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Clams and African iron smelting

13 February 2012

At www.physorg.com/print248086305.html … clams have been found at hydro-thermal vents in the deep ocean – in the Mariana Trench. This is located in the western Pacific, east of the Mariana Islands and the trench is around 1580 miles in length – a sort of underwater Rift Valley and created, it is thought, by one plate moving beneath another (paper published in PNAS, Feb 9th 2012).

At www.physorg.com/print248075212.html there is an abstract from a paper in Science that showed a major vegetation change in central Africa, when the rainforest retreated to an extent and was overtaken by savannah. The consensus view is that climate change was to blame but in this paper humans are specifically seen as the culprits. The spread of Bantu farmers from Nigeria and Cameroon across the top of the Congo basin, has it seems been plotted somewhat earlier than other studies and is now said to have begun around 3000 years ago (coinciding with the change in environment). The authors appear completely oblivious, from the abstract, to what was going on in the rest of the world at the same time – the end of the Bronze Age in the Near East and the Mediterranean basin. This was accompanied by widespread site destructions at plate boundaries, and regions prone to seismicity. As such, the situation may have set migration in motion – but was iron smelting really going on in central Africa before anywhere else? It seems more likely that central Africa was caught up in the 1150AD event (which may have taken place somewhat closer to 1000AD if the C14 anomaly at Nineveh is taken into account), with the savannah environment a result of possibly wildfires (or the 'flame' described by Ramses III). Therefore, the migrating farmers would have spread somewhat later, taking advantage of the savannah, within the Iron Age (from 800BC perhaps). It seems that human activity is again the scapegoat when once again there is no evidence for the prognosis. Australian Aborigines are repeatedly blamed for wildfires in the ancient environment when it is just as likely that events in the natural world were to blame – and the same goes for the disappearance of tropical rainforest at one point in the past (in this study).

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