Current topics in archaeology, cultural heritage & historic preservation

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Archaeology Presentations, Rock Art Guide, Old Teeth, & A Third Branch of Humanity

OAS MEETING - TUESDAY, JAN. 4, 2011 - Revisiting the Meier Site

Dr. Kenneth Ames is the featured speaker at the January 4, 2011 Oregon Archaeological Society meeting. He will be talking about the Meier Site and Lower Columbia River archaeology.

The Meier Site, located near Scappoose, Oregon, is one of the most significant sites on the Lower Columbia River. It was excavated between 1987 and 1991. The site dates to the period from about AD 1400 to at least through the founding of Ft. Vancouver, in the 1830s and beyond. The Meier site revealed major residential habitation with a massive plankhouse. The talk reviews the results of analyses of thousands of artifacts, focusing on the Meier site, while also discussing other sites along the river.

Dr. Ames is Professor and Department Chair of Anthropology at Portland State University. He has conducted numerous archaeological field research in western North America and has authored numerous publications and reports.

The lecture will be held in the OMSI auditorium at 7:45 PM, and is free and open to the public. The presentation is preceded at 7 PM by a general business meeting, which is also open to the public. See or call 503-727-3507 for information.

Are you looking to learn more about archaeology basics, or do you need a refresher on the history of the Pacific Northwest? The Oregon Archaeological Society offers an annual Training program.

OAS Basic Training, also known as Archaeology for the Curious, is taught by experienced regional professionals from organizations such as the National Forest Service, BLM, and the University of Oregon. The sessions will be held on six Saturdays in late Winter/early Spring.

Contact Steve Satterthwaite (503) 824-2264 or visit

Oregon avocational archaeologists D. Russel Micnhimer and LeeAnn Johnston announce the publication of their new guide book, Where to See Rock Art: Washington Oregon Idaho by Pendulum Press.

It contains general information about various aspects of rock art and specific information about where rock art can be seen in museums, visitor centers, state parks and public lands in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Photographs, line drawings and a brief description give readers an idea of what they will find at 39 locations in the three states.
The table of contents make it easy to access the information in this 147 page paperback.

The authors are members of the Oregon Archaeological Society and have received numerous Loring & Loring Grants from the organization in support of their on going research and website

The new book is available directly from Russel Micnhimer, P. O. Box 1653, Prineville, OR 97754. $14.95 + $4.00 S&H (USPS). For more information email

(I've read Russel and LeeAnn's new book and its a great guide for anyone who wants to visit the very interesting public rock art sites of the Pacific Northwest...Mike)

Author Jack Nisbet will talk about "Point of Departure: David Douglas at Fort Vancouver 1825-33" at 2 p.m. Jan. 9 at E.B. Hamilton Hall on the Fort Vancouver National Site. Nisbet will also give a reading from his book "The Collector: David Douglas and the Natural History of the Northwest" at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 10 at Powell's bookstore in downtown Portland.

Douglas was the premier botanical explorer in the Pacific Northwest and western North America in the 19th century. His base of operations always remained at Fort Vancouver. The people he met there influenced his every move, and the changes he witnessed during his visits mark significant turning points for the social, economic, scientific, and environmental stories of the region. In this illustrated presentation at Fort Vancouver, Nisbet traces the energy Douglas brought to, and absorbed from, his central headquarters at Fort Vancouver. Nisbet is this year's Michael M. Powell Fellow at the Center for Columbia River History.

For program information, go to

By News Services-October 29, 2010

A technique for shaping stones into sharp-edged points may have emerged about 55,000 years earlier than previously known, according to a study of stone tools from Blombos Cave in South Africa. Previously, researchers have also found other evidence of “modern” human behavior, such as shell beads, from this 75,000-year-old site, where new ideas and techniques may have been rapidly introduced...

Read the whole story at:


Finger Bones Point to New Branch of Humanity
By Charles Q. Choi
Published December 22, 2010
A finger bone and other remains from Siberia now reveals a previously unknown group of ancient humans once existed there, one neither like us nor Neanderthals.

