. Scientific Frontline: Archaeology
Showing posts with label Archaeology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Archaeology. Show all posts

Friday, January 6, 2023

New study suggests Mayas utilized market-based economics

Obsidian collections from the site of Q'umarkaj and the surrounding region.
Photo Credit: Rachel Horowitz

More than 500 years ago in the midwestern Guatemalan highlands, Maya people bought and sold goods with far less oversight from their rulers than many archeologists previously thought.

That’s according to a new study in Latin American Antiquity that shows the ruling K’iche’ elite took a hands-off approach when it came to managing the procurement and trade of obsidian by people outside their region of central control.

In these areas, access to nearby sources of obsidian, a glasslike rock used to make tools and weapons, was managed by local people through independent and diverse acquisition networks. Over time, the availability of obsidian resources and the prevalence of craftsmen to shape it resulted in a system that is in many ways suggestive of contemporary market-based economies.

“Scholars have generally assumed that the obsidian trade was managed by Maya rulers, but our research shows that this wasn’t the case at least in this area,” said Rachel Horowitz, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of anthropology at Washington State University. “People seem to have had a good deal of economic freedom including being able to go to places similar to the supermarkets we have today to buy and sell goods from craftsmen.”

Monday, December 12, 2022

Precise solar observations fed millions in ancient Mexico

Rising sun Mount Tlaloc in Mexico.
Photo Credit: Ben Meissner

Without clocks or modern tools, ancient Mexicans watched the sun to maintain a farming calendar that precisely tracked seasons and even adjusted for leap years.

Before the Spanish arrival in 1519, the Basin of Mexico’s agricultural system fed a population that was extraordinarily large for the time. Whereas Seville, the largest urban center in Spain, had a population of fewer than 50,000, the Basin, now known as Mexico City, was home to as many as 3 million people.

To feed so many people in a region with a dry spring and summer monsoons required advanced understanding of when seasonal variations in weather would arrive. Planting too early, or too late, could have proved disastrous. The failure of any calendar to adjust for leap-year fluctuations could also have led to crop failure.

Though colonial chroniclers documented the use of a calendar, it was not previously understood how the Mexica, or Aztecs, were able to achieve such accuracy. New UC Riverside research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrates how they did it. They used the mountains of the Basin as a solar observatory, keeping track of the sunrise against the peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

“We concluded they must have stood at a single spot, looking eastwards from one day to another, to tell the time of year by watching the rising sun,” said Exequiel Ezcurra, distinguished UCR professor of ecology who led the research.

Monday, November 21, 2022

1,700-year-old spider monkey remains discovered in Teotihuacán, Mexico

Complete skeletal remains of a 1,700 year-old female spider monkey found in Teotihuacán, Mexico.
 Photo Credit: courtesy of Nawa Sugiyama

The complete skeletal remains of a spider monkey — seen as an exotic curiosity in pre-Hispanic Mexico — grants researchers new evidence regarding social-political ties between two ancient powerhouses: Teotihuacán and Maya Indigenous rulers.

The discovery was made by Nawa Sugiyama, a UC Riverside anthropological archaeologist, and a team of archaeologists and anthropologists who since 2015 have been excavating at Plaza of Columns Complex, in Teotihuacán, Mexico. The remains of other animals were also discovered, as well as thousands of Maya-style mural fragments and over 14,000 ceramic sherds from a grand feast. These pieces are more than 1,700 years old.

The spider monkey is the earliest evidence of primate captivity, translocation, and gift diplomacy between Teotihuacán and the Maya. Details of the discovery will be published in the journal PNAS. "This finding allows researchers to piece evidence of high diplomacy interactions and debunks previous beliefs that Maya presence in Teotihuacán was restricted to migrant communities," said Sugiyama, who led the research.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

UiB scientists discover 80 000-year-old bone tools

80 000 Year Bone Tools: From left to right: experimental debarking in Africa, the bone tool tip after use, Francesco d'Errico taking replicas in the field of an experimental bone tool.
Resized Image using AI by SFLORG
Photo Credit: UiB, SapienCE

Until the beginning of this century, the production of fully worked bone tools was considered an innovation introduced in Europe around 40,000 years ago by modern humans. Research carried out over the last two decades has led to the discovery of bone tools in several regions of Africa, some of which could date back 100,000 years. But these early bone tools are rare and non-standardized in shape.

