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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The black-haired Sumerian elite

August 10, 2011

Were Sumerian speakers elite late arrivals in Sumer? I found this unreferenced statement in the online “Encylopedia Britannia” article entitled “Sumer” (dated 9/8/2011) “Sumer was first settled between 4500 and 4000 BC by a non-Semitic people who did not speak the Sumerian language. These people now are called proto-Euphrateans or Ubaidians, for the village Al-Ubaid, […]

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Gathering time: bringing pre-History to Neolithic archaeology

July 8, 2011

The recent publication of “Gathering Time”, which supplies much more accurate dates for events in Britain’s Early Neolithic, is a moment for any rational archaeologist to savour. A new publication by Alex Bayliss, Frances Healy and Alastair Whittle, called “Gathering Time”, seems to me to be perhaps the most significant event in the last forty years in […]

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Enclosing the landscape – the location of bronze age round barrows around Stonehenge

June 29, 2011

Is the distribution of round barrows around Stonehenge a glimpse of the first ownership and division of the English countryside? The parish boundaries of Winterbourne Stoke, near Stonehenge, are defined by many features of the landscape. Often they follow hedges or fences, valley bottoms, roads, rivers and ancient earthworks, all of which have been present […]

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Indo-European wheel words – revised

May 25, 2011

(see also ‘Proto-Indo-European homelands – genetic clues at last‘) What exactly is the evidence that Proto-Indo-European’s had wheels and wagons? And what is the significance of *kwekwlo-? Wheels, it appears, are not that old. They first turn up, in the form of moulded clay wheels on toys, in Ukraine’s Tripolye B2 culture (dated around 3800BC). […]

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The spread of violence across Chalcolithic Europe and the Near East

April 19, 2011

From further reading I think I might be wrong with this post. Sites such as the walled Tell Maghzalia (levels 13-14) near the upper Tigris, which date to perhaps 6000bc (around 7000BC), suggest that walls were necessary here long before I’d thought here. Other early walled sites include Tell es-Sawwan III (5200bc – around 6200BC) […]

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David Wengrow’s ‘What Makes Civilization?’ – a review

April 12, 2011

David Wengrow’s book is a fascinating gem of ideas about the Bronze age Near East, although I’m not sure if I understood it. Trying to understand the thoughts of another person is always difficult. Some people are less ambiguous than others. Sometimes the ambiguity in their ideas makes you think more than you would have […]

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Domesticating humans by artificial selection

March 22, 2011

Did the dawn of agriculture lead to a form of human artificial selection resulting in more passive, less suspicious individuals? Isn’t this a bit like domesticating animals? When I first read of the influential archaeologist Ian Hodder’s ideas about the ‘domestication of the mind’, I couldn’t help thinking “eh?” What Prof. Hodder was trying to […]

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Easter Island – was it really so isolated?

January 27, 2011

(see also ‘No South American DNA in ancient Easter Island – and…?‘) The fate of prehistoric Easter Island was an environmental catastrophe… but was it really, as Jared Diamond argues, in isolation? Perhaps Easter Islanders were trading both with other Pacific islands and with South America. In Jared Diamond’s bestseller, Collapse, Prof. Diamond outlined various […]

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LBK massacres – who killed whom?

January 16, 2011

The  Neolithic massacres at Talheim and Schletz-Asparn in northern Europe are usually interpreted in terms of village against village. But could they reflect something more familiar, the killing of a particular section of the community? It’s a story of misery, ethnic tensions and massacres in northern Europe. It would make for unconfortable reading in one of those […]

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