Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Creationism In Crisis - Scientists Find Evidence of Domesticated Animals From Thousands of Years Before God Allegedly Created Them

What ancient dung reveals about Epipaleolithic animal tending | Plos One
Reconstruction of the Epipalaeolithic hut showing a person sitting on the area outside of the hut where dung had accumulated.

Credit: Andrew Moore, CC-BY 4.0

A paper published today in PLoS One, will make grim reading for anyone still trying to cling to the discredited notion of Bible inerrancy in matters of science and history, because it shows that humans had domesticated cattle at least before 12,300 years ago., i.e. 8,000 years before Bible literalists believe Earth was created.

The evidence was found by Alexia Smith of the Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut, U.S.A, and colleagues, in the shape of crystals of dung spherulites — tiny calcium carbonate clumps found in the dung of animals - at Abu Hureyra, Syria, at a site which had been occupied for several thousand years, spanning the transition of human culture from hunter-gatherers to farming and cattle herding.

It is also evidence of that transition because those who kept these small herd of animals, probably mostly sheep, were still hunter-gatherers, so this marks the beginning of cattle herding in the area.

PLoS describe the finding and its significance in information released ahead of publication:

Tiny crystals in ancient animal dung serve as key evidence in a new analysis suggesting the possibility that hunter-gatherers at Abu Hureyra, Syria, may have tended small numbers of animals just outside their dwellings between 12,800 and 12,300 years ago. Alexia Smith of the University of Connecticut, U.S., and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on September 14, 2022.

Abu Hureyra is an archaeological site that was occupied for thousands of years, spanning the transition from hunting and gathering to farming and herding. While a large body of research has explored this transition across many archaeological sites, much remains to be determined about the specific timeline, including the full range of early animal management practices that may have preceded large-scale herding.

To shed new light, Smith and colleagues turned to ancient animal dung. Specifically, they analyzed the presence of dung spherulites—tiny calcium carbonate clumps found in the dung of animals—at Abu Hureyra, and considered this evidence alongside other archaeological, archaeobotanical, and zooarchaeological evidence.

Photograph of archaeological sediment from Abu Hureyra being “floated” during the early 1970s to extract charred organic remains including seeds and wood charcoal. The dung spherulites were found in these samples.

Credit: Andrew Moore, CC-BY 4.0
Their analysis suggests that people who occupied Abu Hureyra between 12,800 and 12,300 years ago (during the Epipaleolithic period) burned dung as fuel and may have held animals, possibly sheep, immediately outside their dwellings. Later, the evidence suggests, Neolithic occupants continued to use dung as fuel and also used it to prepare plaster floors. A subsequent drop in spherulite levels at the site may correspond with the rise of larger-scale herding of animals farther away from dwellings.

Until recently, it has been hard to find a method that would allow archaeologists to examine the very earliest experiments with animal tending prior to fully-fledged animal domestication and herding, so it is really exciting to see that remnants of animal dung can help us track the differing ways that people interacted with animals early on. We were surprised when we realized that hunter-gatherers were bringing live animals to Abu Hureyra between 12,800 and 12,300 years ago and keeping them outside of their hut. This is almost 2000 years earlier than what we have seen elsewhere, although it is in line with what we might expect for the Euphrates Valley.

Smith, Alexia; Oechsner, Amy; Rowley-Conwy, Peter and Moore, Andrew M. T., Authors
These findings add to a small but growing body of evidence supporting the possibility that people may have begun developing animal management practices during or even before the development of plant cultivation, challenging the widely held view that cultivation began first.

The researchers plan to continue to explore past animal presence at Abu Hureyra, and they note that additional research is needed to determine how common similar early animal-tending practices may have been at other sites in Southeast Asia. Such research could be aided by a new method for distinguishing ancient dung from modern dung that was developed for this study.
In the abstract to their open access paper in PLoS One, the authors say:

Excavations at Abu Hureyra, Syria, during the 1970s exposed a long sequence of occupation spanning the transition from hunting-and-gathering to agriculture. Dung spherulites preserved within curated flotation samples from Epipalaeolithic (ca. 13,300–11,400 calBP) and Neolithic (ca. 10,600–7,800 calBP) occupations are examined here alongside archaeological, archaeobotanical, and zooarchaeological data to consider animal management, fuel selection, and various uses of dung. Spherulites were present throughout the entire sequence in varying concentrations. Using a new method to quantify spherulites, exclusion criteria were developed to eliminate samples possibly contaminated with modern dung, strengthening observations of ancient human behavior. Darkened spherulites within an Epipalaeolithic 1B firepit (12,800–12,300 calBP) indicate burning between 500–700˚C, documenting early use of dung fuel by hunter-gatherers as a supplement to wood, coeval with a dramatic shift to rectilinear architecture, increasing proportions of wild sheep and aurochsen, reduced emphasis on small game, and elevated dung concentrations immediately outside the 1B dwelling. Combined, these observations suggest that small numbers of live animals (possibly wild sheep) were tended on-site by Epipalaeolithic hunter-gatherers to supplement gazelle hunting, raising the question of whether early experiments in animal management emerged contemporaneously with, or pre-date, cultivation. Dung was used to prepare plaster floors during the Neolithic and continued to be burned as a supplemental fuel, indicating that spherulites were deposited via multiple human- and animal-related pathways. This has important implications for interpretations of archaeobotanical assemblages across the region. Spherulite concentrations dropped abruptly during Neolithic 2B (9,300 – 8,000 calBP) and 2C (8,000–7,800 calBP), when sheep/goat herding surpassed gazelle hunting, possibly corresponding with movement of animals away from the site as herd sizes increased. As hunter-gatherers at Abu Hureyra began interacting with wild taxa in different ways, they set in motion a remarkable transformation in the ways people interacted with animals, plants, and their environment.

Any normal person who found evidence like this, them showing what they thought was true, was in fact merely an origin myth from Bronze Age, and no more true than any other culture's origin myths, would abandon those beliefs and try to find out more about reality as science is discovering it.

Not so creationists, who must perform the most infantile of intellectual summersaults in order to continue to believe what science has shown to be untrue. This intellectual dishonesty can only be because they are suffering from the psychological condition known as morbid theophobic psychosis, an acute anxiety disorder caused by mental abuse in early childhood when authority figures in their community terrorised them with tales of an invisible, mind-reading sky bogie man who would hurt them in unimaginably agonising ways if they even so much as doubted its existence or the fanciful myths told about it.

This mental health problem, which was once almost universal in the civilised world during the Dark Ages, before the Enlightenment and the scientific method, is still surprisingly common in the more backward and ignorant parts of the world.

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