Browsing All posts tagged under »biology«

Mothers, babies, and the origins of human society

January 10, 2011

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I am used to reading media coverage of research and wincing about the unexamined gendered assumptions embedded in stories. So when I began browsing coverage of new research by Boston University’s Jeremy DeSilva, I braced myself. But guess what? somehow, at least the first reporting has managed to avoid cliche and stereotype. DeSilva developed a […]

“We gonna make bonobo love” (with apologies to The Bobs)

September 1, 2010

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OK, I admit it: I’m one of those old-fashioned anthropologists who had to learn about non-human primates. Back in the Dark Ages we were told that learning about our closest living relatives would give us some guidance in envisioning what humans would have been like without all the accumulated baggage of culture. Not that we […]

Older women, older men

August 25, 2010

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The article on naturenews online is headlined ‘Grandmother Hypothesis’ Takes a Hit. The punchline? researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology constructed computer simulations intended to test University of Utah anthropologist Kristen Hawkes’ decades-old proposal that human longevity is an evolutionary consequence of the adaptive advantage conferred by having older women– “grandmothers”– available […]

Steroid-fueled Neanderthals?

July 7, 2010

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Prehistoric man apparently boasted a rock-hard body, including an overdeveloped right arm that would make Popeye jealous. Olive Oyl,your hero is waiting… The best line in this New York Daily News story is this: Simply put, the Neanderthal body was brimming with natural steroids. Really? add a gratuitous reference to “girlie-men”, and the story itself […]

Written in the bones: woman gladiator or upwardly mobile peasant?

July 4, 2010

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Or maybe not. The BBC headline blares Female ‘gladiator’ remains found in Herefordshire and the alarm in my head goes off. Are there weapons, are there any of the things specific to gladiators? well, no. So what’s the real story here? The lead: the archaeologists “have found the grave of a massive, muscular woman”. And […]

Egypt’s chief archaeologist: Tutankhamun “was actually well-developed”

July 1, 2010

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You have to think that Zahi Hawass will not want to be remembered for this quote, out of everything he has to say about Egyptian antiquities. But when the intersection between archaeology and sex becomes literally the intersection of archaeology and… sex, I am willing to bet that this is one thing Hawass says that […]

Are dead babies good evidence for a Roman brothel?

June 25, 2010

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That’s the question raised by a BBC story about analyses of materials from an almost century-old excavation at a Roman villa in the Thames Valley. The data: remains of 97 infants, all of whom died close to birth. The coincidence suggests deliberate killing of newborn babies. Archaeologist Dr Jill Eyers said: “The only explanation you […]

“Lady Di of the 10th century?”: Poor Eadgyth!

June 17, 2010

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“She was a beautiful English princess who married one of Europe’s most powerful monarchs and dazzled subjects with her charity and charm.” Thus did AP reporter Raphael G. Satter start a widely-reproduced story in January that the LA Daily News headline writer reduced to “Lady Di of the 10th Century“.  (The Huffington Post more soberly […]

Gladiators, sex, and gender

June 8, 2010

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Every so often, an archaeological find helps clarify why it is critical that we ask questions about the differences among people of the same biological sex, and reminds us that an archaeology of sex and gender has to be as much concerned about men as women. The spectacular cemetery in York, England, that has been […]

Participation: Putting theory into practice

May 10, 2010

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The fourth and final section of my course, “Archaeology of Sex and Gender”, which provided the opportunity to develop the book Ancient Bodies, Ancient Lives, asks students to put the theoretical approaches to understanding sex/gender in the past into practice. Student groups will have already been formed following week 10, when each student is asked […]