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Charles Bonnet & Matthieu Honegger, Archaeological Excavations at Kerma (Sudan), Preliminary Report to the 2005–2006 and 2006–2007 Seasons. Genava 55 (2007), 183–186.
Finally, a new excavation began on a vast site named Wadi El-Arab, covering more than two hectares. This place was occupied during about two millennia by Mesolithic and Neolithic populations (8300-6500 BC). Soundings and the excavation of a sector of 24 m2 have revealed numerous stratified remains of habitations as well as burials. The presence of domestic ox bones in particularly ancient levels brings fundamental information on the beginning of African pastoralism.
Enfin, une nouvelle fouille a débuté sur un vaste site couvrant plus de deux hectares et dénommé Wadi el-Arab. Ce lieu a été occupé pendant près de deux millénaires par des populations mésolithiques et néolithiques (8300-6500 av. J.-C.). Les sondages et la fouille d’un secteur de vingt-quatre mètres carrés ont révélé de nombreux vestiges d’habitat stratifiés ainsi que des sépultures. La présence d’ossements de bœuf domestique dans des niveaux particulièrement anciens apporte des informations fondamentales sur le début du pastoralisme africain.
Peter Breunig & Nicole Rupp, An Outline of Recent Studies on the Nigerian Nok Culture. Journal of African Archaeology 14 (2016), 237–255.
Until recently the Nigerian Nok Culture had primarily been known for its terracotta sculptures and the existence of iron metallurgy, providing some of the earliest evidence for artistic sculpting and iron working in sub-Saharan Africa. Research was resumed in 2005 to understand the Nok Culture phenomenon, employing a holistic approach in which the sculptures and iron metallurgy remain central, but which likewise covers other archaeological aspects including chronology, settlement patterns, economy, and the environment as key research themes. In the beginning of this endeavour the development of social complexity during the duration of the Nok Culture constituted a focal point. However, after nearly ten years of research and abundance of new data the initial hypothesis can no longer be maintained. Rather than attributes of social complexity like signs of inequality, hierarchy, nucleation of settlement systems, communal and public monuments, or alternative African versions of complexity discussed in recent years, has become apparent that the Nok Culture, no matter which concept is followed, developed complexity only in terms ritual. Relevant information and arguments for the transition of the theoretical background are provided here.
Mark S. Copley, Fabricio A. Hansel, Karim Sadr & Richard P. Evershed, Organic residue evidence for the processing of marine animal products in pottery vessels from the pre-colonial archaeological site of Kasteelberg D east, South Africa. South African Journal of Science 100 (2004), 279–283.
Pre-colonial herding communities from coastal sites in South Africa are known to have exploited sheep and seal products. Animal bone assemblages from various archaeological sites on Kasteelberg on the west coast suggest that these species dominated the economy of the region. This appears to be mirrored in different pottery vessel types, and it has been suggested that one particular vessel type, spouted wares, is associated with dairying. Organic residue analysis of 20 potsherds from spouted vessels has revealed that, rather than being associated with the processing of dairy products, these vessels were actually predominantly used to process marinederived animal products.
Helen Fewlass, Peter J. Mitchell, Emmanuelle Casanova & Lucy J. E. Cramp, Chemical evidence of dairying by hunter-gatherers in highland Lesotho in the late first millennium AD. Nature Human Behaviour 4 (2020), 791–799.
The recovery of Early Iron Age artefacts and domestic animal remains from hunter-gatherer contexts at Likoaeng, Lesotho, has been argued to indicate contact between highland hunter-gatherers and Early Iron Age agropastoralist communities settled in lowland areas of southeastern Africa during the second half of the first millennium AD. However, disagreement between archaeozoological studies and ancient DNA means that the possibility that those hunter-gatherers kept livestock themselves remains controversial. Here we report analyses of pottery-absorbed organic residues from two hunter-gatherer sites and one agriculturalist site in highland Lesotho to reconstruct prehistoric subsistence practices. Our results demonstrate the exploitation of secondary products from domestic livestock by hunter-gatherers in Lesotho, directly dated to the seventh century AD at Likoaeng and the tenth century AD at the nearby site of Sehonghong. The data provide compelling evidence for the keeping of livestock by hunter-gatherer groups and their probable incorporation as ancillary resources into their subsistence strategies.
Diane Gifford-Gonzalez, The Fauna from Ele Bor, Evidence for the Persistence of Foragers into the Later Holocene of Arid North Kenya. African Archaeological Review 20 (2003), 81–119.
