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Hallinan 2022

Emily Hallinan et al., The nature of Nubian, Developing current global perspectives on Nubian Levallois technology and the Nubian complex. Evolutionary Anthropology 31 (2022), 227–232.

Given recent published debates on the nature of Nubian, our workshop was a necessary and timely contribution to the study of the “Nubian” phenomenon. Adopting the revised approach set out in this paper will provide the necessary vocabulary and scientific rigor to advance these discussions. Our definition draws a clear distinction between identifying Nubian cores in an assemblage and interpreting the Nubian Levallois reduction strategy at an intra- and inter-assemblage scale. Building on the need for archaeological interpretations of lithic assemblages to be rooted in quantitative, reproducible data, our workshop has both established a framework to facilitate this, and laid the groundwork for comparative studies. Future research arising from these outcomes promises significant new insights to constructively explore technological, behavioral, and cultural dimensions of the Nubian debate.

Emily Hallinan, Omry Barzilai, Amir Beshkani, Joao Cascalheira, Yuri E. Demidenko, Mae Goder-Goldberger, Yamandu H. Hilbert, Erella Hovers, Anthony E. Marks, Andreas Nymark, Deborah I. Olszewski, Maya Oron, Jeffrey I. Rose, Matthew Shaw & Vitaly I. Usik


Delson 2022

Eric Delson & Chris Stringer, The naming of Homo bodoensis by Roksandic and colleagues does not resolve issues surrounding Middle Pleistocene human evolution. Evolutionary Anthropology 31 (2022), 233–236.

Roksandic et al. (2022) proposed the new species name Homo bodoensis as a replacement name for Homo rhodesiensis Woodward, 1921, because they felt it was poorly and variably defined and was linked to sociopolitical baggage. However, the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature includes regulations on how and when such name changes are allowed, and Roksandic et al.’s arguments meet none of these requirements. It is not permitted to change a name solely because of variable (or erroneous) later use once it has been originally defined correctly, nor can a name be modified because it is offensive to one or more authors or to be politically expedient. We discuss past usage of H. rhodesiensis and the relevant nomenclatural procedures, the proposed evolutionary position of H. bodoensis, and issues raised about decolonizing paleoanthropology. We reject H. bodoensis as a junior synonym, with no value from its inception.

Keywords: hominin taxonomy, Homo bodoensis, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo rhodesiensis, zoological nomenclature

Eren 2022

Metin I. Eren, David J. Meltzer, Brett Story, Briggs Buchanan, Don Yeager & Michelle R. Bebber, Not just for proboscidean hunting, On the efficacy and functions of Clovis fluted points. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 45 (2022), 103601, 1–12.

Our article “On the efficacy of Clovis fluted points for hunting proboscideans” (Eren et al., 2021), sought to assess whether these stone points were, as conventional wisdom had it, highly effective weapon components for inflicting lethal wounds on proboscideans. Although Clovis points had been used to bring down proboscideans, we observed that their penetrating ability had limits that reduced their ballistic effectiveness. That, combined with the other tasks for which they are known to have been used, led us to conclude there was little reason to suppose these were specialized implements designed for the narrow purpose of hunting proboscideans, but instead were multifunctional tools. Kilby et al. (2022) contest that conclusion, asserting that Clovis points were “effectively designed to serve as weapon tips and were regularly used to hunt large animals, including mammoths.” Here, we reply to their comment, first correcting their several misrepresentations of our study, then responding to other criticisms offered. We show that woolly mammoths are indeed relevant to an understanding of Clovis point penetration, and that Kilby et al.’s simple analogy to African elephant hunting may not be. We also explain the importance of experimental protocols and proxies, and why neither their analysis of point breakage patterns nor assertions about the association of proboscideans and Clovis points support their claim these were specialized weapon tips. Finally, we address their concern that if Clovis points were multifunctional tools, it would be too complicated to derive Folsom points from them. We see neither compelling reason nor evidence to reject our original conclusion: although multifunctional Clovis points were used to occasionally hunt mammoth, there is little reason to insist they were designed exclusively for that single task.

Keywords: Clovis | Fluted point | Hunting | Proboscideans | North America | Late Pleistocene | Lithic technology

Kilby 2022

J. David Kilby et al., Evidence supports the efficacy of Clovis points for hunting proboscideans. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 45 (2022), 103600, 1–12.

Clovis projectile points are found in association with mammoths and other proboscideans at multiple sites from across much of North America. The conventional, and arguably parsimonious, explanation for this association is that Clovis points were weapons used to hunt the animals with which they were found. Recently, Eren et al. (2021) argued that experimental data coupled with estimations of mammoth anatomy indicate that Clovis points would not have been effective for proboscidean hunting and were more likely used as cutting tools for scavenging carcasses. We find a number of weaknesses in their argument, including their estimations of mammoth anatomy, the validity of their experimental design, and their assumptions regarding Clovis hunting behavior. We evaluate their argument in light of ethnographic, experimental, and archaeological data and conclude that each of these datasets strongly supports the interpretation of Clovis points as weapons designed for use in hunting large animals, including proboscideans.

