: 250
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 13 2006,02:15   

Russell suggested;

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I'm currently reading "1491", and I'm interested in learning your opinions about that book. Largely reflective of current thinking? Am I likely to be misled in any particular areas?

This all should probably be taken up in a separate thread,


and posted;

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The book left the impression that pieces of the puzzle remain to be found (no, dave, that doesn't mean "Ha! that proves my 'hypothesis' is correct"). But I do also come away with the conclusion there was some pre-Clovis influx from Siberia, and that a coastal route is the most likely one. With sea level changes and all (ice age, Dave, not flud) most if not all of the archeological evidence may now be underwater.  

The overall thesis of the book, which you probably got from your perusal of a review, is that (1) the pre-Columbian American population was a heck of a lot higher than has generally been appreciated, as was the degree of decimation - in both quantity and quality of life - due to viral epidemics introduced by the Europeans, (2) the paths that civilization took do not match general expectations of social anthropologists, who anticipated that cultivation of fields should precede and drive higher social organization, (3) the "untouched wilderness"/"noble savage" mythology is way off; the "pristine state" of nature eulogized by Thoreau was actually the result of massive pre-Columbian human intervention.

Really a fascinating read. I recommend it.

On a completely tangential note, as long as I have the attention of at least a couple of people who have significant indiginous ancestry... The author sticks to the term "Indian" - and gives a number of good reasons for doing so. I've always avoided that term, I guess largely because most "Indians" I have personally known are from southern Asia. Your thoughts?


Bored to tears with AFD's (baboon dog) tail chasing, I thought I'd take Russell up on this subject.

What do you know about Cahokia and the Mississippian Culture in general? Have you visited Cahokia or any other mound sites? Visiting Monk's Mound is one of the best introductions to what was going on during that time in NA.

Personally I describe myself as a Neshnabe "Indian". Spelling varies widely. Amerind is good but few outside science circles know that term.

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 13 2006,09:32   

First, I should say up front that I haven't read '1491' (tho my wife has and she says it's primarily about the idea that the Chinese sailors landed in the New World pre-Columbus), but aside from that I do have some observations about some of the statements here. Tho keep in mind, my observations have nothing to do with the observations of the author of that book.

 
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The book left the impression that pieces of the puzzle remain to be found (no, dave, that doesn't mean "Ha! that proves my 'hypothesis' is correct"). But I do also come away with the conclusion there was some pre-Clovis influx from Siberia,


That's pretty much a certainty. It's now basically accepted that there were humans in the New World pre-Clovis. There are accepted archaeological sites (not many yet, tho) that predate that former ceiling.

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and that a coastal route is the most likely one. With sea level changes and all (ice age, Dave, not flud) most if not all of the archeological evidence may now be underwater.  


That's what I've heard. A lot of people think most of the human in-migration must have been along the coast of British Columbia, at a time when sea levels were much lower than now. I think some preliminary research has been done along these lines near the Queen Charlotte Islands, which seems to indicate that there are some detectable archaeological sites off the coast there.

 
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The overall thesis of the book, which you probably got from your perusal of a review, is that (1) the pre-Columbian American population was a heck of a lot higher than has generally been appreciated, as was the degree of decimation - in both quantity and quality of life - due to viral epidemics introduced by the Europeans, (2) the paths that civilization took do not match general expectations of social anthropologists, who anticipated that cultivation of fields should precede and drive higher social organization, (3) the "untouched wilderness"/"noble savage" mythology is way off; the "pristine state" of nature eulogized by Thoreau was actually the result of massive pre-Columbian human intervention.


I'm not an expert on that, tho I have heard that there is evidence that the Great Plains were actually heavily forested before the first human entry into North America, and were deforested as a result of human activity. And of course, it's always been quite, shall we say, intriguing that the first big boom in human populations in North America coincided precisely with a big wave of extinctions of North American megafauna around 11,000-12,000 years ago.

 
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Really a fascinating read. I recommend it.


I can also wholeheartedly recommend E.C. Pielou's 'After the Ice Age', which covers many of the same subjects and which is extremely readable. Unfortunately tho, it first came out 14 years ago, so some of the archaeology is probably now out of date, but it's still a valuable intro.

 
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On a completely tangential note, as long as I have the attention of at least a couple of people who have significant indiginous ancestry... The author sticks to the term "Indian" - and gives a number of good reasons for doing so. I've always avoided that term, I guess largely because most "Indians" I have personally known are from southern Asia. Your thoughts?


I've known people in Indian Country who hated the term 'Indian', and I've known plenty of others who used it all the time. It's not possible to make a valid sweeping generalization about how the people in question themselves feel about it.

 
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Personally I describe myself as a Neshnabe "Indian".


Are you Potawatomi?

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
deadman_932



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Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 13 2006,14:26   

This was pretty much my area of expertise, although I concentrated on the Southwest US and North Mexico, mainly the Sonoran region.

Yep, the data on pre-Clovis is getting better all the time, and yep, the megafaunal collapse coincides with humans moving in, just as it does on Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia and Madagascar, as well as the European data, though that's a bit less clear-cut. My personal belief is that in North America, disease played a large part in wiping out the large fauna, too, but that's really hard to show, though I'd love to spend a decade or so analyzing recoverable samples and looking for viral remnants.

On the question of what designation to use--I dunno, I've hung around with lots of folks-- from ordinary people on the Mescalero rez, to tribal leaders and everyone uses different terms and accepts them to varying levels depending on context...the big divide occurs when "outsiders" use terms, compared to when Crabby and I are shooting darts/pool and drinking beer and having fun. Heh, there's a lot of humor involved in this, because names become something to have fun with at times...it can reinforce close bonds or be used to smack around the pakeha as my lovely and brilliant Maori sweetie would say.  

I'd say ask tribal affiliation then ask what the "native" term would be and using that..while smiling politely and offering something in return ...like a round of fine whiskey or three for me and Crabster, while he's ogling the waitress and preparing to dance a Charleston on the pooltable.   :p. I'll get the next rounds, even!

