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Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond
Pre-modern for Africa, North Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond
Curated by diana buja
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The Archaeobotanist: Wild plant use in archaeobotany: a new ...

The Archaeobotanist: Wild plant use in archaeobotany: a new ... | 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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Todays new climate refugees - North Africa United

Todays new climate refugees - North Africa United | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it
The continued exodus of Somalis to Kenya and Ethiopia has fuelled the debate on a new issue of global concern: climate refugees, driven from their homes and across borders by extreme weather events...
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We don't really know why the Bronze Age collapsed. - History - Jun 23, 2012 - OMG Facts

We don't really know why the Bronze Age collapsed.   - History - Jun 23, 2012 - OMG Facts | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it
We don't really know why the Bronze Age collapsed. - History - Jun 23, 2012 - Your Mind.
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Reconstructing the origin and spread of horse domestication in the Eurasian steppe

Reconstructing the origin and spread of horse domestication in the Eurasian steppe | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

Despite decades of research across multiple disciplines, the early history of horse domestication remains poorly understood. On the basis of current evidence from archaeology, mitochondrial DNA, and Y-chromosomal sequencing, a number of different domestication scenarios have been proposed, ranging from the spread of domestic horses out of a restricted primary area of domestication to the domestication of numerous distinct wild horse populations. In this paper, we reconstruct both the population genetic structure of the extinct wild progenitor of domestic horses, Equus ferus, and the origin and spread of horse domestication in the Eurasian steppes by fitting a spatially explicit stepping-stone model to genotype data from >300 horses sampled across northern Eurasia. We find strong evidence for an expansion of E. ferus out of eastern Eurasia about 160 kya, likely reflecting the colonization of Eurasia by this species. Our best-fitting scenario further suggests that horse domestication originated in the western part of the Eurasian steppe and that domestic herds were repeatedly restocked with local wild horses as they spread out of this area. By showing that horse domestication was initiated in the western Eurasian steppe and that the spread of domestic herds across Eurasia involved extensive introgression from the wild, the scenario of horse domestication proposed here unites evidence from archaeology, mitochondrial DNA, and Y-chromosomal DNA.


Via Dorian Q Fuller
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Fluvial landscapes of the Harappan civilization

Fluvial landscapes of the Harappan civilization | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

The collapse of the Bronze Age Harappan, one of the earliest urban civilizations, remains an enigma. Urbanism flourished in the western region of the Indo-Gangetic Plain for approximately 600 y, but since approximately 3,900 y ago, the total settled area and settlement sizes declined, many sites were abandoned, and a significant shift in site numbers and density towards the east is recorded. We report morphologic and chronologic evidence indicating that fluvial landscapes in Harappan territory became remarkably stable during the late Holocene as aridification intensified in the region after approximately 5,000 BP. Upstream on the alluvial plain, the large Himalayan rivers in Punjab stopped incising, while downstream, sedimentation slowed on the distinctive mega-fluvial ridge, which the Indus built in Sindh. This fluvial quiescence suggests a gradual decrease in flood intensity that probably stimulated intensive agriculture initially and encouraged urbanization around 4,500 BP. However, further decline in monsoon precipitation led to conditions adverse to both inundation- and rain-based farming. Contrary to earlier assumptions that a large glacier-fed Himalayan river, identified by some with the mythical Sarasvati, watered the Harappan heartland on the interfluve between the Indus and Ganges basins, we show that only monsoonal-fed rivers were active there during the Holocene. As the monsoon weakened, monsoonal rivers gradually dried or became seasonal, affecting habitability along their courses. Hydroclimatic stress increased the vulnerability of agricultural production supporting Harappan urbanism, leading to settlement downsizing, diversification of crops, and a drastic increase in settlements in the moister monsoon regions of the upper Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.


Via Dorian Q Fuller
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Dairy In The Human Diet: North Africans May Have Eaten Yogurt ...

Dairy In The Human Diet: North Africans May Have Eaten Yogurt ... | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

Humans didn't always have the ability to digest milk products -- for thousands of years, lactose intolerance was the norm. New research suggests that in North Africa, dairy first showed up in diets around 7000 years ago.


