In ancient times, long-distance trade was the umbilical cord linking Ethiopia and the outside world. Ethiopian merchants spread their wares far and wide, including incense, ivory, gold, and even live animals such as baboons. Its closest trading partners lay just across the Red Sea in southern Arabia, but Ethiopian traders also reached markets in far-away Egypt, India, and the Mediterranean. So numerous were the Ethiopian merchants of Alexandria, for example, that a fourth-century Roman law barred them from tarrying in the city for more than a year. These commercial contacts encouraged cultural exchange, such that Ethiopia’s art, architecture, and literature were constantly shaped by the practices of its distant neighbors.From a review of a book about the Garima Gospels, some of the oldest known Biblical manuscripts.
Monday, January 15, 2018
Ethiopia Was A Trade Hub In The Classical Era
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OT: There's a new article about climate of Lake Tana going back 150ka.
OT: Naming a scent: Odor identification by Hunting & Gathering people of Malaya
Majid and Kruspe. Hunter-Gatherer Olfaction Is Special. Current Biology, 2018 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.12.014
When it comes to naming colors, most people do so with ease. But, for odors, it's much harder to find the words. One notable exception to this rule is found among the Jahai people, a group of hunter-gatherers living in the Malay Peninsula. An earlier study showed that, for them, odors are just as easy to name as colors. Now a new study reported in Current Biology on January 18 suggests that the Jahai's special way with smell is related to their hunting and gathering lifestyle.
"There has been a long-standing consensus that 'smell is the mute sense, the one without words,' and decades of research with English-speaking participants seemed to confirm this," says Asifa Majid of Radboud University in the Netherlands. "But, the Jahai of the Malay Peninsula are much better at naming odors than their English-speaking peers. This, of course, raises the question of where this difference originates."
To find out whether it was the Jahai who have an unusually keen ability with odors or whether English speakers are simply lacking, Majid and Nicole Kruspe at Lund University in Sweden looked to two related, but previously unstudied, groups of people in the tropical rainforest of the Malay Peninsula: the hunter-gatherer Semaq Beri and the non-hunter-gatherer Semelai. The Semelai are traditionally horticulturalists, combining shifting rice cultivation with the collection of forest products for trade.
The Semaq Beri and Semelai not only live in a similar environment; they also speak closely related languages. The question was: how were they at naming odors?
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