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In this article, the authors reveal the symbolic role of cranes at Neolithic Çatalhöyük, Turkey. Worked bones of the Common Crane (Grus grus) are interpreted as coming from a spread wing used in dances, a ritual practice perhaps connected with the celebration of marriage.
The authors use their revised chronology for the Mariupol-type cemeteries (presented in Antiquity 76: 356-63 (2002)) to offer a new sequence for Neolithic settlement and economy in Ukraine. They find that the transition to the Neolithic began about 6500 cal BC, but co-existed with Mesolithic communities for a further millennium. In about 4500 cal BC early copper age cultures appeared, which in turn coexisted with the Neolithic in neighbouring areas. Co-existent cultures are defined in terms of their artefacts, subsistence strategies, burial practice and physical types. The Mariupol-type cemeteries seem to have had their origins in the late Mesolithic and endured into the Copper Age, a period of more than two thousand years (c. 6500–4000 cal BC).
Wood charcoal from stratified layers at Akrotiri is helping to map the ecology of the island of Santorini before the volcanic eruption in the second millennium BC which brought Bronze Age settlement to an end. Far from being treeless like today, the island had a relatively moist and cool climate with diverse vegetation including open oak woodland. Olive cultivation can be traced back to the Early Bronze Age. Cedar, yew and beech were also imported from Lebanon, Cyprus and Anatolia as artefacts, or for building.
Traditionally, it has been assumed that the Greek alphabetic numerals were independently invented in the sixth century BC. However, the author finds a remarkable structural similarity between this system and the Egyptian demotic numerals. He proposes that trade between Asia Minor and Egypt provided the context in which the Greek numerals were adopted from Egyptian models.
The modern study of ancient landscapes is showing how the landscape and the monuments within it may have been perceived by those alive at the time. The author here broadens the discussion, distinguishing the perceptions of those who built the monuments from those who viewed them. In this example from the area comprising eastern India and Bangladesh where settlements were regularly washed away, the monuments acted as icons of permanence, and continue to impress today. However, they may not have been so appreciated by the riverside dwellers …
What were the social structures of prehistoric Melanesia really like – and how did they evolve? This study of the archaeology of New Caledonia shows how the west has had a double impact on its prehistory. First, explorers altered the social structure by their arrival and the introduction of western diseases, and then anthropologists created an image of communities which were ancient, simple and static. New archaeological field data by contrast is mapping nearly 3000 pre-European years of occupation which was marked by dynamic social and cultural change involving sophisticated economic strategies. The evidence suggests that the European anthropologists of the twentieth century were actually interpreting the social effects of the European explorers of the nineteenth century. The new archaeological model is providing food for thought for the modern multi-cultural country of New Caledonia.
The author reconsiders the ‘wave of advance model’ used to describe (and partly explain) the rate at which people adopted farming. It is usually applied to large open areas, where one population group can easily see or meet another – but the populations considered here live on islands. Joaquim Fort finds that the 5000 km extent of the South Pacific was settled in the Neolithic period at a rate of at least 8 km per year.
Recent excavations in Uttar Pradesh have turned up iron artefacts, furnaces, tuyeres and slag in layers radiocarbon dated between 1800 and 1000 BC. This raises again the question of whether iron working was brought to India during supposed immigrations in the second millennium BC, or developed independently
Certain kinds of food can be classed as “luxurious” because they are difficult to procure and reserved for an élite – but luxury foods can be more surely defined from their context of use. Using examples from Andean archaeology the author shows how different foodstuffs perform ceremonial roles in different sectors of society. Many ordinary people use them to feed the ancestors, while the élite may put significance on a variety of consumables, including human blood.
This paper represents the joint work of two very different specialists. The fieldwork was undertaken by Sillitoe as part of his ethnographic research in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the interpretative work was done by an archaeologist, Hardy. The work described here represents some of the last direct evidence from users of stone tools. It shows how procurement, manufacture, use, storage and the relative roles of men and women in the process was dependant on what other materials were available – material often sadly elusive in the archaeological record. Discard did not reflect use, but was often guided by the thoughtful wish to avoid cut feet.
Making sense of rock carvings requires that the busy scenes depicted be resolved into groups. Using Swedish examples, John Coles shows how the depth of carvings can help identify images and subjects and urges that the depths become a regular part of the record.
How did the pyramid builders prepare and fit large stone blocks so that they were horizontal, orthogonal and flattened to within one hundredth of an inch? The author's experiments suggest that the surfaces were prepared using basic instruments made of rods and string, while to move the blocks the immutable laws of friction were mitigated by lubricating with mud and gypsum.
After more than a decade after its demolition, the December 1992 destruction of the sixteenth century mosque in Ayodhya remains a powerful heritage issue. The site is considered sacred by Hindus as the birthplace of their god Rama, and the mosque's demolition caused the loss of about 2000 Indian lives in Hindu-Muslim rioting across India and led to the destruction of Hindu temples in the neighbouring countries of Pakistan and Bangladesh.