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Gen-Fed Program 2018 Released

Gen-Fed Program for 2018 Released

David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, gives welcoming remarks to begin week-long Gen-Fed at the National Archives in Washington, DC, on July 10, 2017.

The Genealogical Institute on Federal Records has announced its 2018 list of lecturers and topics for the week-long course to be held at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and College Park, Maryland, from July 16–20, 2018. Among those presenting are NARA staff members (current and retired), and expert genealogists, researchers, and historians from a variety of backgrounds. The Innovation Hub at NARA-DC, on Pennsylvania Avenue, located within the Robert M. Warner Research Center on the first floor, offers proximity to archivists and records and serves as the institute’s home base.

Records from all three branches of governments will be studied during the institute—legislative, executive, and judicial. The program’s opening day immerses attendees in multiple strategies for on-site and remote research with lectures focused on solving genealogical problems scheduled later in the week. Informal access to reference archivists, a hallmark of the institute, has been expanded.

Although NARA is now closed on Saturdays, longer hours on Monday through Friday result in more time for research during the week. An orientation to genealogical research at the Library of Congress on Monday evening prepares attendees to take advantage of LC evening hours throughout the week. On Saturday, July 21, participants may attend an orientation at the Daughters of the America Revolution (DAR) Library and spend a full day exploring one of the top genealogical libraries in the country.

Online registration for the 2018 Genealogical Institute on Federal Records will open on Saturday, February 24, at 1:00 PM EST. Details on registration will be released on Thursday, February 15th. For more information on the institute and its history, visit www.gen-fed.org.

A Federal Family Tree and Finding Your Way in Federal Records
        —Malissa Ruffner, JD, CG, Director, Gen-Fed
Retrieval Workshop: Getting the Pull Slips Right
       Debra A. Hoffman, Assistant Director, Gen-Fed
Using the National Archives Catalog for Genealogical Research
       Suzanne Isaacs and Meredith Doviak, NARA
NARA’s Records, Coast to Coast
       Trevor Plante, NARA
Introduction to Local History and Genealogy, Main Reading Room, Library of Congress (LC) (at LC)
       — James Sweany, MSLS
Basic Military Records and Pension Records
       Jonathan Webb Deiss, Military Research Specialist, soldiersource.com
Immigration & Nationality: Beyond the Basic Documents, Part I and Part II
       Marian Smith, Historian, United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS)
Mining Land Entry Records for Family History and Reward for Service: Bounty Land Records
       Angela McGhie, CG, genealogist, lecturer, blogger, and course coordinator of courses at Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) and Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR)
Blasting Brick Walls with Legislative Records and Unique Map Holdings of NARA
       — Rick Sayre, CG, CGL, FUGA, genealogist, course coordinator at SLIG and Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP)
State Department Correspondence Case Study
       Kenneth W. Heger, PhD, NARA (retired)
Using Federal Records to Explore Native American Ancestry
       Angela Walton-Raji, genealogist, author, founding member of AfriGeneas.com and the Midwest African-American Genealogy Institute (MAGGI)
Overcoming African American Research Challenges with Federal Records
—LaBrenda Garrett-Nelson, JD, LLM, CG, genealogist, author of A Guide to Researching African American Ancestors in Laurens County, South Carolina, and course coordinator at SLIG (2019) 
Court Records: Making a Federal Case Out of It
 and Spread the Word: More Family in Federal Records
       Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL ,“The Legal Genealogist”
Introduction to the Daughters of the America Revolution (DAR) Library (at DAR)
       —Darryn Lickliter, MLIS

CG and CGL are proprietary marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.

 

 

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Black and White Southern Families in Antebellum Plantation Records

 

 

The North Carolina Genealogy Society Proudly Presents… “Black and White Southern Families in Antebellum Plantation Records” featuring Ari Wilkins
The North Carolina Genealogical Society, Inc.

