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Alexandra Witze, Extreme Heatwaves, Surprising lessons from the record warmth. nature 608 (2022), 464–465.
Unprecedented temperatures are coming faster and more furiously than researchers expected, raising questions about what to anticipate in the future.
Scientists had foreseen this to some extent. A climate-modelling study published two years ago found that it was possible, although not likely, that the United Kingdom would pass 40 °C in the coming decades3. And yet it happened this year, with a new national high of 40.3 °C.
The fact that temperatures topped the threshold so much more quickly than expected might stem from the reality that climate models don’t capture everything that influences heatwaves, and thus don’t project future heat extremes completely accurately.
Moshe Yanovskiy & Yehoshua Socol, Are Lockdowns Effective in Managing Pandemics? Int. J. of Environmmental Research and Public Health 19 (2022), 9295, 1–12. <DOI:10.3390/ijerph19159295>.
The present coronavirus crisis caused a major worldwide disruption which has not been experienced for decades. The lockdown-based crisis management was implemented by nearly all the countries, and studies confirming lockdown effectiveness can be found alongside the studies questioning it. In this work, we performed a narrative review of the works studying the above effectiveness, as well as the historic experience of previous pandemics and risk-benefit analysis based on the connection of health and wealth. Our aim was to learn lessons and analyze ways to improve the management of similar events in the future. The comparative analysis of different countries showed that the assumption of lockdowns’ effectiveness cannot be supported by evidence—neither regarding the present COVID-19 pandemic, nor regarding the 1918–1920 Spanish Flu and other less-severe pandemics in the past. The price tag of lockdowns in terms of public health is high: by using the known connection between health and wealth, we estimate that lockdowns may claim 20 times more life years than they save. It is suggested therefore that a thorough cost-benefit analysis should be performed before imposing any lockdown for either COVID-19 or any future pandemic.
Keywords: COVID-19 | Spanish Flu | disaster management | decision making | health and wealth
Benjamin S. Arbuckle & Zoe Schwandt, Ancient genomes and West Eurasian history. science 377 (2022), 922–923.
Storytelling with ancient DNA reveals challenges and potential for writing new histories.
In constructing the history of the Southern Arc, Lazaridis et al. focus on Y chromosome lineages, especially to link populations in Southeastern Europe, the Aegean, and the southern Caucasus to the Bronze Age Yamnaya through shared patrilines. Ostensibly, there are technical reasons for this—Y chromosomes allow for precise reconstructions of lineages and divergence times.
This emphasis on Y chromosome networks inadvertently projects gender stereotypes into the past, perpetuating an androcentric narrative of dominance and competition that equates chromosomes to gender and gender to behavior. Conversely, approaches that explore maternal markers and sex-neutral kinship coefficients have recently been used, showing that alternate methods that overcome sex biases are possible.
This work can be particularly effective if researchers recognize their lack of neutrality and embrace their role in constructing narratives while allowing room for diverse perspectives that shine light onto people and places whose histories are less well known. Lazaridis et al. do an excellent job of this. The studies by Lazaridis et al. represent an important milestone for ancient genomic research, providing a rich dataset and diverse observations that will drive the next iteration of interpretations of the human history of West Eurasia.
Andrew Curry, Ancient DNA from the Near East probes a cradle of civilization, Studies seek clues to origins of farming, early languages. science 377 (2022), 908–909.
Iosif Lazaridis, Songul Alpaslan-Roodenberg & David Reich et al., The genetic history of the Southern Arc, A bridge between West Asia and Europe. science 377 (2022), 939.
By sequencing 727 ancient individuals from the Southern Arc (Anatolia and its neighbors in Southeastern Europe and West Asia) over 10,000 years, we contextualize its Chalcolithic period and Bronze Age (about 5000 to 1000 BCE), when extensive gene flow entangled it with the Eurasian steppe. Two streams of migration transmitted Caucasus and Anatolian/Levantine ancestry northward, and the Yamnaya pastoralists, formed on the steppe, then spread southward into the Balkans and across the Caucasus into Armenia, where they left numerous patrilineal descendants. Anatolia was transformed by intra–West Asian gene flow, with negligible impact of the later Yamnaya migrations. This contrasts with all other regions where Indo-European languages were spoken, suggesting that the homeland of the IndoAnatolian language family was in West Asia, with only secondary dispersals of non-Anatolian IndoEuropeans from the steppe.
