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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.

(23-10-02) Articles to 2023-10-02

Contrary to what Mithen et al. imply, a single exceptional site in otherwise culturally different surroundings does not signify cultural homogeneity over a large region. Using wildly anachronistic terms it rather reminds of a missionary hub, a colonial government centre, or a commercial exclave. As the authors rightly say, any understanding of the phenomenon has to be preceded by a chronology precise enough to ascertain the direction of influence.

(23-09-12) Articles to 2023-09-12

Ge et al. is not what the title suggests. They do not offer a firm measurement result but rather a modeling outcome. The connection they claim be present is not implausible, but so far it’s no more than a prediction or hypothesis in need of proof – not an established fact.

(23-09-04) Articles to 2023-09-04

Bacon et al. is one more in a long row of attempts to interpret Paleolithic artwork as a kind of writing. Most were calendrical and tended to be quite involved just-so-stories explaining all the detail in one single artifact. To my knowledge this is the first quantitative study trying to elucidate rules and regularities. As such it turns out very successful. I doubt if all the proposed exegeses will hold with further studies, but the method is sound and the fact, that the patterns found are meaningful and not arbitrary, seems proven.

(23-08-27) Articles to 2023-08-27

From Rains it seems that the causes for Maui’s devastating fire were mostly anthropogenic in origin. But then again they have little to do with warming and nothing whatsoever with carbon dioxide. As so often the single issue scare prevents dealing with the real issues.

(23-08-19) Articles to 2023-08-19

In the ongoing debate of when the scientific age began I have a position. For me the start lies with the founding of the Royal Society in the middle of the 17th century. More important, though, is the question about when it ended. It must have been recent. Both my father’s diploma and doctoral theses were replications of, at the time, new and exciting results. In both cases he managed to disprove the advertised hypotheses and conclusively offer other, much more mundane, explanations. That was in the early fifties and before publish or perish. It seems to me it took until about the nineties before things truly went into decline but it’s hard to be more specific. What is certain is that by now the process has run its course. O’Grady is just one example among many – too many to have the published literature retain any real value.

(23-08-02) Articles to 2023-08-02

Pino & Dillehay imply that their recent redating of Monte Verde adds something new and meaningful to the discussion. Not so. The date itself of the finds has never been in any doubt. What has been and remains the point of contention is whether humans were involved in their coming about.

(23-07-15) Articles to 2023-07-15

Gratifyingly Stroud et al. confirm that for all practical purposes any effect of charring on carbon and nitrogen isotope values may well be neglected. Compared to other uncontrolled influences and general variability a shift of up to half a permille is meaningless.

(23-07-12) Articles to 2023-07-12

Using Pape & Ialongo’s own estimate their number of unexpected finds is a little below the expected error rate. Pape & Ialongo’s thesis about the existence of a significant transgender minority in antiquity is unproven at best.

(23-07-05) Articles to 2023-07-05

Yes, biological enrichment exists and is a fact. It works on elements and compounds like heavy metals, DDT, and organically bound mercury. But isotopes of the biologically abundant elements carbon and hydrogen like Nogrady claims? Whatever happened to editorial oversight and quality control? Does the term reputable journal still mean anything?

(23-06-22) Articles to 2023-06-22

In Thomas & Wahedi we have again a large and extremely well endowed study, whose real sources of funding remain hidden in the murky depths of corporate trade secrets. As usual it purports to be about the wholly acceptable and moral fight against hate but turns out to be easily generalizable to all kinds of outspoken opposition against any kind of governmental power abuse.

(23-06-11) Articles to 2023-06-11

Since when has stating the blatantly obvious become front page news for the most prestigious scientific journals? As Lewis says citing several authorities, finding viruses and animals in the same place, where it was already known that both existed, tells us nothing about whether these animals were infected and infectious or not.

