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Bauchmüller 2017

Britta Bauchmüller, Facebook: Ex-Manager warnt vor dem sozialen Netzwerk, “Fühl mich unendlich schuldig” Ex-Manager bereut seine Arbeit – und warnt vor Facebook. Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger 2017 , Dec. 14. <–29295846>.

Seine persönliche Lösung sei, “den Scheiß nicht zu nutzen”. Er selbst habe in sieben Jahren vielleicht fünfmal etwas bei Facebook gepostet und nutze sonst seit Jahren keine sozialen Netzwerke. Auch bei seinen Kindern sei er in dem Punkt streng – “die dürfen den Scheiß nicht benutzen.”

Berman 2017

Joshua Berman, The Corruption of Biblical Studies. Mosaic Monthly Essays 2017 , July 10. <>.

Academic scrutiny of scripture, a discipline prey to intellectual fashion since its inception, is today pursued by many in the service of secular liberal positions.

The point: in biblical studies, there are two types of practitioners: genuine scholars, and conservative scholars. The former are presumed innocent, motivated only by the disinterested and rigorous search for truth and guided solely by the dictates of rational inquiry, unmodified and uncontaminated by ideology. The latter are presumed to be agenda-driven, and to have donned academic cap and gown only to achieve a surreptitious panache of legitimacy for their cherished and unreconstructed religious dogmas. To those it wishes to marginalize and delegitimize, the mainstream establishment will apply the label “conservative.”

Cohen 2017

Harry Zieve Cohen, Israel’s New Friends in Right-Wing Places. Mosaic Observations 2017 , Dec. 21. <>.

Unlike the editorial board of Haaretz, Theodor Herzl would not have been outraged to see Benjamin Netanyahu receiving extremely “favorable welcome and treatment” in Viktor Orbán’s Hungary. As he wrote:

“The Jews will leave [Europe for the new Jewish state] as honored friends. [...] And if some of them return [from the Jewish state], they will receive the same favorable welcome and treatment at the hands of civilized nations as is accorded to all foreign visitors.“

Yet even if it could be shown that today’s world has reverted to the world of 1938—hard enough to demonstrate—the geopolitical position of the Jewish people is emphatically not what it was in 1938. In late 2017, millions of Jews enjoy an independent geopolitical status because of the creation, in 1948, of the nation state of Israel.

Glinert 2017

Lewis Glinert, The Intellectual Struggle Hidden in Hanukkah’s Best-Known Song. Mosaic Observations 2017 , Dec. 14. <>.

Now let’s turn to the sixth and final stanza. Like the first, it is not historical but meta-historical. Again like the first stanza, this one doesn’t contain a single verb in the past tense. Instead, both stanzas enter a plea for the coming of a future redemption.

In traditional Jewish thought, the future is as much a part of divine history as is the past. It is underwritten by God, leading inexorably, albeit tortuously, toward the final triumph of good over evil when the Jewish people—and people from the ends of the earth—will gather in Jerusalem for the dedication of a global holy altar in the Third Temple. The Hanukkah that the poet Mordechai has in mind is about much more than the triumph of the Maccabees in “our” Hanukkah. While the holiday’s prayers and the lights of the menorah explicitly commemorate miracles past, the Hanukkah narrative depicted in the fifth stanza is just one phase—better, one stage—in Jewish history, and surely not the last.

Rav Kook 2017

Rav Kook, I Have an Ox and a Donkey, Rav Kook on Parashat VaYishlach. The Jewish Leadership Blog 2017 , Nov. 29. <>.

Due to the rift within the Jewish people, these two forces clash. Those who promote the nation’s material aspects belittle the importance of Torah and mitzvot. And those who stress the special nature of Israel reject all changes and attempts to better its material standing. This leads to rebellion against religion on one side, and anemic stagnation on the other.

Rav Kook 2017

Rav Kook, Tamar’s Sacrifice, Rav Kook on Parashat Vayeishev. The Jewish Leadership Blog 2017 , Dec. 6. <>.

