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Babalola 2020

Abidemi Babatunde Babalola, Adisa Benjamin Ogunfolakan & Thilo Rehren, Semi-finished glass from Ile-Ife, Nigeria, Implications for the archaeology of glass in sub-Saharan Africa. Antiquity 94 (2020), e16.

The discovery of glass crucible fragments with the remains of semi-finished glass at Ile-Ife, Nigeria, has provided the first evidence for the existence of autonomous glass production in sub-Saharan Africa.

Keywords: Nigeria | glass | technology | beads | semi-finished glass | crucibles

di Lernia 2020

Savino di Lernia, Isabella Massamba N’Siala, Anna Maria Mercuri & Andrea Zerboni, Land-use and cultivation in the etaghas of the Tadrart Acacus (south-west Libya), The dawn of Saharan agriculture? Antiquity 94 (2020), 580–600.


The hyperarid climate of the central Sahara precludes permanent agriculture, although occasional temporary ponds, or etaghas, as a result of rain-fed flooding of wadi beds in the Tadrart Acacus Mountains of the Libyan Sahara allow the pastoral Kel Tadrart Tuareg to cultivate cereals. Geoarchaeological and archaeological data, along with radiocarbon dating and evidence from rock art, however, suggest a much greater antiquity for the exploitation of these etaghas. The authors propose that the present-day cultivation of etaghas mirrors attempts at flood-recession or rainfed cultivation by late prehistoric Pastoral Neolithic groups, who first exploited residual water resources to supplement their pastoral subsistence practices.

Keywords: Sahara | Libya | Tadrart Acacus | Pastoral Neolithic | rain-fed cultivation | Tuareg

Mercuri 2008

Anna Maria Mercuri, Plant exploitation and ethnopalynological evidence from the Wadi Teshuinat area (Tadrart Acacus, Libyan Sahara). Journal of Archaeological Science 35 (2008), 1619–1642.

Pollen analyses of 13 archaeological sites in the Wadi Teshuinat area, in southwestern Fezzan, Libya, were synthesised to explore the potential contribution of palynological investigation to archaeological research in this area. During the Holocene, the sites were occupied by prePastoral (hunteregatherers) and Pastoral (pastoralists) cultures. Different pollen stratigraphies and floras characterised the diverse sites and the relevant cultural phases. Pollen data were reported by discussing the sites separately, and by combining them to interpret the regional data set. Emphasis was made on the anthropogenic pollen indicators and grasses, including large grass pollen grains (>40 mm), which were considered evidence of plant transport into the site. These were ethnobotanical markers, human-made evidence of plant harvesting by hunteregatherers, or of animal breeding by pastoralists. The disappearance of some wild cereals was also observed, consistent with increasing climate dryness and land exploitation. Macroremains were used as a parallel tool to better understand plant exploitation in the region.

Keywords: Central Sahara | Fezzan | Plant exploitation | Pollen analysis | Wild cereals

Schepers 2020

Christian Schepers, Joséphine Lesur & Ralf Vogelsang, Hunter-gatherers of the high-altitude Afromontane forest, The Holocene occupation of Mount Dendi, Ethiopia. Azania (2020), preprint, 1–31. <DOI:10.1080/0067270X.2020.1792709>.

Dendi Lake Rockshelter is situated about 100 km west of Addis Ababa on the west-central part of the Ethiopian Plateau in the Ginchi woreda of Ethiopia’s Oromiya regional state. In October 2012, a team from the University of Cologne excavated a testtrench that revealed four archaeological complexes that could clearly be distinguished on a typological basis as well as by radiocarbon dates. This article focuses on the lithic artefacts recovered from the excavation and specifically the microliths that are one of the main characteristics of the Later Stone Age. Their high variability in this assemblage is a common feature of contemporaneous sites in the Horn of Africa. The rockshelter is situated in a high-altitude Afromontane forest and was most probably used for short-term stays by groups of hunters.

