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Dominique Gommery, Beby Ramanivosoa, Martine Faure, Claude Guérin, Patrice Kerloc’h, Frank Sénégas & Hervé Randrianantenaina, Oldest evidence of human activities in Madagascar on subfossil hippopotamus bones from Anjohibe (Mahajanga Province). Comptes Rendus Palevol 10 (2011), 271–278.
The colonization of Madagascar by man is an active subject of scientific debate. Until recently the oldest evidence of humans on the island dated to a few centuries BC or AD from sites located in the South-West of Madagascar. The discoveries at Anjohibe, about 1500 years older, indicate an early colonization of the North-West of the island. This region is closer than two of the shortest routes from Africa or Asia. The discoveries are not archaeological artefacts but cut marks on bones of subfossil dwarf hippopotami. These observations indicate that the coexistence of humans with extinct subfossil faunas has been much longer than previously thought.
Keywords: Madagascar | Cut marks | Human colonization | Human-subfossil coexistence
Carol Meyer, Joan Markley Todd & Curt W. Beck, From Zanzibar to Zagros, A Copal Pendant from Eshnunna. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 50 (1991), 289–298.
In summary, the pendant of Eshnunna is not of the Baltic amber (or succinite) of Northern Europe but is, instead, a copal closely corresponding to those known to occur in East Africa.
A lone piece of copal does not suggest direct contact with East Africa so much as it indicates a trader-to-trader or hand-to-hand “trickling trade” up to the south coast of Arabia and thence to the Persian Gulf, up the Tigris and Diyala Rivers and so to rest for millennia. Certainly, the copal pendant in Eshnunna raises some complex and interesting questions about material provenience, function, and exchange patterns during an early period in Mesopotamian history.
Neil Ferguson, Azra Ghani, Wes Hinsley & Erik Volz, Hospitalisation risk for Omicron cases in England, Report 50. Imperial College London 2021 , Dec. 22. <DOI:10.25561/93035>.
High historical infection attack rates and observed reinfection rates with Omicron mean it is necessary to correct hazard ratio estimates to accurately quantify intrinsic differences in severity between Omicron and Delta and to assess the protection afforded by past infection. The resulting adjustments are moderate (typically less than an increase of 0.2 in the hazard ratio for Omicron vs Delta and a reduction of approximately 0.1 in the hazard ratio for reinfections vs primary infections) but significant for evaluating severity overall. Using a hospital stay of 1+ days as the endpoint, the adjusted estimate of the relative risk of reinfections versus primary cases is 0.31, a 69 % reduction in hospitalisation risk.
Shannon Hall, Covid vaccines safely protect pregnant people, The data are in. nature 601 (2022), 308–309.
Despite evidence that pregnant people are at high risk of serious disease, many remain unvaccinated.
In August 2021, a study reviewed data from close to 870,000 women who gave birth at nearly 500 US medical centres between 1 March 2020 and 28 February 2021. The women who were diagnosed with COVID-19 were 15 times more likely to die and 14 times more likely to be intubated to help them breathe than were women without a COVID-19 diagnosis. They were also up to 22 times more likely to give birth prematurely.
One study published in June 2021 looked at adverse outcomes — pregnancy loss, including miscarriage and stillbirth, and neonatal outcomes such as premature birth, congenital disabilities and death — among 827 people in the United States who gave birth after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. It found that they reported such events at a similar rate to people who gave birth before the pandemic (and had therefore not received a vaccine).
Benjamin Grant Purzycki, Theiss Bendixen & Aaron D. Lightner, Coding, causality, and statistical craft, The emergence and evolutionary drivers of moralistic supernatural punishment remain unresolved. unknown (2022), preprint, 1–11. <>.
inferences about the past. By way of general principle, then: if a historical database replaces missing values with data and this data is correlated with time and/or a mechanism of recording information, any analysis will inevitably find a relationship with time and/or that mechanism of recording information.
In summary, the confluence of a) historical forces that gave rise to the kind of data available in the Seshat database, b) the coding decisions of that data, c) the subsequent analyses, and d) the lack of attention to a causal model prevents adequate tests of the target hypothesis.
Serena Spudich & Avindra Nath, Nervous system consequences of COVID-19. science 375 (2022), 267–269. <DOI:10.1126/science.abm2052>.
Neurological symptoms highlight the need to understand pathophysiologic mechanisms.
Meredith Wadman, Studies reveal dangers of SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy, Vaccination helps prevent stillbirths, critical care. science 375 (2022), 253. <DOI:10.1126/science.ada0233>.
Many pregnant women have been reluctant to get COVID-19 vaccines, with some wary of possible harm to their babies. Stock and colleagues examined birth outcomes in the more than 18,000 Scots who were vaccinated during their pregnancies. Vaccination during pregnancy, including receiving a shot within 28 days of giving birth, did not increase preterm births or deaths of infants in the weeks before and after birth.
Thomas C. Römer, Yhwh, the Goddess and Evil, Is ‘monotheism’ an adequate concept to describe the Hebrew Bible’s discourses about the God of Israel? Verbum et Ecclesia 34 (2013), 841, 1–5. <DOI:10.4102/ve.v34i2.841>.
