90th Edition of the Four Stone Hearth!

That means this biweekly tradition of gathering the best examples of anthropology blogging currently on the web has gone on for at least 180 weeks!

Unfortunately, participation has waxed and waned a bit over these few years. I only received four submissions and one of these wasn’t, strictly speaking, a post on anthropology. But I’m including it anyway. I’m willing to accept the responsibility for the low turn-out, and here’s why: The Four Stone Hearth blog carnival depends on us, the writers and bloggers to keep it going. The readers will be there. Some of us that host routinely get a thousand or more blog hits a day and have hundreds of unique subscribers (not me… but I’m working on it. some).

We anthro-bloggers need to rally up if we want to keep the Four Stone Hearth going. I propose using the comments section here to brainstorm ideas. Side-bar badges? Advertising? Link-Love? Get PZ Myers to submit?…

But, on to the posts! (all links to posts will open a new window or tab)


UV, You See? Black Light Reveals Secrets in Fossils (potentially: archaeology, bioarchaeology)

The first comes from GrrlScientist at Living the Scientific Life. GrrlScientist is an evolutionary biologist and the post isn’t directed to anthropology or archaeology, rather it is one that deals with paleontology. Still, this is a post that describes a real research application in the fields of paleontology and evolutionary biology that may have some methods relevant to archeology. I’ve never used UV light as a method, but, while reading the post, my brain was sorting out all sorts of possibilities. For instance, with in situ examination of burial sites -will clothing or textiles leave any traces? GrrlScientist describes: “A simple but powerful technique — UV illumination — has finally answered Microraptor gui’s critics as well as adding another simple but powerful technique to paleontologists’ methods for extracting as much information as possible from every specimen, even from “exhausted” fossils.”


Sexual and Natural Selection: Why Humans Are Still Evolving (biological anthropology)

Raymond at The Prancing Papio gives us the next post. In it, Raymond briefly discuss a couple of blog articles that deal with the ever changing and evolving morphology of Homo and why this might be.


RSVP – A Cultural Construct? [Updated] (cultural anthropology)

Next up is Krystal D’Costa at Anthropology in Practice. She discusses the concept of the RSVP, something I have a vague memory of from my own wedding oh-so-many-years-ago. It’s a very interesting read and provokes some thought about how we go about our day-to-day lives in our own culture. Anthropologists are so often interested in the cultures of others that we seem rarely to take a few moments to be critical of our own, so I really enjoyed this article.


What are the “Hard Problems in Archaeology”? (archaeology)
Is ‘Religion’ One of the Hard Historical Archaeology Problems? (archaeology)

These next two were submitted by Alun Salt. The first is a brief article posing the title question and can be found on Publishing Archaeology and the second is Alun’s response. I find the question to be both provocative and a good one. And, I must admit, I only just started reading Alun’s response, but I’m eager to see his thoughts on this since it’s an area of specialization for me as a budding archaeologist.


[update: last minute submission!]Taphonomy of hominid sites, or what geology can tell us about our origins (paleoanthropology)

This comes from David at Cryology and co. and he’s a geologist “dedicated to the study on rockglaciers and quaternary geology fo the south tyrolean central Alps” and his article is definitely relevant to paleoanthropology. Go check him out!


Those are the submissions for this fortnight. What follows are posts I found from browsing the web this week or today that I thought would be of interest to anthropologists.

Carl Zimmer [Slate.com]. Yet Another “Missing Link” (paleoanthropology)
A brand-new Australopithecus fossil is fascinating and important. But it’s not one of our direct ancestors.

afarensis. Australopithecus sediba: Was the Embargo Broken (anthro-blogging)
If you’ve been blogging long, you’ve probably encountered a news embargo or two or at least know what it is. Here’s an interesting case discussed where a reporter did his own independent fact-finding rather than depend on embargoed press release -should he be held to the embargo. Afarensis discusses.

John Hawks. What if anything, is Australopithecus sediba?
When new fossil hominids are in the news, John Hawks should be your first stop for the facts.

Anthropology.net. Australopithecus sediba (UW88-50) of Malapa, South Africa. (paleoanthropology)
Okay.. the last one for A. sediba. I promise. But there are some cool photos and an slightly different perspective on the story. Nothing shocking… just a different angle.

Time Travelling. Interesting Philippine Tarsier Facts (primatology, primate evolution)
bonvito is one of the new additions to my blog roll (as is Krystal D’Costa above). His blog’s subtitle reads, “[t]he purpose of anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences,” which is a quote by Ruth Benedict (author of The Sword and the Chrysanthemum). This is a really cool, quick post of facts about tarsiers that anyone interested in primatology or hominid evolution will like.

Abnormal Interests. New Esarhaddon Vassal Treaty Found in Turkey(archaeology)
Duane always has the most interesting posts on ancient writing, particuarly of the Near East (and not so ancient writing of Mark Twain).

Sexy Archaeology. Scientists ponder NAGPRA lawsuit. (archaeology)
“Scientists are considering a lawsuit against a new rule that would help repatriate thousands of Native American remains to tribes across the nation.” Go! Read the rest!

Fagan Talk. Mt Toba — the 73,000 year-old cataclysm(archaeology)
If you’re an archaeologist, you probably have a couple of Brian Fagan’s books. Did you know he blogs? “Mt. Toba vanished into space at a critical moment in human history, when Homo sapiens, anatomically modern humans, ourselves, were flourishing in sub-Saharan Africa.” Check out the rest of the post -its short but interesting.


Thanks for dropping in and leave a comment, especially with suggestions and discussions on making 4SH a more prominent experience among the anthrosphere. The next host will be Sexy Archaeology on April 28, 2010. So get writing! I’m already putting something together.

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About Carl Feagans 401 Articles
Professional archaeologist that currently works for the United States Forest Service at the Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee. I'm also a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Army and spent another 10 years doing adventure programming with at-risk teens before earning my master's degree at the University of Texas at Arlington.


  1. Sorry for the double post:

    Using the comments section to brainstorm is a good idea. I think side bar badges would be a great tool to promote and introduce Four Stone Hearth.
    As with advertising, starting a Facebook and/or Twitter account for Four Stone Hearth might be good.

  2. Thanks for hosting the carnival this time around. It seems that the only commentators are the folks who submitted, but regardless, I think that a badge would be a fabulous idea as well as the Facebook page. It would be a shame to see the carnival end due to lack of interest–it’s a great digest feature.

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