Friday, August 04, 2006

Paleolithic Juvenilia

Were cave artists sex- and hunting-obsessed teenage boys?

I discovered an article with the title "Paleolithic Juvenilia" in the August 2006 issue of Scientific American. It was written by JR Minkel and it covers the research of R. Dale Guthrie, a paleobiologist emeritus at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

Dr. Guthrie argues that Paleolithic cave art differs greatly from art created for ritualistic or shamanic purposes. "Paleolithic art isn't like that," he said. "It was done in a more naturalistic way, [showing] real animals eating, copulating, braying or bellowing, biting."

Guthrie studied 201 handprints found in caves from Spain and France. He measured them and compared them to modern humans. Statistically, the cave handprints match children ages 10 to 16. Much of the cave drawings focus on hunting and mating as well. As these are well know activities that have fascinated adolescent males in the past, it is reasonable to assume they are the ones most likely to have created the cave art.

Clearly, the Paleolithic cave drawings today are world treasures. They have taught us a lot about the world our ancestors lived in as well as teaching us about our ancestors as well. And to think we may have hormonally driven boys to thank for it...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

History of Honduras

History of Honduras. This is a brief history of the Central American nation of Honduras.

The Encyclopædia Britannica notes, "Country of Central America situated between Guatemala and El Salvador to the west and Nicaragua to the south and east. The Caribbean Sea washes its northern coast, the Pacific Ocean its narrow coast to the south. It has an area of 43,277 square miles (112,088 square km), including the offshore Caribbean department of the Bay Islands. The capital is Tegucigalpa (with Comayagüela), but—unlike most other Central American countries—another city, San Pedro Sula, is equally important industrially and commercially, although it has only half the population of the capital. "

From the site:

The restored Mayan ruins near the Guatemalan border in Copan reflect the great Mayan culture that flourished there for hundreds of years until the early 9th century. Columbus landed at mainland Honduras (Trujillo) in 1502. He named the area "Honduras" (meaning "depths") for the deep water off the coast. Spaniard Hernan Cortes arrived in 1524. The Spanish founded several settlements along the coast, and Honduras formed part of the colonial era Captaincy General of Guatemala. The cities of Comayagua and Tegucigalpa developed as early mining centers.

Honduras, along with the other Central American provinces, gained independence from Spain in 1821; the country then briefly was annexed to the Mexican Empire. In 1823, Honduras joined the newly formed United Provinces of Central America. Social and economic differences between Honduras and its regional neighbors exacerbated harsh partisan strife among Central American leaders and brought on the federation's collapse in 1838. Gen. Francisco Morazan--a Honduran national hero--led unsuccessful efforts to maintain the federation, and restoring Central American unity remained the chief aim of Honduran foreign policy until after World War I.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

History Carnival XXXVI

History Carnival XXXVI. The newest edition of the History Carnival as up at Clews. This blog is described as , "WELCOME to my study of historic true crime. Take a seat, please. They're high-backed and cushioned, as cozy as a first-class Pullman. My chair rests at the intersection of history, journalism, law, and murder, and true crime connoisseur that you are, you'll recognize familiar tales. But I want to tell you some stories you haven't heard before... "

The history blogosphere did not do a good job with this one. The author (Laura James) notes, "For this, the 36th edition of the History Carnival, your hostess received exactly zero nominations. Much of the citizenry of the history blogosphere seems to be -- if not standing in front of the television, hands over mouths -- downloading reruns of Gilligan's Island from YouTube."

Sorry, I usually submit three or four submissions. But, I have been traveling on vacation, dealing with a sick kid, and a flooded basement. I guess late summer is a bad time to host the carnival as would over the Christmas holiday as people are busy and away from their computers. Potential future host for the January 1st, 2007 History Carnival, you have been warned!

Despite the lack of submission, the host has done a great job. Thanks Laura!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Literacy in Pre-Hispanic Philippines

Literacy in Pre-Hispanic Philippines. When Spaniard Miguel de Legazpi came to Philippines, he found that a large portion of the population could read and write. This caused the priest to publish a book in the native script in 1593, long before the first book was published in what was to become the United States. However, within a century of the arrival of the Spanish, literacy in the Tagalog script that they had found was gone. It was not until the end of Spanish rule that it was discovered that several isolated mountain groups had maintained their literacy in scripts similar to the Tagalog script.

From the site:

Why does the world consider China, Japan, and Thailand as countries that have a tradition of writing and assume that the Philippines owes its literacy to the West? It is because these countries use their own writing systems while Filipinos read and write in the Latin alphabet. Although outsiders may be forgiven for such a belief, many Filipinos unfortunately also do not know that a writing system was in place in the Philippines long before the Spaniards arrived.