Keywords: North America | Paleoindian | Clovis | Weaponry | Megafauna | Hunting

J. David Kilby, Todd A. Surovell, Bruce B. Huckell, Christopher W. Ringstaff, Marcus J. Hamilton & C. Vance Haynes Jr.

Roksandic 2022

Mirjana Roksandic, Predrag Radovic, Xiu-Jie Wu & Christopher J. Bae, Homo bodoensis and why it matters. Evolutionary Anthropology 31 (2022), 240–244.

In our original paper, we proposed a new species, Homo bodoensis, to replace the problematical taxa Homo heidelbergensis and Homo rhodesiensis, with the goal of streamlining communication about human evolution in the Chibanian. We received two independent responses. Given their substantial overlap, we provide one combined reply. In this response: (1) we are encouraged that the primary proposal in our paper, to discontinue the use of H. heidelbergensis (as a junior synonym to Homo neanderthalensis) due to its’ nomenclatural problems, is acknowledged. (2) we provide additional clarification about the rules governing taxonomic nomenclature as outlined by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature and join the growing calls for a revision to these rules. (3) we discuss further why H. rhodesiensis should be abandoned, particularly in light of the current sensitivity to using culturally inappropriate names. We conclude that H. bodoensis is a better solution than the proposed alternatives.

Keywords: Chibanian (Middle Pleistocene) | decolonizing science | hominin taxonomy | Homo bodoensis | International Code of Zoological Nomenclature

Sarmiento 2022

Esteban E. Sarmiento & Martin Pickford, Muddying the muddle in the middle even more. Evolutionary Anthropology 31 (2022), 237–239.

In an Evolutionary Anthropology article Roksandic et al. (2022) propose a new middle Pleistocene hominin species H. bodoensis to replace a “poorly defined” Homo heidelbergenis. Homo bodoensis extends from the African Middle Pleistocene through the Levant to South-eastern Europe with all currently classified H. heidelbergensis fossils from western Europe subsumed into Homo neandertalensis. The authors claim their new species will be more clearly defined than H. heidelbergensis and will better describe hominin variation and evolution in the middle Pleistocene. Roksandic et al. are unable to account for some European fossils (i.e., Petralona and Arago) and provide no evidence as to how their new species meets their objectives. Fatally, they overlook the priority rule and fail to realize that H. bodoensis is both a junior synonym of Homo rhodesiensis and Homo saldanensis. Roksandic et al. conflate taxonomy with phylogeny, present hypotheses as facts, and harbor many systematic and evolutionary misconceptions.

Keywords: evolution | hominin | Middle Pleistocene | taxonomy

Smerdon 2022

David Smerdon, The effect of masks on cognitive performance. PNAS 119 (2022), e2206528119. <DOI:10.1073/pnas.2206528119>.


The use of face masks has been a key response to the COVID-19 pandemic in almost every country. However, despite widespread use of masks in classrooms and oices around the world, almost nothing is known about their efects on cognitive performance. Using a natural experiment, I show that mandatory mask wearing has a negative causal efect on the cognitive performance of competitive chess players. I analyzed the quality of almost 3 million chess moves played by 8,531 individuals (ages 5–98 y) in 18 countries before and during the pandemic. Wearing a mask decreased the quality of players’ decisions—a measure of their cognitive performance—by approximately one-third of an SD. However, the disruptive efect of masks is relatively short-lived, gradually weakening such that there is no measurable disadvantage from wearing a mask after roughly 4 h of play. The mask efect is driven by a large, negative efect for experts, with minimal change in performance at lower levels, and is stronger in high-incentive competitions. I provide support for a distraction mechanism whereby masks interfere with performance when working memory load is high.

Keywords: masks | cognitive performance | COVID-19 | chess | coronavirus

Significance: Does wearing a face mask reduce cognitive performance? In a study of international chess players who played millions of chess moves before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, masks substantially reduced the average quality of cognitive decisions. However, the negative efect is short-lived and primarily operates on elite players and in high-incentive contexts, with minimal impact on the broader population of players.


Zohar 2022

Irit Zohar & Israel Hershkovitz et al., Evidence for the cooking of fish 780,000 years ago at Gesher Benot Ya’aqov, Israel. Nature Ecology & Evolution 6 (2022), 2016–2028.


