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Ancient history not only about cave men, archeologist tells crowd

February 26th, 2012 Posted in Arts and Life

Story and photo by Josh Ruggles

LOGAN — The impact of women was the topic of archaeologist James Adovasio’s lecture Saturday at the Utah State University Museum of Anthropology. But the females he spoke of were not of this generation or even this century: they were more than 10,000 years old.

Adovasio focused his time debunking preconceived ideas, such as that Ice Age humans consisted of men continually hunting wooly mammoths and other prehistoric beasts. While showing slides of perishable items including clothes, baskets and nets found at several sites, he spoke about the importance of women in human survival. He went on to compare how the ice age is depicted in paintings and drawings and the plausible reality.

“This may be because paintings with people making clothing are not exciting,” Adovasio said. “Creating a mat is much more realistic than a man with a spear, killing something.”

Ally McDonough, a museum assistant, was very impressed with the way Adovasio researched and the discoveries he has made in his career, especially his focus on women’s roles.

“I am sort of a feminist myself and I am very interested in historical women. That they weren’t irrelevant and they made a difference,” McDonough said.

Adovasio is the director of anthropology and archaeology at Mercyhurst College. He has spent over four decades working throughout the world, researching the lifestyles of the first known inhabitants of earth. His focus on textiles has led him to bring forth several discoveries of the true nature and lifestyle of people of the ice age.

“Most researchers are men, most artifacts found are stone,” Adovasio said. “So the prism in which we see these ancient people becomes skewed.”

In one site they calculated that for every one stone artifact, there were six bone and 26 perishable remnants found. Adovasio continued to stress the importance of women in the first stages of human life.

Several students and history buffs attended and were excited to learn more on the topic. “Honestly, I like history a lot. It was cool to learn about the way of life and it’s very intriguing to see how people before us lived,” said USU student, Tanner Cromar.

“The turnout was nearly 60 people,” said McDonough about the audience packed into the small museum, with many standing and sitting on the floor around the exhibits of ancient artifacts.

“The event was very well attended, I was very happy to see that. With competing against other Saturday activities it had a great turnout and we were very pleased,” said Jessy Swift, USU’s Saturday program coordinator.


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