Key cultural innovations

The discovery of 23 bone tools from the Sibudu rock shelter, Kwa Zulu-Natal, South Africa, all with a flattened ogival-shaped end, found in archaeological layers dated to between 80 000 and 60 000 years ago, changes the picture.

“Our new study documents the technology and function of the earliest fully shaped bone tools from this region. The discovery of these tools contributes to a better understanding of when and how these innovations arose, and what they were used for,” Francesco d’Errico says. He is the lead author on the paper just published in Scientific Reports.

d’Errico is part of the SapienCE team at the University of Bergen. The SapienCE Centre of Excellence, funded by Norwegian Research Council, consists of an interdisciplinary team of world leading scientists. The aim for SapienCE is to improve our understanding of how and when Homo sapiens evolved into who we are today.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Previously unknown monumental temple discovered near the Tempio Grande in Vulci

Archaeologists and other colleagues uncover the walls of the Etruscan temple in Vulci.
Photo Credit: Mariachiara Franceschini

Archeologists from the universities of Freiburg and Mainz identify one of the largest known sacred buildings of the Etruscans

An interdisciplinary team headed by archeologists Dr. Mariachiara Franceschini of the University of Freiburg and Paul P. Pasieka of the University of Mainz has discovered a previously unknown Etruscan temple in the ancient city of Vulci, which lies in the Italian region of Latium. The building, which is 45 meters by 35 meters, is situated west of the Tempio Grande, a sacred building which was excavated back in the 1950s. Initial examination of the strata of the foundation of the northeast corner of the temple and the objects they found there led the researchers to date the construction of the temple towards the end of the sixth or beginning of the fifth century BCE. “The new temple is roughly the same size and on a similar alignment as the neighboring Tempio Grande, and was built at roughly the same Archaic time,” explains Franceschini. “This duplication of monumental buildings in an Etruscan city is rare, and indicates an exceptional finding,” adds Pasieka. The team discovered the temple when working on the Vulci Cityscape project, which was launched in 2020 and aimed to research the settlement strategies and urbanistic structures of the city of Vulci. Vulci was one of the twelve cities of the Etruscan federation and in pre-Roman times was one of the most important urban centers in what is now Italy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Old Bone Links Lost American Parrot to Ancient Indigenous Bird Trade

A thick-billed parrot.
Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

For centuries, Indigenous communities in the American Southwest imported colorful parrots from Mexico. But according to a study led by The University of Texas at Austin, some parrots may have been captured locally and not brought from afar.

The research challenges the assumption that all parrot remains found in American Southwest archaeological sites have their origins in Mexico. It also presents an important reminder: The ecology of the past can be very different from what we see today.

“When we deal with natural history, we can constrain ourselves by relying on the present too much,” said the study’s author, John Moretti, a doctoral candidate at the UT Jackson School of Geosciences. “These bones can give us kind of a baseline view of the animal life of the ecosystems that surrounded us before huge fundamental changes that continue today began.”

The study was published in print in the September issue of The Wilson Journal of Ornithology.

Thursday, October 20, 2022

A 10,000-Year-Old Infant Burial Provides Insights Into the Use of Baby Carriers and Family Heirlooms in Prehistory

 Team of researchers including Claudine Gravel-Miguel from Arizona State University, Jamie Hodgkins from the University of Colorado Denver work at the excavation of Arma Veirana.
Credit: University of Colorado Denver

If you’ve taken care of an infant, you know how important it is to find ways to multitask. And, when time is short and your to-do list is long, humans find ways to be resourceful—something caregivers have apparently been doing for a very, very long time.

The authors of a new article published in the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory argue that they have found evidence of the use of baby carriers 10,000 years ago at the Arma Veirana site in Liguria, Italy. The research, led by Arizona State University’s Claudine Gravel-Miguel, PhD, also includes the University of Colorado Denver’s Jamie Hodgkins, PhD, an Associate Professor of Anthropology, and a co-principal investigator on the excavation of Arma Veirana.