Although cooking is regarded as a key element in the evolutionary success of the genus Homo, impacting various biological and social aspects, when intentional cooking first began remains unknown. The early Middle Pleistocene site of Gesher Benot Ya’aqov, Israel (marine isotope stages 18–20;  0.78 million years ago), has preserved evidence of hearth-related hominin activities and large numbers of freshwater fish remains (>40,000). A taphonomic study and isotopic analyses revealed significant differences between the characteristics of the fish bone assemblages recovered in eight sequential archaeological horizons of Area B (Layer II-6 levels 1–7) and natural fish bone assemblages (identified in Area A). Gesher Benot Ya’aqov archaeological horizons II-6 L1–7 exhibited low fish species richness, with a clear preference for two species of large Cyprinidae (Luciobarbus longiceps and Carasobarbus canis) and the almost total absence of fish bones in contrast to the richness of pharyngeal teeth (>95 %). Most of the pharyngeal teeth recovered in archaeological horizons II-6 L1–7 were spatially associated with ‘phantom’ hearths (clusters of burnt flint microartifacts). Size–strain analysis using X-ray powder diffraction provided evidence that these teeth had been exposed to low temperature (<500 °C), suggesting, together with the archaeological and taphonomic data, that the fish from the archaeological horizons of Area B had been cooked and consumed on site. This is the earliest evidence of cooking by hominins.

Irit Zohar, Nira Alperson-Afil, Naama Goren-Inbar, Marion Prévost, Thomas Tütken, Guy Sisma-Ventura, Israel Hershkovitz & Jens Najorka


Smith 2022

Geoffrey M. Smith et al., Leonard Rockshelter Revisited, Evaluating a 70-Year-Old Claim of a Late Pleistocene Human Occupation in the Western Great Basin. American Antiquity 87 (2022), 776–793.

Robert Heizer excavated Leonard Rockshelter (26Pe14) in western Nevada more than 70 years ago. He described stratified cultural deposits spanning the Holocene. He also reported obsidian flakes purportedly associated with late Pleistocene sediments, suggesting that human use extended even farther back in time. Because Heizer never produced a final report, Leonard Rockshelter faded into obscurity despite the possibility that it might contain a Clovis Era or older occupation. That possibility prompted our team of researchers from the University of Nevada, Reno and Desert Research Institute to return to the site in 2018 and 2019. We relocated the excavation block from which Heizer both recovered the flakes and obtained a late Pleistocene date on nearby sediments. We minimally excavated undisturbed deposits to rerecord and redate the strata. As an independent means of evaluating Heizer’s findings, we also directly dated 12 organic artifacts housed at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. Our work demonstrates that people did not visit Leonard Rockshelter during the late Pleistocene. Rather, they first visited the site immediately following the Younger Dryas (12,900–11,700 cal BP) and sporadically used the shelter, mostly to store gear, throughout the Holocene.

Keywords: Great Basin archaeology | Lake Lahontan | Paleoindian archaeology | cave archaeology | dart and atlatl technology | basketry | geoarchaeology | Humboldt Sink

Geoffrey M. Smith, Sara Sturtz, Anna J. Camp, Kenneth D. Adams, Elizabeth Kallenbach, Richard L. Rosencrance, and Richard E. Hughes


Garfinkel 2022

Yosef Garfinkel & Eylon Cohen, A Violent End or a Respectful Beginning? Cave 120 at Lachish Revised. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 41 (2022), 373–396.

Cave 120 and three adjacent caves at Tel Lachish in southern Israel produced the largest concentration of human crania ever unearthed in the Near East. The conventional interpretation associates this deposit with primary burials of victims of the city’s destruction by King Sennacherib of Assyria in 701 BC. Taking into consideration attitudes to human skulls, site formation processes and taphonomic aspects, we indicate that these conclusions are incorrect. The caves contained mainly crania and almost completely lacked other skeletal material. The numerous morphological and morphometric studies carried out on the assemblage could not point to any standardized population. We conclude that large-scale quarrying of stones, probably for the construction of the city wall in the seventh century BC, destroyed a large number of older burial caves. The crania from these caves, each symbolizing a deceased person, were carefully collected and reburied.

Knohl 1997

Israel Knohl, Two Aspects of the “Tent of Meeting”. In: Mordechai Cogan, Barry L. Eichler & Jeffrey H. Tigay (Hrsg.), Tehillah le-Moshe, Biblical and Judaic Studies in Honor of Moshe Greenberg. (Winona Lake 1997), 73–79.

A certain attempt to integrate the tradition of the two tents within the cultic reality of the Second Temple Period may be seen in the description of the Temple Mount in rabbinic sources.