Bizarrely, the DNA from these extinct Siberians seems unusually similar to that of Pacific Islanders from tropical Melanesia.The 30,000-year-old fossil was found in Denisova Cave in southern Siberia in 2008, a bone fragment that likely came from a fingertip of a young girl. It was discovered along with microblades (small stone blades used as tools), body ornaments of polished stone, and a molar shaped very differently from that of Neanderthals and modern humans, resembling that of much older human species, such as Homo habilis and Homo erectus. (The tooth and the finger bone apparently came from different members of the same population.)...

Read more: New Branch of Humanity?

More at: Three Types of Ancient Humans?

By Daniel Estrin
Associated Press – Mon Dec 27
JERUSALEM –Israeli archaeologists said Monday they may have found the earliest evidence yet for the existence of modern man, and if so, it could upset theories of the origin of humans. A Tel Aviv University team excavating a cave in central Israel said teeth found in the cave are about 400,000 years old and resemble those of other remains of modern man, known scientifically as Homo sapiens, found in Israel. The earliest Homo sapiens remains found until now are half as old...

Read the whole story at: Ancient Teeth

BBC Mobile
December 27, 2010

A particular type of ancient rock art in Western Australia maintains its vivid colours because it is alive, researchers have found...

Read more at:

(Thanks to Oregon Heritage News, News Services, LiveScience, the Associated Press, Russel Micnhimer, and Jodi Lorimer for some of the info in this message).

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Petroglyph Rubbings at Skamania Lodge

I was lucky enough to get to attend a Christmas party at Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, WA this weekend.

Very nice place and they have an excellent collection of petroglyph rubbings and Pacific coast Indian-inspired wood carving displayed throughout the hotel.

The rubbings are mostly of ancient images found on the Columbia River Plateau. The region is home to hundreds of petroglyphs that have been carved into the surface of the native basalt and also to many pictographs that are painted on the rock.

Some of the rubbings are especially interesting because they are of images that are now submerged in the pools behind the major dams on the Columbia.

The rubbings were done by artist Jeanne Hillis over a number of years beginning in the 1940's. Skamania Lodge developer John D. Gray (also famous for Salishan, John's Landing, etc.) acquired the entire Hillis collection in the early 1990's to provide an artistic theme for the new lodge. Well known rock art scholar Dr. James Keyser was commissioned to write a monograph on the collection titled Indian Petroglyphs of the Columbia Gorge: The Jeanne Hillis Rubbings which was published in 1994.

I hope you enjoy the images below...and appreciate that they represent an important aspect of a living culture that has existed in the Pacific Northwest for thousands of years.

In addition to the rubbings the lodge holds several major wood carvings with images inspired by Pacific coast Indian art.

All the images in this blog are viewable for free in the public areas of the lodge. It's well worth a stop if you're ever in the area.


(The author received no compensation from Skamania Lodge (or anyone else) for this post.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Artist's Night, Cultural Trust, Machu Picchu & More

Its ARTIST'S NIGHT at the Oregon Archaeological Society! Next Tuesday is a special meeting...OAS artists will exhibit and sell their works, we''ll get a fascinating presentation on Captain Jack's Modoc Stronghold, and we get to select officers and board members for next, education, and elections...all on one night! Plus OAS Basic Training, Oregon Cultural Trust, lectures, 10,000 year-old bones and Machu Picchu artifacts being returned to Peru...all that and more below. (The very artistic carved fish in the photo is 25,000 years old and is located in the Abri du Poisson near Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, France).

The results of recent archaeological field work of Captain Jack’s Stronghold in Lava Beds National Monument in Southern Oregon is the topic of the December 7, 2010 Oregon Archaeological Society lecture. A wildfire in 2008 burned covering vegetation from the “stronghold” and afforded archaeologists access and opportunity to better survey and study the area. The extensive honeycomb of jagged rock outcroppings, caves, and caverns provided Captain Jack and his Modoc tribe with an impregnable fortress and defensive position from which to fight extradition to a reservation by the U.S. Army in 1872-1873. The battle is referred to as the Modoc Indian War in Oregon history.