Because material used to make the first baby carriers is not preserved well in the archaeological record and because prehistoric baby burials are very uncommon, evidence for prehistoric baby carriers is extremely rare. The site—which includes the oldest documented burial of a female infant in Europe, a 40- to 50-days-old baby, nicknamed Neve—has both. Researchers used innovative analytical methods to extract hard-to-obtain information about perforated shell beads found at the site.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Stone spheres could be from Ancient Greek board game

Groups of spheres from Akrotiri
Credit: Konstantinos Trimmis

Archaeologists from the University of Bristol have suggested that mysterious stone spheres found at various ancient settlements across the Aegean and Mediterranean could be playing pieces from one of the earliest ever board games.

There has been quite a lot of speculation around these spheres found at sites on Santorini, Crete, Cyprus, and other Greek Islands with theories around their use including being for some sort of sling stones, tossing balls, counting/record-keeping system or as counters/pawns.

Previous research by the same team from the University of Bristol indicated that there was variability in sphere size within specific clusters and collections of spheres. Following on from this the team wanted to explore potential patterning within these sphere concentrations, to help give an insight into their potential use.

The latest study published this week in the Journal of Archaeological Science Reports by Drs Christianne Fernée and Konstantinos Trimmis from the University of Bristol’s Department of Anthropology and Archaeology examined common features on 700 stones – which range from around 4,500 to 3,600 years old – found at the Bronze Age town of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Archaeologists uncover ancient mosaics on the shore of the Sea of Galilee

JGU students recording the outlines of the mosaic – with a tall waterside plant with blossoms and small green leaves on three stems in the exposed portion and the stern and rudder of a boat on the lower left
Credit: Hans-Peter Kuhnen

With the help of geomagnetic surface surveys and subsequent hands-on digging, an excavation team from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) has revealed new insights into the area in which the caliph's palace of Khirbat al-Minya was built on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. According to these findings, there had already been a settlement occupied by Christian or Jewish inhabitants in the immediate vicinity long before the palace was built.

"This time we have really hit the jackpot with our excavations," said site director and archaeologist Professor Hans-Peter Kuhnen with regard to the outcome of the most recent undertakings in the area around the early Islamic caliph's palace Khirbat al-Minya in Israel. The team of archaeologists from Mainz made this major discovery using geomagnetic methods and by digging test pits on the basis of the findings. They discovered that in the early 8th century the caliph had commissioned the building of his palace, with its incorporated mosque and a 15-meter-high gateway tower, not – as hitherto suspected – on greenfield land on the unoccupied shore of the Sea of Galilee, but adjacent to and respectfully co-existing with a prior settlement. The research project was initially conceived as a means of training students in archeological field work. It was undertaken with the support of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, the Axel Springer Foundation, the Santander Foundation, and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The team was accommodated in the Tabgha Pilgerhaus guesthouse run by the German Association of the Holy Land (DVHL), which has owned the site of the excavations on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee since 1895.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Using science to solve ancient Chinese art mystery

UC assistant professor Pietro Strobbia consulted with the Cincinnati Art Museum to solve a mystery about one of its ancient Chinese masterpieces.
Photo credit: Andrew Higley/University of Cincinnati

The Cincinnati Art Museum turned to a scientist at the University of Cincinnati for help solving a mystery 1,300 years in the making.

The museum’s Chinese dancing horse sculpture is so realistic that the fiery steed seems ready to gallop off its pedestal. But East Asian art curator Hou-mei Sung questioned the authenticity of a decorative tassel on the terracotta horse’s forehead that resembles the horn of a mythological unicorn.

The museum reached out to UC College of Arts and Sciences assistant professor of chemistry Pietro Strobbia for help to determine if the tassel was original to the work.

“Many museums have a conservator but not necessarily scientific facilities needed to do this kind of examination,” Strobbia said. “The forehead tassel looks original, but the museum asked us to determine what materials it was made from.”

Strobbia and his collaborators wrote about the project for a paper published in the journal Heritage Science.

Monday, September 5, 2022

Archaeologists discover monumental evidence of prehistoric hunting across Arabian desert

Distribution of kite structures in the Levant and in northern Arabia. White: previously documented kites. Red: kites recorded by EAMENA.
Credit: EAMENA

Archaeologists at the University of Oxford’s School of Archaeology have used satellite imagery to identify and map over 350 monumental hunting structures known as ‘kites’ across northern Saudi Arabia and southern Iraq – most of which had never been previously documented.