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AtBC Award for Thoroughness in the Face of Creationism

  
k.e



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Joined: Mar. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 13 2006,20:40   

DM
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Heh, there's a lot of humor involved in this, because names become something to have fun with at times...it can reinforce close bonds or be used to smack around the pakeha as my lovely and brilliant Maori sweetie would say


Hahahahaha

That settles it DM you are a man of infinite taste.

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The conservative has but little to fear from the man whose reason is the servant of his passions, but let him beware of him in whom reason has become the greatest and most terrible of the passions.These are the wreckers of outworn empires and civilisations, doubters, disintegrators, deicides.Haldane

   
Crabby Appleton



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Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 14 2006,01:31   

Arden asked,

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Are you Potawatomi?


I prefer Neshnabe but I'm not dogmatic about it. Potawatomi is an Objibwe word that decribes our position in the Council of Three, Keepers of the Flame.

I don't mind being called Indian or Native American or Amerind. There are other terms that tend to make me bristle, no need to bother with them here as I think Russells question has been answered. I'm sure some of the terms DM and I would toss at each other would open some eyes and be found quite humorous too. I have a Lakota friend who I razz because The Council of Three chased the Lakota out onto the Plains and he teases me about us being too scared to follow them out there because we were cowards and prefered ambushing them from behind trees.

As far as Pre Clovis sites, DM what sites do you find give convincing evidence? I've mentioned a few and the only one you concurred on was Monte Verde. The last ice age began about 30,000 years ago and peaked 18-20k YA so I've always found it hard to believe humans waited to make the trek till just before the end when an ice free corridor in the interior opened up. It seems to ignore what the weather would be like in such a place.

I never really bought into the Pleistocene Overkill theory though. The idea that animals had no fear of humans because they'd never been hunted might make sense in say, a place like The Galapagos Islands where there were no predators at all. NA was a place full of large carnivores at that time and any prey animal is going to be leery of anything it hasn't encountered before.

I worked a year with a salvage archaeology company and one of my coworkers (a retired anthro) told me a story about an elephant slated to be put down being donated for research. He said they tried to kill it using an Upper Paleolithic tool kit and they couldn't do it. I don't think I would have wanted to hunt mega fauna using the tools available at that time. Was Clovis tech the tool that made overkill possible or just something the made it easier to prey on the old and the sick? I dunno.

Climate change, disease, human predation are all possible scenarios but it might have been a combination that did in most of the mega fauna.

The reason I brought up Cahokia earlier was one of the points Russell made about 1491 and the premise that there were a lot more Natives than is generally recognized. The Cahokia Complex is massive and obviously required quite a few people to develop and maintain and it's influence was widespread. Heck I've got a small temple mound two blocks from my house and I live in the inner city.

DM, I ain't dancin' no Charleston, my knees ain't up to it and I need another Anchor Steam to lubricate 'em. Thanks bud.

  
Arden Chatfield



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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 14 2006,11:04   

A not-too-bad list of pre-Clovis candidate sites is here, tho they're more dismissive of pre-Clovis sites than I would be. I thought the modern consensus was that people had to be in the New World pre-Clovis, whereas Wikipedia makes it sound like it's still a wild-eyed fringe idea. Tho maybe that's just the academic circles I travel in.  :p

Again, I'm no archaeological expert, but from a linguistic point of view, a 11,500-year time depth for human habitation in the New World is VERY HARD to explain.

EDIT: Someone with very different sympathies seems to have written  this Wikipedia article...

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Russell



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Joined: April 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 14 2006,12:46   

First of all, thanks for starting this thread. After last week's election, afdave bashing may assume the urgency of proving that pi is not actually 3.00.

 
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I haven't read '1491' (tho my wife has and she says it's primarily about the idea that the Chinese sailors landed in the New World pre-Columbus)
Meaning no disrespect for the little lady, but are we talking about the same book? By Charles Mann? Perhaps different readers see different things, but the main thing I got from it was the notion that a pristine, pre-Columbian, primordial American "Wilderness" was, to a large extent, mythical; that the human footprint on the environment was huge, though hugely different from the post-Columbian, European/Euro-American footprint.

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but from a linguistic point of view, a 11,500-year time depth for human habitation in the New World is VERY HARD to explain
Please elaborate. What time depth would make more sense from a linguistic point of view?

One of our - heck, now I don't know what word to use; let's just say - one of our participants with more venerable American roots than mine - suggested "Amerind" as a reasonable substitute for "native american" or "indian" or... what have you. I'd be OK with that, but the linguist Greenberg, and some of the archeologists and geneticists that support his view, speak of three separate waves of influx, corresponding to what (I think - this is all from secondary sources at best) Greenberg identifies as "Amerind", "Na-Dené" and "Eskimo/Aleut". According to this scheme, Apache, for instance, would fall into the Na-Dené group, as distinct from Amerind.

So I'm still not sure.

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Must... not... scratch... mosquito bite.

  
Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 14 2006,13:44   

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I haven't read '1491' (tho my wife has and she says it's primarily about the idea that the Chinese sailors landed in the New World pre-Columbus)
Meaning no disrespect for the little lady, but are we talking about the same book?


Oh, WHOOPS, no we're not! My wife was thinking of a different book, which she read last year, namely "1421", by Gavin Menzies. Neither of us has read "1491". Sorry!

Yeesh, who would have thought a mere 70 years would make such a difference? ;)

   
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but from a linguistic point of view, a 11,500-year time depth for human habitation in the New World is VERY HARD to explain
Please elaborate. What time depth would make more sense from a linguistic point of view?


20,000 would be nice. The more the better. :)

The problem is that the linguistic diversity in the New World is too vast to be accounted for by a small handful of in-migrations plus 11,000 years. One would either need to posit dozens of completely unrelated groups wandering in, or a much deeper time depth. I personally prefer the latter solution.