North Carolina Genealogical Society

The North Carolina Genealogical Society is delighted to present:
Ari Wilkins“Black and White Southern Families in Antebellum Plantation Records”
A LIVE webinar on 7 March 2018, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm EST

This live webinar is available to NCGS members only. You must be logged in to access registration.The handout for this presentation will be posted on the NCGS website at least one week prior to the webinar. On the top menu, under Education & Events, select Webinars to go to the main webinars page. The box at the top right of that page has a link to “Member Webinar Handouts”, which is arranged in alphabetical order.

About the Webinar:

The Southern Antebellum Plantation Records are an invaluable resource to Southern and African American researchers. This extensive collection encompasses business and personal papers from numerous slaveholding families of the South. For white Southern families, the collection can uncover decades of genealogical history along with details such as the dynamics of personal relationships, communication, and the entanglements of associated families. For African American research, these records can potentially list enslaved persons by name and include other significant information such as family relationships, dates of birth and death, and bills of sale.
This presentation will demonstrate the breadth of the collection, how to navigate and apply the records to personal research.

About the Speaker:
Ari Wilkins photo   Ari Wilkins, a graduate of Louisiana State University, has been actively researching family history since 1998. Ari worked with the esteemed genealogist, Dr. James Rose, for many years on his final project Generations: The WPA Ex-Slave Narrative Database. She is the owner of the genealogical consulting company, Black Genesis. Ms. Wilkins also works as a contributor for Proquest’s African American Heritage database.
Ms. Wilkins has spoken nationally at the National Genealogical Society, Federation of Genealogical Societies, Texas State Genealogical Society, Ohio Genealogical Society, Samford Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research, American Library Association, and a multitude of local societies.
Ari has been a Library Associate at Dallas Public Library since 2007. She teaches a series of basic research classes using popular genealogical websites. She specializes in African American research.

To register for the live webinar, look under Upcoming Events on the NCGS home page. You will need to log in as a member in order to register.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
This event is sponsored through GoToWebinar, and will be viewable via the link sent to you after registration. It will not be on the NCGS web site. After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar. If you use an email program that uses Sender Lists to allow receipt of email, especially Earthlink or Mindspring, you may need to add @ncgenealogy.org to your list of “approved senders” to receive email from NCGS. Remember to include the @ in front of ncgenealogy!
Webinar Viewing Options
  • Live webinars, the post-webinar Q&A sessions, and the accompanying handouts are free for NCGS members.
  • Recordings of the webinars are available to members within a few weeks of the live session.
  • A public replay of the webinar will occur on a future date that will be published on the website and in the NCGS News.

________________________________

 

Ken Trantham

Publicty Committee Chair

publicity@ncgenealogy.org

 

 

Copyright © 2018 North Carolina Genealogical Society, Inc., All rights reserved.

You have been added to this list because you are a member or former member of the North Carolina Genealogical Society, you have purchased one of our books or CDs, or you have attended one of our workshops.

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North Carolina Genealogical Society, Inc.

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Manumission Records of Slaves in Jamaica

Manumission Records of Slaves in Jamaica

Resource: Genealogia Nuestra – Our Ancestors access 2/11/2018

One of the terms that many of us that descend from enslaved ancestors know is the word manumission.  Manumission is the term used when referencing the freedom of those that were enslaved. The term is used when individuals managed to attain their freedom, whether through the slaveholder freeing them or through the enslaved person purchasing their freedom or a family member do thing for them.

While many of us would like to find these records, it isn’t an easy task. It becomes harder for those of us who have ancestors that come from the Caribbean. Many records have been destroyed or lost due to fire, hurricanes, the humidity, and the insects that enjoy eating through the records.

Many times when books were found to be in poor condition, they would wind up being burned as trash. Preservation is not a priority when many face struggles in feeding their families and maintaining homes.

While records are disappearing, many have taken on the mission of preserving these records, which helps many in the genealogy world discover records that were not previously available to them. Many of these preservation projects are taken on via grants through universities around the globe.

