Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Raining cats and dogs

Back in the 1970's I had a fieldschool in "Long Island Prehistory" taught by R. M. Gramly, Ph.D., Margaret Gwynne, now Ph.D. (her dissertation was on the human ecology of the Mount Sinai Harbor where the excavations went on) and Sherene Baugher, Ph.D. (her dissertation on the Prall Site in former Tory capital of Staten Island, Richmondtown, now a "little Williamsburg," she became NYC Landmark's Commission's first official archaeologist) we found I think two dog burials in the scallop shell midden on the harbor. One I recall was very "cute" the small dog with its head resting on its front paws. Along with the scallop shell (the bay kind that swim and can be get caught in nets, instead of dragged off the bottom, the larger scallop, sometimes notoriously substituted with cookie cutter "skate") James Gibb of the SHA I recall removed them and one of them travelled to Massachusetts. There were also sturgeon carapace in the midden, which are finally being brought back to the Hudson River estuary. I was told in the Messina, NY Museum the St. Lawrence River also had 10 foot long ones before the locks and dams of the St. Lawrence Seaway, doing survey along there a number of years ago in the "Algonquin to Adirondacks" ecology. On 6/6/05, Joe Dent wrote: > on 6/5/05 2:39 PM, Matthew Sterner at msterner@sricrm.com wrote: > > > Dog burials are actually not uncommon on prehistoric sites here in the > > Southwest. Not sure about cats though. Will have to ask a couple of > > colleagues and get back to the list on that one! > > > > mas > > I seem to recall the story surrounding one plague in Europe. As told, or written, the cats were blamed for the sickness (achoo achoo we all fall down) carried by rodents. The cats were slaughtered in a belief that they were the disease vector, which, in what might be described as only a human weakness, led to increasing vermin levels and the incidence of plague victims. I think it is from the epidemiological literature (the "tea pump" case the more famous one).

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