ResearchPad - Archaeology https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Fingerprint evidence for the division of labour and learning pottery-making at Early Bronze Age Tell eá¹£-Ṣâfi/Gath, Israel]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=N5152a5b5-1b3f-41e8-b706-9ccd50f6a496

The organization of craft production has long been a marker for broader social, economic and political changes that accompanied urbanism. The identity of producers who comprised production groups, communities, or workshops is out of reach using conventional archaeological data. There has been some success using epidermal prints on artefacts to identify the age and sex of producers. However, forensic research indicates that a combination of ridge breadth and ridge density would best identify the age and sex of individuals. To this end, we combine mean ridge breadth (MRB) and mean ridge density (MRD) to distinguish the age and sex of 112 fingerprints on Early Bronze Age (EB) III pottery from the early urban neighbourhood at Tell eṣ-Ṣâfi/Gath, Israel, dating to a 100 year time span. Our analysis accounts for the shrinkage of calcareous fabrics used to make six type of vessels, applies a modified version of the Kamp et al. regression equation to the MRB for each individual print, and infers sex by correlating MRD data to appropriate modern reference populations. When the results are combined, our analyses indicate that most fingerprints were made by adult and young males and the remainder by adult and young females. Children’s prints are in evidence but only occur on handles. Multiple prints of different age and sex on the same vessels suggest they were impressed during the training of young potters. Production appears dominated by adult and young males working alone, together, and in cooperation with adult and/or young females. Vessels with prints exclusively by females of any age are rare. This male dominant cooperative labour pattern contrasts recent studies showing that adult women primarily made Neolithic figurines in Anatolia, and more females than males were making pottery prior to the rise of city-states in northern Mesopotamia.

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<![CDATA[Emergence of a Neolithic in highland New Guinea by 5000 to 4000 years ago]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=N290f2c28-085e-4ee4-9ea5-22c54f73851a

Shift in human settlement patterns and technologies in New Guinea highlands is linked with changing food production strategies.

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<![CDATA[A mass sacrifice of children and camelids at the Huanchaquito-Las Llamas site, Moche Valley, Peru]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5c897756d5eed0c4847d2a4c

Here we report the results of excavation and interdisciplinary study of the largest child and camelid sacrifice known from the New World. Stratigraphy, associated artifacts, and radiocarbon dating indicate that it was a single mass killing of more than 140 children and over 200 camelids directed by the Chimú state, c. AD 1450. Preliminary DNA analysis indicates that both boys and girls were chosen for sacrifice. Variability in forms of cranial modification (head shaping) and stable isotope analysis of carbon and nitrogen suggest that the children were a heterogeneous sample drawn from multiple regions and ethnic groups throughout the Chimú state. The Huanchaquito-Las Llamas mass sacrifice opens a new window on a previously unknown sacrificial ritual from fifteenth century northern coastal Peru. While the motivation for such a massive sacrifice is a subject for further research, there is archaeological evidence that it was associated with a climatic event (heavy rainfall and flooding) that could have impacted the economic, political and ideological stability of one of the most powerful states in the New World during the fifteenth century A.D.

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<![CDATA[Population dynamics and socio-spatial organization of the Aurignacian: Scalable quantitative demographic data for western and central Europe]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5c6dc991d5eed0c484529e40

Demographic estimates are presented for the Aurignacian techno-complex (~42,000 to 33,000 y calBP) and discussed in the context of socio-spatial organization of hunter-gatherer populations. Results of the analytical approach applied estimate a mean of 1,500 persons (upper limit: 3,300; lower limit: 800) for western and central Europe. The temporal and spatial analysis indicates an increase of the population during the Aurignacian as well as marked regional differences in population size and density. Demographic increase and patterns of socio-spatial organization continue during the subsequent early Gravettian period. We introduce the concept of Core Areas and Extended Areas as informed analytical spatial scales, which are evaluated against additional chronological and archaeological data. Lithic raw material transport and personal ornaments serve as correlates for human mobility and connectedness in the interpretative framework of this study. Observed regional differences are set in relation with the new demographic data. Our large-scale approach on Aurignacian population dynamics in Europe suggests that past socio-spatial organization followed socially inherent rules to establish and maintain a functioning social network of extremely low population densities. The data suggest that the network was fully established across Europe during the early phase of the Gravettian, when demographic as well as cultural developments peaked.

