Friday, May 6, 2011

Our Common Ancestor: Homo Heidelbergensis

We did not have a chance to talk about Homo heidelbergensis in our lectures, but it appears that there is a growing consensus that this hominid species was our common ancestor with the Neandertals. This species is believed to have been widespread in Africa and Asia in the middle Pleistocene period between 781,000 to 126,000 years ago. To read more about the latest study click HERE.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Senate Official: Wrong to Link Bin Laden, Geronimo

The news is currently dominated by stories of the capture and killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. But here is one story I never expected to hear: "After bin Laden was killed, the military sent a message back to the White House: "Geronimo EKIA" — enemy killed in action."

Once again, we have a case of negative stereotyping of Native Americans and an inappropriate use of their iconography. As Tuell, member of the Nez Perce tribe in Idaho states, "These inappropriate uses of Native American icons and cultures are prevalent throughout our society, and the impacts to Native and non-Native children are devastating".

The linking of Native American hero Geronimo and U.S. enemy Osama bin Laden is another example of the fact that although non-existent in the biological sense, "race" as a cultural construct, is alive and well, with strong impacts on society today.

To read more, see: Senate official: Wrong to link bin Laden, Geronimo

UPDATE: Apache tribe is requesting a formal apology from President Obama.
The leader of Apache warrior Geronimo’s tribe is asking President Obama for an apology for the government’s use of his name as a code name for Osama bin Laden.

In a letter to Obama, Fort Sill Apache Tribal Chairman Jeff Houser said equating Geronimo to a “mass murderer and cowardly terrorist” was painful and offensive to all Native Americans. “Right now Native American children all over this country are facing the reality of having one of their most revered figures being connected to a terrorist and murderer of thousands of innocent Americans,” he wrote

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2011) NYT Critics' Pick

I can't wait to see director Herzog's new documentary, "Cave of Forgotten Dreams".

As Dana Stevens, critic at the Washing Post states, "If you are a member of the human race, you should see this movie."

And this is what Manohla Dargis, NYT reviewer, has to say:

"What a gift Werner Herzog offers with “Cave of Forgotten Dreams,” an inside look at the astonishing Cave of Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc — and in 3-D too. In southern France, about 400 miles from Paris, the limestone cave contains a wealth of early paintings, perhaps from as long ago as 32,000 years. Here, amid gleaming stalactites and stalagmites and a carpet of animal bones, beautiful images of horses gallop on walls alongside bison and a ghostly menagerie of cave lions, cave bears and woolly mammoths. Multiple red palm prints of an early artist adorn one wall, as if to announce the birth of the first auteur."

One of the most amazing things about this new film is that it captures what almost no human eyes have seen for at least 20,000 years. As the washington Post review points out,

"Chauvet, the most recently discovered and by far the oldest of the great Paleolithic cave-painting sites of Western Europe, has been visited only by a small group of scholars since it was found by three spelunkers on a hike in 1994...Miraculously, Herzog was granted permission to film, and for a six-day period he and a skeleton crew of three descended into the cave with very limited equipment—three cold light panels and a custom-built 3D camera rig—to give the rest of the world what ma! y [sic.] be the closest look we will ever get at some of the world's earliest works of art."

Follow this link to read more about this amazing new film. To watch an interview with director Werner Herzog: NYT Herzog interview.
Lastly, if you still can't get enough, check out the Chauvet Caves Gallery.