One such project is based out of the United Kingdom but easily accessible in the USA. While the project has identified that there are 70 registers but the first 4 volumes are missing. The volumes that are available are Volumes 5 through 12, contain people who were manumitted in the following parishes across Jamaica covering the time period of 1747 through 1838:
  • Clarendon
  • Hanover
  • Kingston
  • Manchester
  • Port Royal
  • Portland
  • St. Andrew
  • St. Ann
  • St. Catherine
  • St. David
  • St. Dorothy
  • St. Elizabeth
  • St. George
  • St. James
  • St. Mary
  • St. Thomas in the East
  •  St. Thomas in the Vale
  • Trelawny
  • Vere
  • Westmoreland

The volumes are as follows and if browsing from a computer, they will open in a new tab:

Emancipation Park, Kingston, Jamaica

 

Manumission Records of Slaves in Jamaica

Michigan State University Grant to House a Massive Slave Trade Database

 

Published: Jan. 9, 2018

MSU USES $1.5M MELLON FOUNDATION GRANT TO BUILD MASSIVE SLAVE TRADE DATABASE

Contact(s): Andy Henion, Dean Rehberger, Walter Hawthorne, Ethan Watrall, Rebecca Jensen

Michigan State University, supported by nearly $1.5 million from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will create a unique online data hub that will change the way scholars and the public understand African slavery.

By linking data collections from multiple universities, the website will allow people to search millions of pieces of slave data to identify enslaved individuals and their descendants from a central source. Users can also run analyses of enslaved populations and create maps, charts and graphics.

The project, called “Enslaved: The People of the Historic Slave Trade,” is funded by a $1.47 million grant from the Mellon Foundation.

“’Enslaved’ brings new digital tools and analytical approaches to the study of African slavery and the Atlantic slave trade,” said project co-investigator Walter Hawthorne, professor and chair of MSU’s Department of History. “By linking data compiled by some of the world’s foremost historians, it will allow scholars and the public to learn about individuals’ lives and to draw new, broad conclusions about processes that had an indelible impact on the world.”

Dean Rehberger, director of Matrix: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at MSU, will lead the project along with Hawthorne and Ethan Watrall, associate director of Matrix and assistant professor of anthropology.

This project, which will take 18 months, is the first phase of a multi-phase plan. In phase one, MSU and partners will develop a proof-of-concept to show data can be linked across eight well-established online databases, including the collection at MSU’s Matrix.

In addition to Matrix – one of the premier digital humanities centers – MSU has the top-ranked African history graduate program in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report.

“’Enslaved’ reaffirms Michigan State University’s longstanding commitment to Africa-centered research,” Watrall said, “and to creating tools and digital experiences that engage researchers, students and the public in critical questions about our collective past, culture and heritage.”

The partner projects in phase one are “African Origins and Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database” led by David Eltis, professor emeritus, Emory University, and Paul Lachance; “The Slave Societies Digital Archive” led by Jane Landers, Vanderbilt University; “Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography” and “Dictionary of African Biography and African American National Biography” led by Henry Louis Gates Jr., Steven Niven and Abby Wolf, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University; “Freedom Narratives” led by Paul Lovejoy, York University; “Legacies of British Slave-Ownership” led by Keith McClelland, University College, London; and “The Liberated Africans Project” led by Henry Lovejoy, University of Colorado Boulder; and “Slave Biographies” led by Daryle Williams, University of Maryland.

The funding follows a $19,450 Mellon grant for project planning.

“We and our partners value the support of the Mellon Foundation,” Rehberger said. “In bringing together data from a number of highly successful projects, we have the opportunity from many small threads of data to weave together lives of enslaved individuals once thought lost to history.”

The Ancient Origins of New Zealanders

Biological anthropologist Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith is researching the genetic make-up of Kiwis.

Biological anthropologist Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith is researching the genetic make-up of Kiwis.

Aotearoa was the final destination of a very long journey that began in Africa over 65,000 years ago.  Whether you’re a red-headed country music singer in Gore or a Filipino dairy worker in Dannevirke, your ancestral homeland is Africa.

When a small band of modern humans filtered out of Africa into Europe and Asia, they encountered other human types who had arrived there hundreds of thousands of years before.  Our new breed of taller, seemingly more savvy and better equipped men and women co-existed with Neanderthals for at least 10,000 years before they died out, whether through force or happenstance.