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<![CDATA[Identifying species threatened with local extinction in tropical reef fisheries using historical reconstruction of species occurrence]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5c6dca12d5eed0c48452a736

Identifying the species that are at risk of local extinction in highly diverse ecosystems is a big challenge for conservation science. Assessments of species status are costly and difficult to implement in developing countries with diverse ecosystems due to a lack of species-specific surveys, species-specific data, and other resources. Numerous techniques are devised to determine the threat status of species based on the availability of data and budgetary limits. On this basis, we developed a framework that compared occurrence data of historically exploited reef species in Kenya from existing disparate data sources. Occurrence data from archaeological remains (750-1500CE) was compared with occurrence data of these species catch assessments, and underwater surveys (1991-2014CE). This comparison indicated that only 67 species were exploited over a 750 year period, 750-1500CE, whereas 185 species were landed between 1995 and 2014CE. The first step of our framework identified 23 reef species as threatened with local extinction. The second step of the framework further evaluated the possibility of local extinction with Bayesian extinction analyses using occurrence data from naturalists’ species list with the existing occurrence data sources. The Bayesian extinction analysis reduced the number of reef species threatened with local extinction from 23 to 15. We compared our findings with three methods used for assessing extinction risk. Commonly used extinction risk methods varied in their ability to identify reef species that we identified as threatened with local extinction by our comparative and Bayesian method. For example, 12 of the 15 threatened species that we identified using our framework were listed as either least concern, unevaluated, or data deficient in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature red list. Piscivores and macro-invertivores were the only functional groups found to be locally extinct. Comparing occurrence data from disparate sources revealed a large number of historically exploited reef species that are possibly locally extinct. Our framework addressed biases such as uncertainty in priors, sightings and survey effort, when estimating the probability of local extinction. Our inexpensive method showed the value and potential for disparate data to fill knowledge gaps that exist in species extinction assessments.

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<![CDATA[Rectifying long-standing misconceptions about the ρ statistic for molecular dating]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5c75ac76d5eed0c484d08825

When divided by a given mutation rate, the ρ (rho) statistic provides a simple estimator of the age of a clade within a phylogenetic tree by averaging the number of mutations from each sample in the clade to its root. However, a long-standing critique of the use of ρ in genetic dating has been quite often cited. Here we show that the critique is unfounded. We demonstrate by a formal mathematical argument and illustrate with a simulation study that ρ estimates are unbiased and also that ρ and maximum likelihood estimates do not differ in any systematic fashion. We also demonstrate that the claim that the associated confidence intervals commonly estimate the uncertainty inappropriately is flawed since it relies on a means of calculating standard errors that is not used by any other researchers, whereas an established expression for the standard error is largely unproblematic. We conclude that ρ dating, alongside approaches such as maximum likelihood (ML) and Bayesian inference, remains a useful tool for genetic dating.

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<![CDATA[Large-scale micron-order 3D surface correlative chemical imaging of ancient Roman concrete]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5c648d0ed5eed0c484c81e67

There has been significant progress in recent years aimed at the development of new analytical techniques for investigating structure-function relationships in hierarchically ordered materials. Inspired by these technological advances and the potential for applying these approaches to the study of construction materials from antiquity, we present a new set of high throughput characterization tools for investigating ancient Roman concrete, which like many ancient construction materials, exhibits compositional heterogeneity and structural complexity across multiple length scales. The detailed characterization of ancient Roman concrete at each of these scales is important for understanding its mechanics, resilience, degradation pathways, and for making informed decisions regarding its preservation. In this multi-scale characterization investigation of ancient Roman concrete samples collected from the ancient city of Privernum (Priverno, Italy), cm-scale maps with micron-scale features were collected using multi-detector energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) and confocal Raman microscopy on both polished cross-sections and topographically complex fracture surfaces to extract both bulk and surface information. Raman spectroscopy was used for chemical profiling and phase characterization, and data collected using EDS was used to construct ternary diagrams to supplement our understanding of the different phases. We also present a methodology for correlating data collected using different techniques on the same sample at different orientations, which shows remarkable potential in using complementary characterization approaches in the study of heterogeneous materials with complex surface topographies.

