This week we all get to learn a new word, the potential origins of the written word and killing at a distance. Enjoy!
- Archaeogenetics — yet another call for multi-discipline research? Yes, and the latest issue of Current Biology has a load of free (yes, free) papers on archaeogenetics. I haven’t had chance to read all of them, but it’s certainly worth checking out these two: Archaeogenetics — towards a ‘New Synthesis’? and The Genetics of Human Adaptation: Hard Sweeps, Soft Sweeps, and Polygenic Adaptation.
- New Scientist discusses research into the discovery of primitive writing systems from 35,000 years ago. Obviously, this has massive implications for those of us who thought the seeds of writing were only starting to emerge approximately 5000-years-ago. The key paragraph: “What emerged was startling: 26 signs, all drawn in the same style, appeared again and again at numerous sites (see illustration). Admittedly, some of the symbols are pretty basic, like straight lines, circles and triangles, but the fact that many of the more complex designs also appeared in several places hinted to von Petzinger and Nowell that they were meaningful – perhaps even the seeds of written communication.” They’ve also got some pretty pictures.
- If you’re looking for good news regarding the economy, then don’t go over to Washington’s Blog. He has a short post on Alan Greenspan’s assertion that we’re in the worst financial crisis ever.
- I’ve been reading a lot of articles over at the brilliant blog, Emergent Fool. Of particular interest are posts relating to my recent article on cumulative culture and coordinated behaviour: Rafe Furst discusses three types of cooperation, cultural agency and complex systems concept summary. Meanwhile, Plektix writes about how human cultural transformation was triggered by dense populations.
- Emergent Fool also led me to an in-depth essay by Professor Yaneer Bar-Yam on emergence and complexity: complexity rising: from human beings to human civilization, a complexity profile.
- Lastly, American Scientist has a podcast on the evolution of the human capacity for killing at a distance. Here’s the summary: “Duke University anthropologist Steven Churchill presents his research on the evolutionary origins of projectile weaponry, and how weapon use changed interactions between humans and other species—including, perhaps, the Neandertals.”