Neolithic Architecture: Skara Brae

On the largest island, of Orkneys, in Scotland, are 10 homes, made of earth dammed flagstone.
Included are stone hearths, beds, and cupboards. Because of the preservation of earth dammed flagstone, It is still one of Europes most complete Neolithic villages. They even had stone sewers that took water to and from the ocean.

Causing damage and over 200 known deaths, in 1850 a storm uncovered Skara Brae. Owners of the property discovered four houses but abandoned the project 18 years later. Eventually the site was raided, in 1913 by a group who took away unknown artifacts. In 1924, a storm swept away one of the houses, and it was decided in 1927, that the University of Edinburghs must properly investigate this site.

The houses were basically pit houses (sunk into mounds), with protection from rain. They were about 430 square feet, with stone hearths for heating and cooking. Given there remote location, it was not known what they burned (seaweed, driftwood, waste, peat, cattle, sheep, fishbones, everything?) Though comfy, it would have been hard to have more than 50 people there.

In 1972, the university determined the site was occupied from around 3200 BC to 2500 BC, they unearthed grains, ivory pins, killer whale teeth, walrus ivory, carving, body paints, neolithic weavings and more. There have been all kinds of theories about the people there.
Historical environment Scotlands, “Statement of Significance” for the site sums it up well and is:
The monuments at the heart of Neolithic Orkney and Skara Brae proclaim the triumphs of the human spirit in early ages and isolated places. They were approximately contemporary with the mastabas of the archaic period of Egypt (first and second dynasties), the brick temples of Sumeria, and the first cities of the Harappa culture in India, and a century or two earlier than the Golden Age of China. Unusually fine for their early date, and with a remarkably rich survival of evidence, these sites stand as a visible symbol of the achievements of early peoples away from the traditional centres of Civilizations.

Including in theories of who lived at Skara Brae, are popular theories of magicians, and a low wizards road to additional sites in southern England. Here’s to civilizations!

Neolithic site: Watson Brake

Near present-day Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, is the neolithic site Watson Brake. Making it older than stonehenge and some pyramids, it is estimated 3-4 thousand years old. It is the most ancient ‘earth mound complex’ in North America. It is recognized as a hunter-gatherer society, though believed to have also done maize cultivation with an organizational structure.
The livable mounds were believed to be constructed over 500 years of time. It is located in the Ouachita flood plain near Watson Bayou, and Monroe. It consists of 11 earthwork mounds, from 3 to 25 feet and was connected by ridges to form an oval nearly 900 feet across.
The site has been dated before the ‘poverty point’, in Northern Louisiana about 1,900 years. Though the earliest known North American mound neolithic site, there are quite a number of earlier sites in Mexico and Central America.

In 1980, local resident, Reca Bamburg Jones, identified the pattern of eleven mounds connected by ridges. She, and a few others published a survey of ‘pre history in the Ouachita River Valley In 1983.
Half the site is still owned by different families, and the site had been privately controlled since the 1950s. Northeast Louisiana University, and University of Texas (Austin) has radio carbon dated and published papers on the great antiquity of the site. The Gentry family grants permission to archeologists wishing to view this site but refuses to sell.

A concept what site may have looked like

Building coincided with periods of rainfall, and el Nino, and ‘southern oscillation events’. Hunting and gathering may represented the response to droughts, flooding and unpredictable food supply base. Food findings included: fish, shellfish; deer, turkey, raccoon, opossum, squirrel, and rabbits. Plants: goosefoot (Chenopodium berlandieri), knotweed (Polygonum spp.), and possibly marshelder (Iva annua). The people heated local gravel for cooking stones to steam some of their food. They created and fired earthenware items in a variety of shapes, but researchers have not fully yet determined their functions.

Black marking is location, in northern part of state

Without steel or metal working tools, Watson Brake demonstrates that pre-agricultural, ceramic, indigenous cultures were complex. They organized large enough forces to build nearly 10 meter mounds, and monumental construction, that marked the rise of neolithic times, and social complexity worldwide. Here’s to monuments.

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Neolithic Architecture: Pest Control, Chimney Cleaning, Log Cabin Building

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Harlans ground sloth

Many animals, from the very large to the odd lived during the ice age. Harlan’s Ground Sloth seems to be one of the most bizarre animals from that era. A mix of large and odd, these large, furry animals are related to modern sloths, armadillos, and anteaters. Unlike its smaller modern cousin, Harlan’s ground sloths could be as tall as modern elephants and as heavy as a small car.

Sheer size was not the only odd part of a Harlan’s ground sloth. These giants were bulky, with short necks, powerful chests, and massive jaws. The sloth also had three claws per hand for digging, grabbing, or defending themselves. Just like armored armadillos today, the sloth had a protective coat of rough, brown fur, with nickel-sized bone plates underneath their skin. Scientists called this the “dermal ossicles” or bone skin

Ground sloths migrated to North America during the ice age. They spent their lives wondering open-grasslands with water sources, like rivers and lakes. Using its stubby snout and sense of smell, the sloth may have found and eat grasses, shrubs, and plants with flowers. The need for water sources may have brought Harlan’s Ground Sloths to New Mexico and southern US during the ice age. Before the sand dunes existed, a giant lake called Lake Otero filled the area. It provided a water source that attracted many ice age animals, including Harlan’s Ground Sloths.

Today on the old dried lakebed of Lake Otero or Alkali Flat, New Mexico, Harlan’s Ground Sloths left clues that they were here. Many fossilized footprints are visible. They had crescent shaped footprints. Their back feet twisted inward when they walked. This made them walk slowly, almost like waddling. These large strong slow moving animals became easy targets for daring predators such as Paleo-Human hunters.

The Giant ground sloth of course does not live today. Around 10,000 years ago, the large ice age animals died out. Scientists still debate why the larger animals disappeared. The Harlan ground sloth is reminder of a time long past however with modern technology maybe one day could be brought back.

Abu Hureyra, Syria + archaeological evidence for domestication

In 1963, despite fact project would eventually flood dozens of modern villages and ancient sites. The government of Syrian Arab Republic, decided to create dams on upper Euphrates river. Culminating a series of excavation and archaeological rescue operations. Among them, an extraordinary neolithic site. Abu Hureyra.
In a short span of less than 35 years. They gathered more information about the human being transition to agriculture, then anywhere previously; with more details. Using + setting the standard for new techniques, and with less time.

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Neolithic architecture & the peppered moth(s) genetics of domestication

Popular and common amongst insect collectors, the peppered moths, are easy to preserve, and maintain after death. How easily though, there populations can adapt to new conditions in times of environmental stress. Before 1850, the moths were speckled light grey, after 1850, peppered moths, started turning darker, almost totally black. Was it evolution through natural selection, or Darwinism? It was no doubt, industrial pollution, in England, mid 19th century, turning lichen on tree trunks black. Many white, (or lighter coloured peppered moths), were easy to identify and thus vulnerable to predators. As more of the dark moths survived, the gene pool shifted toward darker colourations. Similar ‘industrial mechanisms’ were identified all over the world. For about 100 years, dark peppers moths continued to dominate the population. Then, in the 1950s, resulting from stronger anti-pollution legislation, air was cleaner, lichen went lighter, and so began the moths. The colour of the peppered moth definitely shifted in response to environmental factors however it was more multifaceted that thought (migration and birds).
In short, story highlights environmental and neolithic complexities, and reminds us: be careful, simple evolutionary changes, aren’t that easy to trace.

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