Fatal Epidemics of the Bronze Age

October 25, 2016

Fatal epidemics in the Eastern Mediterranean have been going on since at least the start of the Bronze Age. However, the best evidence for big outbreaks is in 18th century and 14th century BC. After about 500 BC historians occasionally took the trouble to chronicle the fatal epidemics they experienced. However, due to a lack of historians […]

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Third Century Rome’s inflation crisis: ‘bad’ leaders or plague?

October 12, 2016

Is the massive inflation seen in the third century Roman Empire a result of reckless spending by megalomaniac emperors, plague or loss of faith? Take your pick. Is late Rome like the modern US? Probably not. There has been a general (though not universal) assumption in studies of the later Roman Empire that increasing militarisation […]

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The Late Bronze age: A ‘pleasant’ collapse?

June 25, 2016

I listened to ‘In Our Time’ the other day, as they discussed the Late Bronze Age Collapse in the Eastern Mediterranean. It was nice to hear about something so dear to my heart as they rambled through the usual stuff and some stuff I didn’t know. It was a shame that they didn’t spend a […]

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The Greek Early Neolithic: following the ophiolite trail west?

November 2, 2015

Does the peculiar tendency of the first farmers in Greece to settle near certain bands of ophiolitic rocks hint at the strange fascination Early Neolithic farmers had for copper. Farming first appeared in Greece in the first half of the seventh millennium BC, around the time of the discovery of pottery in Western Eurasia. Although […]

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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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