This paper reports on the results of zooarchaeological analysis of fauna from two stratified rockshelters at Ele Bor, 200 km east of Lake Turkana, Kenya. Ele Bor Site A, with radiocarbon determinations from 7000 to 1000 B P, yielded around 4000 identifiable bone specimens. The other site, Ele Bor M, yielded only a hundred bone specimens and will be discussed less extensively in this paper. Fauna from the EBA, although heavily modified by various taphonomic agents, testify to the strong continuity of a broad-based foraging pattern into the first millennium AD, the long stability of human use of a broad range of wild vertebrate species and to a stone-working tradition, augmented but not substantially modified by the intro duction of ceramics and grinding equipment during the sixth to third millennium BC.
Matthieu Honegger, Kerma and the Origin of the African Neolithic. Genava 53 (2005), 239–249.
Chronologically speaking, the sites present a homogenous occupation that yielded several bones of domesticated oxen. Some of them, found in the trench, were associated with ostrich eggshell remains and shells that were carbon-dated. The results of these analyses gave dates around 7000 BC.
Les sites présentent une occupation homogène sur le plan chronologique, qui livre plusieurs os de bœuf domestique. Certains d’entre eux ont été retrouvés dans le sondage, associés à des restes de coquille d’autruche et à des coquillages, qui ont pu être datés par le radiocarbone. Les résultats de ces analyses ont fourni des dates situées autour de 7000 av. J.-C.
Lech Krzyzaniak & Michal Kobusiewicz (Hrsg.), Origin and Early Development of Food-Producing Cultures in North-East Africa. (Poznan 1984).
Aron D. Mazel, Early Pottery from the Eastern Part of Southern Africa. South African Archaeological Bulletin 47 (1992), 3–7.
In this paper I assess the data for early pre-agriculturalist pottery in the eastern part of southern Africa. I conclude that there was pottery in this area between 2100 and 2200 years ago and perhaps slightly earlier. Comparison of these early pottery dates with others from elsewhere in the subcontinent, shows that those in the east are as old, and possibly a little earlier than elsewhere. This raises a host of new questions, not the least of which is how pottery was introduced into southern Africa in general and the eastern region in particular.
Katharina Neumann, Barbara Eichhorn & Hans-Peter Wotzka, Iron Age plant subsistence in the Inner Congo Basin (DR Congo). Vegetation History and Archaeobotany 31 (2022), 481–509.
VegHistArBot31-481-Supplement1.pdf, VegHistArBot31-481-Supplement2.pdf, VegHistArBot31-481-Supplement3.pdf, VegHistArBot31-481-Supplement4.pdf, VegHistArBot31-481-Supplement5.pdf
Around 400 bc, pottery- and iron-producing populations immigrated into the Inner Congo Basin (ICB) and subsequently spread upstream some major tributaries of the Congo River. Until recently, their subsistence was almost completely unknown. We present an archaeobotanical study of three sites in the ICB covering parts of the Early Iron Age (ca. 400 bc-ad 650) and of the Late Iron Age (LIA) as well as subrecent times (ca. ad 1300–2000). We studied 82 flotated samples of botanical macroremains, and 68 soil phytolith samples, recovered from the terra firme sites Iyonda and Mbandaka, and the floodplain fishing camp site of Bolondo. The EIA assemblage from Iyonda yielded domesticated Cenchrus americanus (pearl millet), Vigna unguiculata (cowpea), Canarium schweinfurthii, Elaeis guineensis (oil palm), several wild plants, and parenchyma fragments tentatively attributed to Dioscorea sp. (yams). The exploitation of these plants originated in the savannas and forest-savanna ecotones of West Africa. The presence of C. americanus in LIA contexts at Bolondo and Mbandaka, dated to ca. ad 1350–1550, indicates that its cultivation is not dependent on a seasonal climate with a distinct dry season, contrary to previous views. The role of C. americanus as a staple is difficult to assess; it might have been used for special purposes, e.g. beer brewing. In spite of extensive screening, we did not detect any banana phytoliths in the EIA samples. Musa phytoliths were only present in LIA contexts after ca. ad 1400, leaving room for the possibility that the introduction and spread of Musa spp. AAB ‘Plantain’ in the ICB was a late phenomenon.
Keywords: Archaeobotany | Central African rainforest | Human nutrition | Musa | Cenchrus americanus | Vigna unguiculata | Bantu expansion
David W. Phillipson, Aspects of Early Food Production in Northern Kenya. In: Lech Krzyzaniak & Michal Kobusiewicz (Hrsg.), Origin and Early Development of Food-Producing Cultures in North-East Africa. (Poznan 1984), 489–495.
Laurent Nieblas Ramirez, Veerle Linseele, Wim Wouters, Hans-Peter Wotzka & Wim van Neer, Subsistence strategies in the Inner Congo Basin since the 14th century AD, The faunal remains from Nkile and Bolondo (DR Congo). Archaeofauna 31 (2022), 57–75.