Led by Dr Michael Fradley, a team of researchers in the Endangered Archaeology in the Middle East and North Africa (EAMENA) project used a range of open-source satellite imagery to carefully study the region around the eastern Nafud desert, an area little studied in the past. The surprising results, published in the journal The Holocene, have the potential to change our understanding of prehistoric connections and climate change across the Middle East.

Termed kites by early aircraft pilots, these structures consist of low stone walls making up a head enclosure and a number of guiding walls, sometimes kilometers long. They are believed to have been used to guide game such as gazelles into an area where they could be captured or killed. There is evidence that these structures may date back as far as 8,000 BCE in the Neolithic period.

Kites cannot be observed easily from the ground, however the advent of commercial satellite imagery and platforms such as Google Earth have enabled recent discoveries of new distributions. While these structures were already well-known from eastern Jordan and adjoining areas in southern Syria, these latest results take the known distribution over 400km further east across northern Saudi Arabia, with some also identified in southern Iraq for the first time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Researchers develop the first AI-based method for dating archaeological remains

Credit: Unsplash

By analyzing DNA with the help of artificial intelligence (AI), an international research team led by Lund University in Sweden has developed a method that can accurately date up to ten-thousand-year-old human remains.

Accurately dating ancient humans is key when mapping how people migrated during world history.

The standard dating method since the 1950s has been radiocarbon dating. The method, which is based on the ratio between two different carbon isotopes, has revolutionized archaeology. However, technology is not always completely reliable in terms of accuracy, making it complicated to map ancient people, how they moved and how they are related.

In a new study published in Cell Reports Methods, a research team has developed a dating method that could be of great interest to archaeologists and paleognomicists.

“Unreliable dating is a major problem, resulting in vague and contradictory results. Our method uses artificial intelligence to date genomes via their DNA with great accuracy, says Eran Elhaik, researcher in molecular cell biology at Lund University.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Medieval monks were ‘riddled with worms’, study finds

Augustinian friars being excavated by the Cambridge Archaeological Unit. 
Credit: Cambridge Archaeological Unit

A new analysis of remains from medieval Cambridge shows that local Augustinian friars were almost twice as likely as the city’s general population to be infected by intestinal parasites.

This is despite most Augustinian monasteries of the period having latrine blocks and hand-washing facilities, unlike the houses of ordinary working people.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Archaeology say the difference in parasitic infection may be down to monks manuring crops in friary gardens with their own feces, or purchasing fertilizer containing human or pig excrement.

The study, published today in the International Journal of Paleopathology, is the first to compare parasite prevalence in people from the same medieval community who were living different lifestyles, and so might have differed in their infection risk.

The population of medieval Cambridge consisted of residents of monasteries, friaries and nunneries of various major Christian orders, along with merchants, traders, craftsmen, laborers, farmers, and staff and students at the early university.

Cambridge archaeologists investigated samples of soil taken from around the pelvises of adult remains from the former cemetery of All Saints by the Castle parish church, as well as from the grounds where the city’s Augustinian Friary once stood.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Northernmost Neolithic Fortifications Found

The group of archaeologists in the project under the state order of the Ministry of Science and Education of Russia is headed by Victor Borzunov.
Photo from Victor Borzunov's personal archive

To establish and characterize in detail the livelihood strategies of the primitive population of the Trans-Urals and Western Siberia of the Stone, Bronze and Early Iron eras. This is the task archeologists at Ural Federal University have set for themselves within the interdisciplinary project "Regional Identity of Russia: Comparative Historical and Philological Studies". Scientists have found that during the New Stone Age, the aborigines of the forest belt of the north of the Eurasian continent continued to maintain an appropriate economy and could not rise to the level of a fundamentally new production economy.

Scientists conduct research in this area under the state order of the Ministry of Science and Education of Russia (№ FEUZ-2020-0056) and under a grant from the Russian Science Foundation. The group in the project is headed by Victor Borzunov, a Senior Researcher of the Fundamental Research Archaeological Laboratory of UrFU.

The work, which continued many years of research by the laboratory personnel, is carried out in three main directions. The first is the study of neolithization of the societies of the Ural-West Siberian Region. In other words, the peculiarities of ancient groups of 6th-4th millennia B.C. to the advanced innovations of the Old World, such as productive economy, more or less strong sedentary life, large stationary settlements, ceramic production, defense architecture, fundamentally different house-building, stone processing, new social structures etc.