Jacqueline Cheung and Eric Gleason, both archaeologists with the National Park Service will present findings from their extensive field work, including the fortification and residential features and associated artifacts in the Stronghold. Using projected stereoscopic photographs (in 3-D) from the period, they will illustrate the historic features, battle fortifications, and examine changes in the landscape.

The presentation is at Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) at 7:45 PM, and is free and open to the public. The talk is preceded at 7 PM by a general business meeting, which is also open to the public
See or call 503-727-3507 for more information.


Do you want to prepare yourself to work on volunteer projects across the U.S.? Are you looking to learn more about archaeology basics, or do you need a refresher on the history of the Pacific Northwest? The Oregon Archaeological Society offers an annual training program that can help you accomplish all these goals.

OAS Basic Training, also known as Archaeology for the Curious, is taught by experienced regional professionals and volunteers from organizations such as the National Forest Service, BLM, and the University of Oregon.

Classes are held on Saturdays and begin in January 2011.

For all the details check:


This is an important time for the Oregon Cultural Trust.

In the next month, the Trust will be reaching out to Oregonians and asking them to
make a contribution to support our state's unique cultural life and heritage. As you may know, the Trust has a goal of raising $4 million and dramatically increasing the number of donors from across the state by December 31st.

In the coming weeks, as we all spend time with our families, enjoy seasonal
performances and visit our most cherished venues and historic locations, we are asking that you take the time to make a donation to the Oregon Cultural Trust.

And in most cases, your donation will ultimately cost you absolutely nothing.

How? Through a tax credit on your state income tax for contributions to the Trust (keep in mind a tax credit is different than a tax deduction. Your tax bill is literally reduced by the amount of the credit!). To earn the tax credit:

First, make a donation to your favorite Oregon cultural non-profit (like OAS!). A list of qualifying 501(c)(3) non-profits (including OAS) is available at

Second, make an equal or greater contribution to the Oregon Cultural Trust online at

Finally, claim your 100%, dollar for dollar tax credit for your gift to the Trust on your
Oregon state income tax (up to $500 for individuals, $1,000 for couples filing jointly and $2,500 for Oregon Corporations).

Supporting Oregon's culture couldn't be easier or more important. To learn more simply visit our website or contact the Trust via email at or by phoning 503 986 0088.

Thank you for taking the time to support Oregon's most valuable resource; our unique culture. Give the Gift That Grows. Donate today.

January 21st 2011 - Friday 7:30 pm- School of Business Auditorium PSU
Ulrike Krotscheck, The Evergreen State College
“Wine for Bread: trade between Greek colonists and Gauls”

March 11th, 2011 - Friday 7:30 pm - School of Business Auditorium PSU
Thomas Tartaron, University of Pennsylvania
"Korphos-Kalamianos: Investigations at a Recently Discovered Mycenaean Harbor Town in the Corinthia, Greece, 2007-2010" (Dorinda J. Oliver Lecture)

All lectures are preceded by a no-host dinner; for details, and for ADA accommodations at lectures, please email Karen Carr at All AIA events are free and open to the public. Free parking is available in the PSU parking structures after 5 pm on Fridays.

Check out the AIA website at

The Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria will host a free
community day from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 4. Crafts will focus on a few
of the cultures that depended or worked on the Columbia River. Historic
films shown throughout the day in the Kern Room. For a schedule of
events, visit the museum's website at or join the museum on
its Facebook page.

MEXICO CITY.- One of the earliest human skeletons of America, which belonged to a person that lived more than 10,000 years ago, in the Ice Age, was recovered by Mexican specialists from a flooded cave in Quintana Roo. The information it has lodged for centuries will reveal new data regarding the settlement of the Americas.

Read the whole story at:


Alan Garcia, president of Peru, announced on Friday that Yale University has committed to return a collection of artifacts from Machu Picchu in early 2011 -- possibly ending years of negotiations and legal threats over the pieces, which were taken by a Yale team that excavated the area a century ago. Peru has long disputed Yale's assertions that the artifacts were taken legally.

