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World’s oldest forts upend idea that farming alone led to complex societies

In remote Siberia, hunter-gatherers built complex defenses 8000 years ago.

People who lived in central Siberia thousands of years ago enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle despite the area’s cold winters. They fished abundant pike and salmonids from the Amnya River and hunted migrating elk and reindeer with bone and stonetipped spears. To preserve their rich stores of fish oil and meat, they created elaborately decorated pottery. And they built the world’s first known fortresses, perhaps to keep out aggressive neighbors.

With room inside for dozens of people and dwellings sunk almost 2 meters deep for warmth in Siberian winters, the fortresses were ringed by earthen walls several meters high and topped with wooden palisades. At some point, they were consumed by flame, a possible sign of early battles. And at least one set of structures was built startlingly early: 8000 years ago, 2000 years before the mighty walls of Uruk and Babylon in the Middle East and thousands of years before agriculture reached some parts of Europe and Asia, according to a study to be reported in Antiquity on 1 December.

A centuries-long cold spell that started about 8200 years ago may have made such rich sites particularly desirable. At Amnya and other fortified settlements, burned layers show that pit houses and palisades were periodically consumed by flames, and archaeologists found arrowheads in the Amnya’s outer ditch—possible signs of violent conflict. “These things we think about now, like property ownership and social inequality—people have been thinking about since we became human,” Colin Grier of Washington State University says.

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Daily Mail


Of Royalty, Legends & Lore

Whether it’s decadent desserts, rich curries, or lipsmacking snacks, it’s no secret that India has given the world some of its most iconic foods. While the taste of a dish is left to the chef’s genius, what also adds to its flavour is its winding history through time. Every dish, you see, is the result of a story.

And today we bring you 10 such fascinating stories that have not just stood the test of time but have found love in palates across the globe.

10. Curry and its trip through time 

From dhansak and korma to rogan josh, kuzhambu and vindaloo, curries have established their dominion in our hearts for years. The origins of this favourite were traced back to the 400-year-old Harappan civilisation by two archaeologists Arunima Kashyap and Steve Weber of Washington State University.

Their analysis of starch grains led to the identification of the world’s ‘oldest’ proto-curry from the shards of a handi (a clay pot).

The curry has, of course, been an ever-evolving dish with contributions from many different cultures influencing the first recipe that was published by a woman named Hannah Glasse in 1747. Since then the curry has travelled far and wide and evolved into the staple that it is today.

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The Better India


Cordova Bay dig reveals signs of thriving First Nations village

Signs of a once-thriving village of the W̱SÁNEĆ peoples are emerging at Agate Lane Park in Cordova Bay.

It’s 8 a.m. and a cool breeze flows through a tiny park in Cordova Bay where Roger Charlie is digging into his ancestors’ past. He is lying flat on the ground on the edge of a hole. Layers of soil reveal ash and fire-cracked rocks, shells and animal bones — and a large piece of elk antler that Charlie believes might have been used as a tool to move hot rocks in a cooking pit.

Charlie can envision people around a cooking hearth sharing salmon and venison. Signs of ȾEL¸IȽĆE (pronounced Tel-eech) — a once-thriving village of the W̱SÁNEĆ and Lekwungen-speaking peoples dating back more than 1,000 years — are emerging from deep in the ground at Agate Lane Park as a University of Victoria-led archaeological field school draws to a close.

Charlie is feeling the presence of those who came before him as he gently picks and brushes the soil two feet down.

“I’m feeling very close to my ancestors,” said the 54-year-old father and grandfather. This week, he said, he had a dream of a woman about his own age who was wandering the site looking for something lost, a sign he believes is encouragement to keep uncovering the past of the Tsawout and other Indigenous people on the south Island.

All two dozen diggers — professors, graduate students and PhD candidates — have ochre smears under their eyes called TEMEL (pronounced Tem-uth) to protect them from bad spirits or feelings as they work, according to Coast Salish tradition. “Only when we are finished do we wash it away,” Charlie said.

The findings, which include slate fishing knives, fire pits, shell middens, sophisticated fish hooks, harpoon armaments and food remains such as sea lion, deer and elk bones, are evidence of a long-lasting village site that supported a large population.

A team from Washington State University used ground-­penetrating radar to map the Agate Lane site, determining the areas worth investigating. The teams also took advantage of early July’s low tides to look at the intertidal zone and found evidence of a large stone-wall fish trap in the area where Galey Brook spills into salt water to the south of the village.

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Head Topics

Student archaeologists dig around former Cannon Beach school

City checking for cultural artifacts

Archaeology students from Portland State University and Washington State University Vancouver are exploring around NeCus’ Park before construction begins on a renovation of the former Cannon Beach Elementary School.

In early July, the city brought in about a dozen students from the long-running Public Archaeology Field School typically held at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park. Their work will help ensure that significant cultural deposits will not be disrupted by construction, Katie Wynia, the site’s field director, said.

“This could be done by a professional company that does archaeology, but it’s been a great partnership with the park and the city to provide this educational opportunity for the students,” she said.

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The Astoria

Kalispel Tribe partners with WSU researchers on 5,000-year-old archeological dig

The Kalispel Tribe is collaborating with Washington State University researchers on a 5,000-year-old archeological dig.

Ancient Tribal earth ovens are being excavated as part of the first archeological project ever made public by the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, said WSU researchers in a news release on Tuesday. The ovens were built long before the Egyptian pyramids.

The excavation will happen on June 5 near Newport with WSU archeologists. Attendees will see uncovered artifacts at the site and learn more about the history of the Kalispel Tribe’s indigenous food systems.

The artifacts are being carefully removed from the ground to make room for essential housing for the Tribe, according to researchers.

At the same time, explained archeologists, the excavation provides an opportunity for the Tribe to discover more of its history. Archeologists believe the site was an ancient tribal hunting camp on the banks of the Pend Oreille River and believe the project could reveal insights into the foods the Kalispel people have been preparing and eating in the Northwest for the last 5,000 years.

Shannon Tushingham.

Shannon Tushingham, a WSU professor of archeology who has worked with the Tribe for many years, is leading an archeological field school where students will get first-hand experience practicing techniques.

“It is really about teaching students the archeological skills they will need to get jobs in the growing field of cultural resource management,” Tushingham said. “We are training the next generation of professional archeologists how to work with tribal communities and interact with them in a meaningful and professional way. We are honored to be hosted by the Kalispel Tribe.”

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