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18 August 2018

We have further evidence of upheaval and climate change around 6200BC. The world suddenly cooled leading to a period of drier summers (and presumably colder winters) across much of the northern hemisphere. Early farming communities must have been impacted, we are told, but nothing was known about how they coped with change. The conditions were very much like a short dryas episode – lasting 200+ years. Hence, scientists decided to try and find out by looking at the ruins of the city of Catalhoyuk in central Turkey. See for example www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/08/animal-fat-ancient-pottery-shards-reveal… … animal fat on pottery sherds reveals a nearly catastrophic period in human history.

Catalhuyuk was a bustling centre between 7500 and 5700BC. Early farmers grew wheat, barley,peas, and reared sheep, goats and cattle. At 6200BC the cooling climate struck (the 8.2kyr event) and must have had an effect, it was reasoned. It was found that lower precipitation rates correlated with higher ratios of heavy hydrogen isotopes. They also found that farmers shifted from cattle to goats as the latter were better able to handle drought conditions. The study concentrates on climate shift at 6200BC and does not dwell at all on the wider world and abrupt changes in global sea levels. It simply repeats the mainstream mantra that an injection of cold water into the North Atlantic caused a climate shift via the ocean circulation system overturning, an explanation that requires some confirmation (rather than repeating what everyone is saying).

At www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-08/e-rts080718.php … we have news of two articles in the Journal of Archaeological Science on the sources of ores used by the Egyptians during the Predynastic and Old Kingdom periods. They found copper ore from the eastern desert and the Sinai peninsular was most commonly sourced but they also appear to have imported copper from Anatolia (on the other side of the Mediterranean basin).

At www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-08/mpif-oas081318.php … reports on a study on the spread of Eurasian fruits via the Silk Road. This ancient highway (a series of routes compared to the spokes of a wheel) attracted merchants from far and wide but for this research they concentrated on a site in the Pamir Mountains of Uzbekistan where apples, peaches, apricots and melons were cultivated in the foothills of what they term Inner Asia. A rich assemblage of fruit and nuts were cultivated along the ancient trade routes now known as the Silk Road (one of the commodities brought from China to the outside world). This was all about the spread of novel goods by excahnge and dispersal across Eurasia – and it wasn't just silk, wine, metals, glass and dairy products from pastoral societies but agricultural novelties too (such as fruits and nuts). Chinese goods turned up in the Mediterranean – and vice versa. The ecologically rich mountain valleys of Inner Asia were also involved in spreading cultivated plants – over the last 5000 years (and not just in the medieval period). For example, modern apples have genes that have been traced back to wild apples from the Tien Shan of SE Kazakhstan and pistachio nuts originated, it is thought, in southern central Asia.

The same story is at https://phys.org/print453457714.html

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