Posted by: Khepera | Friday, 15 May 2009

NEWS: Human Origins


A recent article in the UK Telegraph, African Tribe Populated Rest of the World, has again raised the question, reigniting the conversation regarding human origins.  While, for many of this, it is simply a variation on a well known though often unaccepted theme, there are some other questions which it might be wise to consider.

As noted in the first excerpt below, this discovery is based upon a presumption that the entire human population was reduced to around 200 individuals around 70,000 years ago.  However, this premise rests upon a foundational assumption/hypothesis  regarding significant geological changes — and the associated climate shifts — which are notoriously difficult to capture with precision, even now.

In part, my point here arises out of some variations in the chronometric sensibility in different cultures around the world, most notably Egypt/Khemet, India and Mexico(the Maya).  In another post, I introduce the system of Puranic time, and some discussion of its parameters.  The post & article address specifically the archaeological record, which, imho, applies equivalently to the anthropological record.  Clearly, attempting to assert the provincial labels used in early european development — ages of Stone, Bronze, Iron, etc. — is ludicrous on the face of it, and is not supported by available evidence.  Further, the defining of “high culture” has shifted from one of science and material culture to one of hegemonic maintenance.

While some may argue that the image(below) in an associated article — Scientists Reveal Face of the First European — has its color from the clay used, this jaundiced view ignores the fundamental assertion that the first europeans were people of color, and only lost their pigment due to climate change…which some would argue makes the a *race* of albinos.  Of course, race is a fabricated term, which leads all who use it into a narrow cognitive cul-de-sac. Yet, there is some irony to twisting its use back upon its creators.

These points merit consideration, in large part because, in western society, and essentially worldwide, the knowledge or ignorance of these facts, these scientific determinations is the foundation, the root soil from which are spawned the entire cancerous infestation of racism/white supremacy, discrimination and oppression of the majority of people on this planet — people of color.  Until we collectively can engage one another with the understanding that neither is better than the other, in the same way an acid is no “better” than an alkaloid/base, the insidious acrimony will continue to eat at us from within…which is the most despicable aspect of this nonsense.  It’s worth referencing the response/assertion of the Chinese scientists who participated in the study.  It’s also worth adding a link to an intriguing work on complexion, which dove tails nicely with these points — The Paleo-Etiology of Human Skin Tone, by Frank W. Sweet.

 The first modern European Forensic artist Richard Neave reconstructed the face based on skull fragments from 35000 years ago.  Photo: BBC

The first modern European Forensic artist Richard Neave reconstructed the face based on skull fragments from 35000 years ago. Photo: BBC

This brings us to an intriguing juncture, when examining the etymology of the name of our species.  Is it possible that, in the same way one might glean that “woman” could be a contraction of “womb”-“man”(pardon the pun ladies!), one might similarly surmise that “human” is a contraction of “men of hue.”  However, this leaves us with the conundrum of the possible differential between “humanity” & “mankind,” but more on that in another post.  Excerpts of the articles follow — use the above links to view them in full.

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African Tribe Populated Rest of the World

The entire human race outside Africa owes its existence to the survival of a single tribe of around 200 people who crossed the Red Sea 70,000 years ago, scientists have discovered.

By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent
Last Updated: 9:10AM BST 09 May 2009

Research by geneticists and archaeologists has allowed them to trace the origins of modern homo sapiens back to a single group of people who managed to cross from the Horn of Africa and into Arabia. From there they went on to colonise the rest of the world.

Genetic analysis of modern day human populations in Europe, Asia, Australia, North America and South America have revealed that they are all descended from these common ancestors.

It is thought that changes in the climate between 90,000 and 70,000 years ago caused sea levels to drop dramatically and allowed the crossing of the Red Sea to take place.

The findings are to be revealed in a new BBC Two documentary series, The Incredible Human Journey, that traces the prehistoric origins of the human species.

Dr Peter Forster, a senior lecturer in archaeogenetics at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge who carried out some of the genetic work, said: “The founder populations cannot have been very big. We are talking about just a few hundred individuals.”

Homo sapiens, known casually as “modern humans”, are thought to have first evolved around 195,000 years ago in east Africa – the earliest remains from that time were uncovered near the Omo River in Ethiopia.

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Scientists Reveal Face of the First European

The face of the first European has been recreated from bone fragments by scientists.

By Urmee Khan, Digital and Media Correspondent
Last Updated: 8:36PM BST 04 May 2009

The head was rebuilt in clay based on an incomplete skull and jawbone discovered in a cave in the south west of the Carpathian Mountains in Romania by potholers.

Using radiocarbon analysis scientists say the man or woman, it is still not possible to determine the sex, lived between 34,000 and 36,000 years ago.

The head was rebuilt in clay based on an incomplete skull and jawbone discovered in a cave in the south west of the Carpathian Mountains in Romania by potholers.

Using radiocarbon analysis scientists say the man or woman, it is still not possible to determine the sex, lived between 34,000 and 36,000 years ago.

Europe was then occupied by both Neanderthal man, who had been in the region for thousands of years, and anatomically-modern humans – Homo sapiens.

Modern humans first arrived in Europe from Africa.

The skull appears very like humans today, but it also displays more archaic traits, such as very large molar teeth, which led some scientists to speculate the skull may belong to a hybrid between Homo sapiens and Neanderthals – an idea discounted by other experts.

Erik Trinkaus, professor of anthropology at Washington University in Missouri, said the jaw was the oldest, directly-dated modern human fossil. “Taken together, the material is the first that securely documents what modern humans looked like when they spread into Europe,” he said.

The model was created by Richard Neave, a forensic artist, for a BBC programme about the origins of the human race and evolution.

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