Friday, December 7, 2012

After the Ice notes, pt. 2

Continued notes from Steven Mithen's After the Ice.

Wrangel Island mammoths: “200 km north of Siberia” (252) at time of Old Kingdom Egypt

Planning a trip across spacetime

Itinerant among several cave systems

Volcanic crater called Palli Aiki in Patagonia

Cut sections out of the root system of a poisonous tree

“Beyond the rocks there is a grassy plain, and then a lake, which blends imperceptibly with the distant sky” (266) - puna of the Peruvian Andes

Massive dams

Epiphytes: “plants which attach themselves to another for support and extend wandering tentacles through the air” (275)

Butchery is a long business

Cascadia: southern Alaska to Norcal - “deep fjords, convoluted sea passages and many offshore islands” (297) - most complex hunter-gatherer societies ever - salmon fishing, diverse hunting and gathering

Wargata Cave, Tasmania: impenetrable rainforest, Kutikina Cave, hand stencils with blood pigment

Imbracite: glass from Darwin Crater, bedrock -> glass because of meteor

Teeth, shells, and stone; upland glaciers; extinct lakes; charcoal and red ochre

Megafauna and “civilized” people - in Australia (Liverpool Plains) ~ 4000 C - Diprotodon (rhino-sized wombat)

In harsh environments, knowledge of landscape spiritually ingrained - storytelling and dances to communicate vital knowledge

Ritual: burning grassland (implicit: new growth)

Animal masks, elaborate headdresses

Ritual fight gone wrong -> real -> unleash something

Polygyny -> lots of fighting to reduce the supply of men

Animal with plant limbs - “yams and waterlilies” (333)

Aboriginal Dreamtime: Rainbow Serpent changes among snake/kangaroo/crocodile, created bodies of water

Myths having basis in environmental changes: misplaced causality

A good thing once unjustly seized becomes bad

Dense population -> social tension and violence

Lowland source: muddy water; mountain source: sediments

Valleys hidden in the mountains, not just one unending range; an enclave, intermontane

“Ridges from which he can see the huge expanse of forest climbing over hills to disappear under heavy cloud” (340)

Axes made from shell

Sundaland: prehistorical Southeast Asian landmass - Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Java, Sumatra - “forest and mangrove swamp” (351) - primordial, dangerous, overpowering, few flowers, dark, humid

Aerial roots, so trees “appear to begin in mid-air” (351)

Butterflies drink sweat? Ominous - revisit butterfly story? everyone at the coast because butterflies rule the forest

In rainforest: birds, turtles, frogs, fish, prawns, crabs, wild cattle; tubers (for carbohydrates), ferns, fruits, shoots

Forest streams tied to culture; ghosts and gods

Rhinos and hyenas in China (Ailuropoda-Stegodon fauna)

Ichang Gorge: “fantastic towers of curiously splintered and weathered rock” (360) - limestone on Yangtze

Wild rice = Oryza rufipogen

Morphology: form; physiology: function

Two claims: one outrageous, one moderately unusual - state the outrageous one needs more investigation, support the moderate

Intricate Jomon pottery vessels - snake-rims

To make acorns unbitter: ash or burial

Use a caldera as a cauldron for big magic

Pig-traps: “narrowing walls to tightly wedge the pig once it [falls] in” (377)

Find mollusks and clams - depressions in the sand - stack shells lips-down in sand, put grass on top and light on fire

Dolphin bones

High Arctic, Russian Far East

Oak, elm, birch; bear, fox, boar; to north, conifers

Russian Federation: Sakha Republic in Siveria

“waves of fores-covered hills that rhythmically rise and fall before fading gently into sky” (382)

Siberian bison; mammoth steppe

Dwellings marked by boulders

Raw meat good for health at high latitudes

Mammoths frozen under snow and ice (Berezovka) - ate glowers; Berelekh mammoth cemetery

Conifers in article: slow growth (time capsules), toxic, unpleasant to eat, decompose slowly, big root systems

“Midsummer arrives and the skies become pastel, often like the mother-of-pearl from inside a shell. Strange haloes and coronas frequently appear around the sun and moon” (386-7)

Hunt swans and seals

Zhokov: polar bear as primary food source - butcher by removing lower legs and feet; cut apart head to remove canines and brain

Chalcedony; obsidian from where?; chert (what color?) and jasper

Clothes of reindeer skin - scrape with stone flakes set in bone handles, rinse, soak in urine; sinew thread soaked in seawater

Bladder-skin bags to collect water

Collect potentially useful stuff without having a specific purpose

Know specific polar bears

Indian ostriches in Thar desert - eggshells as beads

Kurnool Caves: limestone crags; the Charnel-house, Purgatory, the Cathedral

Boulders rising above trees

Generation ~ 25 years

Bolan and Kybar Passes: key routes into South Asia

Ancient burial at Mehrgarh: “red cloth shroud and a string of seashells” (409)

Lapis lazuli from Afghanistan; copper bracelet

Drive cattle through flames to kill parasites

“Mountain gorges open into wooded valleys edged by banks of scree which provide occasional glipses of jagged snow-covered peaks” (414)

Wild roses

Aq Kupruk: the White Bridge - Afghanistan

Knives, bracelets, and coins; bone pins, stone beads

Tying vulture/eagle wings to arms

Between hills and plain; walk between roofs on thick walls

Stone raptor heads (Nemrik, Iraq)

Umm Dabaghiyah: seasonal residences - hunting season - related paintings and shrins

Collected articles from various languages

“the distant Sinjar hills, furrowed with countless ravines, each marked by dark purple shadows that melted into the evening haze” (436)

“maze of mud-brick walls and alleys” (437)

Nile delta: “a vast expanse of lagoons, marshes and scrubby woodland, cut apart by a spider’s web of streams” (444) - annual flooding, so camp on dunes

Sansaveria: succulent plant in Rift Valley, also called olduvai; antiseptic juices, bind wounds

Headless animal images; combine human-animal forms

A tiger among cattle: evil v. good or Ubermensch v. the last man?

Chapter 50 title: Thunderbolts in the Tropics

Rock paintings attributed to gods and spirits

Lots small lakes: remnants of one big lake

Tadrart Acacus: Sahara’s central massif - sandstone and schist

Willow leaves: soporific, keeps sheep subdued; buckets of hide

Other writers: Paul Theroux
Among the Mountains, Wilfred Thesiger
Trans-Europe walking: Nicholas Crane, Patrick Leigh Fermor
Across Australia, Balwin Spencer and Frank Gillen
Archaeology of the Dreamtime, Josephine Flood
Stone Age Economics, M. Sahlin
African Trilogy, Peter Matthiessen
Maasai practical reasoning linked to cattle - J. G. Galaty

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