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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Indo-European, Atkinson & Gray and the culture fitting game

May 15, 2012

Atkinson and Gray’s soon to be classic (but, of course, potentially wrong) paper, timing splits in the Indo-European language tree, offers the fascinating chance to play the game of “match the culture”. Apart from backing up the “out of Anatolia” theory it could suggest a Non Indo-European farming spread into the Western Mediterranean and a […]

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Ness of Brodgar stories

March 9, 2012

The Ness of Brodgar site on Mainland, Orkney is amazing and the BBC programme is fantastic. I recently (well, about two months ago) watched “A History of Ancient Britain: Orkney’s Stone Age Temple”, a “History of Ancient Britain” special. This was on the Ness of Brodgar site on Mainland, Orkney. Funnily enough, I found myself […]

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What is the Avebury landscape?

November 14, 2011

Does Avebury’s collection of vast monuments represent ritual space, a failed civilisation or cosmic ordering? A few months ago I was asked by my old FE College boss to give a talk to the Swindon Philosophical Society about the origins of civilisation. I spent the next few months obsessing over something I discovered I didn’t […]

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Norte Chico and a Late Preceramic Peruvian native silver trade?

September 22, 2011

Did the earliest major ‘pristine civilisation’ in South America, the Late Archaic Caral-Supe / Norte Chico culture, control trade in native silver from the Andes to the Pacific coast? The history of civilisation in South America seems like a minefield. So much has yet to be found or excavated. So much has been looted. Perhaps […]

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