Keywords: Holocene | Ethiopia | highlands | lithic assemblages | microliths | Later Stone Age | radiocarbon dating


Arpino 2020

Bruno Arpino, Valeria Bordone & Marta Pasqualini, No clear association emerges between intergenerational relationships and COVID-19 fatality rates from macro-level analyses. PNAS 117 (2020), 19116–19121. <DOI:10.1073/pnas.2008581117>.


The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 originated in Wuhan, China at the end of 2019 and rapidly spread in more than 100 countries. Researchers in different fields have been working on finding explanations for the unequal impact of the virus and deaths fromthe associated coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) across geographical areas. Demographers and other social scientists have hinted at the importance of demographic factors, such as age structure and intergenerational relationships. Our aim is to reflect on the possible link between intergenerational relationships and spread and lethality of COVID-19 in a critical way. We show that with available aggregate data it is not possible to draw robust evidence to support these links. In fact, despite a higher prevalence of intergenerational coresidence and contacts that is broadly positively associated with COVID-19 case fatality rates at the country level, the opposite is generally true at the subnational level. While this inconsistent evidence demonstrates neither the existence nor the absence of a causal link between intergenerational relationships and the severity of COVID-19, we warn against simplistic interpretations of the available data, which suffer from many shortcomings. We conclude by arguing that intergenerational relationships are not only about physical contacts between family members. Theoretically, different forms of intergenerational relationships may have causal effects of opposite sign on the diffusion of COVID-19. Policies should also take into account that intergenerational ties are a source of instrumental and emotional support, which may favor compliance to the lockdown and “phase-2” restrictions and may buffer their negative consequences on mental health.

Keywords: intergenerational contacts | coresidence | coronavirus | COVID-19 | intergenerational relationships

Significance: Several factors have been examined that contribute to the unequal impact of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in terms of lethality and prevalence of cases across different geographical areas. Among them, intergenerational relationships (e.g., coresidence and contacts between family members of different generations) have been suspected to play a role in the spread and lethality of COVID-19. Our results show that available evidence on the link between intergenerational relationships and COVID-19 is inconclusive. Future studies need to use individuallevel data to obtain more robust statistical evidence on this link before any policy suggestion can be provided.

Britton 2020

Tom Britton, Frank Ball & Pieter Trapman, A mathematical model reveals the influence of population heterogeneity on herd immunity to SARS-CoV-2. science 369 (2020), 846–849. <DOI:10.1126/science.abc6810>.


Despite various levels of preventive measures, in 2020, many countries have suffered severely from the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus. Using a model, we show that population heterogeneity can affect disease-induced immunity considerably because the proportion of infected individuals in groups with the highest contact rates is greater than that in groups with low contact rates. We estimate that if R0 = 2.5 in an age-structured community with mixing rates fitted to social activity, then the diseaseinduced herd immunity level can be  43 %, which is substantially less than the classical herd immunity level of 60 % obtained through homogeneous immunization of the population. Our estimates should be interpreted as an illustration of how population heterogeneity affects herd immunity rather than as an exact value or even a best estimate.

Cohen 2020

Jon Cohen, Russia’s approval of a COVID-19 vaccine is less than meets the press release. science (2020), preprint, 1–6. <DOI:10.1126/science.abe2848>.

Cohen 2020

Jon Cohen, Antibodies may curb pandemic before vaccines, Now in efficacy trials, monoclonal antibodies promise to both prevent and treat disease. science 369 (2020), 752–753. <DOI:10.1126/science.369.6505.752>.

Flaxman 2020

Seth Flaxman et al., Estimating the effects of non-pharmaceutical interventions on COVID-19 in Europe. nature 584 (2020), 257–261. <DOI:10.1038/s41586-020-2405-7>.