The second direction is the analysis of the origin and development of the ancient defensive architecture of the north of Eurasia in the 7th millennium B.C. - 3rd century A.D., its place and role in the general system of origin and development of fortified settlements, proto-cities and cities of the Old World.

Monday, August 1, 2022

New Mexico Mammoths Among Best Evidence for Early Humans in North America

Close up of the bone pile during excavation. This random mix of ribs, broken cranial bones, a molar, bone fragments, and stone cobbles is a refuse pile from the butchered mammoths. It was preserved beneath the adult mammoth’s skull and tusks.
Credit: Timothy Rowe / The University of Texas at Austin.

About 37,000 years ago, a mother mammoth and her calf met their end at the hands of human beings.

Bones from the butchering site record how humans shaped pieces of their long bones into disposable blades to break down their carcasses, and rendered their fat over a fire. But a key detail sets this site apart from others from this era. It’s in New Mexico – a place where most archaeological evidence does not place humans until tens of thousands of years later.

A recent study led by scientists with The University of Texas at Austin finds that the site offers some of the most conclusive evidence for humans settling in North America much earlier than conventionally thought.

The researchers revealed a wealth of evidence rarely found in one place. It includes fossils with blunt-force fractures, bone flake knives with worn edges, and signs of controlled fire. And thanks to carbon dating analysis on collagen extracted from the mammoth bones, the site also comes with a settled age of 36,250 to 38,900 years old, making it among the oldest known sites left behind by ancient humans in North America.

“What we’ve got is amazing,” said lead author Timothy Rowe, a paleontologist and a professor in the UT Jackson School of Geosciences. “It’s not a charismatic site with a beautiful skeleton laid out on its side. It’s all busted up. But that’s what the story is.”

Friday, July 29, 2022

Octopus lures from the Marianas are the oldest in the world

UOG archaeologist Michael Carson at the 2013 excavation of Sanhalom in Tinian, near the House of Taga. The excavation uncovered an octopus lure artifact from a layer that Carson has since carbon dated to 1500–1100 B.C., making it the oldest known artifact of its kind in the world.
Credit: MARC | University of Guam

A University of Guam archaeological study has determined that cowrie-shell artifacts found throughout the Marianas were lures used for hunting octopuses and that the devices, which have been found on islands across the Pacific, are the oldest known artifacts of their kind in the world.

The study used carbon dating of archaeological layers to confirm that lures found in Tinian and Saipan were from about 1500 B.C., or 3,500 years ago.

“That’s back to the time when people were first living in the Mariana Islands. So, we think these could be the oldest octopus lures in the entire Pacific region and, in fact, the oldest in the world,” said Michael T. Carson, an archaeologist with the Micronesian Area Research Center at UOG.

The study, titled “Let’s catch octopus for dinner: Ancient inventions of octopus lures in the Mariana Islands of the remote tropical Pacific,” is published in World Archaeology, a peer-reviewed academic journal. Carson, who holds a doctorate in anthropology, is the lead author of the study, assisted by Hsiao-chun Hung from The Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.

The fishing devices were made with cowrie shells, a type of sea snail and a favorite food of octopuses, that were connected by a fiber cord to a stone sinker and a hook.

They have been found in seven sites in the Mariana Islands. The oldest lures were excavated in 2011 from Sanhalom near the House of Taga in Tinian and in 2016 from Unai Bapot in Saipan. Other locations include Achugao in Saipan, Unai Chulu in Tinian, and Mochom at Mangilao Golf Course, Tarague Beach, and Ritidian Beach Cave in Guam.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Oldest DNA from domesticated American horse lends credence to shipwreck folklore

This tooth is all that remains from one of the first horses introduced to the Americas, and its DNA is helping rewrite the history of one of the best-known horse breeds in the United States: The Chincoteague pony.
Credit: Jeff Gage

An abandoned Caribbean colony unearthed centuries after it had been forgotten and a case of mistaken identity in the archaeological record have conspired to rewrite the history of a barrier island off the Virginia and Maryland coasts.

