Dating Pottery

10 Apr 2020

At ... a revolutionary new method for dating pottery has been developed at the University of Bristol. Of course, pottery has always been a useful tool as pottery styles vary from one period to the next. However, not always as not all pottery is distinctive. Archaeologists relied on C14 instead - particularly when it comes to older periods such as the Neolithic. The new method is a re-application of C14 as it involves using fat compounds from food residue in pottery. The new method has been used on a trove of 436 pottery fragments found at Shoreditch in London (during construction work). It was Neolithic, that much was known, but the new method came up with a date of 3600BC.

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At ... Amazonia displays evidence of crops domesticated as early as 10,000 years ago - the very early Holocene. This is comparable to crop domestication in the Fertile Crescent - just as the earth migrated out of the cool Younger Dryas period. Potatoes and quinoa evolved in the Andes and maize, beans and squash in Mexico. In the Llanos de Moxos the preferred crops were manioc, sweet potatoes and chilli peppers etc. It was not farming as such but gardens in clearances. Not only that, it is thought the crops were brought into the area from elsewhere - suggesting such cache cropping systems evolved even further into the past. The Llanos de Maxos is a savannah environment which is dotted with small forested areas. It is the latter that were investigated by scientists. Some of them, in particulr circular areas of forest, were chosen for exploration, and they came across earthworks of various kind from raised field systems to mounds and irrigaton canals. The Llanos is in Bolivia.

At ... societal transformations and resilience in Arabia across 12,000 years of climate change. At the beginning of the Holocene Arabia was well watered with lakes and vegetation - and plenty of wild game. It supported humans settlements right across the peninsular. Pastoral societies seem to dominate northern Arabia and after the domestication of sheep they went on to provide Sumerian and Babylonian temples with animals of sacrifice (and sustenance). However, there were periodic droughts - particularly at 8200-8000 years ago (the 6200BC event) and later, between 7500-7200 years ago and 6500-6300 years ago (coinciding with significant phases of site destruction and termination of cultures in various other parts of the world). After 5000 years ago the droughts became a permanent fixture - just as it did in the Sahara.