The faunal remains are described from Nkile and Bolondo, two archaeological sites in the equatorial rainforest of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Both river-side settlements, located in the Ruki-Tshuapa basin and dating to between the 14th century to the second half of the 20th century, show a heavy reliance on aquatic food resources. The animal remains show that ishing was a major subsistence activity, whereas hunting, slaughtering of domestic stock and harvesting of molluscs were less frequent activities. The contribution to the diet of the different animal taxa suggested by the zooarchaeological data is in line with recently published stable isotope results obtained on humans and animals from Bolondo. The type of ish, and in particular their reconstructed sizes, show that the major exploited ishing grounds were shallow waters that became accessible during the low water seasons (nowadays July-August and a minor season in March at both sites). The proportions of the exploited ish taxa are comparable to those marketed nowadays in larger urban centres. Juvenile ish, and to some extent, small crocodiles, were heavily exploited but it is argued that at the time this was still a sustainable activity that did not deplete the fauna as much as today since human populations were smaller and the ishing gear less effective.
Keywords: rainforest | subsistence | fishing | Africa | zooarchaeology
Karim Sadr & C. Garth Sampson, Through Thick and Thin, Early pottery in Southern Africa. Journal of African Archaeology 4 (2006), 235–252.
Conventional wisdom has it that ceramic technology reached southernmost Africa with or just ahead of the so-called Iron Age, Bantu migrations of ca 2000 years ago. A review of the evidence suggests that the earliest ceramics in the subcontinent are thin-walled and smooth surfaced vessels, technologically quite distinct from the first thick-walled, coarse surfaced “Iron Age” ware of the subcontinent, and predating the latter by two to four centuries. There is no published evidence of a thin-walled ware to the north of the Zambezi, although undated examples are known from coastal Angola. It seems unlikely that the thin-walled wares in southernmost Africa represent a residue of some mass human migration in the distant past. It is more likely that the art of making fired clay pots reached the subcontinent through archaeologically invisible infiltrations by small groups, perhaps peripatetic artisans; or it may have been invented locally.
Keywords: early ceramics | fibre-tempered pottery | Southern Africa | Later Stone Age | Early Iron Age
Karim Sadr, Invisible herders? The archaeology of Khoekhoe pastoralists. Southern African Humanities 20 (2008), 179–203.
Although based on strong historical, linguistic and ethnographic evidence, the conclusion that immigrant Khoekhoe pastoralists introduced the first livestock to southernmost Africa finds no convincing archaeological support. This may be for a number of reasons. Perhaps nomadic pastoralists leave no archaeological traces; or migrations are difficult to detect. Archaeology and the other disciplines may not be looking at the same thing. Or maybe the migrations date to the second millennium AD, long after the first livestock had reached southernmost Africa. It is not easy to tell: Later Stone Age animal bones, stones and pots do not broadcast the language and identity of the people who discarded them.
Keywords: archaeology | Later Stone Age | southern Africa | Khoekhoen | pastoralists | herders | migration | diffusion.
Karim Sadr, C. Britt Bousman, Thomas A. Brown, Kamela G. Sekonya, Elias Sideras-Haddad & Andrew B. Smith, New radiocarbon dates and the herder occupation at Kasteelberg B, South Africa. Antiquity 91 (2017), 1299–1313.
The archaeological sequence at Kasteelberg B, in the Western Cape of South Africa, spans a millennium and covers several distinct occupational phases in the early pastoralist settlement history of the region. Attempts to understand that history through coordinating archaeological, linguistic and genetic evidence have proved problematic. The refined programme of radiocarbon dating presented here sheds further light on the different phases of occupation. More remarkably, it suggests, despite changes in material culture, the persistence of a single population over time, rather than population replacement as has been previously conjectured.
Keywords: South Africa | south-western Cape | San | Khoekhoe | pastoralist | AMS radiocarbon dating | Bayesian modelling
Andrew B. Smith, Royden Yates, Duncan Miller, Leon Jacobson & Gavin Evans, Excavations at Geduld and the Appearance of Early Domestic Stock in Namibia. South African Archaeological Bulletin 50 (1995), 3–14.
Excavations at Geduld in northern Namibia have produced a ceramic sequence beginning 2000 years ago. They also indicate the first appearance of domestic stock by at least 1800 BP. Although ostrich eggshell beads show an increase in size with the appearance of the relatively sophisticated ceramics and larger beads have been suggested as indicators of herding societies, there is no change in stone tool types across the ceramic threshold. This may indicate that, rather than dealing with pastoralists at Geduld, the former occupants of the site were hunters on the periphery of a pastoralist society which has yet to be identified in northern Namibia c. 1800 BP and from whom pottery and stock were obtained. The extreme aridity of the area has preserved many plant species, some of which were eaten, others used for medicinal purposes. Appended are analyses of iron objects, one from a level dated c. 1790 BP, and ostrich eggshell beads.
