Category Archives: Jordan

20,000 years’ old huts from Jordan

The huts are not just the oldest prehistorical finding known in Jordan but also emphasize how the almost perpetual wandering often associated with hunter-gatherer cultures may not be correct in at least some cases. After all these huts were apparently used as long term residences, what means sedentarism of some sort.

Lisa A. Maher et al., Twenty Thousand-Year-Old Huts at a Hunter-Gatherer Settlement in Eastern Jordan. PLoS ONE 2012. Open access.

We argue here that Kharaneh IV’s size, density, and the presence of structures in both Early and Middle Epipalaeolithic occupations, illustrates that the site was occupied over multiple seasons and sometimes involved the repeated gathering of considerable numbers of people, perhaps as part of customary economic or social events [23], [25]. The Kharaneh IV dwellings therefore shed important insights into occupation of the Azraq Basin and contribute greatly to our bigger picture understanding of Late Pleistocene settlement patterns, the onset of sedentism, and the origins of architecture in southwest Asia.

Figure 5. The structures at Kharaneh IV.
Although the area of Kharaneh IV, near Azraq, is nowadays barren, it was a lush place in the Ice Age.

Echoes from the past (Sep 1)

Franchthi cave

Most are very interesting news that may deserve their own entries but I do not feel like writing so much right now:

Neanderthal cave in Jersey used almost continuously for 250,000 years, late extinction ··> BBC.

Mariners already reached the island of Melos in Greece as early as c. 15,000 years ago, providing obsidian to Franchthi cave and other parts of the mainland, new chronometric method finds. At that time some of the Cyclades were joined in a single island but were not part of the mainland in any case ··> PhysOrg.

Intriguing communal structure with water trough, mortar holes, etc. in PPNA of Wadi Faynan, Jordan, indicates some social centralization ··> Neolítico Ibérico[es], Mithen et al 2010 (PDF).

Wadi Faynan 075

Chalcolithic “goddess” idol found in Estepona (Málaga, Andalusia). This kind of “violin” figurines are typical specially of the Almerian culture (coalescing into Los Millares civilization) but are rarer elsewhere ··> Pileta de Prehistoria[es].

Venus of Estepona

Bronze Age Scottish mummy made up of parts ··> BBC.

Argentinean maternal lineages are Native American very often. A new open access study reveals that 41-70% of maternal lineages, depending on region, are Native American. However these may be in many cases from other origins than Argentina itself. This figure is different from the overall Native ancestry which is more in the 20% zone (other research).

··> Laura Catelli et al. The impact of modern migrations on present-day multi-ethnic Argentina as recorded on the mitochondrial DNA genome. BMC Genetics, 2011. Open access.

Above, fig. 1. Legend:

Frequency patterns of the main hgs in Argentina in the admixed groups (A) versus the Native American communities (B). NA: Native American component; Eu: European component; Af: sub-Saharan African component.

Red dots indicate sampled locations as undertaken in other studies from the literature; blue dots indicate the sampled locations in the present study.

Bacterian genome reveals what is essential to life. Only 12 of the genome is essential, at least in C. crescentus. Among these genes, there are 91 segments whose functions are totally unknown so far ··> Science Daily.


Many interesting short news

Partly because of the arrival of the Archaeo News bulletin but also because of mere randomness, it seems to me, a lot of more or less interesting news items are accumulating. In most cases I lack the information to deal with them in any greater depth but are still interesting to read about:


Study suggests that the populations leading to modern Africans and Non-Africans did keep mixing for some 40,000 years before a Non-Africans suffered a severe bottleneck and became truly separated. This period of early divergence with interaction could have begun c. 120,000 or 100,000 years ago and would have ended c. 80-60 Ka ago. It could add support to the idea that Toba explosion caused a bottleneck. I’d like to write more about this but I have no access to the paper. -> Science Daily, -> Nature (PPV).

Inheritable epigenetics confirmed: may explain how living beings of all sorts adapt to changing conditions without need to alter their genetic backbone (DNA). -> Science Daily.

Human evolution

Chimpanzee brains do not shrink with age. Unlike humans, chimpanzee do not suffer the array of symptoms we loosely call senility, this may be therefore a hidden cost of having such large brains and living for so long. -> Science News.


Heacham burial

Magdalenian Age erotic art found in Bavaria (Germany). The unusual rock art was found near Bamberg and are believed to be c. 12,000 years old. It seems that the natural shapes in thecave may have inspired the ancient artists. -> (no images provided).
Epipaleolithic open air cemetery found in Somerset (England). It is dated to c. 10,000 years ago. -> BBC.
England: Sheffield 6000 BCE: people lived continuously at nearby Whirlow Hall Farm since the Epipaleolithic and into the Iron Age. -> The Star
5000 years-old skeleton unearthed in Aosta Valley (Italy). The woman has been nicknamed Lady of Introd and was more or less contemporary of Ötzi the iceman, found frozen in Tyrol years ago. -> Archaeo News.

Tall el-Hammam pottery
And more England findings: burial of two women with amber beads found in Yorkshire, near Heacham, and dated to c. 2500 BCE (late Neolithic by British chronology, Chalcolithic by pan-European standards). -> EDP24.
Egyptian Old Kingdom may have succumbed to drought, suggests geological survey at Lake Tana (Ethiopia) at the source of the Blue Nile (the main contributor to the Nile in volume and the responsible of seasonal floods). -> PhysOrg.
Bronze and Iron Age city unearthed in Jordan, NE of the Dead Sea (near modern Kafrein, just across the Jordan river from Jerico). -> Tall el-Hammam (dig site), -> Popular Archaeology.