It seems to me that, despite the various attempts at harmonization on the part of both the redactors of the Torah literature and the sages, we would do well to note the essential tension between the two different images of the Tent of Meeting, embodying profound ideological and religious oppositions. Each of these images reflects a unique religious significance, and “both of these are the words of the living God.“

Knohl 2017

Israel Knohl, Jacob-el in the Land of Esau and the Roots of Biblical Religion. Vetus Testamentum 67 (2017), 481–484.

The name Jacob-el is to be found in topographical list of Ramesses II, i.e. in the 13th century BC. Unlike to common view, this toponym should not be located in the north, since it is surrounded by toponyms with the prefix “Qos”. These toponyms were rightly connected by scholars to the worship of the Edomite god Qaus. Hence, it is suggested, that a clan related to an eponym named Jacob-el, settled in mount Seir or Edom in the 13th century BC. This assumption might shed a new light on the brotherhood and animosity between Jacob and Esau in the narrative of Genesis. It might also explain the transmission of the cult of YHWH from Seir-Edom to early Israel.

Keywords: Jacob-el | Jacob narrative | Kenite theory | birth of biblical Religion


Baker 2022

Rachel E. Baker, Chadi M. Saad-Roy, Sang Woo Park, Jeremy Farrar, C. Jessica E. Metcalf & Bryan T. Grenfell, Long-term benefits of nonpharmaceutical interventions for endemic infections are shaped by respiratory pathogen dynamics. PNAS 119 (2022), e2208895119.


COVID-19 nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), including mask wearing, have proved highly effective at reducing the transmission of endemic infections. A key public health question is whether NPIs could continue to be implemented long term to reduce the ongoing burden from endemic pathogens. Here, we use epidemiological models to explore the impact of long-term NPIs on the dynamics of endemic infections. We find that the introduction of NPIs leads to a strong initial reduction in incidence, but this effect is transient: As susceptibility increases, epidemics return while NPIs are in place. For low R0 infections, these return epidemics are of reduced equilibrium incidence and epidemic peak size. For high R0 infections, return epidemics are of similar magnitude to pre-NPI outbreaks. Our results underline that managing ongoing susceptible buildup, e.g., with vaccination, remains an important long-term goal.

Keywords: SARS-CoV-2 | masking | dynamics

Significance: Nonpharmaceutical interventions, such as mask wearing, introduced to limit the spread of COVID-19 have proved effective at reducing cases of other respiratory diseases. A key public health question is whether these interventions could be introduced long term to limit outbreaks of diseases such as influenza. Here, we use epidemic models to show that the effect of mask wearing on endemic disease is likely short lived. Over longer time horizons, outbreaks may return while interventions are in place, as population immunity decreases.


Bibi 2022

Faysal Bibi, Telling time with monkeys. PNAS 119 (2022), e2217198119.

Frost 2022

Stephen R. Frost, Frances J. White, Hailay G. Reda & Christopher C. Gilbert, Biochronology of South African hominin-bearing sites, A reassessment using cercopithecid primates. PNAS 119 (2022), e2210627119.

pnas119-e2210627119-Supplement1.pdf, pnas119-e2210627119-Supplement2.xlsx

Despite recent advances in chronometric techniques (e.g., Uranium-Lead [U-Pb], cosmogenic nuclides, electron spin resonance spectroscopy [ESR]), considerable uncertainty remains regarding the age of many Plio-Pleistocene hominin sites, including several in South Africa. Consequently, biochronology remains important in assessments of Plio-Pleistocene geochronology and provides direct age estimates of the fossils themselves. Historically, cercopithecid monkeys have been among the most useful taxa for biochronology of early hominins because they are widely present and abundant in the African Plio-Pleistocene record. The last major studies using cercopithecids were published over 30 y ago. Since then, new hominin sites have been discovered, radiometric age estimates have been refined, and many changes have occurred in cercopithecid taxonomy and systematics. Thus, a biochronological reassessment using cercopithecids is long overdue. Here, we provide just such a revision based on our recent study of every major cercopithecid collection from African Plio-Pleistocene sites. In addition to correlations based on shared faunal elements, we present an analysis based on the dentition of the abundant cercopithecid Theropithecus oswaldi, which increases in size in a manner that is strongly correlated with geological age (r2 .0.83), thereby providing a highly accurate age-estimation tool not previously utilized. In combination with paleomagnetic and U-Pb data, our results provide revised age estimates and suggest that there are no hominin sites in South Africa significantly older than 2.8 Ma. Where conflicting age estimates exist, we suggest that additional data are needed and recall that faunal estimates have ultimately proved reliable in the past (e.g., the age of the KBS Tuff).