Following the detection of the new coronavirus1 severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its spread outside of China, Europe has experienced large epidemics of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In response, many European countries have implemented non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as the closure of schools and national lockdowns. Here we study the effect of major interventions across 11 European countries for the period from the start of the COVID-19 epidemics in February 2020 until 4 May 2020, when lockdowns started to be lifted. Our model calculates backwards from observed deaths to estimate transmission that occurred several weeks previously, allowing for the time lag between infection and death. We use partial pooling of information between countries, with both individual and shared effects on the time-varying reproduction number (Rt). Pooling allows for more information to be used, helps to overcome idiosyncrasies in the data and enables more-timely estimates. Our model relies on fixed estimates of some epidemiological parameters (such as the infection fatality rate), does not include importation or subnational variation and assumes that changes in Rt are an immediate response to interventions rather than gradual changes in behaviour. Amidst the ongoing pandemic, we rely on death data that are incomplete, show systematic biases in reporting and are subject to future consolidation. We estimate that—for all of the countries we consider here—current interventions have been sufficient to drive Rt below 1 (probability Rt < 1.0 is greater than 99 %) and achieve control of the epidemic. We estimate that across all 11 countries combined, between 12 and 15 million individuals were infected with SARS-CoV-2 up to 4 May 2020, representing between 3.2 % and 4.0 % of the population. Our results show that major non-pharmaceutical interventions—and lockdowns in particular—have had a large effect on reducing transmission. Continued intervention should be considered to keep transmission of SARS-CoV-2 under control.

Seth Flaxman, Swapnil Mishra, Axel Gandy, H. Juliette T. Unwin, Thomas A. Mellan, Helen Coupland, Charles Whittaker, Harrison Zhu, Tresnia Berah, Jeffrey W. Eaton, Mélodie Monod, Imperial College COV- Response Team, Azra C. Ghani, Christl A. Donnelly, Steven Riley, Michaela A. C. Vollmer, Neil M. Ferguson, Lucy C. Okell & Samir Bhatt

Hsiang 2020

Solomon Hsiang et al., The effect of large-scale anti-contagion policies on the COVID-19 pandemic. nature 584 (2020), 262–267. <DOI:10.1038/s41586-020-2404-8>.


Governments around the world are responding to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic1, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), with unprecedented policies designed to slow the growth rate of infections. Many policies, such as closing schools and restricting populations to their homes, impose large and visible costs on society; however, their benefits cannot be directly observed and are currently understood only through process-based simulations2–4. Here we compile data on 1,700 local, regional and national non-pharmaceutical interventions that were deployed in the ongoing pandemic across localities in China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, France and the United States. We then apply reduced-form econometric methods, commonly used to measure the effect of policies on economic growth5,6, to empirically evaluate the effect that these anti-contagion policies have had on the growth rate of infections. In the absence of policy actions, we estimate that early infections of COVID-19 exhibit exponential growth rates of approximately 38 % per day. We find that anti-contagion policies have significantly and substantially slowed this growth. Some policies have different effects on different populations, but we obtain consistent evidence that the policy packages that were deployed to reduce the rate of transmission achieved large, beneficial and measurable health outcomes. We estimate that across these 6 countries, interventions prevented or delayed on the order of 61 million confirmed cases, corresponding to averting approximately 495 million total infections. These findings may help to inform decisions regarding whether or when these policies should be deployed, intensified or lifted, and they can support policy-making in the more than 180 other countries in which COVID-19 has been reported7.

Solomon Hsiang, Daniel Allen, Sébastien Annan-Phan, Kendon Bell, Ian Bolliger, Trinetta Chong, Hannah Druckenmiller, Luna Yue Huang, Andrew Hultgren, Emma Krasovich, Peiley Lau, Jaecheol Lee, Esther Rolf, Jeanette Tseng & Tiffany Wu

Jefferson 2020

Lee M. Jefferson, Jesus the Magician? Why Jesus Holds a Wand in Early Christian Art. Biblical Archaeology Review 46 (2020), iv, 41–47.

However, near the escalator from the main entrance is a habitually overlooked gallery of early Christian art: the Museo Pio Cristiano. The collection contains many of the oldest recovered carved sarcophagi in the early Christian visual canon. Although many guidebooks suggest it interests only specialists, visitors would be well served to reject their guidebooks and explore this treasure trove of early Christian imagery, including early visualizations of Jesus.