(23-05-30) Articles to 2023-05-30

This time it’s all sources cited in things I had to read. It’s striking how even authors in the most prestigious publications cite sources that do not say anything like they claim – sometimes the very opposite. If a mere student like me manages to pick that up, why don’t referees supposed to be the premier authorities in the fields concerned?

(23-05-07) Articles to 2023-05-07

When the story about how the DNA structure was discovered came to told to the general public, Rosalind Franklin had the bad luck to be long dead and unable to take part in the telling, as Cobb & Comfort point out.

(23-04-27) Articles to 2023-04-27

Carey provides a good overview of current trends in explaining the beginning of the Neolithic.

(23-04-10) Articles to 2023-04-10

In archaeology any phenomenon is often assumed to begin right at the time of our oldest surviving find pertaining to it. Statistically of course this is patent nonsense except for later times, when our finds become sufficiently dense and plentiful. So treating the accepted Oldowan sites as a small sample, the Lomekwian age is by no means a total outlier that can’t belong as Flicker & Key demonstrate.

(23-03-30) Articles to 2023-03-30

Ben-Tor is another example for a new and quite recent book already out of print copies of which are offered for at least double the original price. Of course the copyright holder must not be denied the right to reap the returns for their investment. But if and when they neglect their duty to reader as shamefully as this, it must become legal for others to offer print-on-demand reprints at cost. These all too frequent occurrences are a willful abuse of copyright law.

(23-03-27) Articles to 2023-03-27

This is again a model, but this time a correctly used one. It is not touted instead of or against measured data and not used to extrapolate outside its area of validity but given to explain the mechanism of how the observed and measured data came about. Modelling at its best.

(23-03-06) Articles to 2023-03-06

This week most of the articles are about ancient migrations and mixtures, mostly based on the new results by Posth et al. The best summary is that by Curry.

(23-03-05) Articles to 2023-03-05

Johnson et al. offer a new way to quantify if and by how much a new study should induce the reader to adapt his prior assumptions.

(23-02-26) Articles to 2023-02-26

When measurements and proxy evaluations tell one story and current modelling efforts another it used to be obvious which of the two was in need of revision. (Modelling that is, not sound theory as in the case of Feynman and Telegdi.) No more. When models and theories become ideologically charged it is the facts that have to yield. Kaufman & Broadman remain sitting on the fence and undecided, which one it is to be.

(23-02-13) Articles to 2023-02-13

While Wen et al. do add dating precision to the contemporaneity of sea surface and terrestrial cooling, their claimed causality from carbon dioxide depletion is neither measured nor inferred from proxies but only a modeling outcome. In the carbon dioxide data shown in their figure 1f no driving signal is discernible.

(23-02-07) Articles to 2023-02-07

On the positive side Stock et al. show us data thus allowing us to evaluate their conclusions, something most others especially from the social sciences usually avoid. So for example their figure 6 shows most clearly, how one single sample can skew the picture for ten thousand square miles and a thousand years. Even assuming their lines in figures 1–5 to be valid, what does a tiny shift in the average really tell us for an extremely widely distributed population?

(23-01-30) Articles to 2023-01-30

If the temperature trend since about 1800 as shown in Hörhold et al. is mainly carbon dioxide driven, then what we see is a strong effect at very low concentrations followed by a massive saturation afterward. How to extrapolate a series like that remains an open question. Anything linear stated in degrees per amount has to be wrong.

(23-01-08) Articles to 2023-01-08

In Li et al.’s figure 5 ab the isotopic values for wheat and barley are nearly identical. What differs are the arbitrary cut-off points taken from Wallace et al. 2013. As pointed out last week and earlier for the primary source that boundary is pure phantasy.

(23-01-05) Articles to 2023-01-05

Bishop et al. cite and use the result by Wallace 2013. As I’ve already shown in my lists of 2017-01-15 and 2019-01-20 its predictive value is meaningless. Thankfully the authors recognize as much themselves and clearly say so.

Ältere Texte bis 2022

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