Keywords: chronology | Theropithecus | Pliocene | Pleistocene

Significance: This study provides updated age estimates of major South African hominin sites based on faunal correlations of cercopithecid monkeys. Importantly, we demonstrate that molar size is highly correlated with geological age in the Theropithecus oswaldi lineage, a common fossil cercopithecid, providing a chronometric tool not available previously. Contrary to some recent analyses, we find no evidence for hominin sites in South Africa significantly older than 2.8 Ma. Our results also suggest that some hominin sites are older than recently estimated (e.g., Swartkrans Member 3, Cooper’s D). Where faunal estimates and still-developing chronometric methods conflict, further research is needed, but our current results have implications for the timing of human evolution in South Africa during the Plio-Pleistocene.


Clark 2022

Cassandra J. Clark, Nicholaus P. Johnson, Mario Soriano Jr, Joshua L. Warren, Keli M. Sorrentino, Nina S. Kadan-Lottick, , Unconventional Oil and Gas Development Exposure and Risk of Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, A Case–Control Study in Pennsylvania, 2009–2017. Environmental Health Perspectives 130 (2022), 87001.

EnvHlthPrsp130-87001-Supplement1.pdf, EnvHlthPrsp130-87001-Supplement2.pdf

BACKGROUND: Unconventional oil and gas development (UOGD) releases chemicals that have been linked to cancer and childhood leukemia. Studies of UOGD exposure and childhood leukemia are extremely limited.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to evaluate potential associations between residential proximity to UOGD and risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood leukemia, in a large regional sample using UOGD-specific metrics, including a novel metric to represent the water pathway.

METHODS: We conducted a registry-based case–control study of 405 children ages 2–7 y diagnosed with ALL in Pennsylvania between 2009–2017, and 2,080 controls matched on birth year. We used logistic regression to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95 % confidence intervals (CIs) for the association between residential proximity to UOGD (including a new water pathway-specific proximity metric) and ALL in two exposure windows: a primary window (3 months preconception to 1 y prior to diagnosis/reference date) and a perinatal window (preconception to birth).

RESULTS: Children with at least one UOG well within 2 km of their birth residence during the primary window had 1.98 times the odds of developing ALL in comparison with those with no UOG wells [95 % confidence interval (CI): 1.06, 3.69]. Children with at least one vs. no UOG wells within 2 km during the perinatal window had 2.80 times the odds of developing ALL (95 % CI: 1.11, 7.05). These relationships were slightly attenuated after adjusting for maternal race and socio-economic status [odds ratio (OR) =1:74 (95 % CI: 0.93, 3.27) and OR=2:35 (95 % CI: 0.93, 5.95)], respectively). The ORs produced by models using the water pathway-specific metric were similar in magnitude to the aggregate metric.

DISCUSSION: Our study including a novel UOGD metric found UOGD to be a risk factor for childhood ALL. This work adds to mounting evidence of UOGD’s impacts on children’s health, providing additional support for limiting UOGD near residences.

Cassandra J. Clark, Nicholaus P. Johnson, Mario Soriano Jr, Joshua L. Warren, Keli M. Sorrentino, Nina S. Kadan-Lottick, James E. Saiers, Xiaomei Ma & Nicole C. Deziel

Li 2022

Longxiang Li, Francesca Dominici, Annelise J. Blomberg, Falco J. Bargagli-Stoffi, Yaguang Wei & Petros Koutrakis et al., Exposure to unconventional oil and gas development and all-cause mortality in Medicare beneficiaries. Nature Energy 7 (2022), 177–185.


Little is known about whether exposure to unconventional oil and gas development is associated with higher mortality risks in the elderly and whether related air pollutants are exposure pathways. We studied a cohort of 15,198,496 Medicare beneficiaries (136,215,059 person-years) in all major US unconventional exploration regions from 2001 to 2015. We gathered data from records of more than 2.5 million oil and gas wells. For each beneficiary’s ZIP code of residence and year in the cohort, we calculated a proximity-based and a downwind-based pollutant exposure. We analysed the data using two methods: a Cox proportional hazards model and a difference-in-differences design. We found evidence of a statistically significant higher mortality risk associated with living in proximity to and downwind of unconventional oil and gas wells. Our results suggest that primary air pollutants sourced from unconventional oil and gas exploration can be a major exposure pathway with adverse health effects in the elderly.

Longxiang Li, Francesca Dominici, Annelise J. Blomberg, Falco J. Bargagli-Stoffi, Joel D. Schwartz, Brent A. Coull, John D. Spengler, Yaguang Wei, Joy Lawrence & Petros Koutrakis


Casey 2013

Damien Casey, Muhammad the Eschatological Prophet. In: Wendy Mayer & Bronwen Neil (Hrsg.), Religious Conflict from Early Christianity to the Rise of Islam. Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte 121 (Berlin 2013), 229–244.