N. J. Walker, The Significance of an Early Date for Pottery and Sheep in Zimbabwe. South African Archaeological Bulletin 38 (1983), 88–92.
Recent research at Bambata Cave in the Matopos has yielded an early date of just over 2100 B.P. for sheep and pottery associated with Later Stone Age material. On the basis of linguistic, ethnographic and archaeological evidence, it is hypothesized that Cape Khoi pastoralism probably arose in south-western Zimbabwe or adjacent Botswana, following contacts by hunter-gatherers with early Iron Age immigrants. No definite early pastoral sites have yet been located in Zimbabwe, but it is argued that Bambata Cave provides evidence of the contact necessary before such acculturation, if not an early stage of it.
Eudald Carbonell & Marina Mosquera, The emergence of a symbolic behaviour, The sepulchral pit of Sima de los Huesos, Sierra de Atapuerca, Burgos, Spain. Comptes Rendus Palevol 5 (2006), 155–160.
Sima de los Huesos is one of the most complex Pleistocene sites at Sierra de Atapuerca (Burgos, Spain). This pit has yielded a number of 28 hominids dated around 400 kyr. This is the most complete collection of Middle Pleistocene Homo heidelbergensis around the world. Sima de los Huesos was never a hominid occupation place, since no traces of habitation has been discovered, nor a carnivores net, because there are not herbivores remains. However, it contains a large variety of carnivores, such as foxes, large felidae, wolfs, mustelids, and bears. The presence of these specimens may be explained as several events of natural falling, hibernation and catastrophic death, particularly clear for the bears’ case. This may be supported by the fact that all these specimens are present along the whole sedimentary sequence. On the contrary, human remains are mostly concentrated inside a quite discrete sedimentary level, which cannot be explained by any kind of catastrophic nor attritional event, according with the age’s profile. The recent finding of an Acheulean handaxe at the Sima de los Huesos cave site casts light on the evolution of human behaviour during the Middle Pleistocene. It is a finely flaked quartzite handaxe, which is associated with the hominid assemblage. The particular nature of the deposit involving its taphonomy, palaeontology, and technology points to a symbolic meaning both of the tool and the human accumulation. This would support the hypothesis of human mortuary practices performed at the Sima around 400 kyr ago. This discovery allows us to extend human complex behaviour and symbolism of mortuary rituals 300 kyr earlier than broadly heretofore accepted.
Keywords: Symbolic behaviour | Mortuary symbolism | Sepulchral pit | Quartzite handaxe | Human skeletal assemblage | Spain
Christopher Boehm, Emergency Decisions, Cultural-Selection Mechanics, and Group Selection, And Comments and Reply. Current Anthropology 37 (1996), 763–793.
Emergency behaviors of nonliterate groups are taken as a useful starting point for demonstrating that decisions can be integrated more directly into cultural analysis and that the explanatory payoffs can be far-reaching. The methodological feasibility of studying group decisions directly is explored through three exceptional tribal ethnographies with a focus on emergency adaptive problem solving and its implications for both cultural- and gene-selection theory. Urgently discussed decision alternatives become apprehensible to fieldworkers through open group debate, while the reproductive effects of decisions are readily assessed whenever groups act in unison. Implications for the development of a more effective theory of cultural microselection and a truly processual definition of culture in its guided phase are suggested. With respect to long-term genetic evolution, the implications of emergency decision making are extended to foragers, exploring special possibilities that enable genetic group selection to become robust when groups are egalitarian and engage in consensual problem solving. Prehistorically, the verdict is that group-selection effects were amplified at the same time that individual effects were suppressed. On this basis it is hypothesized that the genetic evolution of human cooperative and altruistic tendencies can be explained in part by selection at the level of groups rather than inclusive fitness.
Comments: Christoph Antweiler, I. Eibl-Eibesfeldt, Susan Kent, Bruce M. Knauft, Steven Mithen, Peter J. Richerson and David Sloan Wilson
Gwenna Breton, Carina M. Schlebusch, Marlize Lombard, Per Sjödin, Himla Soodyall & Mattias Jakobsson, Lactase Persistence Alleles Reveal Partial East African Ancestry of Southern African Khoe Pastoralists. Current Biology 24 (2014), 852–858.