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<![CDATA[Medieval mummies of Zeleny Yar burial ground in the Arctic Zone of Western Siberia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5c79afdad5eed0c4841e3874

Notwithstanding the pioneering achievements of studies on arctic mummies in Siberia, there are insufficient data for any comprehensive understanding of the bio-cultural details of medieval people living in the region. In the Western Siberian arctic, permafrost mummies have been found in 12th to 13th century graves located in the Zeleny Yar (Z-Y) burial ground (66°19'4.54"С; 67°21'13.54"В). In 2013–2016, we were fortunate to be able to excavate that cemetery, locating a total of 47 burials, including cases of mummification. Some of these mummies had been wrapped in a multi-layered birch-bark cocoon. After removal of the cocoon, we conducted interdisciplinary studies using various scientific techniques. Gross anatomical examination and CT radiography showed that the internal organs were still well preserved inside the body cavities. Under light and electron microscopy, the histological findings were very similar to those for naturally mummified specimens discovered in other countries. Ancient DNA analysis showed that the Z-Y mummies’ mtDNA haplotypes belong to five different haplogroups, namely U5a (#34), H3ao (#53), D (#67–1), U4b1b1 (#67–2), and D4j8 (#68), which distinguish them for their unique combination of Western- and Eastern Siberia-specific mtDNA haplogroups. Our interdisciplinary study obtained fundamental information that will form the foundation of successful future investigations on medieval mummies found in the Western Siberian arctic.

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<![CDATA[Towards a new osteometric method for sexing ancient cremated human remains. Analysis of Late Bronze Age and Iron Age samples from Italy with gendered grave goods]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5c5b5248d5eed0c4842bc5ec

Sex estimation of human remains is one of the most important research steps for physical anthropologists and archaeologists dealing with funerary contexts and trying to reconstruct the demographic structure of ancient societies. However, it is well known that in the case of cremations sex assessment might be complicated by the destructive/transformative effect of the fire on bones. Osteometric standards built on unburned human remains and contemporary cremated series are often inadequate for the analysis of ancient cremations, and frequently result in a significant number of misclassifications. This work is an attempt to overcome the scarcity of methods that could be applied to pre-proto-historic Italy and serve as methodological comparison for other European contexts. A set of 24 anatomical traits were measured on 124 Bronze Age and Iron Age cremated individuals with clearly engendered grave goods. Assuming gender largely correlated to sex, male and female distributions of each individual trait measured were compared to evaluate sexual dimorphism through inferential statistics and Chaktaborty and Majumder’s index. The discriminatory power of each variable was evaluated by cross-validation tests. Eight variables yielded an accuracy equal to or greater than 80%. Four of these variables also show a similar degree of precision for both sexes. The most diagnostic measurements are from radius, patella, mandible, talus, femur, first metatarsal, lunate and humerus. Overall, the degree of sexual dimorphism and the reliability of estimates obtained from our series are similar to those of a modern cremated sample recorded by Gonçalves and collaborators. Nevertheless, mean values of the male and female distributions in our case study are lower, and the application of the cut-off point calculated from the modern sample to our ancient individuals produces a considerable number of misclassifications. This result confirms the need to build population-specific methods for sexing the cremated remains of ancient individuals.

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<![CDATA[Genetic and phenotypic diversity in 2000 years old maize (Zea mays L.) samples from the Tarapacá region, Atacama Desert, Chile]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5c5b52eed5eed0c4842bd2a7

The evolution of maize (Zea mays L.) is highly controversial given the discrepancies related to the phenotypic and genetic changes suffered by the species, the incidence of human groups and the times in which these changes occurred. Also, morphological and genetic traits of crops are difficult to evaluate in the absence of fossils macro-botanical remains. In contrast in the Tarapacá region (18–21° S), Atacama Desert of Chile, prehispanic settlements (ca. 2500–400 yr BP) displayed extensive maize agriculture. The presence of archaeological macro-botanical remains of maize provided a unique opportunity to study the evolution of this crop, covering a temporal sequence of at least 2000 years. Thus, in this study, we ask how the morphological and genetic diversity of maize has varied since its introduction during prehispanic times in the Tarapacá region. To answer this, we measured and compared morphological traits of size and shape between archaeological cobs and kernels and 95 ears from landraces. To established genetic diversity eight microsatellite markers (SSR) were analyzed in archaeological and modern kernels. Genetic diversity was estimated by allelic frequency rates, the average number of alleles per locus, observed heterozygosity (Ho) and expected heterozygosity (He). Differences between populations and genetic structure were estimated by fixation index FST and STRUCTURE analysis. Our results indicate significant phenotypic differences and genetic distance between archaeological maize and landraces. This result is suggestive of an introduction of new varieties or drastic selective changes in modern times in Tarapacá. Additionally, archaeological maize shows a low genetic diversity and a progressive increase in the size of ears and kernels. These results suggest a human selection during prehispanic times and establish that prehispanic farmers played an important role in maize development. They also provide new clues for understanding the evolutionary history of maize in hyperarid conditions.

