Anthropology

A new approach used to analyze genetic data to learn more about the history of populations says it can describe in detail events in recent history, over the past 2,000 years, more accurately than in the subjective texts used by people in the humanities. The computer scientists behind it demonstrate their method in two populations, the Ashkenazi Jews and the Masai people of Kenya, who represent two kinds of histories and relationships with neighboring populations - one remained isolated from surrounding groups and one had frequent cross-migration with nearby villages.  


The percentage of Americans who say they are strong in their religious faith has been steady for the last four decades but a new sociology analysis claims that religious groups who have become more staunchly devout have surged while others, notably Roman Catholics, who have sought to become more liberal under Vatican II in that time, have faded in popularity.

Catholics now report the lowest proportion of strongly affiliated followers among major American religious traditions. The drop in intensity could present challenges for the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S., the study suggests, both in terms of church participation and in Catholics' support for the Church's social and theological positions.


The race is on to blame everything related to ecological change on human footprints - even the past can be re-framed as anthropocenic climate change and University of Massachusetts Amherst geoscientists have shown how to do just that, by using a biomarker from human feces in a completely new way to establish the first human presence, the arrival of grazing animals and human population dynamics in a landscape.


A universal approach to helping people who witnessed or experience genocide may be misguided, says an anthropologist.

The experience of genocide as transmitted trauma may not be universal but in the fields of human rights and memory studies, giving testimony about one's personal experience of genocide is believed to be both a moral duty and a psychological imperative for the wellbeing of the individual and the persecuted group to which they belong. The coping strategies for victims of genocide tend to be uniform: tell your story and do not let the violence you suffered be forgotten. What about descendants?


Women scientists in primatology are poorly represented at symposia organized by men, but receive equal representation when symposia organizers are women or mixed groups, according to an analysis published in PLOS ONE. 

The authors examined female participation at major scientific conferences for primate scientists and anthropologists, where symposia are largely by invitation but posters and other talks are initiated by participants. They found that within the field of primatology, women give more posters than talks, whereas men give more talks than posters. Their analysis also shows that symposia organized by men on average included half the number of women authors (29%) than symposia organized by women or both men and women (58 to 64%). 


In 1428 AD, while King Alfonso V was ordering Sicilian Jews into conversion sermons and the Ottomans were consolidating in Europe, the city-states of Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan formed the Triple Alliance, which became the Aztec empire and ruled the Valley of Mexico until the Spaniards arrived a century later. 

The term 'Aztec' has become a little confusing since then. There were no 'Aztec' people, the people of Mexico primarily made up what were later called Aztecs, and the Aztecs were made up of many cultures, they were just dominated by conquering city-states. Historians call such a structure a hegemonic empire as compared to the traditional meaning like with Rome or Mongolia.
Serial killers and recidivist criminals of all kinds lack empathy.  So do some people with poor social skills. A compassion-based meditation program called Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) was recently used to try and improve the ability to read the facial expressions of others
A skull fragment unearthed in Tanzania verifies that our ancient ancestors were eating meat at least 1,500,000 years ago and that can tell us something about the evolution of human physiology and brain development and why we wouldn't be where we are if there was a Prehistoric PETA.

The two-inch skull fragment was found at the famed Olduvai Gorge in northern Tanzania, a site that for decades has yielded numerous clues into the evolution of modern humans and is sometimes called `the cradle of mankind.'
Children's television is 'problematic', according to a new paper in the Journal of Communication.

While there is no physical bullying in these shows, what the authors consider an 'alarming' amount contain behaviors like cruel gossiping and manipulation of friendship.  There aren't many ways for shows to be funny in 2012, it seems.

Dentistry has been around for almost long as people have had teeth go bad but evidence for dentistry is another matter entirely. We don't pull off an arm when it is sore so the first human to figure out that pulling something attached to the skull would help keep people alive was taking nearly as big a chance as the first patient.

Ancient evidence of prehistoric dentistry has been discovered in a Neolithic graveyard in Pakistan and other findings in a Neolithic graveyard near Parma have detailed creative tooth work. An artificial tooth from the cemetery of Gebel Ramlah, Egypt, dates back 5,500 years.