Read the whole story at:

(Thanks to Oregon Heritage News, Russel Micnhimer, AIA,, and Inside Higher Ed for some of the content of this message.)

Friday, October 29, 2010

OAS eNews: Breaking Info on Events, Discoveries, and More

OAS Meeting & Presentation: Tuesday, Nov. 2
“Archaeology in the Oregon State Park System” is the title of the November 2, 2010 lecture sponsored by the Oregon Archaeological Society. From the Oregon coast to the Willamette Valley to John Day, Oregon’s state parks are the stewards of Oregon’s history, which is revealed in the cultural sites found within many of the parks. Nancy Nelson, Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department archaeologist, will provide
information on an array of archaeological site types found in state parks. Both precontact and historic archaeological sites will be highlighted, including Tseriadun, Fort Yamhill, and Kam Wah Chung.

Nelson received her education from Oregon State University and the University of Oregon in Anthropology. She has a broad range of experience working on archaeological and cultural resource projects in conjunction with the Coquille tribe; Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Suislaw; the Yakima Nation; and the Ak-Chin Indian Community in Arizona.

The presentation is at Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) at 7:45 PM, and is free and open to the public. The talk is preceded at 7 PM by a general business meeting, which is also open to the public

See or call 503-727-3507 for more information.

AIA Lecture: Friday, Nov. 12
November 12, 2010 - Friday 7:30 pm - School of Business Auditorium PSU
Susann Lusnia, Tulane University
“The Petrified City: Reading the Marble Plan of Rome”

Washougal Pedestrian/Petroglyph Tunnel Complete
...A Somewhat Tardy Report

After months of work the Petroglyph tunnel in Washougal had its grand opening in mid-August. Well over 100 people came to the celebration (including several OAS members!) and were treated to speeches by Rep. Brian Baird, the current and a couple of former Washougal mayors, other dignitaries...and yours truly.

If you're near Washougal the tunnel is well worth a visit. You can find it by simply heading for the Pendleton Woolen Mills Outlet Store (also fun to visit), parking in their lot and looking south toward the river.

The City of Washougal deserves a lot of credit for building what will be a lasting addition to the community.

(Left to right) Washougal High intern Patrick McCarthy, Washougal Councilwomen and project team member Molly Coston, Project Advisor Mike Taylor standing with "See Who Watches" panel.

Three more of the seven panels in the tunnel.

Read more at:

See more photos and info at:

Two Books to be Released Online
Two ground-breaking works on relations between Native Americans and early Pacific Northwest settlers will be released online this week by Oregon State University in celebration of the fourth annual International Open Access Week.

The OSU Press and the OSU Center for Digital Scholarship and Services are making available Theodore Stern¹s two-volume works, "Chiefs and Chief Traders: Indian Relations at Fort Nez Percés, 1818-1855," and "Chiefs and Change in the Oregon Country." First published by OSU Press in the 1990s,the books have been out of print for several years.

The books are free online as high-resolution, searchable PDF files in the press's collection in the ScholarsArchive@OSU open access repository:

Raven Bluff: another dated Alaskan fluted point site
Northwest Coast Archaeology
qmackie | October 26, 2010
"Some time ago I (Mackie) posted about the Serpentine Hot Springs site in Northwestern Alaska, at which several fluted points have been found, apparently dating to about 12,000 years ago. That’s about a thousand years more recent than Clovis, which is the best known of the early “fluted point” archaeological cultures from the Americas. I was interested to come across another site – Raven Bluff – which has recently come to light from the same general area, and which also has fluted points. At Raven Bluff, at least one of these dates to between about 12,000 and 12,500 years ago – also younger than Clovis, which is mainly confined to a narrow window around 13,000 years ago..."

Read the whole story at:

Rock Spirits at the Portals to Afterlife
By Andrew Howley
A 14,000-year-old bone flute found inside Bédeilhac cave.
The final day of the 2010 IFRAO conference on Pleistocene Art of the World continued to present innovative approaches and fascinating discoveries about the well-known but little understood world of prehistoric rock art.

