Comment on The Horse by Camilla

I respectfully disagree with your postulation that domestication has a negative impact on a species. You need only look at modern horses to see that they aren’t struggling with bad genetic material. Their legs are straighter and stronger than those of their wild cousins, the przwalski’s horse and the zebra. Some individuals can run up to about 40 mph or jump up to 8 feet. If horses were limited by a founding stallion with “bad” genetics, these things wouldn’t be possible. The founding stallion may have been weak, but he may just have had a passive temperament. I think that the latter is likelier. Passivity is often selected against in the wild–he could have been an outcast.

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Comment on Asses, Horses, Bits, and Chariots by cmurri

I’m probably going to say something idiotic (I cede authority on this subject to you), but haven’t the animal riding parallels also appeared in other domesticates? A quick check through Wikipedia shows this situation could also have played out with the Camel. And the donkey seems to have a similar story as well. Beyond that, I’m not sure there are any other ‘ride-able’ domesticates. Smaller camels, like the Llama, seem too small; cows are too…..cow-ish.

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Comment on The Horse by cmurri

I’m not sure where to stand on the horses discussion. Now this may be silly and wishful thinking, but couldn’t we dig our way out of the ‘poor genome’ hole through more domestication? I would hope that our many years of selecting ‘positive’ traits after domesticating the weaker horses wouldn’t really do much to hurt the species genome. Although a weak genome may not really be an issue when an animal becomes domesticated.

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Comment on Food Fundamentals by Ben Midas

I was also interested in the origin of the Ages classifications. I thought it was pretty impressive that a government employee with no training came up with the Ages because its a simple but elegant system of classification that really wasn’t that far off the mark. The specifics of the system weren’t perfect, but the idea that people used different metals and alloys at different times seems pretty good to me. I’ll agree that it is probably a good thing that its become a little more scientific, but for a first try, I think that government employee did a pretty good job.

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Comment on The Horse by Ben Midas

I agree with Bill, I think Western archaeologists looked at migration as something that was hard to conretely prove.

I found the idea that humans first domesticated the weakest male horses interesting as well. Obviously a weak male is easier to control than a strong male, but it seems to me that the stronger males would have seemed more desirable because they were stronger. I suppose the ease with which early humans could capture and domesticate the weaker horses was more important than breeding the best horses.

I’m also pretty convinced by the bit theory, but as I think more about it, the lack of many specimens seems to detract a lot from the idea. With so few specimens, I think it is hard to say anything definitive.

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Comment on Bit wear and Prehistory by 13yankeesfan

I was wondering if everyone would be sold by the bit experiment. I too found the study really interesting and I have a lot of faith in the validity of such an experiment. Anthony thoroughly convinced me that a couple millimeters on a thousand year old tooth can tell so much. I feel like he thwarted all possible issues regarding his validity. The only remaining problem that I see is simply the difficulty in obtaining samples.
It seems that written records are favored among many historians. I was really surprised that people were hesitant about using carbon dating at first and would rather rely on some ancient writings instead. I was really interested about the discussion on ancient language but it was short and confusing to me. O agree that it too can be a valuable tool in mapping our past.

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Comment on Food Fundamentals by 13yankeesfan

I was just as bewildered by the origin of archeology as you were. He mentions twice in the reading that archaeology was just the collection of things to move into a museum and nothing more. I can’t believe that no one saw the significance in such an amazing tool right off the bat. Based on the reservations regarding carbon dating it seems that for some reason there will always be trepidation regarding constructing the past. I thought it was funny that some discredited the use of carbon dating because it could be off by 100-500 years. That seems close enough to me.
I didn’t notice any connection between Anthony and Diamond ideas in the reading but that was probably because of the section where Anthony openly discredits Diamond with an example of delayed progress despite similar geography. This does not mean that he did not present some of the same ideals however. It seems like both men agree on the importance of innovation or a technology in shaping the entire culture of a people. I guess the question is where all ancient people able to obtain such a thing or did they not even have a chance.

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Comment on A Little Something Extra by Camilla

I like your painting a lot. I’m sorry that it was received so badly by critics.

Now, to be more serious: Do you think that Kessler was moved emotionally by cheese because he knew what went into it? I would argue that food can be art only if it invokes emotions in people other than the creator. Truly, the most interesting thing about art, to me, is the fact that people can get meaning out of a work of art that the creator may have never intended. A work of art becomes something that is independent of the creator. However, I still agree with you and think that, even including these parameters, food can still be art.

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Comment on The Horse by Bill Libby

First of all, if this isn’t just a glitch on my end I really like the way your blog is formatted. It reminds me of a hospital except less depressing and I don’t have to wait in line to post.

I will attempt to answer your final question, though I believe myself misinformed as well–I think archaeologists dislike migration as an explanation because, at least to me, it seems like a bit of a cop-out. Migration can be very difficult to document because it requires you to be able to track sites across a geographical plane (Which has of course changed with plate tectonics) and in absence of a concrete explanation (IE what the archaeologists dig up) it can be very tempting to say, “Oh, well it must be because of migration” for any given change in culture and then you can’t really go much farther than that. It gives the scientist a very grey area that they can dwell in without doing a whole lot of real work. In other words, maybe they think of migration as a lazy answer that shouldn’t be pursued unless all other possibilities have been explored.

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Comment on Terrestrial and Celestial by Bill Libby

I think it loops back to Jared Diamond on why some cultures are technologically superior to others; basically which cultures had the tools available to master the world around them.When I think of different cultures focusing on coexistence and the circle of life versus domination over the natural world, I think it comes down to which cultures had the tools to dominate. The ones that didn’t coexisted with their environment and the ones that did dominated it. I don’t think of that as being particularly “western” in any sense besides geography, just “modern”. In other words, what I am saying, and I’m sure someone will push back on me for saying this, is that I don’t think the Eveny (Or the tribes of Papua New Guinea) constitute a modern society. Of course, that raises the question–what is a modern society? Does being a modern society necessitate a mastery over rather than a coexistence with nature? For me, one of the defining features of a modern society is a departure from or a radical change to our natural environment, which the Eveny do not display. How could they possibly dominate their environment? It’s one of the harshest places on the planet. Simply put, in these places, nature is stronger than we are and the development of these cultures and their ideas reflect that. It makes perfect sense to me that their religious beliefs, therefore, would reflect a more earth-centric view of the world rather than the human-divine views that modern, western, dominating societies hold.

This is a lot of what I was trying to say in my post–namely that our ideas on the metaphysical and the symbolic are influenced by the changing degree of control over our environment that we as humans (Though at different rates across different geographical areas) achieve as time goes on. And that, furthermore, the metaphysical and the symbolic are products of this exchange rather than the initiators.

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