The concept of ‘monotheism’ has become a matter of debate in Hebrew Bible scholarship. This article investigates whether the concept should still be used, starting with Second Isaiah, who in the early Persian period elaborated a discourse that presented Yhwh as the only god. Therefore he had to integrate into this deity functions traditionally attributed to goddesses and to demons or evil gods. However, this attempt did not succeed. The goddess, whose elimination is probably reflected in Zechariah 5, returned in a certain way through the personification of Wisdom in Proverbs 8, and the ‘dark sides’ of the gods were materialised in the figure of Satan, who experienced an impressive career in the following centuries. The question of evil is not resolved in the Hebrew Bible. Some texts admit the autonomy of evil, whereas Isaiah 45 claims that Yhwh himself is at the origin of evil. This diversity makes it difficult to characterise the Hebrew Bible as the result of a straightforward evolution from polytheism to monotheism.
In the early Persian period, Second Isaiah elaborated a discourse that presented Yhwh as the only god. Therefore, he had to integrate into this deity functions traditionally attributed to goddesses and to demons or evil gods. However, this attempt did not succeed. The goddess returned in a certain way through the personification of Wisdom in Proverbs 8, and the ‘dark sides’ of the gods were materialised in the figure of Satan, who experienced an impressive career in the following centuries.
This evolution makes it difficult to characterise the Hebrew Bible as the result of a straightforward evolution from polytheism to monotheism. The sovereign god Yhwh could not really integrate the feminine and the evil for good and all.
Thomas Römer, The Relationship between Moses and Aaron and the Question of the Composition of the Pentateuch. In: Jaeyoung Jeon (Hrsg.), The Social Groups behind the Pentateuch. Ancient Israel and its Literature 43 (Atlanta 2021), 55–72.
External evidence from Elephantine and some biblical texts lead to the assumption that we should distinguish at least three main groups that were involved in the compilation of the Pentateuch.
The Pentateuch appears in this regard not only as a compromise but also as a record of scribal conlicts that were never totally resolved. The only solution was to maintain diferent claims inside the same document. Yet the epitaph about Moses as the incomparable mediator in Deut 34:10–12 makes the figure of Moses the most important human actor of the Torah, who can be overcome neither by Aaron nor by the Levites.
James H. Barrett, A radiocarbon revolution sheds light on the Vikings. nature 601 (2022), 326–327.
Advances in the precision of radiocarbon dating can offer year-specific data. Analyses of archaeological sites in Denmark and Canada provide insights into the chronology of the global networks of the Viking Age.
Margot Kuitems, Birgitta L. Wallace, Charles Lindsay, Andrea Scifo, Petra Doeve, Kevin Jenkins, Susanne Lindauer, Pynar Erd, Evidence for European presence in the Americas in AD 1021. nature 601 (2022), 388–391.
Transatlantic exploration took place centuries before the crossing of Columbus. Physical evidence for early European presence in the Americas can be found in Newfoundland, Canada1,2. However, it has thus far not been possible to determine when this activity took place3–5. Here we provide evidence that the Vikings were present in Newfoundland in ad 1021. We overcome the imprecision of previous age estimates by making use of the cosmic-ray-induced upsurge in atmospheric radiocarbon concentrations in ad 993 (ref. 6). Our new date lays down a marker for European cognisance of the Americas, and represents the first known point at which humans encircled the globe. It also provides a definitive tie point for future research into the initial consequences of transatlantic activity, such as the transference of knowledge, and the potential exchange of genetic information, biota and pathologies.
Margot Kuitems, Birgitta L. Wallace, Charles Lindsay, Andrea Scifo, Petra Doeve, Kevin Jenkins, Susanne Lindauer, Pynar Erdil, Paul M. Ledger, Véronique Forbes, Caroline Vermeeren, Ronny Friedrich & Michael W. Dee
Bente Philippsen, Claus Feveile, Jesper Olsen & Søren M. Sindbæk, Single-year radiocarbon dating anchors Viking Age trade cycles in time. nature 601 (2022), 392–396.
Recent discoveries of rapid changes in the atmospheric 14C concentration linked to solar particle events have spurred the construction of new radiocarbon annual calibration datasets1–13. With these datasets, radiocarbon dating becomes relevant for urban sites, which require dates at higher resolution than previous calibration datasets could offer. Here we use a single-year radiocarbon calibration curve to anchor the archaeological stratigraphy of a Viking Age trade centre in time. We present absolutely dated evidence for artefact finds charting the expansion of long-distance trade from as far away as Arctic Norway and the Middle East, which we linked to the beginning of the Viking Age at ad 790 ± 10. The methods developed here enable human interactions and cultural, climatic and environmental changes to be compared in archaeological stratigraphies worldwide.
