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Borja 2018

Angel Borja, Dallas Murphy, Zoe Doubleday, Brett Mensh, Peter Gorsuch & Stacy Konkiel, The write stuff. nature 555 (2018), 129–130.

How to produce a first-class paper that will get published, stand out from the crowd and pull in plenty of readers.


Römer 2014

Thomas Römer, Joshua’s encounter with the commander of YHWH’s army (Josh 5:13–15), Literary construction or reflection of a royal ritual? In: Brad E. Kelle, Frank Ritchel Ames & Jacob L. Wright (Hrsg.), Warfare, Ritual, and Symbol in Biblical and Modern Contexts. Ancient Israel and Its Literature 18 (Atlanta 2014), 49–63.

The book of Joshua appropriates several concepts and ideologies of neoassyrian and other ancient near eastern warfare propaganda. Joshua’s encounter with the commander of yhwh’s army can be related to assyrian oracles in which the king receives the promise of divine assistance before the battle. In its present context, the scene follows the circumcision of the second wilderness generation and the celebration of the first Passover in the land. The divine warrior appears, therefore, after the accomplishment of rituals that highlight israel’s status as yhwh’s people. Originally, however, Josh 5:13–15 was conceived as the opening of the conquest story that begins in 6:2. In a vision Joshua sees the divine commander with a sword, and through this commander, yhwh ensures Joshua that he has given Jericho into his hands.

The importance of the sword can be related to iconographic and textual documents from egypt, mari and assyria where a king receives divine weapons before battle or at the moment of his enthronement. This motif probably reflects a concrete ritual in which a divine sword or bow (or other weapons) were given to the king by a priest or another cultic person. Since Joshua, who is depicted as a royal figure, often appears after 5:13–15 with a sword, we can speculate that this sword was given to him by the divine messenger. The literary legitimization of Joshua may, therefore, be based on a royal ritual known to the author of 5:13–15. The theme of a godgiven sword is not limited to the ancient near east. Perseus receives a sword from Zeus to kill medusa; in Japanese mythology the magical sword Kusanagi was given to the emperor by a goddess; and one may also think of King arthur and so on. In this respect Josh 5:13–15 participates in an almost archetypical topic of royal legitimization.

Zwickel 2017

Wolfgang Zwickel & Pieter van der Veen, The Earliest Reference to Israel and Its Possible Archaeological and Historical Background. Vetus Testamentum 67 (2017), 129–140.

Manfred Görg proposed to read the name Israel on a broken Egyptian inscription ÄM 21687, which is now kept in the storage facilities of the New Museum in Berlin. New research during the last number of years has confirmed this reading, although the writing of the name is different from that of the Merenptah inscription. Some characteristics appear to demonstrate that this inscription is older than the Israel stela of Merenptah and may likely date to the 14th or earlier 13th century BCE. The paper will present some ideas about an earlier beginning of the formation of what is generally called Israel and about the way, how this early Israel came about.

Keywords: history of Israel | Old Testament | early Israel | Egyptology

Both historical considerations as well as the Amarna Letters provide sufficient evidence that already during the 14th century several people living on the fringes of society as Habiru-people or nomads likely had left the city-states in order to find new venues of subsistence. Evenso hard core evidence of the existence of Habiru-people and nomads can hardly be confirmed by archaeology. But as our parallels of Moab and possibly Edom have shown, new societies had been established alongside the city states already during the 14th century. Hence the earliest beginnings of a mountainous community of the Cisjordanian hill country, which called itself Israel, also would have started as early as the 14th or at the latest the early 13th century BCE. Its origin had mostly also been nomadic in nature. Only during the late 13th century they began to finally settle down, build small settlements and produce a remarkable repertory of breakable relicts such as pottery. Consequently the duration of the overlap between Late Bronze Age II and Iron Age I must have lasted longer than has hitherto been recognized. It seems to have started around 1350 and lasted until 1140 BCE. While the earliest beginnings of this newly founded Iron Age I society cannot yet be confirmed by archaeological proof, textual evidence and historical considerations do seem to strongly suggest this.


Aranguren 2018

Biancamaria Aranguren et al., Wooden tools and fire technology in the early Neanderthal site of Poggetti Vecchi (Italy). PNAS 115 (2018), 2054–2059.

pnas115-02054-Supplement1.pdf, pnas115-02054-Supplement2.avi

Biancamaria Aranguren, Anna Revedin, Nicola Amico, Fabio Cavulli, Gianna Giachi, Stefano Grimaldi, Nicola Macchioni & Fabio Santaniello

Excavations for the construction of thermal pools at Poggetti Vecchi (Grosseto, Tuscany, central Italy) exposed a series of wooden tools in an open-air stratified site referable to late Middle Pleistocene. The wooden artifacts were uncovered, together with stone tools and fossil bones, largely belonging to the straighttusked elephant Paleoloxodon antiquus. The site is radiometrically dated to around 171,000 y B.P., and hence correlated with the early marine isotope stage 6 [Benvenuti M, et al. (2017) Quat Res 88:327–344]. The sticks, all fragmentary, are made from boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) and were over 1 m long, rounded at one end and pointed at the other. They have been partially charred, possibly to lessen the labor of scraping boxwood, using a technique so far not documented at the time. The wooden artifacts have the size and features of multipurpose tools known as “digging sticks,” which are quite commonly used by foragers. This discovery from Poggetti Vecchi provides evidence of the processing and use of wood by early Neanderthals, showing their ability to use fire in tool making from very tough wood.