These seemingly unrelated threads were woven together when Nicolas Delsol, a postdoctoral researcher at the Florida Museum of Natural History, set out to analyze ancient DNA recovered from cow bones found in archaeological sites. Delsol wanted to understand how cattle were domesticated in the Americas, and the genetic information preserved in centuries-old teeth held the answer. But they also held a surprise.

“It was a serendipitous finding,” he said. “I was sequencing mitochondrial DNA from fossil cow teeth for my Ph.D. and realized something was very different with one of the specimens when I analyzed the sequences.”

That’s because the specimen in question, a fragment of an adult molar, wasn’t a cow tooth at all but instead once belonged to a horse. According to a study published this Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE, the DNA obtained from the tooth is also the oldest ever sequenced for a domesticated horse from the Americas.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Rock art detection via machine learning model a breakthrough

A hypothetical example of possible rock art image detection on an image from Kakadu National Park.
 Source: Griffith University

Researchers have developed a way to detect the presence of rock art in remote, hard-to-reach areas in Australia’s rugged landscapes using Machine Learning (ML) methods.

Co-led by Dr Andrea Jalandoni, a digital archaeologist from Griffith University’s Centre for Social and Cultural Research, the study used hundreds of images of rock art found within Kakadu National Park to train a ML model to detect whether painted rock art was present within the image.

The model achieved an 89% success rate, meaning it determined which images contained rock art the vast majority of times.

“Some of these sites are not easily accessible, so alleviating some of the time, effort and expense to mount some explorative missions is of huge value to this type of archaeological research in some of the most remote areas of Australia,” Dr Jalandoni said.

“Once our ML model picks up whether an area photographed potentially contains previously undiscovered rock art, scientists can then go in and ground-truth the site to verify if there is rock art present and report on it further.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Britain's earliest humans

Artist reconstruction of Homo heidelbergensis making a flint hand axe  
Credit: Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge / Illustration by Gabriel Ugueto

Homo heidelbergensis may have occupied southern Britain between 560,000 and 620,000 years ago

Archaeological discoveries made on the outskirts of Canterbury, Kent (England) confirm the presence of early humans in southern Britain between 560,000 and 620,000 years ago. The breakthrough, involving controlled excavations and radiometric dating, comes a century after stone tool artefacts were first uncovered at the site. The research, led by archaeologists at the University of Cambridge, confirms that Homo heidelbergensis, an ancestor of Neanderthals, occupied southern Britain in this period – when it was still attached to Europe – and gives tantalizing evidence hinting at some of the earliest animal hide processing in European prehistory.

Located in an ancient riverbed, the Canterbury site was originally discovered in the 1920s when local laborers unearthed artefacts known as hand axes, but by applying modern dating techniques to new excavations their age has finally been determined. Led by Cambridge’s Department of Archaeology, the recent excavations have not only dated the original site but also identified new flint artefacts, including the very first ‘scrapers’ to be discovered there. The researchers have dated these stone tool artefacts using infrared-radiofluorescence (IR-RF) dating, a technique which determines the point at which feldspar sand-grains were last exposed to sunlight, and thereby establishing when they were buried.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

The Legacy of Colonialism Influences Science in the Caribbean

Map of the Caribbean region.
Generated with ArcGIS Pro online.

With the retreat of sprawling empires after the Second World War, one might think the colonial mindset of taking from smaller countries to support large nations would likewise be relegated to the past. But a new paper in The American Naturalist by an international collaboration of researchers shows how the legacy of colonialism remains deeply entrenched within scientific practice across the Caribbean archipelago.

The authors note that a colonial mindset in science, which does not account for the ways humans have interacted with and altered the Caribbean environment for centuries, skews our understanding of these systems. Also, the lack of local involvement in research and the extraction of natural history specimens have come at the expense of former colonies and occupied lands.

“I hope our study encourages more people to think about the impacts of their research and research practices, and to be more involved in the communities they are doing research in,” said Melissa Kemp, an assistant professor of integrative biology at The University of Texas at Austin who has done extensive fieldwork in the Caribbean and is one of the study’s three senior authors.

The paper’s other senior authors are Alexis Mychajliw, an assistant professor at Middlebury College, and Michelle LeFebvre, assistant curator of South Florida Archaeology and Ethnography at the Florida Museum of Natural History. The paper’s lead author is Ryan Mohammed, a Trinidadian biologist and postdoctoral research associate at Williams College.

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