This Week in the Ancient Near East

The Bronze Age Goes Bananas, or, By Your Teeth They Shall Know Thee

What does the discovery of exotic species such as bananas, soybeans and turmeric in the second millennium BCE Southern Levant tell us about trade, tastes and smells in the past? And does the fact that the discovery comes from scraping the teeth of dead people say more about the potential of microarchaeology or about the need for flossing? Our panelists agree about flossing, but not about bananas.

 

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Exotic foods reveal contact between South Asia and the Near East during the second millennium BCE

https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/12/16/2014956117

Coroplasticus Deus Antiqui, or, What Does God Really Looking Like?

Does a tenth century BCE figurine from a site near Jerusalem depict the god Yahweh? How would we know? Archaeological finds don’t come labeled, or do they? And how does this relate to the end of the Enlightenment and the Existential challenge facing the Humanities? Our panelists are divided.

 

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Archaeologist claims to find 10th cent. BCE graven images of Yahweh

https://www.timesofisrael.com/face-of-god-archaeologist-claims-to-find-10th-cent-bce-graven-images-of-yahweh/

Cosmic Debris, or New Adventures in the Origins of Agriculture

Did a comet break up over earth 12,800 years ago causing glaciers to melt and prompting humans to invent agriculture? What was it like to have your village suddenly heated to 4000 degrees Fahrenheit? How would this event have been culturally encoded by anyone who wasn’t cooked and/or pulverized? Our panelists have nano-diamonds on the souls of their shoes and tell all.

 

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A Comet May Have Destroyed This Paleolithic Village 12,800 Years Ago

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/comet-upended-life-paleolithic-village-12800-years-ago-180974575/

High Times in the Iron Age, or Wait, What Were We Talking About?

Cannabis and frankincense residues on an altar found in an ancient Israelite temple? Were the ancestors of Jews going one toke over the line? Why the heck did this tradition end? This changes everything, man, and our panelists are really into it. Well, maybe after a snack.

 

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Cannabis was used for religious rites at a biblical site in Israel, study finds

https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/28/world/tel-arad-shrine-israel-cannabis-study-scn/index.html

Squeaky Clean, or The Rediscovery of Soap in the Past

An ancient soap factory found in a Bedouin village leads our panelists to ask the age-old question, what’s it doing there? Why is it a soap factory anyway? And just what is soap anyway? With guest star Dr. Bronner and a recursive discussion on the role of Irish Spring in the Troubles, this an episode that can’t be missed!

 

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Earliest soap factory in Israel, discovered in Negev, shows seeds of early Islam

https://www.timesofisrael.com/earliest-soap-factory-in-israel-discovered-in-negev-shows-seeds-of-early-islam/#gs.fpbrru

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