(Roughly) Daily

“Rumors and reports of man’s relation with animals are the world’s oldest news stories, headlined in the stars of the zodiac, posted on the walls of prehistoric caves”*…

Aerial view of a kite in the Khaybar area of north-west Saudi Arabia. These ancient hunting structures were named ‘kites’ by aviators in the 1920s because, observed from above, their form is reminiscent of old-fashioned child’s kites with streamers.

… and on the surface of the desert. Vittoria Benzine explains…

In the 1920s, British Royal Air Force pilots over the Middle East recorded the first sightings of what they dubbed desert kites—massive patterns carved into rocky land, often resembling the famous flying toy.

Archaeologists have since debated the purpose of these enigmas, which appear across geographies and eras, dating back to the Neolithic Period (10,000–2,200 B.C.E.) in Jordan, the early Bronze Age (3,300–2,100 B.C.E.) in Israel’s Negev Desert, and the Middle Bronze Age (2,100–1,550 B.C.E.) in Armenia. Some thought they were cultural cornerstones. Still more posited they were pens for domesticating animals.

Three recent peer-reviewed papers confirm popular hypotheses that the desert kites actually served as mass hunting traps, allowing early desert dwellers to kill entire herds of game at once. While they were active, the kites funneled gazelle and ibex down tapered, wall-lined paths which ended in massive pits or sudden cliffs where creatures were trapped and killed. The kites’s particular placement, length, and shape generally demonstrate a sophisticated knowledge of landscapes and animal behaviors…

The full story at “Scientists Have Cracked the Origins of ‘Desert Kites,’ Massive Prehistoric Patterns That Were Carved into the Middle Eastern Desert,” from @vittoriabenzine in @artnet.

* Lewis Lapham

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As we we admire ingenuity, we might spare a thought for Siegfried Frederick (“S.F.” or “Fred”) Nadel; he died on this date in 1956. An anthropologist who did important work in Africa, he is best remembered as a theorist whose work built on the thinking of Bronislaw Malinowski, sociologist Max Weber, philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, and psychologist Kurt Koffka. In The Foundations of Social Anthropology (1951) he asserted that the main task of the science is to explain as well as to describe aim-controlled, purposive behaviour. Suggesting that sociological facts emerge from psychological facts, he argued that full explanations are to be derived from psychological exploration of motivation and consciousness. And in his posthumous Theory of Social Structure (1958), regarded as one of the 20th century’s foremost theoretical works in the social sciences, Nadel examined social roles, which he considered to be crucial in the analysis of social structure.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 14, 2023 at 1:00 am

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