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<![CDATA[Tree rings as a proxy for seasonal precipitation variability and Early Neolithic settlement dynamics in Bavaria, Germany]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5c5b52ecd5eed0c4842bd293

Studying the dynamic of Neolithic settlement on a local scale and its connection to climate variability is often difficult due to missing on-site climate reconstructions from natural archives. Here we bring together archaeological settlement data and a regional climate reconstruction from precipitation-sensitive trees. Both archives hold information about regional settlement dynamics and hydroclimate variability spanning the time of the first farming communities, the so called Linearbandkeramik (LBK) in Bavaria, Germany. Precipitation-sensitive tree-ring series from subfossil oak are used to develop a spring-summer precipitation reconstruction (5700–4800 B.C.E.) representative for southern Germany. Early Neolithic settlement data from Bavaria, mainly for the duration of the LBK settlement activities, are critically evaluated and compared to this unique regional hydroclimate reconstruction as well as to reconstructions of Greenland temperature, summer sea surface temperature, delta 18O and global solar irradiance to investigate the potential impact of climate on Neolithic settlers and their settlement dynamic during the LBK. Our hydroclimate reconstruction demonstrates an extraordinarily high frequency of severe dry and wet spring-summer seasons during the entire LBK, with particularly high year-to-year variability from 5400 to 5101 B.C.E. and with lower fluctuations until 4801 B.C.E. A significant influence of regional climate on the dynamic of the LBK is possible (e.g. around 4960 B.C.E.), but should be interpreted very carefully due to asynchronous trends in settlement dynamics. Thus, we conclude that even when a climate proxy such as tree rings that has excellent spatio-temporal resolution is available, it remains difficult to establish potential connections between the settlement dynamic of the LBK and climate variability.

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<![CDATA[Age structure of the Australian lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5c52180fd5eed0c484796f65

The Australian lungfish has been studied for more than a century without any knowledge of the longevity of the species. Traditional methods for ageing fish, such as analysis of otolith (ear stone) rings is complicated in that lungfish otoliths differ from teleost fish in composition. As otolith sampling is also lethal, this is not appropriate for a protected species listed under Australian legislation. Lungfish scales were removed from 500 fish from the Brisbane, Burnett and Mary rivers. A sub–sample of scales (85) were aged using bomb radiocarbon techniques and validated using scales marked previously with oxytetracycline. Lungfish ages ranged from 2.5–77 years of age. Estimated population age structures derived using an Age Length Key revealed different recruitment patterns between river systems. There were statistically significant von Bertalanffy growth model parameters estimated for each of the three rivers based on limited sample sizes. In addition, length frequency distributions between river systems were also significantly different. Further studies will be conducted to review drivers that may explain these inter-river differences.

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<![CDATA[Rapa Nui (Easter Island) monument (ahu) locations explained by freshwater sources]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5c40f7d9d5eed0c484386ad7

Explaining the processes underlying the emergence of monument construction is a major theme in contemporary anthropological archaeology, and recent studies have employed spatially-explicit modeling to explain these patterns. Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile) is famous for its elaborate ritual architecture, particularly numerous monumental platforms (ahu) and statuary (moai). To date, however, we lack explicit modeling to explain spatial and temporal aspects of monument construction. Here, we use spatially-explicit point-process modeling to explore the potential relations between ahu construction locations and subsistence resources, namely, rock mulch agricultural gardens, marine resources, and freshwater sources—the three most critical resources on Rapa Nui. Through these analyses, we demonstrate the central importance of coastal freshwater seeps for precontact populations. Our results suggest that ahu locations are most parsimoniously explained by distance from freshwater sources, in particular coastal seeps, with important implications for community formation and inter-community competition in precontact times.