   
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One of our - heck, now I don't know what word to use; let's just say - one of our participants with more venerable American roots than mine - suggested "Amerind" as a reasonable substitute for "native american" or "indian" or... what have you. I'd be OK with that, but the linguist Greenberg, and some of the archeologists and geneticists that support his view, speak of three separate waves of influx, corresponding to what (I think - this is all from secondary sources at best) Greenberg identifies as "Amerind", "Na-Dené" and "Eskimo/Aleut". According to this scheme, Apache, for instance, would fall into the Na-Dené group, as distinct from Amerind.


Greenberg's classification of New World languages -- specifically, his 'Amerind' family -- is not accepted by the vast majority of linguists. Na-Dene is valid, and so is Eskimo-Aleut, but Greenberg dismally failed to show that Amerind is a single language family.

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Steviepinhead



Posts: 532
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 14 2006,14:22   

I'll repost my plug for:

Lost World : Rewriting Prehistory---How New Science Is Tracing America's Ice Age Mariners by Tom Koppel (Atria 2003), now out in paperback and available used for less than a buck on Amazon.com.

It's a useful pop-sci survey of the "coastal route" scenario.  If you google terms like "coastal route," "America" and "migration," you'll come up with the usual mix of articles.  Wikipedia has this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Models_of_migration_to_the_New_World.

Anton, what do the degrees of diversity in the Na-Dene language family suggest in terms of time-depth?  Any opinion on the Greenberg-Ruhlen claim of a link to one of the Siberian native languages?  Googling doesn't seem to show much acceptance of that by linguists and blood-group samplers either, I gather...

  
Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 14 2006,16:05   

Quote (Steviepinhead @ Nov. 14 2006,14:22)
I'll repost my plug for:

Lost World : Rewriting Prehistory---How New Science Is Tracing America's Ice Age Mariners by Tom Koppel (Atria 2003), now out in paperback and available used for less than a buck on Amazon.com.

It's a useful pop-sci survey of the "coastal route" scenario.  If you google terms like "coastal route," "America" and "migration," you'll come up with the usual mix of articles.  Wikipedia has this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Models_of_migration_to_the_New_World.

Anton, what do the degrees of diversity in the Na-Dene language family suggest in terms of time-depth?  Any opinion on the Greenberg-Ruhlen claim of a link to one of the Siberian native languages?  Googling doesn't seem to show much acceptance of that by linguists and blood-group samplers either, I gather...

'Anton'? You mean me, 'Arden'?  Get my fake name right! ;)

(Didn't you and I discuss Haida and Na-Dene on PT a year or so ago?)

Anyway, I'm not an expert on Na-Dene, so I don't know what the current thinking on the time depth of the family is. Merritt Ruhlen, who's wrong about most things, says 6,000-8,000 years ago for the family's entry into Alaska. I don't know if he just made that figure up, or if that's some kind of consensus among real linguists. If you don't include Haida, 6K sounds more or less realistic. But really, unless you have some especially compelling archaeological evidence to point to, time depth figures for language families are extremely conjectural.

There's isn't much acceptance among mainstream linguists for any genetic link between any of Greenberg's 'Amerind' languages and any Old World language (and people have tried), but recently there is some very promising evidence emerging linking the Yeneseian languages of central Siberia to Na-Dene. However, the linguist working on that (a specialist on Yeneseian) hasn't published it yet.

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Steviepinhead



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 14 2006,16:16   

Sorry for the name confusion, Arden!  Overfast scrolling, or something!

And, yes, we did have the Haida-Na Dene discussion over on PT a while back (can it have been a year...?  Yikes!;).  Prompted somehow by one of the transitional fish discoveries...

Much has been made of the rough correlations between the blood-group/proteins/dental work and the language proto-families speculations.  Maybe Greenberg pulled his dates from that, although somewhere in the 6K-9K range seems roughly correct in terms of coastal archaeology, as well.  I'll doublecheck that and then I'll have to try to dig up the Siberian language that Ruhlen had hypothesized about, although it's a bit tangential to the overall thread here.

  
deadman_932



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Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 14 2006,16:30   

Man, that Wiki article sucks. Seriously.
They don't even mention the other South American sites, like Betty Meggers' Pedra Furada (NE Brazil), or Pedra Pintada in the central Amazonian region, or Taguatagua in Chile, Tlapacoya in Mexico.
The North American sites are ...weird. I'll never accept Calico, having been there and seen their "artifacts" (geofacts, broken river cobbles that are created during spring floods, really), and Meadowcroft is a total pain in the ass, then there's Topper in S. Carolina and Cactus Hill in Virginia. The Topper lithics are not real impressive, but they ARE flakes and I'm curious about context, but the soil is crappy for dating. In the last big meeting on this, none of the North American sites got the nod of approval, but...I'm hopeful that more work along the coastal routes and the Mojave or Great Basin will turn up stuff that's fairly deep. The Pleistocene climate/geology is a problem in most areas...try to find much in the steppes of Russia that is over 14kya, or African veldt stuff...the "secret" seems to be look for old lake beds and dig deep, at least in those regions. South America is a diff. matter.

Here's a fair assessment of Pedra Furada, a nice karst-y site with lots of charcoal and organics:  http://www.athenapub.com/10pfurad.htm

Oh, ####, and the Center for the Study of First Americans up in Maine (another good locale) http://www.centerfirstamericans.org/resources.php#firstamericans and Jim Jacob's site at : http://www.jqjacobs.net/anthro/paleoamerican_origins.html

Alaska, Brit. Colombia, Maybe even parts of Baja and certainly Central America all need more work, but funding is tight, so I'm trying to get rich so I can fund my own :p

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AtBC Award for Thoroughness in the Face of Creationism

  
Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 14 2006,16:41   

Thanks for the links! I should try to stay more up on this than I am.