“It is better to throw oneself into a fiery furnace than to shame another person in public.” (Berachot 43b)

Philologos 2017

Philologos, Why the Terms CE and BCE Replaced AD and BC, and Why Jews Care About It, It’s not why you think. Mosaic Observations 2017 , Dec. 20. <>.

Yet for those who used it then, “Common” and “Christian” were the same thing. They lived in a Christian world, and when they said that something was common to everyone, they meant it was common to all Christians. They weren’t thinking of Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or Chinese, all of whom had their own ways of dating the age of the world. These ways still exist, but for everyday purposes, the one used everywhere today is Christianity’s. What’s wrong with saying so?

Satloff 2017

Robert Satloff, The Jews Will Have to Wait. Mosaic Monthly Essays 2017 , Oct. 9. <>.

In the hours and days after Torch, I wrote, the French Vichyites in North Africa passed the baton of their homegrown anti-Semitism to U.S. officials. To Michael Doran, this way of putting things slights the preexisting receptivity to that message on the part of American officials who “had already, independently, developed a fear of association with Jews.”

As Doran correctly notes, it was FDR, architect of the stirring words of the Atlantic Charter, who jauntily told French General Charles Noguès precisely what the anti-Semitic, antidemocratic resident-general in Morocco wanted to hear: that the best response to pleas by local Jews for the restitution of their pre-Vichy voting rights was to dispense with elections altogether. And it was FDR, whose name, as David PryceJones reminds us, was on the rallying cry for Arabs and Muslims to join with the Allies in a “Great Jihad for Freedom,” who also gave Murphy specific instructions when they met in September 1942 that “No change in the existing French civil administration”—that is, no change from rule by the fascist Vichy administration—”is contemplated by the United States.”


Sarmiento 2017

Esteban E. Sarmiento, Fossil genera and wastebasket taxa in the human lineage, In support of Tattersall. Evolutionary Anthropology 26 (2017), 267–269.

As regards Australopithecus, it is indeed perplexing that African ape ancestors have yet to be recognized in the Plio-Pleistocene of Africa, in spite of the fact that two African ape genera containing at least four species are presently well distributed throughout equatorial Africa, some of them surprisingly close to the Australopithecus fossil sites. With biomolecular studies for the past half century suggesting that the human African ape divergence occurred during the Pliocene (5.33-2.58 Ma), identifying African apes ancestors within fragmentary Australopithecus remains is very likely. Many more genera some without living descendants may also be expected to be found within Australopithecus. Tattersall’s suspicions are thus more than warranted.


Faust 2017

Avraham Faust, Tel ‘Eton Excavations and the History of the Shephelah during the Iron Age. In: Frederick E. Greenspahn & Gary A. Rendsburg (Hrsg.), Le-ma‘an Ziony, Essays in Honor of Ziony Zevit. (Eugene 2017), 21–43.

The Shephelah was one of the most important regions in the kingdom of Judah, and Tel ‘Eton is a central site in its eastern part, near the trough valley which separates it from the Judean highlands. In this article I will discuss the history of the settlement at Tel ‘Eton during the Iron Age, its relations with its surroundings at the time, and the implications for our understanding the overall history of the Shephelah.


Liu 2017

Bin Liu, Ningyuan Wang, Minghui Chen, Xiaohong Wu, Duowen Mo, Jianguo Liu, Shijin Xu & Yijie Zhuang, Earliest hydraulic enterprise in China, 5,100 years ago. PNAS 114 (2017), 13637–13642.