Knut Rassmann, Martin Furholt, Nils Müller-Scheeßel & Johannes Müller, The social organisation of the Vinca culture settlements, New evidence from magnetic and archaeological excavation data. In: Miljana Radivojevic, Benjamin W. Roberts, Miroslav Maric, Julka Kuzmanoviæ Cvetkovic & Thilo Rehren (Hrsg.), The Rise of Metallurgy in Eurasia, Evolution, Organisation and Consumption of Early Metal in the Balkans. (Oxford 2021), 455–459.
The demographic dimension of the Vinca settlements is unique within the Late Neolithic and Copper Age in central and southeastern Europe. Only the large Tripolje settlements in Moldova and Ukraine are larger in size. The existence of social sub-units is likely, and we proposed the existence of such groups comprising 20 to 50 people, who occupied house rows in larger settlements like Okoliste and Crkvine.
Large unbuilt areas and the existence of large enclosure systems around these extensive sites indicate the presence of settlement-wide social institutions connected to the construction and maintenance of communal features. Nevertheless, social fission, the breaking out of a social sub-unit from the overall settlement and the founding of a new, smaller site, was a viable and frequent phenomenon during the Late Neolithic. One model to explain this involves changes in inheritance practices (Müller 2017).
Daniel Berger, Gerhard Brügmann, Ernst Pernicka & Jörg Stolz, Naturwissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zur Erhaltung, Zusammensetzung und Herkunft der frühbronzezeitlichen Zinnperlen aus Schwabmünchen und Buxheim. In: Stefanie Berg & Carola Metzner-Nebelsick (Hrsg.), Eine einmalige Zinnperlentracht der Frühbronzezeit aus Bayern, “Powerdressing” vor 4000 Jahren. Inhalte – Projekte – Dokumentationen 23 (Lindenberg 2021), 117–140.
Daniel Berger, Quanyu Wang, Gerhard Brügmann, Nicole Lockhoff, Benjamin W. Roberts & Ernst Pernicka, The Salcombe metal cargoes: New light on the provenance and circulation of tin and copper in Later Bronze Age Europe provided by trace elements and isotopes. Journal of Archaeological Science 138 (2022), 105543, 1–28.
Since the mid-1970s a Bronze Age assemblage of metal objects has been recovered from the seabed off the south Devon coast at Salcombe, southwest England. The assemblage spans two suspected shipwreck events and comprises nearly 400 pieces of raw materials and inished artefacts, primarily in copper, tin, bronze and gold. Among these are 280 copper and 40 tin ingots, by far the largest discovery of Bronze Age ingots in either metal from northwestern Europe. Research in recent years revealed the microstructural and chemical nature of the ingots and enabled some preliminary conclusions on the metals trade in Europe in the Later Bronze Age. The present study aims to extend this knowledge by determining the tin, copper and lead isotopic compositions of the ingots using HR-MC-ICP-MS. In addition, bronze artefacts (swords, rapiers, palstaves and weights) from the Salcombe site are included in the multi-proxy approach in order to investigate their history and the possible relationships between inished products and ingots. In combination with the available chemical data of previous studies, the current results of the tin metal show that most likely two tin sources in southwest Britain supplied the ore for their production. This also sheds light on Late Bronze Age tin ingots from Israel that share the same geochemical characteristics with one group of the inds from Salcombe. Although the tin in the bronzes is similar to the tin in the ingots, it is not certain that the latter were used to make the bronzes. Correlations of copper and tin isotopes and trace elements of the bronzes point to a mixing or even recycling of copper-tin alloys rather than the alloying of individual components of copper and tin. However, the copper ingots from the assemblage could have been an additional component in the mixing process given their impurity pattern and isotopic composition. At the same time, a close relationship between swords of the Rosno¿en type and palstaves from the cargo is disclosed. Lead isotope ratios for their part suggest Sardinian and/or south Spanish copper ores as a source for both the copper ingots and the copper of the bronzes. This would mean long-distance metal trade in the Later Bronze Age in both cases and would provide new insights into the interpretation of the prehistoric networks in Europe.
Keywords: Tin and copper ingots | Bronze | Bronze age | Tin and copper isotopes | Metals trade | Provenance analysis | Recycling
Simo Parpola, The Assyrian Tree of Life, Tracing the Origins of Jewish Monotheism and Greek Philosophy. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 52 (1993), 161–208.
The Sefirotic Tree did have a direct Mesopotamian model and that this model was perfected in the Assyrian Empire, most probably in the early thirteenth century B.C.
The point I wish to make is that, against all appearances, Mesopotamian religion and philosophy are not dead but still very much alive in Jewish, Christian, and Oriental mysticism and philosophies.
In Jewish mysticism, such experiences are referred to as “ascent to heaven” or “entering Paradise” and regarded as tremendous events reserved only to perfectly ethical, perfectly stable men. The evolution of Gilgamesh into such a man is described in detail in Tablets I-VIII.133 In the early (third century?) Jewish mystical text Hekhalot Rabbati, the very concept of mystical “ascent to heaven” is revealed to the Jewish community as a revolutionary “secret of the world.” There can be no doubt whatsoever that this very secret, revealing the way to Heaven, was the precious secret that Gilgamesh brought back from his journey to Utnapishtim.
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