Insight
is our reward

Publications in Historical Studies by NOMIS researchers

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

January 10, 2024

Western Eurasia witnessed several large-scale human migrations during the Holocene. Here, to investigate the cross-continental effects of these migrations, we shotgun-sequenced 317 genomes—mainly from the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods—from across northern and western Eurasia. These were imputed alongside published data to obtain diploid genotypes from more than 1,600 ancient humans. Our analyses revealed a ‘great divide’ genomic boundary extending from the Black Sea to the Baltic. Mesolithic hunter-gatherers were highly genetically differentiated east and west of this zone, and the effect of the neolithization was equally disparate. Large-scale ancestry shifts occurred in the west as farming was introduced, including near-total replacement of hunter-gatherers in many areas, whereas no substantial ancestry shifts happened east of the zone during the same period. Similarly, relatedness decreased in the west from the Neolithic transition onwards, whereas, east of the Urals, relatedness remained high until around 4,000 BP, consistent with the persistence of localized groups of hunter-gatherers. The boundary dissolved when Yamnaya-related ancestry spread across western Eurasia around 5,000 BP, resulting in a second major turnover that reached most parts of Europe within a 1,000-year span. The genetic origin and fate of the Yamnaya have remained elusive, but we show that hunter-gatherers from the Middle Don region contributed ancestry to them. Yamnaya groups later admixed with individuals associated with the Globular Amphora culture before expanding into Europe. Similar turnovers occurred in western Siberia, where we report new genomic data from a ‘Neolithic steppe’ cline spanning the Siberian forest steppe to Lake Baikal. These prehistoric migrations had profound and lasting effects on the genetic diversity of Eurasian populations.

Research field(s)
Archaeology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

March 31, 2023

A review of ideas about the spread of agriculture from the Near East into Europe introduces a bioarchaeological investigation of the question. Strontium isotope analysis is used to make an important point about the transition to agriculture, rather large datasets are available from two areas where the transition to agriculture is well defined and where there are a substantial number of burials—in the Danube Gorges between Serbia and Romania and in Southern Scandinavia. This paper will discuss each area separately prior to a more general synthesis of the results. The moral of the story has to do with mobility and sedentism.

Research field(s)
Archaeology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

August 11, 2022

The Mesolithic in Eastern Europe was the last time that hunter-gatherer economies thrived there before the spread of agriculture in the second half of the seventh millennium BC. But the period, and the interactions between foragers and the first farmers, are poorly understood in the Carpathian Basin and surrounding areas because few sites are known, and even fewer have been excavated and published. How did site location differ between Mesolithic and Early Neolithic settlers? And where should we look for rare Mesolithic sites? Proximity analysis is seldom used for predictive modeling for hunter-gatherer sites at large scales, but in this paper, we argue that it can serve as an important starting point for prospection for rare and poorly understood sites. This study uses proximity analysis to provide quantitative landscape associations of known Mesolithic and Early Neolithic sites in the Carpathian Basin to show how Mesolithic people chose attributes of the landscape for camps, and how they differed from the farmers who later settled. We use elevation and slope, rivers, wetlands prior to the twentieth century, and the distribution of lithic raw materials foragers and farmers used for toolmaking to identify key proxies for preferred locations. We then build predictive models for the Mesolithic and Early Neolithic in the Pannonian region to highlight parts of the landscape that have relatively higher probabilities of having Mesolithic sites still undiscovered and contrast them with the settlement patterns of the first farmers in the area. We find that large parts of Pannonia conform to landforms preferred by Mesolithic foragers, but these areas have not been subject to investigation. © 2022, The Author(s).