Our common ancestor was Homo erectus.  We were not yet so different from Neanderthals that we couldn’t interbreed.  The encounters were rare and rarely productive but nevertheless, everyone today who is NOT of pure African descent carries a small percentage of Neanderthal DNA, about 2 percent – slightly more in Asian populations who seem to have had additional, later encounters. Those Neanderthal jokes about our colleagues and former boyfriends have rebounded on us.

Skeleton of the Neanderthal boy recovered from the El Sidron cave, Spain.

PALEOANTHROPOLOGY GROUP MNCN-CSIC

Skeleton of the Neanderthal boy recovered from the El Sidron cave, Spain.

This genetic legacy has given us some good and bad traits, such as stronger hair and skin, a predisposition to type 2 diabetes and Crohn’s disease, and increased risk of nicotine addiction. Apparently, Neanderthals shared our on/off faculty for appreciating the defining note of pinot noir and violets, a compound called beta ionine.  A single nucleotide difference (a basic component of DNA) distinguishes the active and inactive version of the gene.

READ MORE:
Tracing where the first Kiwis came from
Gene analysis project goes way, way back

The first scientist to think of using differences in our DNA to trace our origins and relatedness grew up on a farm in Pukekohe.

Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith hands out DNA test kits to 50 people in Nelson after introducing the audience to the Allan ...

Martin de Ruyter

Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith hands out DNA test kits to 50 people in Nelson after introducing the audience to the Allan Wilson Centre project The Longest Journey from Africa to Aotearoa.

The late, great New Zealand scientist, Allan Wilson, who should be a household name here, spent his adult life in America, based at the University of California, Berkeley.  He died in 1991 from leukaemia, aged 56. Wilson deduced that chimpanzees and the first human species diverged from a common ancestor only 5-7 million years ago, not  about 30m as previously thought – a bit too close for comfort for some.

It caused a bitter controversy at the time, and not just among evolution deniers. Scientists are human too, and not always objectively ‘sapiens’. Reputations become nailed to old masts.

Wilson led a group of evolutionary biologists who realised that we could reconstruct human history by studying markers in our mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which is inherited lock, stock and barrel from mother, and not mixed up with father’s DNA when sperm meets egg.  Every so often, a spelling mistake, known as a mutation, is made when the DNA is being copied. Once a mutation occurs, it is then passed on to all future generations.

These mtDNA mutations rarely have any effect on the person.  Wilson and his team realised that if they looked at mtDNA from people around the world, they could compare the DNA and draw a family tree, identifying when and where these mutations occurred. The different mtDNA lineages could be used to trace the movement of populations across the globe.

They calculated that all humans alive today trace their origin back to one woman – so-called Mitochondrial Eve – who lived in Africa a mere 150,000 years ago.  This doesn’t mean that she was the only woman on Earth at the time, but that all other lines have since become dead ends, literally.

The different branches of the mitochondrial family tree are labelled by letters, with each branch defined by a particular mutation or combination of mutations.

The oldest lineages are the L branches, which are found only in African populations. About 65,000 years ago, a small group of humans carrying the L3 lineage left Africa, probably through what is now Egypt. This group soon split and the mutations occurred that define the two main non-African lineages, the M and N branches. Women carrying the N lineages gave rise to all European lineages, with the most common branches found in Western Europeans today being H, U, J, T, K, V, and X. These seven Western European maternal ancestors inspired the book The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes.  He named these clan mothers Helena, Ursula, Jasmine, Tara, Katrine, Velda and Xenia.

While Helena, Ursula, Jasmine and the girls went north, some of our ancestors headed east and moved very quickly through southern Asia, towards the Pacific. They could walk through what is now Island Southeast Asia when ice ages locked up massive volumes of water and sea levels fell.  Recent research suggests that they arrived in Australia and New Guinea, which were joined in a super-continent called Sahul, as early as 60-65,000 years ago.  Aboriginal Australians and Papuans have been geographically and genetically isolated for a very long time.

It was a one-way journey for them. These people carried mtDNA lineages belonging to the M branch, as well as some N lineages.