Mousa 2020

Salma Mousa, Building social cohesion between Christians and Muslims through soccer in post-ISIS Iraq. science 369 (2020), 866–870.


Can intergroup contact build social cohesion after war? I randomly assigned Iraqi Christians displaced by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to an all-Christian soccer team or to a team mixed with Muslims. The intervention improved behaviors toward Muslim peers: Christians with Muslim teammates were more likely to vote for a Muslim (not on their team) to receive a sportsmanship award, register for a mixed team next season, and train with Muslims 6 months after the intervention. The intervention did not substantially affect behaviors in other social contexts, such as patronizing a restaurant in Muslim-dominated Mosul or attending a mixed social event, nor did it yield consistent effects on intergroup attitudes. Although contact can build tolerant behaviors toward peers within an intervention, building broader social cohesion outside of it is more challenging.

Nordling 2020

Linda Nordling, Africa’s pandemic puzzle: why so few cases and deaths? Antibody surveys tell a different story than official tolls. science 369 (2020), 756–757. <DOI:10.1126/science.369.6505.756>.

If tens of millions of Africans have already been infected, that raises the question of whether the continent should try for “herd immunity” without a vaccine, Boum says—the controversial idea of letting the virus run its course to allow the population to become immune, perhaps while shielding the most vulnerable. That might be preferable over control measures that cripple economies and could harm public health more in the long run.

Paluck 2020

Elizabeth Levy Paluck & Chelsey S. Clark, Can playing together help us live together? A field experiment in Iraq shows that having Muslim teammates reduced Christian soccer players’ prejudice. science 369 (2020), 769–770.

The study presents a fundamental theoretical puzzle: Why don’t the positive behavioral effects generalize out of context, or to positive intergroup attitudes? The first piece of the puzzle is that the observed changes are limited to behaviors and not attitudes.

This landmark study cuts a clear path for future scholarship. Generalized answers will only emerge after more experimental work that may seem like policy application but is actually basic science, working systematically toward robust conclusions.


Sanz 2020

Montserrat Sanz et al., Early evidence of fire in south-western Europe, The Acheulean site of Gruta da Aroeira (Torres Novas, Portugal). Scientific Reports 10 (2020), 12053. <DOI:10.1038/s41598-020-68839-w>.

When fireplaces are preserved intact, in-situ ire use is self-evident and requires no additional proof. In most Palaeolithic sites, however, preservation to such a degree is a rare event. To assess whether ire was used in a controlled manner, a multi-analytic approach is required. Otherwise, the absence of evidence can easily be mistaken for an evidence of absence. As we hopefully have been able to demonstrate here, the patchy record of ire in the Lower Palaeolithic has to be seen in light of preservation issues, not just site function or hominin abilities.

the site of Gruta da Aroeira (torres novas, portugal), with evidence of human occupancy dating to ca. ka Marine )sotope Stage , is one of the very few Middle Pleistocene localities to have provided a fossil hominin cranium associated with Acheulean bifaces in a cave context. the multianalytic study reported here of the by-products of burning recorded in layer X suggests the presence of anthropogenic ires at the site, among the oldest such evidence in south-western Europe. The burnt material consists of bone, charcoal and, possibly, quartzite cobbles. These inds were made in a small area of the cave and in two separate occupation horizons. our results add to our still-limited knowledge about the controlled use of ire in the Lower Palaeolithic and contribute to ongoing debates on the behavioural complexity of the Acheulean of europe.

Montserrat Sanz, Joan Daura, Dan Cabanes, Natalia Égüez, Angel Carrancho, Ernestina Badal, Pedro Souto, Filipa Rodrigues & João Zilhão


Segurel 2020

Laure Segurel et al., Why and when was lactase persistence selected for? Insights from Central Asian herders and ancient DNA. PLoS Biology 18 (2020), e3000742. <DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.3000742>.

