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First the link to this week's complete list as HTML and as PDF.
To my mind, all the arguments listed by Bennison-Chapman confirm, rather than, as claimed, contradict Schmandt-Besserat’s older theory. If used as claimed, tokens naturally will not turn up in all early Neolithic villages but only in those situations, where countable, valuable property is turned over into the care of someone else, like a seasonal transhumant herder. Like language and script I would not expect them to be universal but prone to local dialect, it is the idea of tokens that gains universal significance. They lose their meaning when the property they signify is returned and they are reusable, so the find contexts listed by Bennison-Chapman are exactly those to be expected. Finally, when an idea takes millenia to turn first into a systematic form of accounting and later into writing, I do not expect to find its use fully formed in the earliest occurrences.
From Bar-Oz et al. we learn that Elusa, well south of Beersheba and now in the desert, was a flourishing city in Byzantine times. This is one more example of warm periods also being humid and the good times. On the other hand this time falls into the end of the European Migration Period, reminding us that climate tends to be a regional and not world-wide phenomenon and that simplistic assumptions about the outcome of the current time of change will probably turn out to be wrong.
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