The ability to digest milk into adulthood, lactase persistence (LP), as well as specific genetic variants associated with LP, is heterogeneously distributed in global populations [1–4]. These variants were most likely targets of selection when some populations converted from hunter-gatherer to pastoralist or farming lifestyles [5–7]. Specific LP polymorphisms are associated with particular geographic regions and populations [1–4, 8–10]; however, they have not been extensively studied in southern Africa. We investigate the LP-regulatory region in 267 individuals from 13 southern African populations (including descendants of hunter-gatherers, pastoralists, and agropastoralists), providing the first comprehensive study of the LP-regulatory region in a large group of southern Africans. The “East African” LP singlenucleotide polymorphism (SNP) (14010G>C) was found at high frequency (>20 %) in a strict pastoralist Khoe population, the Nama of Namibia, suggesting a connection to East Africa, whereas the “European” LP SNP (13910C>T) was found in populations of mixed ancestry. Using genome-wide data from various African populations, we identify admixture (13 %) in the Nama, from an Afro-Asiatic group dating to >1,300 years ago, with the remaining fraction of their genomes being from San hunter-gatherers. We also find evidence of selection around the LCT gene among Khoe-speaking groups, and the substantial frequency of the 14010C variant among the Nama is best explained by adaptation to digesting milk. These genome-local and genome-wide results support a model in which an East African group brought pastoralist practices to southern Africa and admixed with local hunter-gatherers to form the ancestors of Khoe people.
Martin Furholt, Massive Migrations? The Impact of Recent aDNA Studies on our View of Third Millennium Europe. European Journal of Archaeology 21 (2018), 159–191.
New human aDNA studies have once again brought to the forefront the role of mobility and migration in shaping social phenomena in European prehistory, processes that recent theoretical frameworks in archaeology have downplayed as an outdated explanatory notion linked to traditional culture history. While these new genetic data have provided new insights into the population history of prehistoric Europe, they are frequently interpreted and presented in a manner that recalls aspects of traditional culture-historical archaeology that were rightly criticized through the 1970s to the 1990s. They include the idea that shared material culture indicates shared participation in the same social group, or culture, and that these cultures constitute one-dimensional, homogeneous, and clearly bounded social entities. Since the new aDNA data are used to create vivid narratives describing ‘massive migrations’, the socalled cultural groups are once again likened to human populations and in turn revitalized as external drivers for socio-cultural change. Here, I argue for a more nuanced consideration of molecular data that more explicitly incorporates anthropologically informed mobility and migration models.
Keywords: aDNA | migration | Neolithic Europe | Corded Ware | Yamnaya
Helen G. Jefferson, The Shapira manuscript and the Qumran scrolls. Revue de Qumrân 6 (1968), 391–399.
The scholars in Shapira’s time rejected his document on external grounds. The peculiarities of the text seem more understandable if it came from the pen of a sectarian rather than that of a forger. The Qumran texts show that the sectarians treated the Old Testament with great freedom, making document as the Shapira plausible.
The fact that it was wrapped in cloth and smeared asphalt to preserve it is an argument for its genuineness. A 19th century forger would not have known that scrolls in Qumran Cave 1 were treated in the same way.
I am not claiming that the Shapira manuscript is proved to be ancient, nor hazarding any quess as to its date. I do contend that the case should not be considered closed and that further study might help to solve the problem.
David Ussishkin, The Function of the Iron Age Site of Khirbet Qeiyafa. Israel Exploration Journal 72 (2022), 49–65.
This paper argues that the Iron Age site of Khirbet Qeiyafa was a sacred cultic compound frequented by pilgrims rather than a proper fortified settlement. It is suggested that the casemate wall surrounding the site served as a compound wall demarcating the cultic precinct. These conclusions are based on the fact that the walled site had two gates, as well as on the size of the settled area, the massiveness of the wall, and the finds associated with cult uncovered in the excavations.
David Ussishkin, The City Walls of Lachish, Response to Yosef Garfinkel, Michael Hasel, Martin Klingbeil and Their Colleagues. Palestine Exploration Quarterly 155 (2023), 91–110.
Between 2013–2017 Yosef Garfinkel and his colleagues conducted excavations at the northern side of Tel Lachish/Tell ed-Duweir. Their conclusions regarding the character and date of the site’s fortifications, and their conclusions regarding the date of Palace C, the last stage of the Palace–Fort, radically differ from the Conclusions of the British excavations headed by James Starkey and the renewed excavations of Tel Aviv University headed by me. The interpretations and dates made by Garfinkel and his colleagues regarding the fortifications and the Palace-Fort (Palace C) cannot be accepted. The fortifications uncovered by them on the northern side fit what was known before about the fortifications and their date in other parts of the site.