PLoSBio18-e3000742-Supplement1.png, PLoSBio18-e3000742-Supplement2.png, PLoSBio18-e3000742-Supplement3.xlsx

The genetic adaptation of humans to the consumption of milk from dairying animals is one of the most emblematic cases of recent human evolution. While the phenotypic change under selection, lactase persistence (LP), is known, the evolutionary advantage conferred to persistent individuals remains obscure. One informative but underappreciated observation is that not all populations whose ancestors had access to milk genetically adapted to become lactase persistent. Indeed, Central Asian herders are mostly lactase nonpersistent, despite their significant dietary reliance on dairy products. Investigating the temporal dynamic of the -13.910:C>T Eurasian mutation associated with LP, we found that, after its emergence in Ukraine 5,960 before present (BP), the T allele spread between 4,000 BP and 3,500 BP throughout Eurasia, from Spain to Kazakhstan. The timing and geographical progression of the mutation coincides well with the migration of steppe populations across and outside of Europe. After 3,000 BP, the mutation strongly increased in frequency in Europe, but not in Asia. We propose that Central Asian herders have adapted to milk consumption culturally, by fermentation, and/or by colonic adaptation, rather than genetically. Given the possibility of a nongenetic adaptation to avoid intestinal symptoms when consuming dairy products, the puzzle then becomes this: why has LP been selected for at all?

Laure Segurel, Perle Guarino-Vignon, Nina Marchi, Sophie Lafosse, Romain Laurent, Céline Bon, Alexandre Fabre, Tatyana Hegay & Evelyne Heyer

Speer 2020

Sebastian P. H. Speer, Ale Smidts & Maarten A. S. Boksem, Cognitive control increases honesty in cheaters but cheating in those who are honest. PNAS 117 (2020), 19080–19091.


Every day, we are faced with the conflict between the temptation to cheat for financial gains and maintaining a positive image of ourselves as being a “good person.” While it has been proposed that cognitive control is needed to mediate this conflict between reward and our moral self-image, the exact role of cognitive control in (dis)honesty remains elusive. Here we identify this role, by investigating the neural mechanism underlying cheating. We developed a task which allows for inconspicuously measuring spontaneous cheating on a trial-by-trial basis in the MRI scanner. We found that activity in the nucleus accumbens promotes cheating, particularly for individuals who cheat a lot, while a network consisting of posterior cingulate cortex, temporoparietal junction, and medial prefrontal cortex promotes honesty, particularly in individuals who are generally honest. Finally, activity in areas associated with cognitive control (anterior cingulate cortex and inferior frontal gyrus) helped dishonest participants to be honest, whereas it enabled cheating for honest participants. Thus, our results suggest that cognitive control is not needed to be honest or dishonest per se but that it depends on an individual’s moral default.

Keywords: dishonesty | cognitive control | reward anticipation | self-referential thinking | fMRI

Significance: Considering the immense economic costs associated with dishonest behavior, such as tax evasion or music piracy, reducing dishonesty is of great relevance to policy-makers. However, targeting dishonesty with interventions requires a thorough understanding of the underlying (neuro)cognitive processes. We combine neuroimaging with a task that pioneers in measuring the neural mechanisms underlying (dis)honesty. While replicating previous findings that greed drives dishonesty, we reveal that self-referential thinking processes promoted honest behavior. Moreover, we found that cognitive control does not serve the same purpose across individuals but facilitates honest decisions for cheaters, whereas it enables cheating for honest participants. We thus observe that different processes prevent dishonesty for different individuals, which can prove instrumental in the development of more effective interventions.

Wadley 2020

Lyn Wadley et al., Fire and grass-bedding construction 200 thousand years ago at Border Cave, South Africa. science 369 (2020), 863–866.


Early plant use is seldom described in the archaeological record because of poor preservation. We report the discovery of grass bedding used to create comfortable areas for sleeping and working by people who lived in Border Cave at least 200,000 years ago. Sheaves of grass belonging to the broad-leafed Panicoideae subfamily were placed near the back of the cave on ash layers that were often remnants of bedding burned for site maintenance. This strategy is one forerunner of more-complex behavior that is archaeologically discernible from  100,000 years ago.