If that Wiki article leaves out several of the best South American sites, you should add them. Seriously. I've fixed several screwed up linguistics/language articles in Wikipedia.

How is Meadowcroft a total pain in the ass?

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 14 2006,17:05   

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Much has been made of the rough correlations between the blood-group/proteins/dental work and the language proto-families speculations.  


I find that stuff very intriguing myself, but the bottom line problem is that while you can use DNA to prove population migrations, you can't use it to prove language relatedness.

   
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Maybe Greenberg pulled his dates from that, although somewhere in the 6K-9K range seems roughly correct in terms of coastal archaeology, as well.  I'll doublecheck that and then I'll have to try to dig up the Siberian language that Ruhlen had hypothesized about,


Either Ket or Kusunda?

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Steviepinhead



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 14 2006,18:30   

It's Ket.  Which is the same Central Siberian/yeniesian language that is apparently supported as connected with Na-Dene by the linguistics expert (if we're both thinking of the same guy, Edward Vajda?).

I'll come back to this with some links and abstracts when I get a chance.

I do find it of some interest that in two cases now, the Greenberg-Ruhlen hypotheses in this Na-Dene area--the Haida - Na Dene relationship and the Na-Dene - Yeniesian (Ket) relationship--have been supported by the linguists "on the ground."  Of course, it's easy to throw out guesses, and harder to come up with solid evidence (and the Haida hypothesis was hardly original with Greenberg, as I recall, though Ruhlen appears to have been first in print with the Ket-Na Dene hypothesis).

Not that any of this will necessarily prove extensible to the larger, earlier group of AmerIndian languages.

  
Arden Chatfield



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 14 2006,18:50   

Quote (Steviepinhead @ Nov. 14 2006,18:30)
It's Ket.  Which is the same Central Siberian/yeniesian language that is apparently supported as connected with Na-Dene by the linguistics expert (if we're both thinking of the same guy, Edward Vajda?).

I'll come back to this with some links and abstracts when I get a chance.

I do find it of some interest that in two cases now, the Greenberg-Ruhlen hypotheses in this Na-Dene area--the Haida - Na Dene relationship and the Na-Dene - Yeniesian (Ket) relationship--have been supported by the linguists "on the ground."  Of course, it's easy to throw out guesses, and harder to come up with solid evidence (and the Haida hypothesis was hardly original with Greenberg, as I recall, though Ruhlen appears to have been first in print with the Ket-Na Dene hypothesis).

Not that any of this will necessarily prove extensible to the larger, earlier group of AmerIndian languages.

Yeah, Ed Vajda. For him and Ket, see here and here.

I have a printed handout from a talk he gave on the relation between Yeniseian and Na-Dene, but I don't think it's published or on the web anywhere. If you find something, I'd like to see it.

Funnily enough, the connection between Na-Dene and Ket looks about as secure as that between Na-Dene and Haida, despite the enormous geographical disparity.

The Haida/Na-Dene hypothesis is over 60 years old. Ask for Ruhlen being the first to connect Ket/Na-Dene, well, as Lou FCD says, throw enough shit at the wall & some of it is bound to stick.

It's also interesting that no convincing 'Amerind'/Siberian links have been uncovered yet, just Na-Dene.

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"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Steviepinhead



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 15 2006,13:46   

I basically agree--or don't have a reliable basis for disagreeing--with your assessment of the Greenberg-Ruhlen "Amerind" hypothesis (which, with the exception of Ruhlen's "stick to the wall" Ket-Na Dene speculative stab, is really the only "original" claim they've made in the field of "origins of American languages/peoples--since the grouping of the Na-Dene and Inuit-Aleut languages was, as you say, much older, and even the Na-Dene/Haida connection had been hypothesized much earlier--by Sapir? or one of those cats).

Not being a linguist, I do find the work of the proto-language family "lumpers" interesting, and it seems not entirely un-, anti-, or psuedo-scientific to me.  Though obviously the farther back you try to reconstruct, the sketchier and more controversial things will get...

In this regard, though, did Greenberg use an entirely different procedure to generate the similarities and connections which assertedly support his Amerind hypothesis than he did in mega-grouping the sub-Saharan African languages, which--if I understand correctly-- eventually was accepted?

And the work of the Russian linguistic reconstructivists may bear watching.  The interplay of the "genetic" and linguistic hypotheses may eventually lend some added support--or ultimately falsify--this entire enterprise.

My understanding here, again, is that the Amerind-Asian "split" may well be much older than the Na Dene-Yeniesian "split."  Which would make the reconstruction and connecting up of proto-Amerind (supposing, of course, that there even is such a thing) with some proto-whatever Asian language family even more difficult to recover and reconstruct, I presume...

In that regard, your point about the relative distance of Haida and Yeniesian (Ket) from Na-Dene is interesting in and of itself.  In "cladistic" terms, one might envision a tree ("unrooted" at the moment, though I guess G'n'R and others might group the whole shebang with ?Caucasian? or some such proto-family--?Norstratic?)--I don't have the tools to draw this, much less link it to this blog, sorry, so the reader will have to bear with me--in which the Yeniesian group of languages (with Ket as the exemplar) and Haida are deeply split, but connected on one branch, and at the base of that branch is an even deeper split, the other arm of which runs off to the Na-Dene languages, which then splits again (to generate the Tlingit-Ayak-Athapaskan group of languages--with the Athapaskan subgroup being familiar to most readers through Navajo and Apache, though the family seems to "center" geographically in NW Canada, with outliers in Oregon and other places along the way to the U.S. Southwest).

Or do you visualize a different tree, Arden?  Between Yeniesian-Na Dene, and then a very early split between Haida and the rest of Na-Dene?  Or is it simply too early to try to parse these older divergences?

This little side discussion that Arden and I are having does connect up with the overall topic of the "peopling of the Americas," I promise!

I will offer some links later that may help some of the rest of you follow all this (should you care to) in addition to those Arden has put up...