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<![CDATA[Bioarchaeological evidence of decapitation from Pacopampa in the northern Peruvian highlands]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5c3e4f32d5eed0c484d72cf7

Little is known about the precise date of the emergence of decapitation in a ritual context and the presence of systematic postmortem modification patterns in the ancient Central Andes. The ceremonial complex at Pacopampa in the northern Peruvian highlands provides early osteological evidence of decapitation in six individuals dating to the latter half of the Late–Final Formative Periods (500–50 BC) and to the Early Cajamarca Period (AD 200–450). Based on osteological evidence, and when taken together with archaeological settings and settlement patterns, researchers can be certain that those whose heads were disembodied were not likely to have been involved in organized battles. In addition, the similarities in the cut-mark distribution, direction, and cross-sectional morphology of each individual's remains, as well as the characteristics of selected individuals, imply that the decapitated individuals were carefully prepared using a standardized method and that those who modified the heads may have been professional decapitators. This study offers indisputable bioarchaeological evidence of ritualistic offerings of human skulls and systematic postmortem modification patterns, which is consistent with a contemporaneous iconographic motif of decapitation and extends the chronology of this practice back to the Formative Period in the northern Peruvian highlands.

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<![CDATA[Dorset Pre-Inuit and Beothuk foodways in Newfoundland, ca. AD 500-1829]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5c3d0114d5eed0c4840381ce

Archaeological research on the Canadian island of Newfoundland increasingly demonstrates that the island’s subarctic climate and paucity of terrestrial food resources did not restrict past Pre-Inuit (Dorset) and Native American (Beothuk) hunter-gatherer populations to a single subsistence pattern. This study first sought to characterize hunter-gatherer diets over the past 1500 years; and second, to assess the impact of European colonization on Beothuk lifeways by comparing the bone chemistry of Beothuk skeletal remains before and after the intensification of European settlement in the early 18th century. We employed radiocarbon dating and stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratio analysis of bulk bone collagen from both Dorset (n = 9) and Beothuk (n = 13) cultures, including a naturally mummified 17th century Beothuk individual. Carbon and nitrogen isotope analysis of 108 faunal samples from Dorset and Beothuk archaeological sites around the island were used as a dietary baseline for the humans. We combined our results with previously published isotope data and radiocarbon dates from Dorset (n = 12) and Beothuk (n = 18) individuals and conducted a palaeodietary analysis using Bayesian modelling, cluster analysis and comparative statistical tests. Dorset diets featured more marine protein than those of the Beothuk, and the diets of Beothuk after the 18th century featured less high trophic level marine protein than those of individuals predating the 18th century. Despite inhabiting the same island, Dorset and Beothuk cultures employed markedly different dietary strategies, consistent with interpretations of other archaeological data. Significantly, European colonization had a profound effect on Beothuk lifeways, as in response to the increasing European presence on the coast, the Beothuk relied more extensively on the limited resources of the island’s boreal forests and rivers.

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<![CDATA[Flows of people in villages and large centres in Bronze Age Italy through strontium and oxygen isotopes]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5c3fa5e7d5eed0c484ca9ecb

This study investigates to what extent Bronze Age societies in Northern Italy were permeable accepting and integrating non-local individuals, as well as importing a wide range of raw materials, commodities, and ideas from networks spanning continental Europe and the Mediterranean.

During the second millennium BC, the communities of Northern Italy engaged in a progressive stabilization of settlements, culminating in the large polities of the end of the Middle/beginning of the Late Bronze Age pivoted around large defended centres (the Terramare). Although a wide range of exotic archaeological materials indicates that the inhabitants of the Po plain increasingly took part in the networks of Continental European and the Eastern Mediterranean, we should not overlook the fact that the dynamics of interaction were also extremely active on local and regional levels.

Mobility patterns have been explored for three key-sites, spanning the Early to Late Bronze Age (1900–1100 BC), namely Sant’Eurosia, Casinalbo and Fondo Paviani, through strontium and oxygen isotope analysis on a large sample size (more than 100 individuals). The results, integrated with osteological and archaeological data, document for the first time in this area that movements of people occurred mostly within a territorial radius of 50 km, but also that larger nodes in the settlement system (such as Fondo Paviani) included individuals from more distant areas. This suggests that, from a demographic perspective, the process towards a more complex socio-political system in Bronze Age Northern Italy was triggered by a largely, but not completely, internal process, stemming from the dynamics of intra-polity networks and local/regional power relationships.

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<![CDATA[An analysis of network brokerage and geographic location in fifteenth-century AD Northern Iroquoia]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5c3fa5dcd5eed0c484ca96cc

Iroquoian villagers living in present-day Jefferson County, New York, at the headwaters of the St. Lawrence River and the east shore of Lake Ontario, played important roles in regional interactions during the fifteenth century AD, as brokers linking populations on the north shore of Lake Ontario with populations in eastern New York. This study employs a social network analysis and least cost path analysis to assess the degree to which geographical location may have facilitated the brokerage positions of site clusters within pan-Iroquoian social networks. The results indicate that location was a significant factor in determining brokerage. In the sixteenth century AD, when Jefferson County was abandoned, measurable increases in social distance between other Iroquoian populations obtained. These results add to our understandings of the dynamic social landscape of fifteenth and sixteenth century AD northern Iroquoia, complementing recent analyses elsewhere of the roles played in regional interaction networks by populations located along geopolitical frontiers.