Tarascon-sur-Ariège, France--Anderzej Rozwadowski gave some enlightenment about the significance of rock itself to Siberian shaman culture, showing how parts of it may match up well with Paleolithic rock art traditions. Among some of these groups, when people die, they are seen as going to an afterlife that exists within the Earth's rock. Cracks and caves are then powerful places that can serve as passages between our world and theirs.

Rozwadowski also pointed out that often in Siberian rock art, images of a drummer (presumably a shaman) are paired with a wounded or hunted animal. If ethnographic evidence can identify this as a current symbol of human death, we may be one step closer to understanding similar images from elsewhere, including the famously mysterious scene of an aggressive wounded bison facing a human-like figure who could be falling backward, in a deep shaft at Lascaux...

Read the whole story at:
More at:

Vandals Strike N. Arizona Archaeological Site
By: Associated Press

WILLIAMS, AZ - Archaeologists are assessing damage to a 1,000 year-old rock art panel in a northern Arizona forest.

A hiker reported the damage last month at the Kaibab National Forest's Keyhole Sink, named for the keyhole-shaped lava flow.

Read more at:

Aged 9,000 Years, Ancient Beer Finally Hits Stores

Dogfish Head brewery is known for making exotic beer with ingredients like crystallized ginger or water from Antarctica, so it might not sound surprising that one of its recent creations is a brew flavored simply by grapes and flowers. It's not the recipe that makes this beer so special; it's where that recipe was found: a Neolithic burial site in China...

Read the whole story at:

Subterranean Secrets-New Rock Art Discovery in Borneo Subterranean Secrets
Photograph by Robbie Shone, Barcroft/Fame Pictures

Caver Andy Eavis compares his hand size with painted prints on the walls of the recently discovered Black Hands Cave, part of the massive Gunung Mulu cave system in the Malaysian section of the island of Borneo...

Read the whole story at:

(Thanks to Oregon Heritage News, Northwest Coast Archaeology Blog, National Geographic, AIA, and Robin Harrower, Pat Lyttle, and Jodi Lorimer for some of the info in this message.)

Copyright (C) 2010 CultureWatch Northwest All rights reserved. Previously copyrighted material is the property of the copyright holder.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

King Tut! Howard Carter's Excavation Notes Released...and more!


Photo courtesy of The Griffith Institute

The Griffith Institute of Oxford University has just published Howard Carter's notes and records from his excavation of King Tut's tomb reports the Chinook Observer. Thousands of articles from the tomb are cataloged along with related photos. The website also includes hundreds of photos, some in beautiful color. Definitely worth looking at if you're at all interested in Egyptology.

More on Howard Carter's notes at:
Tut's Chariot Heads to New York:

Dr. Eric Bangs
WillametteCRA offices
623 SE Mill Street
Portland, OR 97214

Friday, August 6, 7:00 pm.
Refreshments provided

Frontiers are contact zones between cultures. The upper Rhine river valley was just such a contact zone when the Romans arrived in the first century BC. Over the next 500 years, the Romans engaged in a complex cultural interaction with the non-Roman inhabitants that eventually resulted in a creolized frontier society. A model derived from Roman authors suggests that this society was replaced by the arrival of the Alamanni in the late third century AD who, in turn, were replaced by the Merovingians in the sixth century.

The replacement model of cultural interaction in the upper Rhine is tested using a methodology based in Darwinian and meme theory. Seriations were created of stylistic elements from ceramic vessel assemblages from 14 archaeological sites in southwest Germany. The seriations suggest that non-Roman inhabitants in the first century AD did adopt aspects of Roman culture but only in the realm of emotionally charged ritual. For their day-to-day existence, the artifacts they used appear to have changed little and they maintained an identity adopted centuries before. In evolutionary terms, these practices had a high fitness relative to the cost of learning new ceramic manufacturing techniques.