I would love to get a copy of Vajda's Yeniesian-Na Dene talk, Arden.  Maybe we could work that out somehow (is it the one he gave at the 2000 SSILA meeting?)...

Folks should carefully note that Arden is the linguist in this discussion, and I am the non-linguist tyro (but with a bit more than the "average" lay knowledge in stuff relating to NW native groups--though I'm NOT a NW native either...!;), and weight their tracking of this sub-exchange accordingly.

  
Steviepinhead



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(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 15 2006,14:01   

In looking that over, I didn't mean to suggest that Na-Dene and Aleut-Inuit are grouped together, just that those are two of the three groupings--and "waves" of settlement of the Americas--that have been hypothesized.  In other words, one set of languages (and language-speaking cultures) is grouped into Na Dene (uh, colloquially, a cluster of NW and scattered western North American "Indian" languages, though hardly the only language family found in that region), and another set is grouped into Aleut-Inuit (uh, very roughly what we used to call "Eskimo," spread across the top of the continent from the Aleutians, across Alaska and Canada, to Greenland).  

Greenberg and Ruhlen, and their cohorts in the dental and blood-protein-genetic bunch of investigators, claim that the Amerind-speaking wave arrived first, somehow, quickly spreading and diversifying from south of the retreating glaciers (whether they came via a land-bridge and a glacial corridor, or via the coast) all the way to the tip of South America.

Then the Na-Dene group (Ruhlen is pretty clear that he thinks this was a maritime occupation, first of Haida Gwaii--the Queen Charlotte Islands off the coast of northern BC, which were never glaciated--and then, via river valleys and passes across the mountains as the glaciers retreated further, of the continental NW of Canada and SW Alaska).

Then, and most recently, the Aleut-Inuit group, spreading via kayak and specializations for extreme cold, etc., across the upper tier of the North American continent and its island outliers.

Hope I got that roughly "right," now, assuming some or all of it turns out to be right, that is!

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 15 2006,23:28   

       
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I basically agree--or don't have a reliable basis for disagreeing--with your assessment of the Greenberg-Ruhlen "Amerind" hypothesis (which, with the exception of Ruhlen's "stick to the wall" Ket-Na Dene speculative stab, is really the only "original" claim they've made in the field of "origins of American languages/peoples--since the grouping of the Na-Dene and Inuit-Aleut languages was, as you say, much older,


No, I don't think anyone has ever grouped Na-Dene and Inuit-Aleut together. They were just the last two entries into the New World, but that doesn't mean they're related.

       
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and even the Na-Dene/Haida connection had been hypothesized much earlier--by Sapir? or one of those cats).


I think by Sapir. I'd have to look it up. Enrico's articles would probably say.

       
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Not being a linguist, I do find the work of the proto-language family "lumpers" interesting, and it seems not entirely un-, anti-, or psuedo-scientific to me.  Though obviously the farther back you try to reconstruct, the sketchier and more controversial things will get...

In this regard, though, did Greenberg use an entirely different procedure to generate the similarities and connections which assertedly support his Amerind hypothesis than he did in mega-grouping the sub-Saharan African languages, which--if I understand correctly-- eventually was accepted?


What I gather is that Greenberg succeeded in Africa where he failed in the New World for a handful of different reasons; apparently, before Greenberg tackled Africa, the state of historical linguistic work on African languages was still in its infancy, and no one had seriously done the work on major groupings yet. So what he did was lay out the big families. However, by the time of Language in the Americas, the work on linguistic grouping in the New World was already very far advanced indeed -- it was nothing like the semi-blank slate Africa had been. The kind of work Greenberg had done for Africa had already been done for the New World.

Another problem is that the linguistic situations in Africa and the New World aren't all that similar. The New World is simply much more diverse, with a LOT more old language families that can't be linguistically related. Africa really does seem to be reduceable to a small handful of big language stocks, the existence of which is accepted by workers on those language families. However, in the New World, not only do no specialists in American Indian languages accept 'Amerind', none of the intermediate supergroupings Greenberg posited (like 'Almosan-Kere-Siouan', etc.) have been accepted, either. So even when Greenberg tried to posit larger stocks in the New World, his ideas haven't held up.

And finally, again, I am not an Africanist, but I am told that the degree to which Greenberg's ideas about African languages have been accepted is somewhat exaggerated -- that is, some of the groupings he came up with in the '50's haven't stood the test of time, tho I gather most have.

       
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And the work of the Russian linguistic reconstructivists may bear watching.  The interplay of the "genetic" and linguistic hypotheses may eventually lend some added support--or ultimately falsify--this entire enterprise.


Maybe, maybe not. I personally can't accept purely genetic evidence for linguistic hypotheses. I'd call it circumstantial evidence, at best.

       
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My understanding here, again, is that the Amerind-Asian "split" may well be much older than the Na Dene-Yeniesian "split."  


Right. It looks pretty likely that the proto-Na-Dene speakers were the second-to-last entrants into the New World, a couple thousand years after Clovis. And if semi-convincing cognates can still be found between a language family centered on Alaska and one centered in central (not even eastern) Siberia, that's a hint that the split can't have been THAT long ago...

       
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Which would make the reconstruction and connecting up of proto-Amerind (supposing, of course, that there even is such a thing) with some proto-whatever Asian language family even more difficult to recover and reconstruct, I presume...


My feeling is that even if Proto-Amerind did exist once -- and there's no terribly compelling reason to think it did -- it's not reconstructible at all. The time depth is just too huge by now, and the language families just too diverse.

But your main point is true, tho, that trying to connect ANY New World family to any family in Asia is made extremely difficult by the time depth involved. If the pre-Clovis sites are real, and there were already people in the New World say, 22,000 years ago, then some of the languages might have come over so long ago as to make connecting them to Asia flat out impossible.

