The Ghost of the Sea

Max Planck (1858-1947) was a trailblazer of quantum theory, that confusing branch of physics which describes the inherent unpredictability of the very small. It’s kind of appropriate, then, that researchers at his namesake foundations – two of the Max Planck Institutes in Germany – are shedding uncertainty in the tiny world of molecular archaeology. It’s…

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Fashionably early?

After a long pause, the blog is back – and it’s a blog of surprises. These particular surprises reached my attention through both British Archaeology magazine and the online news pages of Science. For those of you lucky enough to have full-blown access to Science, the reference is this: Smith, O., Momber, G. et al.…

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Domesticated Bliss

Happy February, readers! I hope you’re not too wet. Now, I was lucky enough to receive as a Christmas present this excellent volume: Cunliffe, B. (2012). Britain Begins (Oxford University Press; Oxford). The prolific and erudite knight Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe probably needs no introduction for the readership of this blog but, for the curious,…

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The Mists of Time

The writing of this post was only ever a matter timing – a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’. Once I’d started an occasional series of blog posts about the origins of agriculture, I knew I’d have to write one (or several) about the very beginnings, the true origins – the first farming in the history…

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When is an agricultural strategy not an agricultural strategy?

The answer: when it’s a socio-cultural strategy. OK, bear with me. Cast your mind back to a previous post about Neolithic farming in Britain.  As you may recall, archaeobotanists Stevens & Fuller have recently argued that crop husbandry had something of an abortive start in Britain: fading out around the Middle Neolithic and only returning…

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Britain goes nutty

A relative of mine has recently asked me how agriculture came about in the first place. It’s a fair enough question. We’re all so familiar with the concept of farming, that it’s hardly obvious how our distant ancestors moved from hunting and gathering to tilling the hateful earth. Indeed, I don’t (yet) have an answer…

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