Museum-goers are invited to join in the excitement of the iconic
Pendleton Round-Up Rodeo by visiting Tamástslikt Cultural Institute’s
next exhibit, Tall in the Saddle: One hundred years of the Pendleton
Round-Up. The exhibit opens July 23 and runs through January 2011.
Starting in 1910, the Pendleton Round-Up was the event that made Oregon
a rodeo destination nationally and around the world. The exhibit,
developed in partnership by Tamástslikt, the Oregon Historical Society,
and author Michael Bales, imparts the rich sense of Round-Up history
from its modest beginnings as a small town harvest festival.
Tamastslikt joined forces with OHS and Michael to present an
impressive exhibition not unlike the partnership between our Tribal
people and the citizens of Pendleton that makes the Round-Up unique,”
said Bobbie Conner, Tamástslikt director. Contact Tamástslikt Cultural
Institute at (541)966-9748 or visit for more

The first audio tour at the High Desert Museum allows visitors to
experience the Sin in the Sagebrush exhibit with its creator, Curator of
Western History Bob Boyd. The exhibit marks the first in-depth look at
how communities of the American West formed around saloons, gambling
halls, and bordellos. The audio tour is rich with details, from how a
tent bordello was used, to how to produce an ace from your sleeve.
Visitors may download the tour at home from
Contact: Cathy Carroll, communications and promotions manager
541-382-4754, ext. 300;;

National Park Service and University archaeologists have discovered one
of the homes of the multicultural village associated with Fort
Vancouver. The Village was home for 600 to 1000 Hudson’s Bay Company
(HBC) employees, their families, and visiting traders and travelers
during the fur trade period.

“Explorations in this house and its surrounding landscape will shed
new light on the lives of the diverse population that served this
colonial capital of the Pacific Northwest in the 1830s and 1840s,”
said Doug Wilson, National Park Service Archaeologist and Faculty Member
of the Department of Anthropology at Portland State University. Wilson,
who is directing the field school that is excavating the site,
identified tiny glass trade beads, buttons, musket balls, bottle glass,
and colorful Spode transfer print ceramics as evidence of the house and
its immediate surroundings. “The people living in the village, in
contrast to the “gentlemen” and their families inside the fort, left
no written records. This excavation is a way to recover the history of
this incredible community, which included people of many ancestries:
American Indians from many tribes, Native Hawaiians, French Canadians,
Europeans, Americans, and those of multiethnic origin - the Métis.”

The Museum At Warm Springs is pleased to present "Baskets Tell A Story", exhibiting baskets from the Columbia River Plateau and beyond. The exhibit shows until October 10.

Baskets from the Museum's collection are featured, together with baskets on loan from the High Desert Museum, the Hallie Ford Museum and the Jan Musial Collection. The exhibit honors the Northwest Native American Basketweavers Association (NNABA) gathering October 1-2 at Kah-Nee-Ta High Desert Resort on the Warm Springs Reservation.

The exhibit and its programs are funded by an Oregon Arts Commission Community Grant and the Oregon Cultural Trust.

This week of August 9-13 theme is “On the River.” During the week,
campers will be immersed in activities relating to the cultures and
animals that depend on the river for survival. There will be an
introduction to the Chinese and Native American cultures with crafts,
games and legends. Children will be able to make their own baskets.
Campers will take walks to explore the river and surrounding area to
identify wildlife that call the river their home. Seeing the world from
a bald eagle’s perspective and building an eagle nest are part of the
activities planned. Boat races are part of the fun during this session.
Campers will also make a paddle wheeler. A field trip to Cape
Disappointment State Park is included. The week will conclude with a jet
boat ride and a swim at the Astoria Aquatic Center.

For more information, call Jackie Welborn at 503-325-2323 or email

The Christian Science Monitor
By Danna Harman, July 23, 2010

Stonehenge had a twin nearby made of timber, say archaeologists who made the new discovery. But this dig was done with magnetometers, radar, and video game 3D technology. Without digging up one shovel of earth, or dusting off one rock with a toothbrush, Gaffney and the other members of the Stonehenge Hidden Landscapes Project have uncovered an incredible find – a mere two weeks into a three-year mission to map 5.5 square miles of land around Stonehenge...(sorry, couldn't resist using the tourist photo :-)

Read the whole story at:

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Out of Africa and Into...