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<![CDATA[Tracing long-term demographic changes: The issue of spatial scales]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5c3667edd5eed0c4841a6986

This paper deals with the analysis of long-term changes in population densities at the regional and macro-regional scale and in the density of metapopulations. The following issues concerning estimations are addressed: chronological resolution of demographic changes, estimation of the weight of values for population density in order to transform the initial values included in the sample into the values that may be compared with each other at the regional scale, calibration of the transformed values into real population densities, and the estimation of the weight of values for population density at the scales of macro-regions and for the density of metapopulations. The proposed methods are tested on demographic changes in Central Europe, Southern Scandinavia, Southeastern Europe, and the Near East. The obtained results represent major trends in demographic development, while the proposed methodology could also be applied in other wide-scale demographic analyses.

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<![CDATA[Leprosy at the edge of Europe—Biomolecular, isotopic and osteoarchaeological findings from medieval Ireland]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5c2d2e50d5eed0c484d9931e

Relatively little is known of leprosy in Medieval Ireland; as an island located at the far west of Europe it has the potential to provide interesting insights in relation to the historical epidemiology of the disease. To this end the study focuses on five cases of probable leprosy identified in human skeletal remains excavated from inhumation burials. Three of the individuals derived from the cemetery of St Michael Le Pole, Golden Lane, Dublin, while single examples were also identified from Ardreigh, Co. Kildare, and St Patrick’s Church, Armoy, Co. Antrim. The individuals were radiocarbon dated and examined biomolecularly for evidence of either of the causative pathogens, M. leprae or M. lepromatosis. Oxygen and strontium isotopes were measured in tooth enamel and rib samples to determine where the individuals had spent their formative years and to ascertain if they had undertaken any recent migrations. We detected M. leprae DNA in the three Golden Lane cases but not in the probable cases from either Ardreigh Co. Kildare or Armoy, Co. Antrim. M. lepromatosis was not detected in any of the burals. DNA preservation was sufficiently robust to allow genotyping of M. leprae strains in two of the Golden Lane burials, SkCXCV (12-13th century) and SkCCXXX (11-13th century). These strains were found to belong on different lineages of the M. leprae phylogenetic tree, namely branches 3 and 2 respectively. Whole genome sequencing was also attempted on these two isolates with a view to gaining further information but poor genome coverage precluded phylogenetic analysis. Data from the biomolecular study was combined with osteological, isotopic and radiocarbon dating to provide a comprehensive and multidisciplinary study of the Irish cases. Strontium and oxygen isotopic analysis indicate that two of the individuals from Golden Lane (SkCXLVIII (10-11th century) and SkCXCV) were of Scandinavian origin, while SkCCXXX may have spent his childhood in the north of Ireland or central Britain. We propose that the Vikings were responsible for introducing leprosy to Ireland. This work adds to our knowledge of the likely origins of leprosy in Medieval Ireland and will hopefully stimulate further research into the history and spread of this ancient disease across the world.

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<![CDATA[Spatial constraints on the diffusion of religious innovations: The case of early Christianity in the Roman Empire]]> https://www.researchpad.co/product?articleinfo=5c2d2eabd5eed0c484d9b009

Christianity emerged as a small and marginal movement in the first century Palestine and throughout the following three centuries it became highly visible in the whole Mediterranean. Little is known about the mechanisms of spreading innovative ideas in past societies. Here we investigate how well the spread of Christianity can be explained as a diffusive process constrained by physical travel in the Roman Empire. First, we combine a previously established model of the transportation network with city population estimates and evaluate to which extent the spatio-temporal pattern of the spread of Christianity can be explained by static factors. Second, we apply a network-theoretical approach to analyze the spreading process utilizing effective distance. We show that the spread of Christianity in the first two centuries closely follows a gravity-guided diffusion, and is substantially accelerated in the third century. Using the effective distance measure, we are able to suggest the probable path of the spread. Our work demonstrates how the spatio-temporal patterns we observe in the data can be explained using only spatial constraints and urbanization structure of the empire. Our findings also provide a methodological framework to be reused for studying other cultural spreading phenomena.

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