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Concept: Centuries


We assess the relationship between temperature and global sea-level (GSL) variability over the Common Era through a statistical metaanalysis of proxy relative sea-level reconstructions and tide-gauge data. GSL rose at 0.1 ± 0.1 mm/y (2σ) over 0-700 CE. A GSL fall of 0.2 ± 0.2 mm/y over 1000-1400 CE is associated with ∼0.2 °C global mean cooling. A significant GSL acceleration began in the 19th century and yielded a 20th century rise that is extremely likely (probability [Formula: see text]) faster than during any of the previous 27 centuries. A semiempirical model calibrated against the GSL reconstruction indicates that, in the absence of anthropogenic climate change, it is extremely likely ([Formula: see text]) that 20th century GSL would have risen by less than 51% of the observed [Formula: see text] cm. The new semiempirical model largely reconciles previous differences between semiempirical 21st century GSL projections and the process model-based projections summarized in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report.

Concepts: Statistics, Climate change, 20th century, 21st century, Centuries, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Global warming, 19th century


Although research on human-mediated exchanges of species has substantially intensified during the last centuries, we know surprisingly little about temporal dynamics of alien species accumulations across regions and taxa. Using a novel database of 45,813 first records of 16,926 established alien species, we show that the annual rate of first records worldwide has increased during the last 200 years, with 37% of all first records reported most recently (1970-2014). Inter-continental and inter-taxonomic variation can be largely attributed to the diaspora of European settlers in the nineteenth century and to the acceleration in trade in the twentieth century. For all taxonomic groups, the increase in numbers of alien species does not show any sign of saturation and most taxa even show increases in the rate of first records over time. This highlights that past efforts to mitigate invasions have not been effective enough to keep up with increasing globalization.

Concepts: Time, Human migration, Taxonomic rank, Centuries, Alpha taxonomy


An annually resolved and absolutely dated ring-width chronology spanning 4,500 y has been constructed using subfossil, archaeological, and living-tree juniper samples from the northeastern Tibetan Plateau. The chronology represents changing mean annual precipitation and is most reliable after 1500 B.C. Reconstructed precipitation for this period displays a trend toward more moist conditions: the last 10-, 25-, and 50-y periods all appear to be the wettest in at least three and a half millennia. Notable historical dry periods occurred in the 4th century BCE and in the second half of the 15th century CE. The driest individual year reconstructed (since 1500 B.C.) is 1048 B.C., whereas the wettest is 2010. Precipitation variability in this region appears not to be associated with inferred changes in Asian monsoon intensity during recent millennia. The chronology displays a statistical association with the multidecadal and longer-term variability of reconstructed mean Northern Hemisphere temperatures over the last two millennia. This suggests that any further large-scale warming might be associated with even greater moisture supply in this region.

Concepts: Chronology, Precipitation, Climate, Tropical cyclone, Centuries, Monsoon, Global warming, Anno Domini


Episodes of population loss and cultural change, including the famous Classic Collapse, punctuated the long course of Maya civilization. In many cases, these downturns in the fortunes of individual sites and entire regions included significant environmental components such as droughts or anthropogenic environmental degradation. Some afflicted areas remained depopulated for long periods, whereas others recovered more quickly. We examine the dynamics of growth and decline in several areas in the Maya Lowlands in terms of both environmental and cultural resilience and with a focus on downturns that occurred in the Terminal Preclassic (second century Common Era) and Terminal Classic (9th and 10th centuries CE) periods. This examination of available data indicates that the elevated interior areas of the Yucatán Peninsula were more susceptible to system collapse and less suitable for resilient recovery than adjacent lower-lying areas.

Concepts: Maya civilization, Maya peoples, Culture, The Terminal, Centuries, Civilization, Societal collapse, The Fortunes


A total of nine tin-contained ancient glass beads were characterized by a combination of scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry and Raman spectroscopy. These glass beads dated from 1st century BC to 10th century AD were excavated from the Xinjiang and Guangxi provinces of China. Two kinds of tin-based opacifiers/colorants included crystalline cassiterite (SnO(2) ) and lead-tin yellow types II were first found in these soda lime glass beads. The tentative chronology of the tin-based opacifiers/colorants used in ancient glasses from China and the West was compared. In addition, several transition metal ions colorants were also found in these beads. The detailed study of the glassy matrices, crystalline inclusions, and the microstructural heterogeneities for these glass beads has revealed some valuable information to trace the possible making technology and provenances. Microsc. Res. Tech., 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Concepts: Electron, Spectroscopy, Iron, Solid, Glass, Transition metal, Centuries, Soda-lime glass


Although endogenous retroviruses are common across vertebrate genomes, the koala retrovirus (KoRV) is the only retrovirus known to be currently invading the germ line of its host. KoRV is believed to have first infected koalas in northern Australia less than two centuries ago. We examined KoRV in 28 koala museum skins collected in the late 19th and 20th centuries and deep sequenced the complete proviral envelope region from five northern Australian specimens. Strikingly, KoRV env sequences were conserved among koalas collected over the span of a century, and two functional motifs that affect viral infectivity were fixed across the museum koala specimens. We detected only 20 env polymorphisms among the koalas, likely representing derived mutations subject to purifying selection. Among northern Australian koalas, KoRV was already ubiquitous by the late 19th century, suggesting that KoRV evolved and spread among koala populations more slowly than previously believed. Given that museum and modern koalas share nearly identical KoRV sequences, it is likely that koala populations, for more than a century, have experienced increased susceptibility to diseases caused by viral pathogenesis.