Keywords: digging stick | early Middle Paleolithic | charring | boxwood

Significance: Wood is a widely available and versatile material, which has admittedly played a fundamental role in all human history. Wood, however, ismost vulnerable to decomposition. Hence, its use is very rarely documented during prehistory. The present study yields new insights into the cognitive abilities of the early Neanderthals in wooden tool production and pyrotechnology. The early Neanderthals from the late Middle Pleistocene site of Poggetti Vecchi (central Italy) were able to choose the appropriate timber and to process it with fire to produce tools. The artifacts recall the so-called “digging sticks,” multipurpose tools used by all hunter-gatherer societies.

Hoffecker 2018

John F. Hoffecker, The complexity of Neanderthal technology. PNAS 115 (2018), 1959–1961.

Together, discovery and analysis of the wooden artifacts from Schöningen and Poggetti Vecchi represent a major contribution to Neanderthal technology. They establish two new classes of artifacts, previously represented by isolated and often ambiguous specimens.

In terms of production steps, the reconstructed operational sequence for the Poggetti Vecchi digging sticks is comparable to that of the Schöningen spears, as reconstructed by Haidle (11). In both cases, the number of components (n = 1), often employed as a complexity measure for hunter-gatherer artifacts (1), masks the complexity of the technology, as measured by the number and variety of production steps. The operational sequence for the digging sticks reinforces a conclusion reached by Haidle (11) concerning the complexity of the underlying algorithm for the Schöningen spear (”… a far more complicated process than previously assumed”), with implications for the cognitive faculties of their makers (12).

Each component of the composite artifact is generated by a separate operational sequence or technological algorithm that nests within the overall design. Because all three component parts cannot be produced simultaneously, the artifact maker must store information about the other strings in the brain during production (i.e., working memory) (12, 18). For the later African Middle (and Later) Stone Age and the Upper Paleolithic, the computations underlying the artifacts are of comparable complexity to those of recent hunter-gatherers (1, 20). The artifacts, which include mechanical instruments and facilities, such as spear-throwers and even self-acting mechanical facilities or automata (e.g., snares/traps), require the computational complexity (and working memory capacity) of an unrestricted grammar or natural language (12, 18, 20).


Rösch 2011

Manfred Rösch et al., Spätneolithischer Ackerbau im Experiment, Eine Zwischenbilanz nach zwölf Jahren Forchtenberg. In: Hans-Rudolf Bork, Harald Meller & Renate Gerlach (Hrsg.), Umweltarchäologie – Naturkatastrophen und Umweltwandel im archäologischen Befund, 3. Mitteldeutscher Archäologentag 07. bis 09. Oktober 2010. Tagungen des Landesmuseum für Vorgeschichte Halle 6 (Halle 2011), 175–192.

Manfred Rösch, Harald Biester, Arno Bogenrieder, Eileen Eckmeier, Otto Ehrmann, Renate Gerlach, Mathias Hall, Christoph Hartkopf-Fröder, Ludger Herrmann, Birgit Kury, Wolfram Schier & Ehrhard Schulz

Die seit mehr als zehn Jahren in Forchtenberg durchgeführten interdisziplinären Langzeitversuche haben den extensiven Wald-Feldbau mit regelmäßigem Feuereinsatz als eine praktikable und unter bestimmten Rahmenbedingungen ökonomisch sinnvolle Agrartechnik bestätigt. Es dürfte sich bei dieser bis in die Neuzeit praktizierten Form der Bewirtschaftung also weder um ein “evolutionäres” Zwischenoder Übergangsstadium auf dem Wege zur Intensiv-Landwirtschaft, noch um ein gelehrtes Konstrukt aus der Frühzeit der prähistorischen Wirtschaftsforschung handeln. Es ist müßig zu betonen, dass experimentelle Ansätze Hypothesen nur falsifizieren, nicht jedoch verifizieren können. Welche Rolle ein feuergestützter Wald-Feldbau im jüngeren Neolithikum gespielt haben könnte, lässt sich nicht experimentell ermitteln. Immerhin sind durch die Forchtenberger Langzeitversuche jedoch die ökonomischen Vorteile klar hervorgetreten: Extensiver Brandfeldbau kann mit verhältnismäßig geringem und saisonal konzentriertem Arbeitsaufwand erstaunlich hohe Erträge produzieren. Der Aufwand für den Einschlag reduziert sich schon im zweiten Anbauzyklus erheblich, da der aus Stockausschlägen regenerierte Niederwald wesentlich leichter mit Steinbeilen zu beseitigen ist und dabei vergleichbare Brennholzmengen liefert wie der hierfür nutzbare Schwachholzanteil des Primärwalds. Die ertragssteigernde Wirkung des Überbrennens (Mineralisierung in der Biomasse enthaltener Nährstoffe, effektive Unterdrückung der Unkrautkonkurrenz, Anhebung des pH-Wertes, Erhöhung der Bodentemperatur durch stärkere Wärmeabsorption) entfaltet sich vor allem auf Standorten mittlerer und geringerer Bodengüte. Sein größter Nachteil ist zweifellos der hohe Flächenbedarf, weshalb mittel- und langfristig immer eine Tendenz zur Intensivierung durch Verkürzung der Umtriebszeiten bestanden haben dürfte.

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