Iosif Lazaridis, Songul Alpaslan-Roodenberg & David Reich et al., A genetic probe into the ancient and medieval history of Southern Europe and West Asia. science 377 (2022), 940–951.
Literary and archaeological sources have preserved a rich history of Southern Europe and West Asia since the Bronze Age that can be complemented by genetics. Mycenaean period elites in Greece did not differ from the general population and included both people with some steppe ancestry and others, like the Griffin Warrior, without it. Similarly, people in the central area of the Urartian Kingdom around Lake Van lacked the steppe ancestry characteristic of the kingdom’s northern provinces. Anatolia exhibited extraordinary continuity down to the Roman and Byzantine periods, with its people serving as the demographic core of much of the Roman Empire, including the city of Rome itself. During medieval times, migrations associated with Slavic and Turkic speakers profoundly affected the region.
Iosif Lazaridis, Songul Alpaslan-Roodenberg & David Reich et al., Ancient DNA from Mesopotamia suggests distinct Pre-Pottery and Pottery Neolithic migrations into Anatolia. science 377 (2022), 982–987.
We present the first ancient DNA data from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic of Mesopotamia (Southeastern Turkey and Northern Iraq), Cyprus, and the Northwestern Zagros, along with the first data from Neolithic Armenia. We show that these and neighboring populations were formed through admixture of pre-Neolithic sources related to Anatolian, Caucasus, and Levantine hunter-gatherers, forming a Neolithic continuum of ancestry mirroring the geography of West Asia. By analyzing Pre-Pottery and Pottery Neolithic populations of Anatolia, we show that the former were derived from admixture between Mesopotamian-related and local Epipaleolithic-related sources, but the latter experienced additional Levantine-related gene flow, thus documenting at least two pulses of migration from the Fertile Crescent heartland to the early farmers of Anatolia.
Jeffrey P. Emanuel, King Taita and his “Palistin”, Philistine State or Neo-Hittite Kingdom? Antiguo Oriente 13 (2015), 11–40.
The end of the Hittite Empire and the destruction and abandonment of Alalakh represents a cultural break between the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages in the ‘Amuq Valley. In the Iron I, a population with clear ties to the greater Aegean world, perhaps related to the Philistines of southern Canaan, established an agro-pastoral settlement at Tell Ta’yinat and the surrounding area. This occupation, marked by Field Phases 6–3 at Ta’yinat, was both materially and chronologically ephemeral, and should be viewed as a cultural outlier sandwiched between the Hittite-controlled LBA and later Iron I. This intrusive population lived alongside the indigenous inhabitants of the ‘Amuq, bequeathing to the region a toponym—Palistin—that would far outlast their own relevance and archaeological visibility. By the First Building Period at Tell Ta’yinat, which followed the Aegean-related phases, the site was home to a dynasty overseeing a typical Neo-Hittite state, with its toponym all that remained of the “Sea Peoples” presence that occupied it at the beginning of the Iron Age.
Keywords: Sea Peoples | Neo-Hittite | Palistin | Philistines
P. Kyle McCarter, Jr., The Apology of David. Journal of Biblical Literature 99 (1980), 489–504.
Apologetic literature by its very nature assumes a defensive attitude toward its subject matter, addressing itself to issues exposed to actual or possible public censure. This is precisely the posture of the history of David’s rise. A careful reading leads to the conclusion that the author is speaking to one possible charge of wrongdoing after another in an attempt to demonstrate David’s innocence in the series of events that led to his succession. This case for the defense is made by relating the events in question in a way intended to allay all suspicions, and though the author becomes quite explicit at times, as in his report of Abner’s death (see below), he does not permit himself to step out from behind his narrative and comment directly on the issue at hand. Nevertheless, the charges against which he defends David are easily recognized.
Wei Chu, Scott McLin, Luisa Wöstehoff, Alexandru Ciornei, Jacopo Gennai, João Marreiros & Adrian Dobos, Aurignacian dynamics in Southeastern Europe based on spatial analysis, sediment geochemistry, raw materials, lithic analysis, and use-wear from Românesti-Dumbravita. Scientific Reports 12 (2022), 14152. <DOI:10.1038/s41598-022-15544-5>.
