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Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond
Pre-modern for Africa, North Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond
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Mainz University coordinates new EU project on the origins of human settlement

Bridging the European and Anatolian Neolithic" is the name of a new multinational educational network which has received funding from the European Commission for the next four years. It is classified as a so-called Initial Training Network (ITN) in the EU Marie Curie Actions program, which allows young scientists early access to research activity at top international institutions. A basic requirement for funding is that the researchers involved leave their home country and conduct their research in another European country.


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Why the vibrant city of Palmyra was located in the middle of what is now the Syrian Desert

Why the vibrant city of Palmyra was located in the middle of what is now the Syrian Desert | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it
Norwegian archaeologists have solved one of the great puzzles of the Roman Empire: Why was the vibrant city of Palmyra located in the middle of the Syrian Desert?

Via Rene Nieuwenhuizen
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Stonehenge and the power of belief in the Bronze Age - by zteve t evans

Stonehenge and the power of belief in the Bronze Age - by zteve t evans | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it
Information and facts about Stonehenge and the people of the Bronze Age and their beliefs during the Bronze Age.
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Study: Social Inequality Has Been Around Since the Stone Age - The Atlantic

Study: Social Inequality Has Been Around Since the Stone Age - The Atlantic | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it
TopNews United StatesStudy: Social Inequality Has Been Around Since the Stone AgeThe AtlanticA team of archaeologists finds the earliest evidence of differential land access among European farmers in the Neolithic era.Hereditary Inequality Started...

PROBLEM: The custom of inheriting land and livestock engendered the ever-present issue of social inequality. When did this practice begin?

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David Douglas

David Douglas | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

Today’s the birthday of the pioneering Scottish botanist David Douglas (1799-1834), from whom the Douglas fir gets its common name.

 

On an 1824 expedition to North America, he described the sitka spruce, Ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, and many other species, at one point writing home to his sponsor, “You will think I manufacture pines at my pleasure.”

 

On a later expedition to Hawaii, he died, age 35, when he fell into a pit dug by the islanders to trap wild cattle. He was trapped with a bull that also fell into the pit and it gored him to death.

 

- Wild cows in Hawaii?!  Maybe they were aurochs...

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Do the Eyes Have It? » American Scientist

Do the Eyes Have It? » American Scientist | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

Dog domestication may have helped humans thrive while Neandertals declined... 

The mutation causing white sclerae is universal in humans, but it turns up occasionally in apes, too. In decades of observations at Gombe National Park in Tanzania, Jane Goodall observed two chimps, probably brothers, who had white sclerae. A third, female chimp developed white sclerae as an adult. But the trait has not spread or reappeared in that population. The advantage of the white sclerae must be related to something that ancient humans did commonly and chimps don’t do or do rarely. Although chimps hunt small prey, often cooperatively, meat makes up less than 2 percent of their diet, whereas Paleolithic humans hunted much larger game that apparently provided a significant part of their diet. Obviously, silent communication among humans would be advantageous for hunting in groups. But there is another skilled gaze-reader: the domestic dog.


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Modern Taurine Cattle Descended from Small Number of Near-Eastern Founders

Modern Taurine Cattle Descended from Small Number of Near-Eastern Founders | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

Archaeozoological and genetic data indicate that taurine cattle were first domesticated from local wild ox (aurochs) in the Near East some 10,500 years ago. However, while modern mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variation indicates early Holocene founding event(s), a lack of ancient DNA data from the region of origin, variation in mutation rate estimates, and limited application of appropriate inference methodologies have resulted in uncertainty on the number of animals first domesticated. A large number would be expected if cattle domestication was a technologically straightforward and unexacting region-wide phenomenon, while a smaller number would be consistent with a more complex and challenging process. We report mtDNA sequences from 15 Neolithic to Iron Age Iranian domestic cattle and, in conjunction with modern data, use serial coalescent simulation and approximate Bayesian computation to estimate that around 80 female aurochs were initially domesticated. Such a low number is consistent with archaeological data indicating that initial domestication took place in a restricted area and suggests the process was constrained by the difficulty of sustained managing and breeding of the wild progenitors of domestic cattle.