Via Luigi Guarino
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63df593d-b41a-41bb-b010-18fd07e04fd3's comment, June 23, 2012 11:59 AM
After reposting this article in a great rush, I got a note from my colleague, food scholar Anne Mendelson, author of the highly praised, Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages, correcting this. She said: "That people without the lactase-persistence gene or genes were consuming milk in soured form very, very early is not at all mysterious. The souring of milk -- whether you call the result "yogurt" or something else -- is just what naturally happened during spring and summer in the places that first consumed milk. Milk naturally goes sour (from being colonized by lactic acid bacteria in the ambient air) within hours without refrigeration, on a nice May or July day with the temperature hovering around 110. Soured milk = lactose-free (or mostly lactose-free) milk. Nobody had to cleverly figure out how to add yogurt to the menu. The regular consumption of fresh unsoured full-lactose milk as a substantial part of the diet has to be later and far, far less widespread than the consumption of milk with lactose reduced through bacterial souring. So here's one of these authors saying things like "Perhaps they [prehistoric North Africans] were processing the milk to lower the lactose content. HELP!" http://www.amazon.com/Milk-Surprising-Story-Through-Ages/dp/1400044103
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US$5 billion agricultural research portfolio unveiled

US$5 billion agricultural research portfolio unveiled | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

Frank Rijsberman, the new chief executive officer of the CGIAR consortium, said that the organisation had made a deliberate decision to shift its strategy to focus on outcome-driven research.

"Outcomes are a critical concept for bridging the very difficult gap between carrying out research and seeing impacts," Rijsberman told SciDev.Net.

"It is very difficult to link research activities directly to impacts. But we believe it is possible.

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ant0850544.pdf

Here is a major research project that is peopling the Indian Ocean with prehistoric seafarers exchanging native crops and stock between Africa and India. Not the least exciting part of the work is the authors’ contention that the prime movers of this maritime adventure were not the great empires but a multitude of small-scale entrepreneurs...

 

Excellent, multi-disciplinary study on transIndian Ocean exchanges.

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Africa Unchained: Yan Lifida Armour

Africa Unchained: Yan Lifida Armour | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

Heavy garments of quilted cotton cloth stuffed with capok were widely used as armour for horse and man in central and eastern Sudanic Africa. In the Sokoto caliphate of northern Nigeria, heavily armed horsemen in quilted armour were known as Yan Lifida. They often acted as the bodyguards of an Emir on the field... .

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S. African university hosts conference on black Jews - Jerusalem Post

S. African university hosts conference on black Jews - Jerusalem Post | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

S. African university hosts conference on black Jews. Jerusalem PostAccording to Bruder, pre-colonial archeological findings at ancient sites suggest that the tribe might have come into the arms of Judaism earlier than the arrival of ...

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Egypt: The Aurochs of Qurta — World Archaeology

Egypt: The Aurochs of Qurta — World Archaeology | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

The rock art discovered close to the village of Qurta on the east bank of the Nile is uncannily closer in style to European cave art, as seen at Lascaux in France, than to Egypt’s more typically stylised representations exemplified by the region’s 4th millennium BC Pre-dynastic iconography.

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Domestication and early agriculture in the Mediterranean Basin: Origins, diffusion, and impact

The initial steps toward plant and animal domestication in the Eastern Mediterranean can now be pushed back to the 12th millennium cal B.P. Evidence for herd management and crop cultivation appears at least 1,000 years earlier than the morphological changes traditionally used to document domestication. Different species seem to have been domesticated in different parts of the Fertile Crescent, with genetic analyses detecting multiple domestic lineages for each species.

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The Archaeology News Network: Oldest natural pearl found in Arabia

The Archaeology News Network: Oldest natural pearl found in Arabia | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

Until now, gemmologists had popularized the idea that the oldest natural pearl (dating from 3000 BC) came from a prehistoric Japanese site. Yet the pearl that has just been discovered at the coastal site of Umm al-Quwain 2, in the United Arab Emirates, was found at a level established by carbon-14 dating at 5547-5477, 5410-5235 BC. It is therefore the oldest natural pearl ever found at an archeological site, both in the Arabian Peninsula and in the rest of the world.

