Thursday October 21, 1999

CALIFORNIA Developers have been trying to build on the lower slopes of San Bruno Mountain above South San Francisco. They fought off allegations they were endangering archaeological sites and won support from the city and the Corps of Engineers, which earlier this year issued a permit to build.


Several employment opportunities have been posted in a single new announcement posted at jobs99.html The executive director of the Arizona Historical Society has been removed because of conflicts with board members. An interim executive director will be appointed. The society, which runs museums in Tucson, Tempe, Flagstaff and Yuma, receives state funding. The future, American history could begin after the Civil War. And under draft versions of state standards for social studies, world history for high schoolers would go back no further than the 1600s, local teachers complained at a public hearing this week. In the 1950s, the Tohono O'Odham refused a request to investigate the site atop one of their most sacred mountains. An anthropologist at UofA suggested that the tribal council be invited to look through a telescope on the university campus. Peering through the telescope, the tribal elders had trouble containing their excitement. Shortly thereafter, the tribal council voted to reverse itself, totally charmed by the men with long eyes. A Tohono O'odham man sought a judge's help this week to prevent an autopsy of his father, citing cultural beliefs that it would bring evil to his family.

COLORADO Police arrested two thieves and recovered more than 92-thousand dollars worth of stolen American Indian artifacts. Ricky and Pauline Whitted came into David Cook Galleries offering to sell museum-quality relics. A clerk called police because the artifacts looked like those stolen from gallery in New Mexico. A detective posed as the store owner when the Whitteds returned, and arrested them after they agreed on a price.

TEXAS FLOYDADA - James Havens "Jim" Word, 81, died Tuesday, Oct. 19, 1999. Born in Globe, Ariz., Mr. Word was an avocational archaeologist. He helped develop the archaeological preserve in Lubbock.

CYBERIA Heading for a showdown in Santa Fe, Milwaukee's David Overstreet is well-armed for a confrontation expected to shape the course of archaeology for the next 50 years. A set of tests concluded this summer support his contention that sites he has been excavating represent the earliest known signs of human habitation in North America, 2,200 years older than Clovis. Native Americans assert they have inhabited North America since the world was created. They are opposed to scientific detective work, which might prove otherwise or dishonor such ancestors. In a sense, the argument thus is one of evolution versus creationism, "truth" based on factual science versus that which is revealed through oral history. The controversy over Indian remains has its roots in 19th-century attitudes toward native Americans. In 1868, the US Surgeon General ordered Army officers in the West to collect Indian skeletons to find out (by measuring skull size) whether native Americans were inferior to whites. Since then, Indian remains have been removed from thousands of grave sites to become part of private collections, museum exhibits, and university labs. Last year, molecular archaeologists announced a technique to isolate DNA from 20,000-year-old ground sloth dung preserved in dry caves in Arizona and Nevada. DNA from the bone of an Neanderthal who lived in Germany 30,000-100,000 years ago contained three times more differences in the letters of the DNA alphabet than letters in the same sequence from modern humans. The John C. Stennis Space Center used remote sensing to conduct non-invasive archaeology at the house of Andrew Jackson Jr. Ground Penetrating Radar is a non-intrusive, non-destructive method of surveying sites that are becoming more difficult to excavate, such as burial grounds, American Indian mounds, or state and national parks.

[Soon... imagine remote molecular archaeological sensing of DNA signatures!],2107,500047918-500078441-500219871-0,00.html NPS hopes to raise $400,000 to repair tents used by Washington. The tents included a field office and separate sleeping and dining enclosures. In them, Washington planned the victory at Yorktown in 1781. The caves at Sterkfontein will be granted World Heritage Site status by the UN in December. The accolade will propel the site of the oldest ancestor known to humanity, into one of South Africa's primary tourist destinations, attracting half a million visitors a year.,2107,500047882-500078373-500219512-0,00.html A Cable Car Named Dinero puts tourism above cultural preservation. How should governments balance tourist dollars against preserving historic treasures? Anthropologists have expended more energy in cataloguing differences between cultures than in identifying the precise set of characteristics that is common to every human. Testosterone changes during vicarious experiences among fans? Fans identify with winning so much that they mimic gestures of players "to share credit." All in the anthropology, apparently. Anthropologists reproduce the future, and size matters.