Saturday, January 23, 2010

Farmers on the move, 8000 BCE

This blog is called Muhlberger's Early History for a good reason: I'm often making a connection between things that happened centuries ago and things that our neighbors are doing somewhere in the world today. In the classroom I love talking about remote origins. If I were teaching ancient history now, you'd bet this would be included ( exceerpt from the UK's Daily Mail):

European farming began around 9,000 BC in the Fertile Crescent - a region extending from the eastern coast to the Persian Gulf and which includes modern day Iraq, Syria, and southeast .

The region was the cradle of civilisation and home to the Babylonia, Sumer and Assyrian empires.

The development of farming allowed people to settle down for the first time - and to produce more food than they needed, leading to trade and the freedom to develop new skills such as metal working, building and writing.

Some archaeologists have argued that some of these early farmers travelled around the world - settling new lands and bringing farming skills with them.

But others have insisted that the skills were passed on by word of mouth, and not by mass migration.

The new study suggests the farmers routinely upped sticks and moved west when their villages became too crowded, eventually reaching Britain and .

The waves of migrants brought their new skills with them. Some settled down with local tribes and taught them how to farm, the researchers believe.

'When the expansion happened these men had a reproductive advantage because they were able to grow more food so they were more attractive to women and had more offspring,' said Prof Jobling.

'In total more than 80 per cent of European men have Y chromosomes which descend from incoming farmers.

'It seems odd to think that the majority of men in Ireland have fore fathers from the near East and that British people have forefathers from the near East.'

The findings are published in the science journal PLoS Biology.

Dr Patricia Balaresque, a co-author of the study, said: 'This means that more than 80 per cent of European Y chromosomes descend from incoming farmers.'

In contrast, other studies have shown that DNA passed down from mothers to daughters can be traced by to hunter-gatherers in Europe, she said.

'To us, this suggests a reproductive advantage for farming males over indigenous hunter-gatherer males during the switch from hunting and gathering, to farming - maybe, back then, it was just sexier to be a farmer,' she said.

I don't think anyone had a clue about this 20 years ago when I first taught Ancient Civilizations. What fun!

(And let's hear it for SE Turkey getting proper credit.)

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Le Siècle de Libanios : littérature, culture et société du IVe siècle après J.-C. dans l'Orient méditerranéen

On the off chance one of my readers has both a reading command of French and an interest in the cultural, political, and intellectual life of the late 4th century AD, I include this link. Have fun, o lucky reader.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sense

Sense on the "existential threat of Islamic extremist from IOZ, one of the few people I read to even mention US attacks on Syria and Pakistan:

One of our great, egomaniacal national myths is that the central motivation of Islamic radicals is Death to America. More accurately, their principle motivations are things like: Death to the corrupt, apostate, America-backed government in Islamabad. The September 11, 2001 attacks were an aberration. Insurgent and rebel groups from North Africa through the Middle East, subcontinent, and Pacific archipelagos engage American troops and assets where proximity dictates.

Paradoxically, while some fighters are rootless, semi-religious mercenaries, bopping across borders to get to where the action is, the goals of the various movements and insurgencies tend to be on the local-to-national scale. The Taliban aren't interested in Kansas. Rebels in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas don't care about moral degeneracy in Las Vegas. These people are not seeking to establish some vast caliphate and gobble up the world. The United States, in the principle symptom of our special brand of flailing imperialism, has gotten itself embroiled in a gaggle of civil wars. Most of the nations in question have been modern nation-states for somewhere between fifty and one hundred years. We might recall what happened in America when it was around that age.

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Friday, September 19, 2008

It's Ramadan -- Pictures from around the world


The Big Picture has a wonderful selection.

Image (it was hard to pick just one): "A seller of traditional Syrian sweets calls out for customers in the Meidan quarter of Damascus September 2, 2008."

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