Keywords: Lachish | Tell ed-Duweir | Rehoboam’s fortifications | Middle Bronze glacis | Iron Age fortifications
A. Bogaard, E. Henton, J. A. Evans, K. C. Twiss, M. P. Charles, P. Vaiglova & N. Russell, Locating Land Use at Neolithic Çatalhöyük, Turkey, The implications of 87Sr/86Sr signatures in plants and sheep tooth sequences. Archaeometry 56 (2014), 860–877.
We evaluate local versus distant land-use models at Neolithic Çatalhöyük, central Anatolia, using strontium isotope analysis of sheep tooth enamel and charred plant remains. Interpretation of strontium in sheep tooth sequences is constrained by previous oxygen isotope work, which largely excludes summer movement to the mountains but cannot distinguish between herding on the plain and the closest upland-zone, Neogene limestone terraces. We establish a baseline contrast in modern plant strontium values between the plain and terraces and infer predominant herding on the plain from seven sheep tooth sequences. Archaeobotanical plant strontium values exclude the use of the terraces for cultivation and foraging. Relatively local crop and sheep management, plausibly intensive and integrated to some degree, given limited dry ground, appears likely on the basis of this pilot study.
Keywords: Neolithic | Turkey | strontium isotopes | mobility | farming | herding
N. Haas & H. Nathan, Anthropological survey on the human skeletal remains from Qumran. Revue de Qumrân 6 (1968), 337–352.
S. H. Steckoll, Preliminary excavation report in the Qumran cemetery. Revue de Qumrân 6 (1968), 323–336.
Tony Burke, “Lost Gospels”—Lost No More. Biblical Archaeology Review 42 (2016), v, 41–47, 64–66.
The apocryphal gospels didn’t make the cut. But were they truly rejected, suppressed and destroyed? Until recent times there was no doubt. But now this “truth” may be unraveling. Many early Christians may have regarded these apocryphal texts as sacred.
Simon Gathercole, The Gospel of Thomas, Jesus said What? Biblical Archaeology Review 41 (2015), iv, 50–56, 69.
Enigmatic papyri discovered at the end of the 19th century in an Egyptian desert dump were verified as the Gospel of Thomas half a century later by the discovery of the Nag Hammadi codices. What do these remarkable 114 “Sayings of Jesus” reveal about Jesus and the early vision of Christianity?
Charles W. Hedrick, The 34 Gospels. Bible Review 2002 , iii, 20–31.
The canonical gospels not only misattribute sayings to Jesus, they also freely modify sayings attributed to Jesus.
The rediscovery of the historical value of the noncanonical gospels—and the discovery of new gospels—offers unparalleled opportunities for critiquing traditional views of Jesus and developing a much more comprehensive picture of Christian origins.
Roy W. Hoover, How the Books of the New Testament Were Chosen. Bible Review 1993 , ii, 44–47.
In short, no single canon has ever been accepted by all Christians. In fact, the status of the New Testament canon today resembles what it was in Eusebius’ day: a question that attracts both a considerable consensus and continuing differences.
Daniel Janosik, John of Damascus, Jesus Christ in Scripture versus Isa in the Qur’an. (2023-05-10).
This paper will explore the differences between the Jesus of the Bible and the Jesus/Isa of the Qur’an and also view some of the new considerations that the heretical views presented in the Qur’an came from Nabataean Arabs centered around Petra rather than Mecca. This new twist is gaining more legitimacy and actually answers many of the remaining questions concerning the origins of Islam. John of Damascus opens up the door to a number of these new revelations.
Daniel Janosik, If Mecca Did Not Exist in the Time of Muhammad, then Who Was Muhammad and Where Did He Live? (2023-05-10).
Thus, we return again to the probability that the “Mecca” inferred in the Qur’an, as well as the traditions, seems to point us to a place 800 miles north of present day Mecca to the city of Petra, which was the center of the Nabataean kingdom and located at the crossroads of major trade routes. Petra fits the historical, geographical, archaeological, and Qur’anic claims much better than Mecca. Petra was the source of the Qur’anic Arabic, Mecca was not. Petra was a wealthy trading city on a crucial international trade route. Mecca was not. Petra was close to the pilgrimage sites associated with Abraham. Mecca was not. Petra was close to the site of Lot’s wife who turned into a pillar of salt. Mecca was not. Petra was close to the people of Ad, Thamud and Midian (the places mentioned in the Qur’an). Mecca was not. Petra was the epicenter of Arab culture and civilization. Mecca was not. Petra had extensive agriculture, streams of water, and geological formations which the Qur’an mentions. Mecca did not. Petra has an extensive archaeological record before the 7th century. Mecca does not. Petra had cubic shrines called Ka’bas, and a sacred meteorite, known as the “black stone” before Mecca did. All of the 7th century and some of the 8th century qiblas faced Petra, not Mecca. In fact, none of the early maps, up to 900 AD, show Mecca at all, nor is the name “Mecca” found in any of the external literature until 741AD. In addition, the Muslim arguments for a rocky, barren, waterdeprived area once being the “mother of all cities,” the birthplace of the prophet Muhammad, the cradle of the Qur’an, and the launching pad for the Islamic religion, can no longer be substantiated. The facts tell a much different narrative.
