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Spessartiteis a species of garnet, and a type of silicate mineral. 

What I love about the gem hall - and maybe I’ve said it a million times, but in any case - what I love about the gem hall, especially ours, is its reflective ability to display both our love and fascination with natural beauty as well as the ego we embrace to improve upon nature. We impose our talent and craftsmanship on all sorts of aspects of our natural world, but this hall is an instance where you can see the evolution of artifact from somewhat attainable raw mineral to a man-made work of art, inconceivable to most, and intrinsically wrapped up in human history: where is the original stone from, who mined it, who cut and shaped it, who wore it, for how long, and where? It’s as if the hall is just as much an anthropological look into privileged life as it is a tribute to geologic happenstance. 

And while it may not bother the average visitor to see the gorgeous stones in matrix on display and out of reach, something nags at us when we see such a jaw-dropping piece of jewelry behind glass. We’re asked, do you ever loan these out for parties? Can I borrow one, rent one for an evening? Will you sell it? How much is it worth? And the answer is, really, no - these are specimens to be studied as much as our skeletons and meteorites, the fossils in our collections, the millions of ants in drawers. The answer is, once these specimens come to the Museum, their importance - as a rule - is equalized in value as another benchmark in time, culture, and history, an emblem for what we humans valued when the artifact was created, a study of human history through the metamorphosis of our natural resources. 

The crystal in matrix is from China, the faceted gems are from Tanzania, and the necklace was a donation for the Grainger Hall of Gems here at The Field Museum. 

Neanderthal demise not caused by inferiority, new study suggests

Scientific evidence does not support the widely held belief that Neanderthals were dim-witted and that inferior intelligence led to their extinction as the smarter ancestors of modern humans survived, according to a new study published Wednesday in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

Instead, there is evidence that Neanderthals worked together to hunt and may have participated in cultural rituals, becoming extinct as the result of a gene that made them less fertile than human ancestors. 

“The evidence for cognitive inferiority is simply not there,” said Paola Villa, who is one of the authors of the report and a curator at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History. “What we are saying is that the conventional view of Neanderthals is not true.”

[read more]

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Offerings found at the end of the 103m tunnel below the Temple of the Feather Serpent at Teotihuacan. At the end of this tunnel are three chambers that archaeologists believe may hold the remains of some of Teotihuacan’s rulers.

Items found include four stone sculptures (one male, three female)  decorated in jade and greenstone jewelry, dozens of shells from the Gulf coast, rubber balls, large cat bones, pyrite discs, a wooden box containing dozens of worked shells, more than 15,000 seeds of prickly bear, tomato, maize, and pumpkin flowers, pieces of amber, 4000 wooden objects in excellent condition, obsidian knives, slate and pyrite mirrors carved on one side, and traces of skin.

Article in Spanish about the offering

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These rock carvings are prehistoric, painstakingly carved into granite by hand, most likely with other rocks because the metals they had access were too weak. These carvings have remained for thousands of years, surviving 30 m drop in sea levels, changing climate, and weathering. There are over 1500 individual sites, with more being discovered each year. For archaeologists its a treasure trove. What mattered to Bronze Age peoples living around Northern Bohuslän region of Sweden is remarkably clear thanks to the carvings they left behind. For one thing, boats were a big deal. Weapons, hunting, rituals, and animals are all recurring motifs too.

Eating Meat Is What Separates Us From Animals?

No, seriously.  In human “natural fertility societies,” meaning groups that don’t use birth control, women breastfeed their children for an average of 27 months — until toddlers reach 2 years and a few months in age. Chimps, gorillas, and orangutans breastfeed for four to six years before weaning their young. Since these great apes live only five to six decades at the very most, they spend a much greater portion of their years nursing than their human relatives.

Why this large difference exists has been a scientific mystery for years. But recent research, comparing the weaning patterns of 67 mammalian species, points to a new answer: meat-eating. The researchers found that carnivores — animals that get 20 percent or more of their energy from meat — stop nursing their young earlier than non-carnivores. This group includes humans, tigers, and killer whales. What their research hasn’t told us is why meat-eating that allows earlier weaning.

Most people who come from some kind of social science, like anthropology, start with a relatively well-explicated concern with welfare. They’re not just studying people. They actually have concerns. And fundamental to anthropology is empathy.
—  Daniel Miller, in an interview with Janet Borgerson, published as “Materiality and the comfort of things: drinks, dining and discussion with Daniel Miller”
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Three views of a Turquoise Mosaic Mask, believed to represent Quetzalcoatl (The Feathered Serpent), which was given by the Mexica emperor Moctezuma II to the Spanish captain Hernán Cortés in 1519. Moctezuma probably suspected that Cortés was himself a god. The object is thought to have been made in Mexico sometime between 1400 and 1521 CE.

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