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Amazon.com: The Significance of Monuments: On the Shaping of Human Experience in Neolithic and Bronze Age Europe (9780415152044): Richard Bradley: Books

Amazon.com: The Significance of Monuments: On the Shaping of Human Experience in Neolithic and Bronze Age Europe (9780415152044): Richard Bradley: Books | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

The Significance of Monuments studies the importance of monuments tracing their history from their first creation over six thousand years later. Part One discusses how monuments first developed and their role in developing a new sense of time and space among the inhabitants of prehistoric Europe. Other features of the prehistoric landscape - such as mounds and enclosures - across Continental Europe are also examined. Part Two studies how such monuments were modified and reinterpreted to suit the changing needs of society through a series of detailed case studies.

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Got Milk? Dairy found essential to prehistoric development in Africa ...

Got Milk? Dairy found essential to prehistoric development in Africa ... | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it
Petroglyphs and pictographs in the Jebel Acacus, Libyan Sahara (photo on Flickr by Carsten ten Brink / 10b travelling). This month's publication of a scientific article on new evidence of livestock herding in prehistoric Africa is ...
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Egyptology News: Online: Nubian identity in the Bronze Age

Egyptology News: Online: Nubian identity in the Bronze Age | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it
Nubian identity in the Bronze Age. Patterns of cultural and biological variation. Bioarchaeology of the Near East. Volume 5, 2011, pp. 19-40. In the Nile Valley, the examination of ancient peoples has generally focused on the ...
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The Archaeobotanist: Concatenating rice and language phylogenies: a recipe for single origins?

The Archaeobotanist: Concatenating rice and language phylogenies: a recipe for single origins? | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

The literature has been and remains split on singular or multiple origins for rice. The discussion of whether or not all Asian rice can be traced to a single domestication event and a single cultural origin of cultivation continues, and there have been major arguments in favour of it this past year including the high profile genetic modelling paper by Molina et al published in PNAS in May, and a recent contribution on the historical linguistics front. I remain in favour of multiple origins...

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The Archaeobotanist: African archaeobotany volume published

The Archaeobotanist: African archaeobotany volume published | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

Windows on the African Past. Current Approaches to African Archaeobotany, edited by Ahmed Fahmy, Catherine D'Andrea, Stefanie Kahlheber.

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Archaeobotany of Near Eastern domestication: new special issue

Archaeobotany of Near Eastern domestication: new special issue | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it
A quick tally of new publications in archaeobotany, often with some first impressions. Also some assessments of recent conferences, web-sites or other sources. Opinions and views on the evolution and history of crops.
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PLoS ONE: Recent and Projected Increases in Atmospheric CO2 Concentration Can Enhance Gene Flow between Wild and Genetically Altered Rice (Oryza sativa)

PLoS ONE: Recent and Projected Increases in Atmospheric CO2 Concentration Can Enhance Gene Flow between Wild and Genetically Altered Rice (Oryza sativa) | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

Although recent and projected increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide can alter plant phenological development, these changes have not been quantified in terms of floral outcrossing rates or gene transfer. Could differential phenological development in response to rising CO2 between genetically modified crops and wild, weedy relatives increase the spread of novel genes, potentially altering evolutionary fitness? Here we show that increasing CO2 from an early 20th century concentration (300 µmol mol−1) to current (400 µmol mol−1) and projected, mid-21st century (600 µmol mol−1) values, enhanced the flow of genes from wild, weedy rice to the genetically altered, herbicide resistant, cultivated population, with outcrossing increasing from 0.22% to 0.71% from 300 to 600 µmol mol−1. The increase in outcrossing and gene transfer was associated with differential increases in plant height, as well as greater tiller and panicle production in the wild, relative to the cultivated population. In addition, increasing CO2 also resulted in a greater synchronicity in flowering times between the two populations. The observed changes reported here resulted in a subsequent increase in rice dedomestication and a greater number of weedy, herbicide-resistant hybrid progeny. Overall, these data suggest that differential phenological responses to rising atmospheric CO2 could result in enhanced flow of novel genes and greater success of feral plant species in agroecosystems.


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Review of The Horse, the Wheel and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World by David W. Anthony | Academic World History Articles and Essays | Middle Ground...