Mario Mineo, Niccolò Mazzucco, Mauro Rottoli, Gerard Remolins, Laura Caruso-Ferme & Juan F. Gibaja, Textiles, basketry and cordage from the Early Neolithic settlement of La Marmotta, Lazio. Antiquity 97 (2023), 314–330.
Archaeological investigation of Circum-Alpine lake, or pile, dwellings has afforded unprecedented insight into Neolithic and Bronze Age societies. The discovery in 1989 of a submerged settlement near Rome added an early (eighth millennium BP) geographical outlier to this distribution. Two decades of excavation at La Marmotta have identified more than a dozen dwellings and an enormous assemblage of organic remains. Here, the authors present an overview of the textiles, basketry and cordage recovered, and the tools used to manufacture them. The assemblage paints a more complete picture of the technological expertise of Neolithic societies and their ability to exploit and process plant materials to produce a wide range of crafts.
Keywords: prehistoric Europe | Mediterranean Neolithic | underwater archaeology | organic preservation | ancient technologies | woodworking | textile production
Brian A. Stewart, Charring patterns on reconstructed ceramics from Dunefield Midden, Implications for Khoekhoe vessel form and function. Before Farming 2005 , i, 1–18.
Ethnographic observations from ceramic-using cultures around the world highlight a direct connection between ceramic vessel form and function. In southwestern southern Africa archaeological assemblages containing ceramic vessels associated historically with Khoekhoen pastoralists are heavily dominated by pots that conform to a very uniform shape – namely, amphora-like vessels with restricted necks and pointed bases. This paper uses charring patterns evident on the reconstructed ceramic assemblage from the late Holocene/pre-colonial Later Stone Age (LSA) site of Dunefield Midden, and additional ethnographic, ethnohistoric and experimental data, to identify which morphological attributes were adopted to facilitate the use of these vessels in cooking. It concludes that the observed charring patterns were caused by a cooking technique whereby the vessel bases were settled directly into the ‘soft’ cooking hearths at Dunefield Midden, and that the use of pointed bases represents a technological adaptation well suited to the Khoekhoen lifeway, one characterised by a high degree of mobility in largely arid landscapes.
Keywords: Ceramics | Khoekhoe | Later Stone Age | southern Africa | experimental archaeology
Seth Richardson, Early Mesopotamia, The Presumptive State. Past and Present 215 (2012), 3–49.
What gave these efforts force and meaning were the many indications that complex sovereignty was simultaneously imaginable and unachieved. The ingathering of æscattered peopleÆ, the prosecution of æsmall warsÆ, the promise of plenty to those outside the state order, all sought to build clientele for the simple reason that states remained undersubscribed. In these efforts, the community of the early state was much more fully imagined than established, its insufficient sovereignties the sources of its many wants and wishes. That state-building, indeed the building of even the æstate ideaÆ, continued long into the period when state entities were accomplished facts forces us to think about the old ancientsûmoderns debate about state power as a matter of different abilitiesùbut also as a matter of very similar desires.
Peter J. Richerson & Robert Boyd, Institutional Evolution in the Holocene, The Rise of Complex Societies. Proceedings of the British Academy 110 (2001), 197–204.
The evolution of complex societies began when agricultural subsistence systems raised human population densities to levels that would support large scale cooperation, and division of labor. All agricultural origins sequences postdate 11,500 years ago probably because late Pleistocene climates we extremely variable, dry, and the atmosphere was low in carbon dioxide. Under such conditions, agriculture was likely impossible. However, the tribal scale societies of the Pleistocene did acquire, by geneculture coevolution, tribal social instincts that simultaneously enable and constrain the evolution of complex societies. Once agriculture became possible, a competitive ratchet drove further improvements in subsistence and in scale of social organization . Those societies that grew and became better organized were advantaged in individual wealth and economic and military power, and tended to conquer, absorb, or be imitated by smaller and less well organized societies. Internal competitors for power espousing useful social innovations could deliver improved returns when their quest was successful. Notwithstanding the ratchet, social complexity increased only slowly in the first half of the Holocene and even afterwards few periods except the past two centuries saw changes that were dramatic on the scale of individual lifetimes. We attempt a taxonomy of the processes that regulate rates of institutional evolution, cause reversals of complexity against the ratchet, and impose historical contingency on institutional evolution.
