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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Epipaleolithic wooden dock found in southern England

Very interesting, unique and intriguing archaeological discovery this one that I found
at Archaeology in Europe: the remains of a large wooden structure (maybe a dock), a log boat and lots of other artefacts (flint tools, strings, hazelnuts, charcoal...) have been discovered underwater at the Isle of Wight, in southern England. They date from the Epipaleolithic (also called sometimes "Mesolithic") period, before farming or pottery arrived to the area.

More details at


Kepler said...

Amazing what trained eyes can detect!
Do they know the age because of the shapes? I doubt they can measure age from stuff under water.

OT: I am reading After the Ice, very good (although already a couple of years old).

OT2: I got part of the deep clade test: J2a4h and three tests to come...I don't understand why they don't give data about what further loci they studied to reach this conclusion, I suppose they tested more of them to get to this level but I would have to pay for that part of the data.
Have you tested your haplogroups? If so: also FTDNA?

Maju said...

The article is not too specific but if you have wood and charcoal, then you have C-14 and a datation.

You can also get typological estimates based on tools but this can be misleading.

Re. "After the Ice": no idea. Is it a book?

Re. DNA testing. This is the kind of situation I would not really know what to do with if I tested my DNA: what does J2a4h mean?

Would it make any difference if I, particularly as individual am R3c2j or W8c5k7f? That's the main reason I don't take any test, the other being economical... and the third that I don't make any money transactions through the net on principle... and the fourth how trustworthy are such commercial DNA companies...

This matters for population genetics but for individuals, except maybe for paternity tests, looks totally trivial.

I can't help you with your complains against your company but I'm puzzled that they don't give you all the info. Looks like your consumer rights are being violated.

I would participate in a cooperative open wiki-like project to test people that would not be too costly and whose results would be publicly available. But not a cent for commercial companies. In fact I have already applied for one but do not have a reply yet.

The only purpose I see to such endeavours is to expand the global database, what would require that the money obtained, if any, would be dedicated to research projects in poor areas of the world, so we all get a better idea of WTF may J2a4h mean. Commercial companies are not doing anything of that: it should be NGOs not companies doing such things.

Kepler said...

Sure, but can carbon c-14 be useful when the material has been under water for thousands of years? I would imagine (but then I know nothing of that) that corruption down there is worse than under the normal soil.

OT 1: It is a book:
"After the Ice: A Global Human History 20,000-5000 BC, by Mithen." Read comments in Amazon.

OT 2:It does not make a difference but it could help in understanding the movements of people and even in Europe little is known. I know that is one of the 2 square n generation ancestors anyone has (more or less) and even if all my ancestors had J2, that does not define me. I also know the databases are greatly biased towards Europe/USA.
Still, I find the history of the peoples of the Mediterranean and Middle East highly interesting and J2 is to a big extent that. I probably would have not ordered the extra test had I got an R1b or R1a.

Of course, the core of these endeavours should be carried out by NGOs and the like in nations where little is known: Northern Africa, the Middle East...and for population genetics in general in other parts above all like South Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America.

OT3: I was reading an article from beginning of this year where Venezuelan scientists tested a couple of hundred individuals in rather isolated communities. The results were interesting. You see: there are like less than 2% of Venezuelans who considered themselves Indians (i.e. speak native American languages, form a genetic cluster)and they live in the borders. Most other people have an Indian component, but it is very diluted and yet they got this:


It is not a big revelation, but it is nice to see the traces are there and they can still help us reconstruct part of our prehistory

Maju said...

Sure, but can carbon c-14 be useful when the material has been under water for thousands of years? I would imagine (but then I know nothing of that) that corruption down there is worse than under the normal soil.

Sometimes is the opposite in fact, because there's less oxygen. Anyhow these conditions should not affect the carbon isotopes, as this is an atomic property: the half-life of the heavier isotopes, that tend to degradate to "normal" C-12, which is quite regular. There's some corrections to do based on the overall atmospheric carbon, more importat for older dates, but the local conditions, unless it's been disturbed by fire or something, should not affect it too much.

There are other forms of datation, like thermoluminiscence, uranium isotopes, etc.

OT3: is a rather interesting paper, it seems. I'll read it in full later on (I have some headache now) and will probably blog on it. Thanks for the link. :)

Kepler said...

Thanks for the information on carbon.

Looking forward to the post from a European perspective.

I am preparing one myself as I wrote
here, but I am reading some more before I finish. That was a post on an older article about admixture in the capital.