SciRep12-14152-Supplement1.docx, SciRep12-14152-Supplement2.xlsx, SciRep12-14152-Supplement3.xlsx
The Aurignacian is one of the first cultural-technological traditions commonly associated with the expansion of Homo sapiens in Europe. Early Homo sapiens demographics across the continent are therefore typically inferred using the distribution of Aurignacian assemblages. Western Romania has been used as a tie-point to connect the well-researched lithic assemblages from the eastern Mediterranean and Western Europe through its early Homo sapiens fossils. However, Romania’s archeological record remains underexplored thereby hindering our ability to directly connect better understood regions through time and space. Here we report on excavations from the open-air Middle/ Upper Paleolithic site of Romanesti-Dumbravita I in southwestern Romania. Three stratified Paleolithic assemblages were extensively excavated within a 1-m-thick eolian-deposited sequence. Spatial, geochemical, raw material, techno-typological, and use-wear analysis of the site reveal patterns of artifact configuration, resource exploitation, fire history, knapping objectives, and functionality. Taken together, Romnesti-Dumbravita I is the first well-contextualized archeological site in close spatiotemporal proximity to many early, well-preserved human fossils and in East-Central Europe.
Tristan Carter & Vassilis Kilikoglou, Raw material choices and technical practices as indices of cultural change, Characterizing obsidian consumption at ‘Mycenaean’ Quartier Nu, Malia (Crete). PLoS ONE 17 (2022), e273093. <DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0273093>.
This paper takes a practice-based approach to the study of cultural identity, focusing on how raw material and technical choices involved in the production of quotidian tools served to both reproduce, and reflect a social group’s very way of being. We then consider the (dis) continuity of obsidian blade-making traditions from Middle–Late Bronze Age Malia (northcentral Crete), i.e., before and after a period of island-wide destructions, and appearance of foreign elements believed to reflect the arrival of a population from the Greek mainland (Mycenaeans). Methodologically this involves an integrated, ‘thick description’ obsidian characterisation study to detail long-term cultural traditions, including the use of Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA) to source the raw materials of 36 artifacts. The results show a significant degree of continuity in the community’s lithic traditions, suggesting that many of the innovative features at Malia can be interpreted in terms of local factions appropriating new and foreign means of social distinction, rather than wholescale changes in community composition.
Joseph Maran, Earliest Wheeled Vehicles: Power, Prestige, and Symbolic Significance? The Aegean as Counter-Example. In: Svend Hansen (Hrsg.), Repräsentationen der Macht, Beiträge des Festkolloquiums zu Ehren des 65. Geburtstags von Blagoje Govedarica. Kolloquien zur Vor- und Frühgeschichte 25 (Wiesbaden 2020), 209–220.
The quick dispersal of early wheeled vehicles during the mid-4th millennium BCE and the considerable significance attached to them by societies of the late 4th and 3rd millennia BCE in parts of Central and Eastern Europe seem to correspond perfectly with the modern appreciation of this particular technology and narratives of the irresistibility of technological progress. This contribution aims to shatter the confidence in such views by contrasting the situation in Central and Eastern Europe with the intriguingly different case of the Aegean, where evidence for wheeled vehicles does not seem to appear prior to about 2000 BCE. It is argued that such vehicles were known also in the Aegean much earlier than that, but that their integration into social, economic, ideological, and environmental systems other than those in Central and Eastern Europe was the cause of the striking differences in their appreciation by societies.
Die schnelle Ausbreitung früher Räderfahrzeuge in der Mitte des 4. Jts. v.u.Z. und die besondere Bedeutung, die ihnen in Gesellschaften des 4. und 3. Jts. v.u.Z. in Mittelund Osteuropa zufiel, scheinen perfekt zu der modernen Wertschätzung dieser speziellen Technologie sowie der vermeintlichen Unwiderstehlichkeit technologischen Fortschritts zu passen. Dieser Beitrag möchte das Vertrauen in solche Auffassungen in Frage stellen, indem die Situation in Mittel- und Osteuropa mit dem stark divergierenden Fallbeispiel der Ägäis kontrastiert wird, wo Räderfahrzeuge scheinbar nicht vor ca. 2000 v.u.Z. belegt sind. Es wird gezeigt, dass solche Fahrzeuge in der Ägäis jedoch schon viel früher bekannt waren. Ihre Einbindung in ganz andere soziale, ökonomische, ideologische und ökologische Systeme als in Mittel- und Osteuropa führte allerdings zu den gravierenden Unterschieden in der Wertschätzung.
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