       
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In that regard, your point about the relative distance of Haida and Yeniesian (Ket) from Na-Dene is interesting in and of itself.  In "cladistic" terms, one might envision a tree ("unrooted" at the moment, though I guess G'n'R and others might group the whole shebang with ?Caucasian? or some such proto-family--?Norstratic?)--I don't have the tools to draw this, much less link it to this blog, sorry, so the reader will have to bear with me--in which the Yeniesian group of languages (with Ket as the exemplar) and Haida are deeply split, but connected on one branch, and at the base of that branch is an even deeper split, the other arm of which runs off to the Na-Dene languages, which then splits again (to generate the Tlingit-Ayak-Athapaskan group of languages--with the Athapaskan subgroup being familiar to most readers through Navajo and Apache, though the family seems to "center" geographically in NW Canada, with outliers in Oregon and other places along the way to the U.S. Southwest).


Yeah, basically core-Na Dene consists of two main branches: Athabaskan/Eyak on the one hand, and Tlingit on the other, as two co-equal branches (Eyak is closer to Athabaskan than it is to Tlingit.) And it's accepted that Athabaskan had to have originated in Alaska, since that's where the most diversity in the family is. It's clear that the Apachean and Pacific Coast branches of Athabaskan were much more recent. The entry of Apachean (including Navaho) into the southwest may have actually been post-contact.

Yeneseian and Haida would be somewhere much further up the tree. The jury is still out on both of them. If the similarities between Yeneseian and Na-Dene are extensive enough, then it means they're related, since the enormous geographic separation between them means the similarities between them can't be due to contact.

And contact is the whole problem with the similarities between Haida and Na-Dene. Before Enrico started his work, pretty much everyone had swung over to assuming that Haida was an isolate that had undergone some huge (and ancient) influence from Tlingit. However, Enrico was the first person to do new fieldwork on Haida for decades, and he's convinced that Haida is actually genetically related to Na-Dene. Considering his expertise on Haida -- no other linguist is really an expert on the language -- his views can't be dismissed, but the jury is still out on the issue. There seems to be no consensus on the subject yet, at least not that I've heard.

 
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Or do you visualize a different tree, Arden?  Between Yeniesian-Na Dene, and then a very early split between Haida and the rest of Na-Dene?  


There's probably no other choice, given the geography -- provided Haida really is related.

       
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I would love to get a copy of Vajda's Yeniesian-Na Dene talk, Arden.  Maybe we could work that out somehow (is it the one he gave at the 2000 SSILA meeting?)...


No, it's from a talk he gave in Europe this summer. I wasn't there for it, but a friend of mine was, and he xeroxed me a copy of the handout. Send me a message, and I'll make some arrangement to send you a copy of it.

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Steviepinhead



Posts: 532
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 16 2006,17:06   

How do I go about getting a message to you, Arden?  I haven't really looked to see if there are accessible "profiles" here, etc...

I can be reached at drawndreams AT comcast.net...(By--I hope it goes without saying--Arden!;)

Yeah, I didn't word the "grouping" thing very well about Inuit/Na Dene, as I tried to point out in a followup comment.

And, yeah, I also agree that the genetic, etc., info can't be conclusive, by any means, and has to be correlated with a lot of other things.  If I ever get time to get my links up, I'll have more to say about the converse situation--languages could well be related with very little "blood" relationship left to confirm it, in the "right" set of circumstances.  One only has to think of the exogamous marriage practices on the northern Northwest Coast, the trading/warring/slaving networks, etc., to realize that a language and culture could persist for a long time while the genetic/protein/whatever markers borne by the speakers/culture-bearers could dilute/intermingle fairly rapidly...

Not to mention founder effects, and probably other things that I haven't even considered.

The thoughts about the differences between the Afro-groupings and the Amerind groupings are appreciated.  At the same time, I have heard people (much more expert than I--as wouldn't be hard!--in the linguistics of this or that group) talk confidently about "isolates," and even "separate" origins of human language, in ways that don't make much sense to me.

Certainly there are isolates that we may never, at this remove, be able to hook back up with other extant languages and, sure, conceivably some isolated groups may even, if you go back far enough, have separately "invented" language (it's not utterly impossible) but, to my mind, that doesn't seem like a position of which one could be any more logically certain than any number of other possibilities, in the absence of lots of info we don't yet have.

And the only real motivation I could discern for taking some of these far-out stances seemed to be rather elitist, turf-guarding ones.

IOW, it's one thing to say that too much time has gone by to make well-evidenced connections between long-diversifies languages.  Likewise, to say that a proposed connection just doesn't square with what is so far known.  But to claim,  as some of these folks honestly did, with smirking-level confidence, that their very own unique, prize-baby language was just too cool to be connectible, even in theory, struck me as an odd attitude to take...

So, in the meantime, I'm all interested attention, trying to maintain a watching interest, neither rushing to embrace the lumpers nor refusing to budge with the splitters.

I'm in the same case as to the archaeology and the Pre-Clovis or not issue.  I don't have anything beyond an attentive layperson's knowledge as to the dating, disturbance, contamination, etc. controversies.  But--as Arden has pointed out--it does seem remarkable that the language diversity in the Americas is even greater than it is in much longer-settled Africa.  And the well-accepted archaeological dates already seem to indicate nigh-immediate settlement, going back so closely to the very earliest possible dates that the retreating ice would have allowed, that that in itself seems to pose some issues...

But it's all much more fun than reading afdave's drivel, so thanks to Crabby for starting up a cool thread.

  
Steviepinhead



Posts: 532
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 16 2006,17:36   

Ah, I get it.  There's a private message system.  Shows you how much looking around I (haven't) done at AtBC...

Now if there was just a private massage system.