Lyn Wadley, Irene Esteban, Paloma de la Peña, Marine Wojcieszak, Dominic Stratford, Sandra Lennox, Francesco d’Errico, Daniela Eugenia Rosso, François Orange, Lucinda Backwell & Christine Sievers


Garfinkel 2020

Yosef Garfinkel, The Face of Yahweh? Biblical Archaeology Review 46 (2020), iv, 30–33.

It seems that another iconographic element may correspond with descriptions of Yahweh in the biblical tradition. The heads of the figurines from Moza and Khirbet Qeiyafa are outstanding in their large size in relation to almost all known anthropomorphic igurines uncovered—from the prehistoric era to the Iron Age. This characteristic can be explained in light of the biblical expression “before the Lord,” which in Hebrew can literally be read “face of Yahweh,” a term commonly associated with pilgrimage to cult centers such as Shiloh (1 Samuel 1:22–23) and Jerusalem (see, e.g., Deuteronomy 16:16; Isaiah 1:12).

Another aspect of seeing the face of a god during pilgrimage to a cult center should be noted. As the believer sees the face of the idol, in that very moment the idol also looks at the believer. This is a metaphysical moment, a contact between earth and heaven, the core of the religious experience. This moment is also described in the Priestly Blessing in Numbers 6:24–26: “he Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.”


Ussishkin 2020

\cjRL{dwd ’wsy/sqyn} (David Ussishkin), \cjRL{spr zykrwnwt /sl ’rky’wlwg y/sr’ly}, Memoirs of an Israeli Archaeologist. (Holon 2020).


Munoz 2020

Olivia Munoz et al., Marking the sacral landscape of a north Arabian oasis, A sixth-millennium BC monumental stone platform and surrounding burials. Antiquity 94 (2020), 601–621.


Prehistoric stone structures are prominent and well-studied in the Levantine desert margins. In northern Arabia, however, such structures have received less attention. This article presents the results of investigations of a 35m-long stone platform, first constructed in the mid sixth millennium BC, overlooking the oasis of Dûmat al-Jandal in northern Saudi Arabia. Excavation of the platform has yielded bioarchaeological and cultural remains, along with evidence for several phases of construction and intermittent use down to the first millennium BC. Analysis of the platform and nearby tombs Highlights the persistent funerary and ritual use of this area over millennia, illuminating nomadic pastoralist lifeways in prehistoric Arabia.

Keywords: Arabian Peninsula | Neolithic | Mid-Holocene | monumentality | funerary landscape | nomadic pastoralism

Olivia Munoz, Marianne Cotty, Guillaume Charloux, Charlène Bouchaud, Hervé Monchot, Céline Marquaire, Antoine Zazzo, Rémy Crassard, Olivier Brunet, Vanessa Boschloos & Thamer al-Malki


Sheng 2020

Pengfei Sheng, Yaowu Hu, Zhouyong Sun, Liping Yang, Songmei Hu, Benjamin T. Fuller & Xue Shang, Early commensal interaction between humans and hares in Neolithic northern China. Antiquity 94 (2020), 622–636.


Human influence on ecological niches can drive rapid changes in the diet, behaviour and evolutionary trajectories of small mammals. Archaeological evidence from the Late Neolithic Loess Plateau of northern China suggests that the expansion of millet cultivation created new selective pressures, attracting small mammals to fields and settlements. Here, the authors present direct evidence for commensal behaviour in desert hares (Lepus capensis), dating to c. 4900 years ago. Stable isotope ratio analysis of hare bones from the Neolithic site at Yangjiesha shows a diachronic increase in a C4 (millet-based) diet, revealing, for the first time, the expansion of ancient human-hare interactions beyond the predator-prey relationship.

Keywords: China | Loess Plateau | leporids | commensalism | human ecology | stable isotope analysis


Homolka 2020

Walter Homolka, Der Jude Jesus, Eine Heimholung. (Freiburg 2020).