Here we present one of the world’s oldest examples of large-scale and formalized water management, in the case of the Liangzhu culture of the Yangtze Delta, dated at 5,300–4,300 years cal B.P. The Liangzhu culture represented a peak of early cultural and social development predating the historically recorded Chinese dynasties; hence, this study reveals more about the ancient origins of hydraulic engineering as a core element of social, political, and economic developments. Archaeological surveys and excavations can now portray the impressive extent and structure of dams, levees, ditches, and other landscape-transforming features, supporting the ancient city of Liangzhu, with an estimated size of about 300 ha. The results indicate an enormous collective undertaking, with unprecedented evidence for understanding how the city, economy, and society of Liangzhu functioned and developed at such a large scale. Concurrent with the evidence of technological achievements and economic success, a unique relationship between ritual order and social power is seen in the renowned jade objects in Liangzhu elite burials, thus expanding our view beyond the practicalities of water management and rice farming.

Keywords: hydraulic system | Liangzhu | Holocene | Yangtze Delta | China

Significance: The recently excavated Liangzhu hydraulic system in the Yangtze Delta has pushed back the date of formalized water engineering in China to approximately 5,100 years ago. The results are unprecedented in learning about the timing, structure, and function of a large-scale complex of dams, levees, ditches, and other water-controlling features in ancient China. Together with the wellexcavated remains of Liangzhu city and its rice fields, the new findings represent one of the largest efforts of hydraulic landscape engineering in the ancient world.

Oka 2017

Rahul C. Oka, Marc Kissel, Mark Golitko, Susan Guise Sheridan, Nam C. Kim & Agustín Fuentes, Population is the main driver of war group size and conflict casualties. PNAS 114 (2017), E11101–E11110.

The proportions of individuals involved in intergroup coalitional conflict, measured by war group size (W), conflict casualties (C), and overall group conflict deaths (G), have declined with respect to growing populations, implying that states are less violent than smallscale societies. We argue that these trends are better explained by scaling laws shared by both past and contemporary societies regardless of social organization, where group population (P) directly determines W and indirectly determines C and G. W is shown to be a power law function of P with scaling exponent X [demographic conflict investment (DCI)]. C is shown to be a power lawfunction ofW with scaling exponent Y [conflict lethality (CL)]. G is shown to be a power law function of P with scaling exponent Z [group conflict mortality (GCM)]. Results show that, while W/P and G/P decrease as expected with increasing P, C/W increases with growing W. Small-scale societies show higher but more variance in DCI and CL than contemporary states. We find no significant differences in DCI or CL between small-scale societies and contemporary states undergoing drafts or conflict, after accounting for variance and scale. We calculate relative measures of DCI and CL applicable to all societies that can be tracked over time for one or multiple actors. In light of the recent global emergence of populist, nationalist, and sectarian violence, our comparison-focused approach to DCI and CL will enable better models and analysis of the landscapes of violence in the 21st century.

Keywords: population scaling | war group size | conflict casualties | conflict investment | conflict lethality

Significance: Recent views on violence emphasize the decline in proportions of war groups and casualties to populations over time and conclude that past small-scale societies were more violent than contemporary states. In this paper, we argue that these trends are better explained through scaling relationships between population and war group size and between war group size and conflict casualties. We test these relationships and develop measures of conflict investment and lethality that are applicable to societies across space and time. When scaling is accounted for, we find no difference in conflict investment or lethality between small-scale and state societies. Given the lack of population data for past societies, we caution against using archaeological cases of episodic conflicts to measure past violence.

Rollefson 2017

Gary O. Rollefson, “I am We”, The Display of Socioeconomic Politics of Neolithic Commodification. In: Marion Benz, Hans Georg K. Gebel & Trevor Watkins (Hrsg.), Neolithic Corporate Identities. SENEPSE 20 (Berlin 2017), 107–116.

Competition for resources (arable land, pasturage) within settled farming populations became increasingly intensive as those populations grew. One strong measure to reduce the tensions that might lead to conlicts over such commodiied aspects of the environment was the development of corporate kinship groups that established exclusive access to certain land parcels (among other resources) to their members; abiotic resources were also claimed exclusively, such as names, symbols, and myths. A correlated development was the expression of corporate identities, signs that distinguished one corporate group from all others. While many of those signs may have been lost to prehistorians, others have survived. The site of ‘Ain Ghazal provides good evidence of such corporate identities as relected in architectural clustering and ritual practices, particularly during the Middle PPNB (MPPNB) and Late PPNB (LPPNB) periods.