Finally!! The results from my Genographic Project DNA test have arrived...and Lexie is mad that HER genetic history is missing.

Too bad, so sad...MY report is fascinating.

Below I've included some of the most interesting bits of information about my ancestral journey.

I've borrowed freely from the report that the Genographic Project sent me (and fully acknowledge any copyrights they may claim...but, hey, I paid for it).

My Y-chromosome results identify me as a member of haplogroup G (M201).

The genetic markers that define my ancestral history reach back roughly 60,000 years to the first common marker of all non-African men, M168, and follow my lineage to present day, ending with M201, the defining marker of haplogroup G.

(What follows just below is interesting, but pretty at your own risk of falling asleep...scroll down to the maps if you're in a hurry).

In the Republic of Georgia (Caucasus Mountains south of Russia, north of Turkey) members of G make up as much as 30 percent of the population. Around 14 percent of the men on the island of Sardinia belong to this group, as well as ten percent of the men in north central Italy, eight percent of the men in northern Spain, almost seven percent of the men in Turkey, and lesser percentages in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Ukraine, Lebanon, Greece, Hungary, Albania, Croatia, and Ethiopia.

G is still represented in the Middle East-some of these are Arab, some are Jews, many are neither. Across northwestern Europe, only one to three percent of the men belong to haplogroup G.

Small numbers of haplogroup G can also be found in Syria (Arabs), Russia (Adygeans), Uzbekistan (Tartars and Karakalpaks), Mongolia, and western China (Uygurs). Members of haplotype G can also be found in Sicily, Hungary, Austria, Germany, France, Norway, and Sweden. Small numbers of men belonging to haplogroup G can also be found in China, Indonesia, Taiwan, the Philippines, and the Polynesian Islands of the Pacific.

So I fired up Google Maps and created this map of the various places my ancestors were likely to frequent (click on map for larger version). The map actually agrees pretty well with more recent family history which puts my father's family in the Swiss/German geographic zone.


M168: My Earliest Ancestor
Time of Emergence: Roughly 50,000 years ago

Place of Origin: Africa

Climate: Temporary retreat of Ice Age; Africa moves from drought to warmer temperatures and moister conditions

Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Approximately 10,000

Tools and Skills: Stone tools; earliest evidence of art and advanced conceptual skills

The man who gave rise to the first genetic marker in my lineage probably lived in northeast Africa in the region of the Rift Valley (see the orange balloon on the first map), perhaps in present-day Ethiopia, Kenya, or Tanzania, some 31,000 to 79,000 years ago. Scientists put the most likely date for when he lived at around 50,000 years ago.

His descendants became the only lineage to survive outside of Africa, making him the common ancestor of every non-African man living today.

M89: Moving Through the Middle East
Time of Emergence: 45,000 years ago

Place: Northern Africa or the Middle East

Climate: Middle East: Semi-arid grass plains

Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Tens of thousands

Tools and Skills: Stone, ivory, wood tools

The next male ancestor in my ancestral lineage is the man who gave rise to M89, a marker found in 90 to 95 percent of all non-Africans. This man was born around 45,000 years ago in northern Africa or the Middle East. While many of the descendants of M89 remained in the Middle East, others continued to follow the great herds of buffalo, antelope, woolly mammoths, and other game through what is now modern-day Iran to the vast steppes of Central Asia.

My ancestors, having migrated north out of Africa into the Middle East, then traveled both east and west along this Central Asian superhighway. A smaller group continued moving north from the Middle East to Anatolia and the Balkans, trading familiar grasslands for forests and high country.

M201: Living in the Fertile Crescent
Time of Emergence: 30,000 years ago

Place of Origin: Middle East or Caucasus Mountains

Climate: Middle East: Semiarid grass plains

Estimated Number of Homo sapiens: Approximately 100,000

Tools and Skills: Stone, ivory, wood tools

My genetic trail continues with a marker that arose around 30,000 years ago, in a man born along the eastern edge of the Middle East, perhaps as far east as the Himalayan foothills in Pakistan or India. He has had relatively few descendants, and members of this clan are rarely present in population frequencies at greater than a few percent.