Concepts: DNA, Natural selection, Molecular biology, Australia, Retrovirus, Centuries, 19th century, Koala


The Bene Israel Jewish community from West India is a unique population whose history before the 18th century remains largely unknown. Bene Israel members consider themselves as descendants of Jews, yet the identity of Jewish ancestors and their arrival time to India are unknown, with speculations on arrival time varying between the 8th century BCE and the 6th century CE. Here, we characterize the genetic history of Bene Israel by collecting and genotyping 18 Bene Israel individuals. Combining with 486 individuals from 41 other Jewish, Indian and Pakistani populations, and additional individuals from worldwide populations, we conducted comprehensive genome-wide analyses based on FST, principal component analysis, ADMIXTURE, identity-by-descent sharing, admixture linkage disequilibrium decay, haplotype sharing and allele sharing autocorrelation decay, as well as contrasted patterns between the X chromosome and the autosomes. The genetics of Bene Israel individuals resemble local Indian populations, while at the same time constituting a clearly separated and unique population in India. They are unique among Indian and Pakistani populations we analyzed in sharing considerable genetic ancestry with other Jewish populations. Putting together the results from all analyses point to Bene Israel being an admixed population with both Jewish and Indian ancestry, with the genetic contribution of each of these ancestral populations being substantial. The admixture took place in the last millennium, about 19-33 generations ago. It involved Middle-Eastern Jews and was sex-biased, with more male Jewish and local female contribution. It was followed by a population bottleneck and high endogamy, which can lead to increased prevalence of recessive diseases in this population. This study provides an example of how genetic analysis advances our knowledge of human history in cases where other disciplines lack the relevant data to do so.

Concepts: Gene, Population genetics, Israel, Jews, Judaism, Centuries, Hungary, Ashkenazi Jews


From around 2750 to 2500 bc, Bell Beaker pottery became widespread across western and central Europe, before it disappeared between 2200 and 1800 bc. The forces that propelled its expansion are a matter of long-standing debate, and there is support for both cultural diffusion and migration having a role in this process. Here we present genome-wide data from 400 Neolithic, Copper Age and Bronze Age Europeans, including 226 individuals associated with Beaker-complex artefacts. We detected limited genetic affinity between Beaker-complex-associated individuals from Iberia and central Europe, and thus exclude migration as an important mechanism of spread between these two regions. However, migration had a key role in the further dissemination of the Beaker complex. We document this phenomenon most clearly in Britain, where the spread of the Beaker complex introduced high levels of steppe-related ancestry and was associated with the replacement of approximately 90% of Britain’s gene pool within a few hundred years, continuing the east-to-west expansion that had brought steppe-related ancestry into central and northern Europe over the previous centuries.

Concepts: Europe, Western Europe, Centuries, Neolithic, Bronze Age, Beaker culture, Megalith, Wessex culture


East African elephants have been hunted for their ivory for millennia but the nineteenth century witnessed strongly escalating demand from Europe and North America. It has been suggested that one consequence was that by the 1880s elephant herds along the coast had become scarce, and to meet demand, trade caravans trekked farther into interior regions of East Africa, extending the extraction frontier. The steady decimation of elephant populations coupled with the extension of trade networks have also been claimed to have triggered significant ecological and socio-economic changes that left lasting legacies across the region. To explore the feasibility of using an isotopic approach to uncover a ‘moving frontier’ of elephant extraction, we constructed a baseline isotope data set (δ13C, δ15N, δ18O and 87Sr/86Sr) for historic East African elephants known to have come from three distinct regions (coastal, Rift Valley, and inland Lakes). Using the isotope results with other climate data and geographical mapping tools, it was possible to characterise elephants from different habitats across the region. This baseline data set was then used to provenance elephant ivory of unknown geographical provenance that was exported from East Africa during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to determine its likely origin. This produced a better understanding of historic elephant geography in the region, and the data have the potential to be used to provenance older archaeological ivories, and to inform contemporary elephant conservation strategies.

Concepts: Africa, Geography, Centuries, Kenya, Elephant, East Africa, 19th century, Ivory


The dispersal of Iroquoian groups from St. Lawrence River valley during the 15th and 16th centuries A.D. has been a source of archaeological inquiry for decades. Social network analysis presented here indicates that sites from Jefferson County, New York at the head of the St. Lawrence River controlled interactions within regional social signaling networks during the 15th century A.D. Measures indicate that Jefferson County sites were in brokerage liaison positions between sites in New York and Ontario. In the network for the subsequent century, to which no Jefferson County sites are assigned, no single group took the place of Jefferson County in controlling network flow. The dispersal of Jefferson County populations effectively ended this brokerage function concomitant with the emergence of the nascent Huron-Wendat and Iroquois confederacies and may have contributed to the escalation of conflict between these entities. These results add to a growing literature on the use of network analyses with archaeological data and contribute new insights into processes of population relocation and geopolitical realignment, as well as the role of borderlands and frontiers in nonstate societies.

Concepts: Population, Sociology, Networks, Centuries, Biological dispersal, Social network, Network theory, Saint Lawrence River