Keywords: MPPNB | LPPNB | ritual | myth | Neolithic identities


Stewart 2017

Nicolas Andre Stewart, Raquel Fernanda Gerlach, Rebecca L. Gowland, Kurt J. Gron & Janet Montgomery, Sex determination of human remains from peptides in tooth enamel. PNAS 114 (2017), 13649–13654.

The assignment of biological sex to archaeological human skeletons is a fundamental requirement for the reconstruction of the human past. It is conventionally and routinely performed on adults using metric analysis and morphological traits arising from postpubertal sexual dimorphism. A maximum accuracy of  95 % is possible if both the cranium and os coxae are present and intact, but this is seldom achievable for all skeletons. Furthermore, for infants and juveniles, there are no reliable morphological methods for sex determination without resorting to DNA analysis,which requires good DNA survival and is time-consuming. Consequently, sex determination of juvenile remains is rarely undertaken, and a dependable and expedient method that can correctly assign biological sex to human remains of any age is highly desirable. Here we present a method for sex determination of human remains bymeans of a minimally destructive surface acid etching of tooth enamel and subsequent identification of sex chromosome-linked isoforms of amelogenin, an enamel-forming protein, by nanoflow liquid chromatography mass spectrometry. Tooth enamel is the hardest tissue in the human body and survives burial exceptionally well, even when the rest of the skeleton or DNA in the organic fraction has decayed. Our method can reliably determine the biological sex of humans of any age using a body tissue that is difficult to cross-contaminate and is most likely to survive. The application of this method will make sex determination of adults and, for the first time, juveniles a reliable and routine activity in future bioarcheological andmedico-legal science contexts.

Keywords: sex determination | tooth enamel | amelogenin | human remains | mass spectrometry

Significance: The ability to assign biological sex to human skeletal remains is a fundamental requirement in archaeology, paleoanthropology, and medico-legal sciences. While DNA sequencing can be used, it is expensive, time-consuming, and often fails due to the poor quality of the remaining DNA. An easier, more reliable, and consistently applicable method is needed. We present a method for sex determination of human remains using peptides retrieved from tooth enamel. Amelogenin is an enamel-forming protein encoded for by both chromosomes X and Y, with slight differences in their amino acid sequences. Peptides with these differences were identified by nanoflow liquid chromatography mass spectrometry and found to correctly assign sex to archaeological human remains of various chronological ages, from hundreds to thousands of years old.

Story or Book

Porges 2017

Matthew Porges, The Thick Anthropocene. Current Anthropology 58 (2017), 815–816.

Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States. James C. Scott. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017.

In order to produce that surplus of grain, the state also requires a labor force. But, as Scott lays out in some detail, the early states were likely hemorrhaging labor via both disease and desertion. They were a perfect storm of zoonotic illnesses, and the presence of a robust periphery was a constant lure for reluctant laborers. Since most nonstate peoples preferred not to live life as sedentary grain producers, the state had to force them. Early warfare therefore tended to consist of expeditionary wars of capture, in which the state ventured into its hinterlands and brought back a bounty of slaves, both for actual labor and in order to keep reproduction rates high enough to compete with various forms of population loss. Rather than a benevolent upward trajectory, the state was a coercive enterprise from the very beginning, forced upon reluctant populations decimated by disease and slavery. Scott calls it “elite niche-construction.”

The book sometimes ventures into speculation, and where it does, Scott is usually cautious and acknowledges the limitations of his arguments. He is saying something profound about the logic of early states here, but he is also coy about generalizing his conclusions; he says almost nothing about how that logic applies to states today. What he has laid out is a road map for those sorts of generalizations, and indeed much of his other work is concerned with broadly similar questions in a modern context. Against the Grain is by no means the final word on early states, but as a comprehensive theory of how they came to be, it is a remarkable achievement.

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