Klausner 1930

Joseph Klausner, Die Gegensätze zwischen dem Judentum und der Lehre Jesu. Menorah 6 (1930), 223–232.

Ex nihilo nihil fit. Enthielte die Lehre Jesu nicht auch einen Gegensatz zum Judentum, so wäre es Paulus unmöglich gewesen, in ihrem Namen die Zeremonialgesetze abzuschaffen und die Schranken des nationalen Judentums zu durchbrechen. Paulus fand zweifellos bei Jesus manchen Anhaltspunkt für seine Tendenzen. Bei der Darstellung seines Lebens begegneten wir schon manchen Gegensätzen zwischen seiner Lehre und dem Pharisäertum, das ja das biblische und traditionelle Judentum verkörpert.

In all diesen Äußerungen war Jesus jüdischer als die Juden, jüdischer als Simon ben Schetach und selbst als Hillel. Doch nichts ist dem nationalen Judentum gefährlicher als übertriebenes Judentum: es bedeutet den Ruin seiner nationalen Kultur, seines nationalen Staates und Lebens. Wo keine Notwendigkeit mehr besteht für Gesetze und irdische Gerechtigkeit, für nationale Politik und gewerbliche Arbeit, wo der Glaube an Gott und die Befolgung einer extremen und einseitigen Ethik allein zu genügen scheinen, da hören das nationale Leben und der nationale Staat gänzlich auf.

Deshalb mußte das Volk als Ganzes in Jesu sozialen Idealen eine sonderbare und sogar gefährliche Schwärmerei sehen, und seine Mehrheit, die den Pharisäern und Schriftgelehrten (Tannaiten) als den Führern der Volkspartei folgte, konnte unter keinen Umständen seine Lehre annehmen. Diese Lehre führte, obwohl sie vom Geiste des prophetischen und zum Teil auch von dem des pharisäischen Judentums beeinflußt war, einerseits zur Verneinung aller praktischen und religiösen jüdischen Lebensnotwendigkeiten, und steigerte andererseits das geistige Judentum zu einem solchen Extrem, daß es geradezu in seinen eigenen Gegensatz dialektisch umschlug. So ersteht vor uns das merkwürdige Bild: das Judentum brachte das Christentum in seiner ursprünglichen Form (als Lehre Jesu) zur Welt, aber es verstieß seine Tochter, als diese die Mutter in einer tödlichen Umarmung ersticken wollte.

Neusner 2007

Jacob Neusner, My argument with the pope, Faithful Jews must dissent from the teachings of Jesus on the grounds that those teachings contradict the Torah. Jerusalem Post 2007 , May 29.

In A Rabbi Talks with Jesus I undertook to take seriously the claim of Jesus to fulfill the Torah and weigh that claim in the balance against the teachings of other rabbis – a colloquium of sages of the Torah. I explain in a very straightforward and unapologetic way why, if I had been in the Land of Israel in the first century and present at the Sermon on the Mount, I would not have joined the circle of Jesus’s disciples. I would have dissented, I hope courteously, I am sure with solid reason and argument and fact.

Just imagine my amazement when I heard that a Christian reply is fully exposed in Pope Benedict XVI’s reply to A Rabbi Talks with Jesus in his Jesus of Nazareth Chapter Four, on the sermon on the Mount. Someone once called me the most contentious person he had ever known. Now I have met my match. Pope Benedict XVI is another truth-seeker.

Pfeifer 2020

Karl Pfeifer, Für das Osmanische Reich war das karge Wüstengebiet des heute blühenden Israel ein Verbannungsort für Stratäter, Die wenig bekannte Geschichte von Erez Israel im 19. Jahrhundert. Jüdische Rundschau 2020 , viii, 38–39.

Schechter 1898

S. Schechter & I. Abrahams, Genizah Specimens, Liturgy. Jewish Quarterly Review 10 (1898), 654–661.

The following fragments, partly on paper and partly on parchment, all written in very ancient hands represent as it seems portions of the liturgy in their oldest form.