Research field(s)
Arts & Humanities, Historical Studies, Archaeology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

June 26, 2022

Fifteen years ago, Jane Guyer (2007) argued that the near future had largely disappeared from collective imaginaries, replaced by longer-term horizons associated with evangelical Christianity and free market capitalism. While not seeking to repudiate Guyer, this article argues that recent developments have radically altered relationships to the future. It points to a previously unrecognized connection between two of the most significant challenges facing humanity today: the experience of living through a global pandemic and international efforts to limit the harmful consequences of climate change. Responses to both phenomena invoke the grammatical structure of the future perfect tense. During the pandemic, people began to imagine themselves living at a future moment in time when they have already resumed participating in those activities they have been prevented from undertaking, an example of the future perfect. The Paris Climate Agreement, which encourages states and other parties to take action in the present so that in the future they will already have saved the planet, also relies on the future perfect. In reaction to the pandemic and climate change, the near future has reemerged as a focal point of temporal attention. This article examines how the future appears in the present and the contribution of the future perfect tense to the creation of alternative futures. © The Author(s) 2022.

Research field(s)
Arts & Humanities, Historical Studies, Anthropology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

January 1, 2022

Anthropologists increasingly turn to design research for inspiration. Yet work in design anthropology is frequently cut off from ethnographic research. To some extent this is intentional, given concerns that ethnographic methods have failed to keep pace with a rapidly changing world. But anthropologists should not have to choose between ethnography and design research. This article examines the author’s participation in an industrial think tank in which anthropologists and engineers collaborated to address the environmental impacts of mining. This included discussion of unrecognized sources of pollution at mining sites and rising penalties for environmental damage. The members of the think tank also developed designs for new technology intended to reduce the exposure of artisanal gold miners to mercury and its release into the atmosphere, facilitate the recycling of electronic waste in developing countries, and reduce the catastrophic risks posed by tailings dams. Our collaborations point to the value of combining ethnography and design research in new ways.

Research field(s)
Arts & Humanities, Historical Studies, Anthropology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

December 1, 2021

This paper provides results from a suite of analyses made on human dental material from the Late Palaeolithic to Neolithic strata of the cave site of Grotta Continenza situated in the Fucino Basin of the Abruzzo region of central Italy. The available human remains from this site provide a unique possibility to study ways in which forager versus farmer lifeways affected human odonto-skeletal remains. The main aim of our study is to understand palaeodietary patterns and their changes over time as reflected in teeth. These analyses involve a review of metrics and oral pathologies, micro-fossils preserved in the mineralized dental plaque, macrowear, and buccal microwear. Our results suggest that these complementary approaches support the assumption about a critical change in dental conditions and status with the introduction of Neolithic foodstuff and habits. However, we warn that different methodologies applied here provide data at different scales of resolution for detecting such changes and a multipronged approach to the study of dental collections is needed for a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of diachronic changes.

Research field(s)
Arts & Humanities, Historical Studies, Anthropology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

Published in

February 12, 2021

The Late Upper Palaeolithic (Epigravettian) sequence at Badanj has yielded an important dataset about the occupation of the hinterland of the Eastern Adriatic catchment zone in the late Pleniglacial. The site also harbors one of the rare occurrences of Upper Palaeolithic parietal “art” in southeastern Europe in the form of a large rock engraving. Another notable aspect of the site is the presence of engravings on portable objects made from bone. The first excavations at Badanj, conducted in 1976–1979 in the zone around the engraved rock, yielded a surprisingly large number of personal ornaments (over 1000 specimens) from a variety of primarily marine gastropods, scaphopods, and bivalves, and red deer canines. Here we review what is currently known about the site and report our preliminary findings from the study of the collection of personal ornaments as well as osseous tools, some of which were marked by regular incisions forming decorative motifs. We also report two new direct accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) dates on antler barbed points.

Research field(s)
Archaeology

NOMIS Researcher(s)

August 1, 2013

This article begins with a comparison between the anonymous Roman d’un inverti (1894/5) and Cavafy’s poem ‘?α μεíνει ‘, and then proceeds to read Cavafy’s private notes and key erotic poems in the context of late nineteenth- and twentieth-century discourses about non-normative sexuality. During that period, and in a discursive domain dominated by sexological case studies, the deviant sexual life story was published in order to titillate, check, control and medicalize. In Cavafy’s texts we see, instead, a network of homosexual life stories proposed as a platform for the conceptualization of novel sexual, aesthetic and social technologies, as well as a new ethics of contact. © 2013 Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies, University of Birmingham.

Research field(s)
Arts & Humanities, Historical Studies, History