A primer on old-world metals before the Copper age (revised)

August 30, 2015

A discussion of copper, lead, gold and silver artefacts in the Old World, their origins and distribution from the Neolithic up to the time of the earliest smelting in the Chalcolithic or Copper age… and a discussion of where copper and lead smelting originated. (originally written mid 2010 – completely revised August 29th 2015) While […]

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Trying to date Avebury with the help of Stonehenge

December 4, 2013

This post gives me a chance to compare the radiocarbon dating of Avebury with the dating of Stonehenge and to see if Stonehenge’s new dates can help solve the dating mystery of Avebury. Stonehenge – current radiocarbon dating results So as far as anyone can tell, the ages of the stone circles and earthworks at Stonehenge are […]

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‘Plague’, language change and ‘dark ages’ – a general link?

November 1, 2013

Pandemics may have caused the collapse of the Roman Empire, the last European ‘dark age’ and the resulting changes of languages across North Africa, Europe and the Middle East. As wild speculation, could they have done the same in earlier dark ages? Recent work has been starting to fill in an old story about a […]

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Connecting China to Europe in the Bronze Age

November 1, 2013

How evidence of wheat, copper and broomcorn millet gives some clues to the first connections between West and East and the routes that were taken. A current best guess is for a steppe connection at the beginning of the third millennium BC and a ‘silk road’ connection at the end of the 3rd millennium. However, […]

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Water at Avebury

February 10, 2013

Was the water supply of Avebury as patchy in the Neolithic and Chalcolithic as it is now? It’s been a wet winter at Avebury. My recent attempts to visit Windmill Mill and West Kennet Long Barrow have resulted in wading through rivers where normally there’s no water at all. And it got me thinking maybe […]

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‘Why Nations Fail’ and the fate of Lele and Bushong

June 29, 2012

Acemoğlu and Robinson rightly argue in ‘Why Nations Fail’ that chance decisions by leaders play a big part in economic success, but using the Congo Basin’s Lele and Bushong as an example of this may be a mistake. One significant argument in Daron Acemoğlu and James Robinson’s fascinating and highly informative recent book ‘Why Nations Fail’ […]

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Çatalhöyük and the loss of the hunting rite

June 13, 2012

Discussing whether the abundance of strange wildlife memorabilia in a place like Çatalhöyük happens when settled people kill all the local big game and become gradually disconnected from their hunting roots. In a nearby country town there is an old hotel. On its wood-panelled walls are images of red coated ‘gentlemen’ on horses, and their […]

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Risk and ‘gifts’: surviving the Neolithic by mutual insurance

June 1, 2012

Why pioneers of Neolithic agriculture needed to be linked in to the wider Neolithic world, and what they did with ‘gifts’ “a neolithic economy offers no material inducement to the peasant to produce more than he needs to support himself and his family and provide for the next harvest. If each household does that, the […]

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The sarsens of Salisbury Plain – A conversation with David Field

May 22, 2012

Apart from the obvious ones at Stonehenge, are there many sarsens on Salisbury Plain? David Field thinks there are. I went to see a talk before Christmas at the Devizes Museum, Wiltshire, England. It was given by David Field of English Heritage, and was all about the development of the landscape around Stonehenge through the […]

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Bronze Age Egypt or the Levant – which was the greater economic power?

May 18, 2012

A think piece for my own benefit on whether the Bronze Age Levant’s innovation is a better indicator of economic success than Egypt’s monumentality. I suspect not but I think it could be close. Consider the glories of ancient Egypt for a moment, whether it’s Karnak, Luxor, or Memphis, and it’s difficult to not be […]

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