In considering the earliest sources documenting the rise of Islam I am struck by parallels in the development of both Christianity and Islam. Both founding figures understand themselves to be the prophet who would usher in the eschaton. Both movements originally sought to be as inclusive as possible within the constraints of what was considered the necessary requirement of preparation for the Day of Judgement. When the eschaton failed to arrive and the fires of the apocalyptic imagination died down, both communities adjusted their expectations and self-understanding. They constructed their identities by consolidating a tradition and developing institutions by which to maintain and nourish what was new and distinct in each. Both communities were supercessionalist in the manner in which they established boundaries and constructed a clear identity from the other from which they emerged. The Christian church, divorced from the synagogue, sought to distance itself ever further from Judaism even as it claimed Judaism’s legitimacy as heir of the covenant for itself. Islam, similarly, as the instrument of God’s justice, sought to distinguish itself from the embarrassment of feuding factions of monotheisms by establishing itself as the straight path.

Dittrich 2020

Georg Dittrich, Johannes von Damaskus und der Islam. Online 2020 , Mar. 20. <ützt-1.pdf> (2022-12-15).

Gador-Whyte 2013

Sarah Gador-Whyte, Christian-Jewish Conflict in the Light of Heraclius’ Forced Conversions and the Beginning of Islam. In: Wendy Mayer & Bronwen Neil (Hrsg.), Religious Conflict from Early Christianity to the Rise of Islam. Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte 121 (Berlin 2013), 201–214.

Discursive violence in the Doctrina Iacobi witnesses to the religious conflict of the seventh century, a period in which wars with the Persians and the advent of Muhammad and subsequent Arab invasions led both Christians and Jews to think apocalyptically and reconsider their conceptions of the eschaton. At no place in the text is a genuinely free Jewish voice allowed to be heard. At each point, even when Jewish values are used in an attempt to bridge the gap between Christians and Jews, Christian discourse triumphs and functions to support the violent imperial attempts to suppress religious difference and bolster Christianity. Yet unlike many Christian polemics, this text argues that Jews can become part of God’s new creation. The question and answer format, and the assumption that rational argument is capable of convincing opposed groups and leading to conversion also gives Jews agency as rational thinkers, although the dominant rationality, for all its attempt to bridge difference through the use of shared Old Testament texts, is Christian. Throughout, the text champions the cause of Christianity and argues that the eschaton is imminent, while presenting Christians with the means to counter particularly Jewish concerns about Christianity.

Hipp 2013

Jeschua Hipp, Die Kamele Gottes zwischen Passion und Himmelfahrt, Die Ironisierung islamischer Narrative und Paradiesvorstellungen in Kapitel 100 der Häresien des Johannes von Damaskus. Zeitschrift für Religionswissenschaft 21 (2013), 228–269.

Religious polemics is a cross-epochal phenomenon which can also be observed in late antiquity in quite different contexts. One special field of it is the sharp criticism of the myths of religious opponents, which is especially a dominant topic in Christian anti-heretical literature. This article intends to present to the reader – on the basis of a detailed study – a concrete and multifaceted example of anti-heretical myth-criticism. It’s the question of the chapter 100 on Islam in the well known heresiology De haeresibus of John Damascene. Is this text on the whole, corresponding to its theological and religious-historical importance, indeed well studied, this is not the case regarding the therein existing passage on the “Camel of god”. This section, one of the longest in the chapter 100, stands out for its specific character, particularly its ironic undertone. There are above all two aspects, which will be more closely illuminated: 1. John’s creative and playful handling of two different Islamic traditions or rather beliefs (on the one hand the myth of an extraordinary camel of god, on the other hand the Islamic idea of a rather earthly paradise), 2. John’s play with several levels of meaning due to his use of numerous intra- and intertextual references and allusions.

Johannes von Damaskus 750

Johannes von Damaskus, Genaue Darlegung des orthodoxen Glaubens (Expositio idei), Aus dem Griechischen übersetzt von Dr. Dionys Steinhofer. Bibliothek der Kirchenväter, erste Reihe 44 (München 1923).

Johannes von Damaskus 750

Johannes von Damaskus, St. John of Damascus’s Critique of Islam. Orthodox Christian Information Center 2006 (750), Mar. 26. <> (2022-12-15).

Mayer 2013

Wendy Mayer & Bronwen Neil (Hrsg.), Religious Conflict from Early Christianity to the Rise of Islam. Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte 121 (Berlin 2013).

Neil 2013

Bronwen Neil, The Earliest Greek Understandings of Islam, John of Damascus and Theophanes the Confessor. In: Wendy Mayer & Bronwen Neil (Hrsg.), Religious Conflict from Early Christianity to the Rise of Islam. Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte 121 (Berlin 2013), 215–228.

