• Unexpected result in Iran’s presidential election
For New America Media, William Beeman, professor of cultural and linguistic anthropology at the University of Minnesota, commented on the recent presidential election in Iran: “Much of what transpired in Iran during the presidential election on Friday, June 14 (Flag Day in the U.S.), won by Hassan Rowhani should be familiar to American citizens: A candidate replacing a term-limited president contrasting himself with a former conservative government, campaigning on social and human rights issues along with a promise for an improved economy, combined with a split vote for his opposition that assured his victory by less than a one per-cent margin. Echoes of the American election in 2012 and many earlier elections are clearly present in Iran in 2013. Apparently Iranian and American voters are more alike than either group realizes.”
• Paradoxical consequences of elections in Malaysia
In The Malaysia Chronicle, Clive Kessler analyzes the how, paradoxically, the election of a reduced Barisan Nasional presence and increased opposition numbers in parliament has amplified, not diminished, the power of the UMNO (United Malays National Organisation), specifically its power within the nation’s government and over the formation of national policy. He also examines the election campaign that yielded this paradoxical outcome. Kessler is emeritus professor of sociology and anthropology at the University of New South Wales.
• Studying abroad at home
Paula Hirschoff, two-time U.S. Peace Corps volunteer and M.A. in anthropology, published an article in The Chronicle for Higher Education on the value of student exchange programs within a country. She describes her positive experiences in a program which placed her in a traditionally black college in the U.S.
• Investigation of unmarked graves in Florida delayed
According to several sources, including The Tampa Bay News, a request to dig up remains at the controversial Dozier School For Boys in Marianna, Florida, has been put on hold. Researchers at the University of South Florida requested an archaeological permit from the state at the end of May to excavate. Through ground penetrating radar, researchers earlier discovered the remains of close to 50 boys buried in unmarked graves there. The State Archaeologist sent a letter to USF researchers asking for more information before making a decision on granting the permit. Families of those believed to be buried there are frustrated by the delay. Despite the permit delay, forensic experts from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office proceeded with the next step for families, taking DNA samples of three relatives. Researchers are hoping to match the DNA with the remains at the reform school. USF Archaeologist Erin Kimmerle said they will review the questions from the state archaeologist next week. Once the answers are received, it will be at least another two weeks before a decision about the permit is made.
• Lost and found: Temple city in Cambodia
The Sydney Morning Herald claimed a “world exclusive” with its coverage (video included) of the discovery of a lost medieval city that thrived on a mist-shrouded Cambodian mountain 1200 years ago. The city, Mahendraparvata, includes temples hidden by jungle for centuries and that may never been looted. The University of Sydney’s archaeology research centre in Cambodia brought high level imaging technology to Cambodia. French-born archaeologist Jean-Baptiste Chevance, director of the Archaeology and Development Foundation in London, who was a leader of the expedition, said it was known from ancient scriptures that a great warrior, Jayavarman II, had a mountain capital…We now know from the new data the city was for sure connected by roads, canals and dykes. Over years Dr Chevance and his staff had crossed ancient roads and passed ancient structures they suspected were there but could not see because they were hidden by jungle and earth. The discovery will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
• Indus civilization continues to intrigue
The Times (London) offered an update on how, after almost a century of investigation, the Indus Valley sites are still tantalizing. Two major puzzles have yet to be solved. First, in spite of the high level of urban development at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, with populations in the tens of thousands, no royal tombs or public inscriptions have been found to give names to the elite.
Another striking characteristic of Indus culture is the apparent lack of conflict. Some new research, however, suggests that, as in early literate civilizations in the Middle East, violence was a part of daily life. According to an article in the International Journal of Paleopathology, almost half of a sample of skulls from late in Harappa’s history exhibited “serious injuries from violence, the highest recorded in the history of South Asia.” The results contradict “the myth of the peaceful Indus civilisation,” said Gwen Robbins Schug of Appalachian State University, who led the research team. Victims included a child and a woman whose skulls were crushed by heavy blows.
Jim Shaffer, professor at Case Western University, tempers this finding as a characterization for Indus civilization as a whole by pointing out that the sample comes from a late period in the history of Harappa, between 1900 and 1700 BCE, when Indus civilization was in decline.
A third puzzle is discussed in an article in the Journal of Archaeological Science reporting isotopic analyses of teeth from a cemetery at Harappa half a millennium earlier. The study, by Jonathan Mark Kenoyer and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, suggests that many of the males were immigrants. Female skeletons seem to be of local women, raising the possibility that marriage, contrary to the current practice in the region, involved the groom moving to the bride’s community. If confirmed, this pattern suggests a society “where women were powerful,” Professor Kenoyer is quoted as saying. Shaffer adds that it is “one of the few real insights we have” into Indus social structure.
International Journal of Paleopathology, Volume 2, pp. 136-147; Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 40, pp. 2286-229