On those early forays into Asia, it seems we also interbred with another group of long-separate Homo erectus descendants called Denisovans, after the cave in Siberia where the relics of these people were miraculously discovered – part of the finger-bone of a small girl and a few teeth – amidst tonnes of rock and dirt.  These treasured remains were so well preserved that scientists were able to sequence the entire genome (the complete set of an organism’s DNA).  Those first modern humans who travelled through Asia clearly ran into Denisovans on the way. Their descendants today, including Aboriginal Australians and many Pacific people, carry up to 5 per cent Denisovan DNA.  Interestingly, this inheritance confers an ability to thrive at high altitudes and is present in the Sherpa people.

Allan Wilson’s work has inspired a generation of evolutionary biologists, including a group of outstanding researchers at the University Otago.  Leader of the allanwilson@otago research group is Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith, a biological anthropologist who also uses DNA as her archaeological pick-axe. She is fine-tuning what we know about the populations of the Pacific, and Aotearoa in particular.  She recently randomly sampled the DNA of over 2000 New Zealanders to analyse our ancient maternal and paternal lines.

Lisa is currently writing up the results and the stories of some of her New Zealand subjects in a book she plans to publish in 2019, when we will be commemorating the first Maori and European landings here.  But she can tell you the punch line now. We are as diverse a population as you’ll find anywhere. Kiwis carry all of the major mitochondrial DNA diversity seen in the world – lineages A to Z.

The history of human evolution and migration is one of the fastest moving areas of science. New findings, such as fossils of the diminutive Homo floresiensis (the hobbit people), are coming thick and fast and adding intriguing sub-plots to the main storyline.

We have an insatiable desire to know about our past.  Genealogy is big business. But while DNA is hard evidence of our origins, relatedness, and some of the routes taken by our ancestors, it is only part of the story and actually reveals very little about who we are. New Zealanders are not defined by their DNA or bound in spirit by genetic similarity.

What we do share in common are the long journeys we and our forebears risked to come here, whether by waka, sailing ship or 777, to escape depression and social immobility in Britain, Pol Pot’s genocide, wars in Europe and the Middle East, or in search of adventure and a better life.

Our ancestors, all six thousand generations since Mitochondrial Eve, were survivors and we are their testament.

Next week:  Who were the first New Zealanders?  How many were there, and where did they come from?

Information and research provided by Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith FRSNZ, University of Otago

 

SCIENCE – In a Cave in Israel, Scientists Find Jawbone Fossil From Oldest Modern Human Out of Africa

By NICHOLAS ST. FLEUR  JAN. 25, 2018

Access: The New York Times and The Times of Israel Jan. 25, 2018

This article changes a lot of our current genetic beliefs. It is my opinion, that the new data may verify my thoughts of what happened to the very first known haplogroup L0(haplogroup is a genetic population group of people who share a common ancestor on the patriline or the matriline. Haplogroups are assigned letters of the alphabet, and refinements consist of additional number and letter combinations.) Dec 28, 2017

Haplogroup – ISOGG Wiki – International Society of Genetic Genealogy

https://isogg.org/wiki/Haplogroup

I have often written extensively about the Adams and Eves that existed long ago.  Often getting negative reactions, silent and challenges to my beliefs. Interest in scientific, anthropological findings clearly researched and shared with other professionals worldwide. Again, I ask that you the reader keep an open mind. Just as anything else in this world, things change as we continue to dig and discover using the best anthropological and genetic tools available. It will be years before we can say for sure, that this is the missing L0 group who are the original men and women of Africa. For sure they are apart of the L0-L6 haplogroup of men and women of Africa. These groups migrated out of Africa over a long period of time, developing mutations such as skin, eye and hair color.

*All DNA testing companies have always used a Eurasian model with there algorithms. It is like a plague to use Africans in their models, which is a bias towards one group as opposed to an another. There are models that take into account African populations with significant results. ( dnatestedafrican.org)  strongly suggest a full sequence maternal test if you can afford it or the next lowest which is 67 markers. Testing below YDNA 111 markers paternal is not worth your money but if you can at least test at 67 markers that is great. I do not challenge religious biblical ideology. That is an area that I have no expertise.