It might seem from this short survey of Theophanes’ account of the first ten years of Islam’s development that the worst thing the early Byzantine Greeks could say about Muhammad and his followers was that they had a disgusting association with camels. However, behind Theophanes’ superficial criticism of Islamic standards of dress and dietary preferences, there lies a profound ambivalence. Muslims were both agents of divine chastisement and the “abomination of desolation,” or Antichrist. God had delivered them brilliant victories to chasten the monothelite heretics, but at the same time Byzantine Christians were called to stand clear of the “blasphemous religion” of the Saracens.

John of Damascus showed considerably more confidence than Theophanes in his defence of Christianity, especially in his refutation of the charges of association of the persons of the Trinity, and of idolatry in their worship of the cross. John retorted that Muslims mutilated God by trying to cut off the Son of God and the Holy Spirit from God the Father. He sought to make Muhammad’s revelation sound ridiculous, thereby calling into question his prophetic authority. John’s satirical commentary on the legend of a mother camel and her offspring points to an early association of Muslims with heresy, particularly that of the Homoians.

Changed political realities might account for the somewhat more subdued critique of Theophanes in 813, the very year that the Islamic caliphate reached the zenith of its power with the taking of the city of Baghdad, its future capital. Theophanes was not to know that this was the highpoint of Islamic rule, at least until the Ottoman empire took power in the fifteenth century, and that the caliphate was doomed to self-destruct in the ninth century. The usefulness of Theophanes’ Chronographia as a source on the early Islamic conquest is clearly compromised by its overtly religious agenda. Nor were Theophanes’ sources particularly reliable. With no access to contemporary Byzantine historical sources for the early Arab conquest, Theophanes had to make do with Syriac authors, possessed of their own dyothelite and iconophile biases.

Scholars of religious history are fortunate to possess in De haeresibus and the Chronographia two unique witnesses to the beginnings of an extremely significant religious conflict, both reflecting early Greek understandings of Islam, but written in different genres and from totally different perspectives. The differences between them should alert us to the dangers of characterising early Islam on the basis of evidence provided by Greek Christians, even if they were nearcontemporaries of the events they sought to understand and represent.

Nöldeke 1914

Theodor Nöldeke, Die Tradition über das Leben Muhammeds. Der Islam 5 (1914), 160–170.

In der alten Sira nehmen Wundererzählungen keinen großen Raum ein, und sie lassen sich fast immer ohne Mühe von der Erzählung der wirklichen Begebenheiten rein sondern. Wie anders ist das in den Evangelien! Und wie viel historischer ist uns sein Leben überliefert als das Jesu, um von Buddha und Zarathustra zu schweigen!

Schibille 2022

Nadine Schibille, Patrice Lehuédé, Isabelle Biron, Léa Brunswic, Étienne Blondeau & Bernard Gratuze, Origins and manufacture of the glass mosaic tesserae from the great Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. Journal of Archaeological Science 147 (2022), 105675, 1–10.

The Great Umayyad Mosque of Damascus built between about 706 and 714/15 CE is the oldest surviving mosque that still preserves large parts of its original architecture and decoration. The origins of the mosaic tesserae have been the subject of debate for more than a thousand years. The earliest sources written two centuries after the construction of the edifice claim a Byzantine origin of both, the material as well as the craftsmen. Here we use the compositional analyses of nearly 1,000 glass tesserae to show that 65 % of the samples (80 % of the coloured tesserae) from the mosque have a consistent chemistry and, by inference, originate from a common geographical source. Comparison with chemical data of early Islamic glass groups conclusively identifies Egypt as the origin of these tesserae and demonstrates that they are coeval with the foundation of the mosque. Additionally, the compositional features of the gold leaf tesserae testify to the systematic recycling and reuse of older material. Our findings suggest that the manufacture and supply of glass tesserae for the Great Mosque was a direct commission from the highest echelons of government.

Keywords: LA-ICP-MS | Raman spectroscopy | SEM | Islamic glass | Gold analyses | Logistics of supply | Recycling


Lankton 2022

James W. Lankton, Cemal Pulak & Bernard Gratuze, Glass ingots from the Uluburun shipwreck: Addition of glass cullet during manufacture and evidence for the changing context of New Kingdom Egyptian glass production in the late 18th Dynasty. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 45 (2022), 103596, 1–15.

Our recent LA-ICP-MS analyses of glass ingots from the Uluburun shipwreck along with additional samples from Egyptian sites, primarily Amarna, encourage us to question how and where the ingots were produced. Because almost all the approximately 200 glass ingots are either greenish blue, colored by copper, or purplish blue, colored by cobalt, we focus here on these colorants and their attendant trace elements. Based on the evidence for copper and antimony in cobalt-blue glass, we conclude that the most likely explanation is the addition of glass cullet during ingot production, in accordance with suggested evidence from glassmaking texts thought to date to the Late Bronze Age. By comparing the Uluburun ingots with glass from Amarna using multivariate statistics and trace element ratios, we determine that while a few of the ingots might be consistent with Amarna manufacture, the great majority are not, but rather represent production from other workshops, probably following those at Amarna. The importance of these workshops is suggested by our finding that over half of the cobalt-blue Mycenaean relief beads for which trace element data is available were made with Egyptian glass closer to that of the Uluburun ingots than to glass found at Amarna.