My ancestors were part of the Neolithic Revolution, the point at which humans changed from nomadic hunter-gatherers to settled agriculturists. Control over their food supply marks a major turning point for the human species: the beginning of civilization.

Instead of small clans of 30 to 50 people constantly moving to follow the seasons and the herds, they began to settle in much larger groups, occupying a single territory.

Larger settled communities spurred the need for trade, writing, and calendars, and pioneered the rise of modern sedentary communities and cities. The early farming successes spawned population booms and encouraged migration throughout much of the Mediterranean world.

My farming ancestors began moving out of the Middle East, through the islands and along the shores of the Mediterranean, through Turkey into the Balkans and the Caucasus Mountains.

It was once thought that the advancing farmers displaced or eliminated the hunter-gatherers of Europe. However DNA studies show that while the spread of agriculture did involve the movement of some people into Europe who had not been there before, for the most part farming was adopted by the existing Europeans. In other words, the culture, rather than the people, spread.

The whole report contains even more detail and I have to say it was well worth the $100 or so that it cost. You can get your own DNA tested and get a report on your ancestral journey at The Genographic Project.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Petroglyph Tunnel Progresses!

The other day Suzanne Bachelder (from the City of Washougal) and I went over to Vancouver Granite Works to take a look at the large basalt rock that will stand at the entry to the Washougal Pedestrian Tunnel.

This large chunk of columnar basalt will be a commemorative stone that recognizes the Indian people of the Columbia Plateau and those who contributed to the rock art portion of the project. The boulder, standing at the northern entrance to the tunnel (see drawing for one possibility), will mark the beginning of the transition from the city to the river.

The rock is not quite complete in the photos that follow. Suzanne collected tracings of actual handprints from all the high school interns who worked on the project. When complete those real handprints will be carved into the stone. When we saw it the handprints had not yet been carved, but the concept photo (at right) will give you the idea.

Check it out!

...and here are the interns and coordinators who are helping make the concept into a reality!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

60,000 Years of Family Migration: The Genographic Project


Wouldn't it be cool if you could know where your ancestors came from 60,000 years ago!? Kind of makes a trip on the Mayflower seem insignificant...

Now, through the wonders of DNA analysis, you can actually track the journey your ancient forefathers (and/or mothers) took across the globe.

National Geographic, IBM, and the Waite Family Foundation have made this possible by creating The Genographic Project. A 5-year undertaking that promises to reveal the secrets of human migration across the earth by studying the DNA of indigenous people and ordinary folks like you and me.

I've signed up to participate in The Genographic Project and I'm going to post information on the process...and my personal results...on this blog.

So let's get started!

February 5, 2010: I go to the Project website to order my Genographic Participation Kit. The kit costs $115.90 ($99.95 plus $15.95 shipping if you're in the U.S.) Not cheap, but I really want to know my family's migration pathway and they are going to test my actual DNA which I know is pretty expensive.

February 12, 2010: My Participation Kit arrives!

...and Lexie the Cat is so fascinated I thought we were going to have to send in her DNA!
February 15, 2010: DNA sampling commences! Basically you take that small plastic stick and scrap it around inside your cheek...hey, we've all seen this is pretty easy. Then you drop the business end of the stick into a little tube of fluid and screw it closed...then you do it all again creating a second sample

February 17, 2010:
I sign the Consent Form, put it and the samples in the padded envelope that comes with the kit...and drop it in the mail.

Now all we have to do is wait a few weeks for the results...a map that shows the actual migration path of my ancestors as they traveled out of Africa (I assume) and, over the centuries, find their way to North America. Stay tuned!

You don't have to spend a hundred bucks or donate your DNA to be part of the Genographic Project...just click the DONATE button below and give what you can to this worthy effort. (Of course, I have NO financial interest in the project!)