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I regularly read Nature, Science, PNAS, American Antiquity, Antiquity, Applied Energy, Archäologische Informationen, Archäologisches Korrespondenzblatt, Biblical Archaeology Review, Cambridge Archaeological Journal, Current Anthropology, Evolutionary Anthropology, Journal of Ancient Egyptian Interconnections, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, Journal of Anthropological Research, Journal of Archaeological Science, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, Journal of Human Evolution, Oxford Journal of Archaeology, (several of them on paper – my one big indulgence and luxury) and whatever tidbits I’m led to by finding them being mentioned somewhere. For those marked in bold my personal subscription grants me access to content I can’t get through the University of Cologne.
Whoever happens to share my particular interests can find a list here of all the highlights of the current week, together with abstracts and the personal comments I feel compelled to make.
Like the ancient priesthood, scientists, especially those of the humanities, live off working people's taxes. As I keep reminding the students in my first-year tutorial this creates an obligation to give something back, tedious as that may be. Sandford discusses an important aspect of just that.
So now Cologne too has finally reached the point, where scientific journals are no longer available through the university library. That throws us back to the seventeenth century when scientific contributions were personally distributed to interested readers through the post. Marginedas et al. is my first case in point and I thank the author for his trouble and generosity.
If, as Hull et al. claim, most of the carbon dioxide outgassing preceded the asteroid impact ending the Cretaceous, then the effect of all that gas on both climate and life was surprisingly small and strongly buffered by environmental feedbacks.
Liritzis is the first attempt at directly dating metal artifacts that I have ever seen. There are two caveats, though. Firstly radium dates the smelting of the metal from ore, not the casting, and thus not the artifact. On the other hand recycling old metal in a forgery would entail the destruction of a genuinely old artifact, a not very probable scenario. But more importantly, while Liritzis does mention testing the method on a recently smelted sample, he only lists peripheral and irrelevant measurements. What he does not report finding is a low radium activity compared to a higher thorium one. In fact while his samples do contain same uranium, there seems to be no thorium at all, which if true would totally invalidate the method. So let's wait and see.
The ability to withstand dehydration is an important aspect of early Homo's ability to conquer new habitats and adapt to a meat-based subsistence. In this context grazing ungulates are the wrong benchmark. Of all other hunters and scavengers only the vultures could venture as far and as long out into the unshaded open as early hairless and perspiration cooled hominins. This is confirmed by Hora et al's new result.
I’m not sure what it is that Song et al. are measuring and whether their results might be relevant for anything or not. But one thing is certain, when 60 % of a population consistently rise several decades in a row and only 15 % sink, this is not and can't be “social mobility” in any meaningful definition of the word.
Not all ecological changes are anthropogenic and nearly all predicaments for some species are counteracted by advantages for others as Cole et al. and Ohlberger et al. show. Of course there are some serious man-made problems and action is needed at several fronts, but slight adjustments of global climate parameters are not necessarily among the most important ones.
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