Keywords: Late Bronze Age | Uluburun | Glass ingots | LA-ICP-MS | Amarna | Glass cullet | Egypt 18th Dynasty


Gericke 1809

Christian Friedrich Germershausen & Friedrich Carl Gustav Gericke, Die Hausmutter in allen ihren Geschäften, Dritter Band. (Hannover 41809).

Gericke 1811a

Christian Friedrich Germershausen & Friedrich Carl Gustav Gericke, Die Hausmutter in allen ihren Geschäften, Zweiter Band. (Hannover 41811).

Gericke 1811b

Christian Friedrich Germershausen & Friedrich Carl Gustav Gericke, Die Hausmutter in allen ihren Geschäften, Vierter Band. (Hannover 41811).

Gericke 1812

Christian Friedrich Germershausen & Friedrich Carl Gustav Gericke, Die Hausmutter in allen ihren Geschäften, Erster Band. (Hannover 41812).

Germershausen 1791a

Christian Friedrich Germershausen, Die Geschäfte der Hausmutter in der Gesinde- und Herrschaftsküche, Erster Band. (Leipzig 21791).

Germershausen 1791b

Christian Friedrich Germershausen, Die Geschäfte der Hausmutter in der Gesinde- und Herrschaftsküche, Zweyter Band. (Leipzig 21791).

Hodder 2022

Ian Hodder, Staying Egalitarian and the Origins of Agriculture in the Middle East. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 32 (2022), 619–642.

This article uses results from the recent excavations at Çatalhöyük in Turkey to propose that continuous tensions between egalitarian and hierarchical impulses were dealt with in two principal ways during the Neolithic of the Middle East. A tendency towards overall balance and community (termed molar) is seen as in tension with more particulate and molecular tendencies, with both being brought into play in order to combat inequalities. It is also suggested that tendencies towards more molecular systems increased over time, at different rates and in different ways in different places, partly as a response to constraints associated with more molar articulations. Finally, it is proposed that a shift to molecular autonomy was associated with agricultural intensification. Staying egalitarian can be seen as an active process that contributed to the Neolithic transformations.


Schöller 2000

Marco Schöller, Methode und Wahrheit in der Islamwissenschaft, Prolegomena. (Wiesbaden 2000).


White 2022

Sina D. White, Patrick Mahoney & Chris A. Deter, Socioeconomic status and survival in medieval Canterbury. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 46 (2022), 103686, 1–9.

The adverse urban environment of medieval Canterbury possibly influenced poor health conditions and diseases which ultimately led to death. Individuals of low socioeconomic status may have been more at risk of death than those of higher socioeconomic status due to dense living conditions, consistently encountering unhygienic waste management, and less access to resources during famines and disease outbreaks. This study evaluates survivorship and mortality risk patterns of high- and low-status groups to determine the effect of socioeconomic status on survival and mortality in medieval Canterbury. A sample of 796 low- and 74 high-status individuals were examined from St. Gregory’s Priory. Kaplan-Meier analysis and Cox Regression were used to assess mortality and survival between the socioeconomic status groups. The results reveal lower survivorship for high-status than lowstatus non-adults, and lower survivorship and high mortality risk for high-status adult females compared to lowstatus adult males. Meanwhile there were no significant differences found in mortality risks and survivorship between low- and high-status adult males, low- and high-status adult females, and low-status adult females and high-status adult males. High risk of mortality and decreased survivorship of high-status adult females may reflect decreased survivorship of high-status non-adults due to poor nutritional intake during and after pregnancy as well as rationing food. In comparison, low-status adult males would have benefited from the pilgrimage culture that allowed them abundant access to nutritious foods.

Keywords: Survivorship | Mortality risk | Palaeodeomgraphy | Nutrition | Pilgrimage culture | Bioarchaeology

Story or Book

Birch 2022

Jennifer Birch, The Dawn of Everything. American Antiquity 87 (2022), 816–817.

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. David Graeber and David Wengrow. 2021. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, New York. xii + 692 pp. $ 35.00 (hardcover), ISBN 9780374157357.

Çilingiroglu 2022

Çiler Çilingiroglu, A Daring Quest for the Kairos, Reflections on Graeber and Wengrow’s The Dawn of Everything. Current Anthropology 63 (2022), 612–614.

The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. By David Graeber and David Wengrow. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2021.

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