Bind 2020

M.-A. C. Bind & D. B. Rubin, When possible, report a Fisher-exact P value and display its underlying null randomization distribution. PNAS 117 (2020), 19151–19158.

In randomized experiments, Fisher-exact P values are available and should be used to help evaluate results rather than the more commonly reported asymptotic P values. One reason is that using the latter can effectively alter the question being addressed by including irrelevant distributional assumptions. The Fisherian statistical framework, proposed in 1925, calculates a P value in a randomized experiment by using the actual randomization procedure that led to the observed data. Here, we illustrate this Fisherian framework in a crossover randomized experiment. First, we consider the first period of the experiment and analyze its data as a completely randomized experiment, ignoring the second period; then, we consider both periods. For each analysis, we focus on 10 outcomes that illustrate important differences between the asymptotic and Fisher tests for the null hypothesis of no ozone effect. For some outcomes, the traditional P value based on the approximating asymptotic Student’s t distribution substantially subceeded the minimum attainable Fisher-exact P value. For the other outcomes, the Fisher-exact null randomization distribution substantially differed from the bell-shaped one assumed by the asymptotic t test. Our Conclusions: When researchers choose to report P values in randomized experiments, 1) Fisher-exact P values should be used, especially in studies with small sample sizes, and 2) the shape of the actual null randomization distribution should be examined for the recondite scientific insights it may reveal.

Keywords: asymptotic P values | crossover randomized experiments | Fisher-exact P values | sensitivity analyses | randomization-based inference

Significance: Statistical analyses of randomized experiments often rely on asymptotic P values instead of using the actual randomization procedure that led to the observed data. Fisher-exact and asymptotic P values can differ dramatically: The former should be preferred because it is calculated using the exact null randomization distribution, which, in small samples, can substantially differ from its approximating Student’s t distribution. Moreover, we may learn something scientifically interesting from examining the shape of the null randomization distribution.

Heck 2020

Patrick R. Heck, Christopher F. Chabris, Duncan J. Watts & Michelle N. Meyer, Objecting to experiments even while approving of the policies or treatments they compare. PNAS 117 (2020), 18948–18950.

We resolve a controversy over two competing hypotheses about why people object to randomized experiments: 1) People unsurprisingly object to experiments only when they object to a policy or treatment the experiment contains, or 2) people can paradoxically object to experiments even when they approve of implementing either condition for everyone. Using multiple measures of preference and test criteria in five preregistered within-subjects studies with 1,955 participants, we find that people often disapprove of experiments involving randomization despite approving of the policies or treatments to be tested.

Keywords: field experiments | A/B tests | randomized controlled trials | research ethics | pragmatic trials


Garfinkel 2020

Yosef Garfinkel, The sceptres of life-sized divine statues from Canaanite Lachish and Hazor. Antiquity 94 (2020), 669–685.

Despite the investigation of hundreds of ancient temples across the Near East, life-sized statues of divine figures are rare and none have been found in the Canaanite Levant. In this article, contextual and iconographic analyses are used to argue for the interpretation of objects from Canaanite temples at Tel Lachish and Hazor, Israel, as sceptres associated with life-sized statues. This represents the first evidence for life-sized divine figures in the region. In turn, this identification may assist in the recognition of similar objects from elsewhere in the Levant and beyond, and stimulate discussion of the power embodied by these statues.

Keywords: Levant | Israel | Canaanite religion | sceptres | statues | iconography

Story or Book

Harrison 2004

Timothy P. Harrison, The Battles of Armageddon. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 63 (2004), 60–61.

The Battles of Armageddon: Megiddo and the Jezreel Valley from the Bronze Age to the Nuclear Age. By Eric H. Cline. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000. Pp. xv + 239 + 19 figs. + 30 maps. $ 27.95.

Cline succeeds admirably in the difficult task of communicating the historical significance of ancient Megiddo to a broader, nonspecialist readership. In the process, he not only Highlights the strategic importance of the region (and the site) in the historical past, but he also contextualizes its continuing cultural and religious significance today.

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