Keywords: Cultural evolution | complex societies | origins of agriculture | evolution of institutions
Metin I. Eren et al., Antarctica as a ‘natural laboratory’ for the critical assessment of the archaeological validity of early stone tool sites. Antiquity 97 (2023), 472–482.
Lithic technologies dominate understanding of early humans, yet natural processes can fracture rock in ways that resemble artefacts made by Homo sapiens and other primates. Differentiating between fractures made by natural processes and primates is important for assessing the validity of early and controversial archaeological sites. Rather than depend on expert authority or intuition, the authors propose a null model of conchoidally fractured Antarctic rocks. As no primates have ever occupied the continent, Antarctica offers a laboratory for generating samples that could only have been naturally fractured. Examples that resemble artefacts produced by primates illustrate the potential of ‘archaeological’ research in Antarctica for the evaluation of hominin sites worldwide.
Keywords: Antarctica | Pleistocene | lithic technologies | conchoidal fracture | archaeological knowledge production
Metin I. Eren, Michelle R. Bebber, Briggs Buchanan, Anne Grunow, Alastair Key, Stephen J. Lycett, Erica Maletic & Teal R. Riley
Dorian Q. Fuller, An Emerging Paradigm Shift in the Origins of Agriculture. General Anthropology 17 (2010), ii, 8–12.
The paradigm of an “agricultural revolution” that most of us learned in our introductory anthropology classes can now be seen to be at odds with much of what archaeology has revealed. While in retrospect this looks like a single profound change, hindsight is 20-20, but it is unlikely that any instance of agricultural origins would have been predictable beforehand, as noted recently by Cohen (2009). Certainly over the extended transition from an entirely foraging to the obligate farming lifestyle, many key cultural changes took place.
T. V. Kornienko, On the Problem of Human Sacrifice in Northern Mesopotamia in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic. Archaeology, Ethnology & Anthropology of Eurasia 43 (2015), iii, 42–49.
Paleoanthropological materials, along with the art and architectural evidence, are analyzed. Data on the general trend of ritual practices in Northern Mesopotamia and adjacent regions of the Fertile Crescent area in the period of transition to the sedentary way of life, and the new subsistence strategies in the Early Holocene, are considered. Ethnographic data on the stadially related cultures are used as supplemental material.
Keywords: Epipaleolithic | Pre-Pottery Neolithic | Northern Mesopotamia | Levant | Fertile Crescent area | cult practices | human sacrifice.
Pieter van de Velde, Bandkeramik Social Inequality, A Case Study. Germania 68 (1990), 19–38.
Thus, in Dutch Bandkeramik society as well as among their contemporaries on the Aldenhoven Plateau to the East inherited statuses of power seem to have been fairly common. As the above analysis is based on individual settlements, no Conclusions are forthcoming about settlement hierarchies and socio-political structures of more encompassing scope. Although there are differences in the sizes of the Bandkeramik settlements even within a region nobody has ever suggested a hierarchical relation between them to the best of my knowledge. That is, verticalisation can be present at the local level, without there being a concomitant hierarchy of the settlements.
George F. R. Ellis, The shape of the Universe. nature 425 (2003), 566–567.
An analysis of astronomical data suggests not only that the Universe is finite, but also that it has a specific, rather rigid topology. If confirmed, this is a major discovery about the nature of the Universe.
Jean-Pierre Luminet, Jeffrey R. Weeks, Alain Riazuelo, Roland Lehoucq & Jean-Philippe Uzan, Dodecahedral space topology as an explanation for weak wide-angle temperature correlations in the cosmic microwave background. nature 425 (2003), 593–595.
The current ‘standard model’ of cosmology posits an infinite flat universe forever expanding under the pressure of dark energy. First-year data from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) confirm this model to spectacular precision on all but the largest scales. Temperature correlations across the microwave sky match expectations on angular scales narrower than 60° but, contrary to predictions, vanish on scales wider than 60°. Several explanations have been proposed. One natural approach questions the underlying geometry of space—namely, its curvature and topology. In an infinite flat space, waves from the Big Bang would fill the universe on all length scales. The observed lack of temperature correlations on scales beyond 60° means that the broadest waves are missing, perhaps because space itself is not big enough to support them. Here we present a simple geometrical model of a finite space—the Poincaré dodecahedral space—which accounts for WMAP’s observations with no fine-tuning required. The predicted density is Q0 < 1.013 > 1, and the model also predicts temperature correlations in matching circles on the sky.
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