Review of The Horse, the Wheel and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World by David W. Anthony | Academic World History Articles and Essays | Middle Ground... | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it
The Horse, the Wheel and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World. David W. Anthony. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0691058870.
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Arabia and the Arabs: From the Bronze Age to the Coming of Islam (Peoples of the Ancient World) eBook: Robert G. Hoyland: Amazon.de: Kindle-Shop

Arabia and the Arabs: From the Bronze Age to the Coming of Islam (Peoples of the Ancient World) eBook: Robert G.
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'Indian traders made British curious about Africa'

'Indian traders made British curious about Africa' | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it
It was only when they saw Indian traders doing thriving business in east Africa, especially Zanzibar, that they decided to see what Africa was really about. Slowly, the process of colonising the continent began," D'Souza told ...
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Dogs’ Genetic Roots Remain Obscure

Dogs’ Genetic Roots Remain Obscure | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

Little about the origins of dogs is agreed upon, beyond that they descended from wolves, and genetic research has provided little insight. There is a reason for this confusion, according to Greger Larson at the University of Durham in England. In a new research paper, he argues that the DNA of modern dogs is so mixed up that it is useless in figuring out when and where dogs originated. “With the amount of DNA we’ve sequenced so far,” Dr. Larson said, “we’re lucky to get back a hundred years, max.” He says that only with the analysis of DNA from fossil dogs, now being done, will answers along this line emerge.


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Research on early food production

Research on early food production | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

Prehistoric hunter-gatherers who began to grow crops or tend animals faced serious decisions in how to rebalance their diets and work patterns. Changes in social organization also occurred as different kinds of labor come to be more important, or as surplus products could be stored and possibly accumulated by a subset of a social group, or used to support specialists.


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An antler sickle from the Neolithic site of Costamar at Cabanes (Castellón) on the Mediterranean Spanish coast

An antler sickle from the Neolithic site of Costamar at Cabanes (Castellón) on the Mediterranean Spanish coast | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

An antler sickle found in a pit of the first Neolithic phase, an exceptional find as few examples are known from Europe (Flors 2010), forms the subject of this short note. [5000-4700 BC]

The sickle would have been used by holding it at the proximal end, gathering up the stalks with the transversal antler point and holding them in the other hand. At this stage, the sickle would have been turned 90°, so that the stalks could be cut with the blade hafted in the sickle. The analysis of use-wear marks on the Costamar sickle has revealed that the internal face of the distal antler point is intensely polished by friction, presumably when the stalks were gathered up.


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King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

Hochschild's superb, engrossing chronicle focuses on one of the great, horrifying and nearly forgotten crimes of the century: greedy Belgian King Leopold II's rape of the Congo, the vast colony he seized as his private fiefdom in 1885. Until 1909, he used his mercenary army to force slaves into mines and rubber plantations, burn villages, mete out sadistic punishments, including dismemberment, and committ mass murder. The hero of Hochschild's highly personal, even gossipy narrative is Liverpool shipping agent Edmund Morel, who, having stumbled on evidence of Leopold's atrocities, became an investigative journalist and launched an international Congo reform movement with support from Mark Twain, Booker T. Washington and Arthur Conan Doyle. Other pivotal figures include Joseph Conrad, whose disgust with Leopold's "civilizing mission" led to Heart of Darkness; and black American journalist George Washington Williams, who wrote the first systematic indictment of Leopold's colonial regime in 1890.

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Why the vibrant city of Palmyra was located in the middle of what is now the Syrian Desert

Why the vibrant city of Palmyra was located in the middle of what is now the Syrian Desert | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it
Norwegian archaeologists have solved one of the great puzzles of the Roman Empire: Why was the vibrant city of Palmyra located in the middle of the Syrian Desert?

Via Rene Nieuwenhuizen
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Amazon.com: The Late Prehistory of the Eastern Sahel: The Mesolithic and Neolithic of Shaqadud, Sudan (9780870743108): Anthony E. Marks, Abbas Mohammed-Ali: Books

Amazon.com: The Late Prehistory of the Eastern Sahel: The Mesolithic and Neolithic of Shaqadud, Sudan (9780870743108): Anthony E. Marks, Abbas Mohammed-Ali: Books | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it
Amazon.com: The Late Prehistory of the Eastern Sahel: The Mesolithic and Neolithic of Shaqadud, Sudan (9780870743108): Anthony E.
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The Archaeobotanist: De-centering the fertile crescent

The Archaeobotanist: De-centering the fertile crescent | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

The Near Eastern "fertile crescent" is the classic centre of origin for domesticated plants. Although when James Breasted coined the term (1906) he was thinking about the beginnings of agrarian civilizations in Egypt and Mesopotamia. The term become subsequently linked to Gordon Childe's notion (1935) of the "Neolithic Revolution"

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The Archaeobotanist: African Archaeobotany 2011

The Archaeobotanist: African Archaeobotany 2011 | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it
A quick tally of new publications in archaeobotany, often with some first impressions. Also some assessments of recent conferences, web-sites or other sources. Opinions and views on the evolution and history of crops.
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