A jawbone found in a cave in Israel’s Mount Carmel region has reset the clock on human evolution.

The fossil, the earliest known record of Homo sapiens outside of Africa, was discovered in 2002 during an excavation of the prehistoric Misliya Cave. After 15 years of intensive research by an international team of multidisciplinary scientists, the unique remains of an adult upper jawbone, complete with several teeth, has been dated to 170,000-200,000 years ago.

“This has changed the whole concept of modern human evolution,” said Prof. Israel Hershkovitz of the Department of Anatomy and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine. The research was published Thursday in the prestigious Science magazine.

Tel Aviv University’s Prof. Israel Hershkovitz (left) and University of Haifa’s Prof. Mina Weinstein-Evron. (courtesy)

Based on fossils found in Ethiopia, for the past 50 years scientists have believed that modern humans appeared in Africa, the “cradle of humanity,” roughly 160,000-200,000 years ago. The earliest record of migration outside of Africa was dated to around 90,000-120,000 years ago, through fossils discovered at digs in Israel’s Skhul and Qafzeh caves almost 90 years ago.

With this Misliya cave jawbone, however, the history of human evolution is being rewritten.

“The entire narrative of the evolution of Homo sapiens must be pushed back by at least 100,000-200,000 years,” said Hershkovitz, the head of the Dan David Center for Human Evolution and Biohistory Research at TAU’s Steinhardt Museum of Natural History.

The Misliya fossil not only resets the date for Homo sapien evolution and migration, but also spurs the mind-blowing implication that modern humanity did not evolve independently but rather alongside — and intermingled with — many other hominin groups, such as Neanderthals, he said.

The 177,000 to 194,000-year-old maxilla (upper jaw) of Misliya-1 hominin (Israel Hershkovitz, Tel Aviv University)

The dating of a modern human fossil to 200,000 years ago “implies that the biological history of our species must be pushed back to half a million years ago,” Hershkovitz told The Times of Israel on Thursday. “It implies that our species didn’t evolve in isolation… The species was involved with a very long interaction with other groups.”

“Our species,” said Hershkovitz, “is a genetic mishmash of several hominins.”

Archaeological findings from the cave support this “mishmash” theory by providing an even earlier sedimentary-layered context for modern human settlement — by about 50,000 years. Therefore, modern human settlement in Israel could arguably be dated to even 250,000 years ago.

According to University of Haifa archaeologist Prof. Mina Weinstein-Evron of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, “Miss Lia,” as she fancifully calls the fossil from the Misliya site, was discovered in a layer well after the indications of first modern human settlement there. (There is no way to ascertain the gender of the fossil.)

Speaking with The Times of Israel just hours after the press announcement of the revolutionary find, Weinstein-Evron reminisced that when she and Hershkovitz first drew up plans ahead of commencing the joint dig in 2001, their stated (modest) goal was to look for the origins of the modern Homo sapiens. With the discovery of “Miss Lia” in the Mount Carmel region, which is rife with indications of paleolithic settlement, she said, “we have found something even more surprising.”

Typical Early Middle Paleolithic flint points found together with Misliya 1 (Mina Weinstein Evron, University of Haifa)

During 10 years of excavations, along with the jawbone, the team uncovered some 60,000 flint tools, which span the human history of development from chunky primitive hand axes to purposefully knapped, lightweight, technologically advanced projectiles and thin knives.

During artifact analysis, researchers were able to discern the different lingering flora and fauna on the tools.

“The new zooarchaeological data from Misliya Cave, particularly the abundance of meat-bearing limb bones displaying filleting cut marks and the acquisition of prime-age prey, demonstrate that early Middle Paleolithic people possessed developed hunting capabilities. Thus, modern large-game hunting, carcass transport, and meat-processing behaviors were already established in the Levant in the early Middle Paleolithic, more than 200,000 years ago,” according to a 2007 Journal of Human Evolution study from the dig.

“They had a delicatessen in the cave,” said Weinstein-Evron, who listed auroch and other deer steaks, hares, ostrich eggs and wild boars as among the foodstuffs found in the caves. “They supped on ham and eggs,” she joked.