  
Arden Chatfield



Posts: 6657
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 16 2006,19:25   

[quote=Steviepinhead,Nov. 16 2006,17:06][/quote]
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And, yeah, I also agree that the genetic, etc., info can't be conclusive, by any means, and has to be correlated with a lot of other things.  If I ever get time to get my links up, I'll have more to say about the converse situation--languages could well be related with very little "blood" relationship left to confirm it, in the "right" set of circumstances.  One only has to think of the exogamous marriage practices on the northern Northwest Coast, the trading/warring/slaving networks, etc., to realize that a language and culture could persist for a long time while the genetic/protein/whatever markers borne by the speakers/culture-bearers could dilute/intermingle fairly rapidly...


Or the reverse happens all the time as well -- an ethnic group switches languages but stays genetically unchanged.

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The thoughts about the differences between the Afro-groupings and the Amerind groupings are appreciated.  At the same time, I have heard people (much more expert than I--as wouldn't be hard!--in the linguistics of this or that group) talk confidently about "isolates," and even "separate" origins of human language, in ways that don't make much sense to me.


Well, an 'isolate' is just a language that can't be related to any other. There's dozens and dozens of them in the world.

I really have no opinion on how/where/when/how many times language arose among homo sapiens. I haven't seen anything that really convinces me it's knowable.

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Certainly there are isolates that we may never, at this remove, be able to hook back up with other extant languages and, sure, conceivably some isolated groups may even, if you go back far enough, have separately "invented" language (it's not utterly impossible) but, to my mind, that doesn't seem like a position of which one could be any more logically certain than any number of other possibilities, in the absence of lots of info we don't yet have.

And the only real motivation I could discern for taking some of these far-out stances seemed to be rather elitist, turf-guarding ones.


Oh come on, academics aren't like that! ;)

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IOW, it's one thing to say that too much time has gone by to make well-evidenced connections between long-diversified languages.  Likewise, to say that a proposed connection just doesn't square with what is so far known.  But to claim, as some of these folks honestly did, with smirking-level confidence, that their very own unique, prize-baby language was just too cool to be connectible, even in theory, struck me as an odd attitude to take...


Well, linguists are funny in that people who spend their whole careers becoming experts in a particular language or language family (esp. an obscure one) can get awfully, uh, possessive about it. I grant you it can get silly.

(But it's just as common for an expert on an obscure language to very enthusiastically try and connect that language to as many other languages as possible.)

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I'm in the same case as to the archaeology and the Pre-Clovis or not issue.  I don't have anything beyond an attentive layperson's knowledge as to the dating, disturbance, contamination, etc. controversies.  But--as Arden has pointed out--it does seem remarkable that the language diversity in the Americas is even greater than it is in much longer-settled Africa.  


Yes, that's troubled me for a long time too, also given how human genetic diversity is greater in Africa than anywhere else. But this mismatch could easily just be the result of widespread language switching, as a result of population movements. It seems clear that people moved around (and moved longer distances) in 'prehistoric' Africa than they did in the New World, where the topography, the environment, population levels, and the cllimate are more conducive to populations staying isolated.

There's already some very clear evidence for major language spread among pre-existing groups in Africa, where Bantu, a comparatively shallow language family, now covers half the continent. This sort of thing seems much less common in the New World.

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But it's all much more fun than reading afdave's drivel, so thanks to Crabby for starting up a cool thread.


Indeed!

Besides, AFD would just sweep all this away and say that all the language families we see were spontaneously created at the Tower of Babel 5,000 years ago.  ???

That's one of the main really annoying side-effects of creationism and Biblical literalism -- aside from being bullshit, it makes history so BORING... :angry:

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Steviepinhead



Posts: 532
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 16 2006,20:45   

Hey, y'all, as much fun as Arden and I are having--feel free to take your thread back at any time!

Yeah, I didn't mean to get all uppity about elitism and turf-guarding (almost sounded like a fundy there, railing against the elite intellectual segment of the population!)--these were good enough folks, talking over a few beers too many, as tends to happen.

One mechanism that's been postulated, I guess, is that of a really whiz-bang cultural tool-kit spreading itself--and it's associated language--far and wide over the landscape, without regard to the "underlying" genetic makeup of the populations across whom the spreading occurs.

Maybe what happened with the Bantus and the cattle-herding culture.  And the Indo-Europeans and the domesticated animal/agricultural tool-kit.

Spreading memes and spreading genes don't necessarily go hand-in-hand, for sure.  Maybe it has to be just the right combination of culture, marriage patterns, land use...

I was vaguely turning the cultural bag of tricks thing over in my pointy little head the other day: the NW Coast people had a perfectly good combination of technology and resources for cutting and shaping both planks and structural members out of wood.  And their planking technology included steaming and bending.  Not to mention that they were riverine and marine-exploiting specialists.  Thus they had all the elements of plank-built, large-scale boatbuilding technology--yet they were still paddling hollowed-log canoes around when the Europeans showed up in their capacious plank-built galleons and such.

As best I can figure, the plank-making/steam-bending technology just never needed to be applied to the construction of large-scale vessels, because the logs available for hollowing were humongous red cedars, which made perfectly good 100-passenger, ocean-going canoes as it was.

Who knows what might've occured to some industrious canoe-maker in another 50 or 100 years of course.

And then, who knows where the Na Dene language group might've transplanted itself.

Or what lost "fossil" languages have been supplanted in the course of such tool-kit spreading, with all the resulting complications to our efforts at language reconstuction!

  
Crabby Appleton



Posts: 250
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 18 2006,01:54   

Take back a thread? Guys run with it!