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Get to Know a Gluten-Free Grain: Millet | Aurochs Brewing Company

Get to Know a Gluten-Free Grain: Millet | Aurochs Brewing Company | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it
Millet is one of the oldest gluten-free grains cultivated by humans, making its first appearance in East Asia over 10000 years ago. The term millet refers generally to small-seeded grasses, rather than a specific species or ...
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Neolithic Rock Paintings in Somaliland - Earth Science Picture of the Day

Neolithic Rock Paintings in Somaliland - Earth Science Picture of the Day | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it
Photographer: Katy Hinton Summary Author: Katy Hinton The striking Neolithic rock paintings shown above are located between Hargeisa and Berbera, Somaliland. The granitic Laas Gaal caves and rock shelters date as far back as 9,000 B.C.
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Moving Around Ancient North Carolina

Paleontologist Dale Russell of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences describes some of the plants and animals that ancient North Carolinians would have encountered.
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Chemical analysis of pottery reveals first dairying in Saharan Africa in the fifth millennium BC

Chemical analysis of pottery reveals first dairying in Saharan Africa in the fifth millennium BC | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it
The first unequivocal evidence that humans in prehistoric Saharan Africa used cattle for their milk nearly 7,000 years ago is described in research by an international team of scientists, led by the University of Bristol, UK, published today in...

Via Lemercier Olivier
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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.


Via Dorian Q Fuller
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Ancient network of rivers and lakes found in Arabian Desert - University of Oxford

Ancient network of rivers and lakes found in Arabian Desert - University of Oxford | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

Satellite images have revealed that a network of ancient rivers once coursed their way through the sand of the Arabian Desert, leading scientists to believe that the region experienced wetter periods in the past.

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Human migrations: Eastern odyssey

Human migrations: Eastern odyssey | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it

At one pole of the debate, Paul Mellars at the University of Cambridge argues passionately that modern humans left Africa long after the Toba eruption, 60,000 years ago at the earliest. Equipped with new technologies, including bows and arrows, they beach-hopped along the coastline of the Arabian peninsula, India and southeast Asia, reaching Australia in short order. Genetic analyses of contemporary Asians that point to a late, rapid colonization have bolstered his confidence. “I'm more convinced than ever that I'm right,” he says, before adding, “I guess they all say that.”

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Amazon.com: Prehistoric Textiles: The Development of Cloth in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages with Special Reference to the Aegean (9780691002248): E.J.W. Barber: Books

Amazon.com: Prehistoric Textiles: The Development of Cloth in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages with Special Reference to the Aegean (9780691002248): E.J.W.

Prehistoric Textiles made an unsurpassed leap in the social and cultural understanding of textiles in humankind's early history. Cloth making was an industry that consumed more time and effort, and was more culturally significant to prehistoric cultures, than anyone assumed before the book's publication. The textile industry is in fact older than pottery--and perhaps even older than agriculture and stockbreeding. It probably consumed far more hours of labor per year, in temperate climates, than did pottery and food production put together. And this work was done primarily by women. Up until the Industrial Revolution, and into this century in many peasant societies, women spent every available moment spinning, weaving, and sewing.

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Trade and Colonial Status

Does colonisation explain differences in trade performance across developing countries? In this paper, we analyse the differential impact of British versus French colonial legacies on the current trade of African ex-colonies. We initially find that former British colonies trade more, on average, than do their French counterparts.

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Genomics and African queens - Herrerajerome274's blog

Genomics and African queens - Herrerajerome274's blog | Pre-Modern Africa, the Middle East - and Beyond | Scoop.it
"From their geographic location, it is logical to think that migration out of Africa 60000 years ago began in either Ethiopia or Egypt. Little was previously known about the populations inhabiting the North-East African region from ...

Ethiopia is situated in the horn of Africa, and has often been regarded as one of the gateways from Africa to the rest of the world. The Ethiopian region itself has the longest fossil record of human history anywhere in the world. Studying population genetics within this diverse region could help us to understand the origin of the first humans.

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Dispatches From Turtle Island: The Oldest Domesticated Cattle Bones In Africa

A 2005 report provides the oldest solid evidence of the use of domesticated cattle and associated Neolithic transition in Egypt (no later than 7000 BCE (9000 BP), and no earlier than 7300 BCE (9300 BP) in the Middle Nile) (and for that matter in Africa), although the local variety of wild aurochs from which domestic cattle were domesticated were present (and presumably hunted) at least six thousand years earlier according to newly dated petroglyphs from the same general region.

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Dispatches From Turtle Island: Y-DNA E Didn't Back Migrate To Africa

There is also good evidence to suggest that there was at least, a relatively recent back migration that gave rise to the Ethio-semitic languages, and a probably also a more ancient back migration. Ancient DNA and the mtDNA mutation rate data (for mtDNA haplogroupds M1 and U6 which have roughly the same age) suggest that this back migration probably sometime in the late Upper Paleolithic or early Neolithic. A good guess might be around 12,000 years ago when North Africa was repopulated in the Mesolithic at the start of a "wet" Sahara period.

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