Likewise, said Weinstein-Evron, the team discovered the world’s first signs of the use of organic padding for the settlers’ seats next to the communal hearth.

Misliya cave, where a jawbone complete with teeth was recently discovered dating to 177,000-194,000 years ago. (Mina Weinstein-Evron, University of Haifa)

In addition to the genetic analysis of the bone, archaeological findings confirmed that Homo sapiens “lived in parallel with other types of humans a lot longer than thought,” she said. Fossil records have indicated that Homo sapiens are a very diverse group. Now, she said, it is much more likely that the species is made up of a mix of hominin groups.

“We are researchers, not ‘finders,’” said Weinstein-Evron. “The minute we uncover one thing,it is the beginning of looking into something else.”

A breakthrough discovery 15 years in the making

Dating and typifying the fossil took 15 years and a team of inter-disciplinary international scientists who together confirmed the groundbreaking fossil’s properties and its dating to circa 170,000 to 200,000.

Back in 2002, the jawbone fossil was discovered in “petrified soil,” said Hershkovitz. It was removed as a block out of the cave and taken to the laboratory, where the year-long process of sediment removal commenced.

“It is a frustrating process that takes a lot of time. It must be done step by step in order not to damage the fossil. It took about a year just to clean and prepare it for study,” he said.

Reconstructed maxilla from micro CT images of the 177,000 to 194,000-year-old maxilla (upper jaw) of Misliya-1 hominin. (Gerhard Weber, University of Vienna, Austria)

Next, the fossil’s dating began. “This is the critical issue, we had to be absolutely sure,” he said, so it was decided to use the next several years to implement several different methods to date the bone, as well as sediment from the excavation site.

“It takes years, working almost day by day on the specimen,” he said. Some of the dating processes are time dependent, explained Hershkovitz, such as a radiation dating technique which requires a year.

The team, he said, had no idea about how old the jawbone would turn out to be. “The first thing that caught our eyes was that the layer we were excavating was from the early middle paleolithic period, which in Israel is 250,000 to 140,000. So we were quite sure the specimen was older than 120,000,” the oldest known Homo sapien fossil outside of Africa until that time.

The dating completed, he said, “we had to prove that the specimen belongs to our species, Homo sapiens.” To that end, the bone was scanned for 3D analysis.

 Tel Aviv University’s Dr. Rachel Sarig participated in the analysis. “In the Misliya specimen we used the most advanced methods, using micro CT analysis, which actually allowed us to dig into the tooth, to virtually peel the layers of the bone and other teeth, we could look into the tooth into the dentin layer and analyze the shape of the dentin of the roots of the tooth and of the enamel crown.”

Sarig said the specimen displays “modern characteristics.” “It has more modern features which are similar to modern populations than to other ancient populations such as the Neanderthals,” said Sarig.

According to Tel Aviv University’s Dr. Hila May, there are five features that indicate the maxilla jawbone is of the Homo sapien species. These include the small parabolic dental arch, the location of the incisive foramen, where the anterior part (zygomatic arch) enters to the maxilla, the ridge where the anterior part of the zygomatic arch enters to the maxilla, and the orientation of the floor of the nasal cavity, May enumerated in a video put out by Tel Aviv University.

Location of early modern human fossils in Africa and the Middle East. (Rolf Quam, Binghamton University, USA/NASA image)

       Click on the red triangle for a better view

In the video, Weinstein-Evron sits at a table in front of an array of tools which were discovered in the cave. She pointed out the rugged, large hand axes, then the lighter, more precise and sophisticated flint tools, a clear visual representation of the evolution of the human species.

“We found evidence for everything in the cave… And from Mount Carmel, apparently these modern humans with their industry, colonized slowly and slowly, all of the old world,” said Weinstein-Evron.

As to who these early modern humans were and what they were capable of, Hershkovitz said, is impossible to know based purely on this upper jawbone.

“But judging from the sophistication of their tools, which were formed using a very unique technique, that attests to their intellectual capabilities. I personally believe they were as smart as we are today, but that’s just a guess,” said Hershkovitz.

 

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