  
Crabby Appleton



Posts: 250
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 18 2006,02:15   

DM, what can I do to help at the Big Eddy site?

  
deadman_932



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Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 18 2006,02:32   

Meadowcroft is a pain just like all cave/rockshelter sites are pains. Dating is horrible due to the complex factors affecting environmental forces acting on the site. There's coal there that *could* contaminate, although I doubt it at this point...still, the taphonomy/stratigraphy of the site is a mess, and the flake tools are problematic, too. Also...the faunal remains are Holocene. That's the biggest sticking point for me, given that it's a shelter and the stratigraphy is always going to be a mess. This forum used to have some discussions of this whole site -- http://forums.delphiforums.com/n....stom243   and some tools can be seen on google http://images.google.com/images?....=Search

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AtBC Award for Thoroughness in the Face of Creationism

  
deadman_932



Posts: 3094
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Nov. 18 2006,02:37   

I'd bet money they want volunteers to screen dirt and do the slave-labor stuff, Crabby. Finding funding for digs is always hard and free workers are usually welcome.
Ah, yup -- here ya go: For more information or to volunteer to work at the Big Eddy site write to the Center for Archaeological Research, Southwestern Missouri State University, 901 S. National, Springfield, MO 65804-0089, call them at (417) 836-5363 or visit the center’s Web site at http://www.missouristate.edu/car/

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AtBC Award for Thoroughness in the Face of Creationism

  
Arden Chatfield



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Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 04 2006,19:49   

Cool article here about DNA and the peopling of the New World.

Linguists and anthropologists have thought that the Chumash have been in California for a LOOOONG time. This certainly confirms that.

--------------
"Rich is just mad because he thought all titties had fur on them until last week when a shorn transvestite ruined his childhood dreams by jumping out of a spider man cake and man boobing him in the face lips." - Erasmus

  
Steviepinhead



Posts: 532
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 06 2006,20:15   

Trying to steer things back toward track, if only to set things up for new departures, here's amazon.com's "editorial review" of 1491, complete with timeline"
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Amazon.com
1491 is not so much the story of a year, as of what that year stands for: the long-debated (and often-dismissed) question of what human civilization in the Americas was like before the Europeans crashed the party. The history books most Americans were (and still are) raised on describe the continents before Columbus as a vast, underused territory, sparsely populated by primitives whose cultures would inevitably bow before the advanced technologies of the Europeans. For decades, though, among the archaeologists, anthropologists, paleolinguists, and others whose discoveries Charles C. Mann brings together in 1491, different stories have been emerging. Among the revelations: the first Americans may not have come over the Bering land bridge around 12,000 B.C. but by boat along the Pacific coast 10 or even 20 thousand years earlier; the Americas were a far more urban, more populated, and more technologically advanced region than generally assumed; and the Indians, rather than living in static harmony with nature, radically engineered the landscape across the continents, to the point that even "timeless" natural features like the Amazon rainforest can be seen as products of human intervention.
Mann is well aware that much of the history he relates is necessarily speculative, the product of pot-shard interpretation and precise scientific measurements that often end up being radically revised in later decades. But the most compelling of his eye-opening revisionist stories are among the best-founded: the stories of early American-European contact. To many of those who were there, the earliest encounters felt more like a meeting of equals than one of natural domination. And those who came later and found an emptied landscape that seemed ripe for the taking, Mann argues convincingly, encountered not the natural and unchanging state of the native American, but the evidence of a sudden calamity: the ravages of what was likely the greatest epidemic in human history, the smallpox and other diseases introduced inadvertently by Europeans to a population without immunity, which swept through the Americas faster than the explorers who brought it, and left behind for their discovery a land that held only a shadow of the thriving cultures that it had sustained for centuries before. --Tom Nissley


A 1491 Timeline

Europe and Asia Dates The Americas

25000-35000 B.C. Time of paleo-Indian migration to Americas from Siberia, according to genetic evidence. Groups likely traveled across the Pacific in boats.


Wheat and barley grown from wild ancestors in Sumer. 6000  


5000 In what many scientists regard as humankind's first and greatest feat of genetic engineering, Indians in southern Mexico systematically breed maize (corn) from dissimilar ancestor species.


First cities established in Sumer. 4000  


3000 The Americas' first urban complex, in coastal Peru, of at least 30 closely packed cities, each centered around large pyramid-like structures


Great Pyramid at Giza 2650  


32 First clear evidence of Olmec use of zero--an invention, widely described as the most important mathematical discovery ever made, which did not occur in Eurasia until about 600 A.D., in India (zero was not introduced to Europe until the 1200s and not widely used until the 1700s)


800-840 A.D. Sudden collapse of most central Maya cities in the face of severe drought and lengthy war


Vikings briefly establish first European settlements in North America. 1000  
Reconstruction of Cahokia, c. 1250 A.D.*  
Abrupt rise of Cahokia, near modern St. Louis, the largest city north of the Rio Grande. Population estimates vary from at least 15,000 to 100,000.


Black Death devastates Europe. 1347-1351  


1398 Birth of Tlacaélel, the brilliant Mexican strategist behind the Triple Alliance (also known as the Aztec empire), which within decades controls central Mexico, then the most densely settled place on Earth.


The Encounter: Columbus sails from Europe to the Caribbean. 1492 The Encounter: Columbus sails from Europe to the Caribbean.


Syphilis apparently brought to Europe by Columbus's returning crew. 1493  


Ferdinand Magellan departs from Spain on around-the-world voyage. 1519  
Sixteenth-century Mexica drawing of the effects of smallpox**  
Cortes driven from Tenochtitlán, capital of the Triple Alliance, and then gains victory as smallpox, a European disease never before seen in the Americas, kills at least one of three in the empire.


1525-1533 The smallpox epidemic sweeps into Peru, killing as much as half the population of the Inka empire and opening the door to conquest by Spanish forces led by Pizarro.


1617 Huge areas of New England nearly depopulated by epidemic brought by shipwrecked French sailors.


English Pilgrims arrive at Patuxet, an Indian village emptied by disease, and survive on stored Indian food, renaming the village Plymouth.


  
Steviepinhead



Posts: 532
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Dec. 12 2006,13:22   

This is kind of a heartwarming story, as well as an example of what those professional linguists--like Arden, though he was not the one Hollywood called upon here!-- can do when someone with a budget turns them loose:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16160869/

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Dead Indian language brought back to life
Relic of Va. past re-created for film, shared with descendants of speakers

  
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