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Concept: Israel


Computer imaging techniques are commonly used to preserve and share readable manuscripts, but capturing writing locked away in ancient, deteriorated documents poses an entirely different challenge. This software pipeline-referred to as “virtual unwrapping”-allows textual artifacts to be read completely and noninvasively. The systematic digital analysis of the extremely fragile En-Gedi scroll (the oldest Pentateuchal scroll in Hebrew outside of the Dead Sea Scrolls) reveals the writing hidden on its untouchable, disintegrating sheets. Our approach for recovering substantial ink-based text from a damaged object results in readable columns at such high quality that serious critical textual analysis can occur. Hence, this work creates a new pathway for subsequent textual discoveries buried within the confines of damaged materials.

Concepts: Codex, Manuscript, Ein Gedi, Torah, Israel, Scroll, Dead Sea, Dead Sea scrolls


Mycoplasma pneumoniae infections occur both endemically and epidemically, and macrolide resistance has been spreading for 10 years worldwide. A substantial increased incidence of M. pneumoniae infections has been reported in several countries since 2010. Whether this increased incidence is attributed to different or to the same M. pneumoniae genotype is unknown. We have developed a multilocus variable-number tandem-repeat (VNTR) analysis (MLVA) for the molecular typing of M. pneumoniae isolates. In this study, the MLVA typing method was modified and validated to be applicable directly to respiratory tract specimens without culture. This method was applied to 34 M. pneumoniae-positive specimens received at the Bordeaux Hospital, France, between 2007 and 2010 in an endemic setting, and to 63 M. pneumoniae-positive specimens collected during an epidemic surge of M. pneumoniae infections in 2010 in Jerusalem, Israel. The M. pneumoniae endemic spread was shown to be polyclonal in France, with 15 MLVA types identified. Strikingly, the Israeli epidemic surge was also a multi-clonal phenomenon, with 18 circulating MLVA types. The macrolide resistance-associated substitution, A2058G, was found in 22% of the Israeli patients. Macrolide-resistant M. pneumoniae belonged to four MLVA types, the MLVA type Z being the most frequent one. An association between the MLVA type Z and macrolide resistance might exist since macrolide resistance was present or generated during the course of illness in all patients infected with this MLVA type. In conclusion, the discriminatory power of the MLVA showed that the spread of M. pneumoniae strains in France in an endemic setting was polyclonal as well as the surge of M. pneumoniae infections in Israel in 2010.

Concepts: Mollicutes, Israel, Mycoplasma pneumonia, Mycoplasma, Infectious disease, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Developed country, Epidemiology


Weeds are currently present in a wide range of ecosystems worldwide. Although the beginning of their evolution is largely unknown, researchers assumed that they developed in tandem with cultivation since the appearance of agricultural habitats some 12,000 years ago. These rapidly-evolving plants invaded the human disturbed areas and thrived in the new habitat. Here we present unprecedented new findings of the presence of “proto-weeds” and small-scale trial cultivation in Ohalo II, a 23,000-year-old hunter-gatherers' sedentary camp on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Israel. We examined the plant remains retrieved from the site (ca. 150,000 specimens), placing particular emphasis on the search for evidence of plant cultivation by Ohalo II people and the presence of weed species. The archaeobotanically-rich plant assemblage demonstrates extensive human gathering of over 140 plant species and food preparation by grinding wild wheat and barley. Among these, we identified 13 well-known current weeds mixed with numerous seeds of wild emmer, barley, and oat. This collection provides the earliest evidence of a human-disturbed environment-at least 11 millennia before the onset of agriculture-that provided the conditions for the development of “proto-weeds”, a prerequisite for weed evolution. Finally, we suggest that their presence indicates the earliest, small-scale attempt to cultivate wild cereals seen in the archaeological record.

Concepts: Species, Weed, Israel, Biodiversity, Cereal, Plant, Agriculture, Wheat


The Intermediate Bronze Age (IB) in the Southern Levant (ca. 2350-2000 BCE) is known as the “Dark Ages,” following the collapse of Early Bronze urban society and predating the establishment of the Middle Bronze cities. The absence of significant settlements and monumental building has led to the reconstruction of IB social organization as that of nomadic, tribal society inhabiting rural villages with no central governmental system. Excavation in the Shamir Dolmen Field (comprising over 400 dolmens) on the western foothills of the Golan Heights was carried out following the discovery of rock art engravings on the ceiling of the central chamber inside one of the largest dolmens ever recorded in the Levant. Excavation of this multi-chambered dolmen, covered by a basalt capstone weighing some 50 tons, revealed a secondary multi-burial (of both adults and children) rarely described in a dolmen context in the Golan. Engraved into the rock ceiling above the multi-burial is a panel of 14 forms composed of a vertical line and downturned arc motif. 3D-scanning by structured-light technology was used to sharpen the forms and revealed the technique employed to create them. Building of the Shamir dolmens required a tremendous amount of labor, architectural mastery, and complex socio-economic organization well beyond the capacity of small, rural nomadic groups. The monumental megalithic burial of the Shamir dolmens indicates a hierarchical, complex, non-urban governmental system. This new evidence supports a growing body of recent criticism stemming from new discoveries and approaches that calls for rethinking our views of the Levantine IB “Dark Ages.”

Concepts: Mount Hermon, Yom Kippur War, Golan Heights, Lebanon, Gamla, Israel, Syria


Gulf War exposures in 1990 and 1991 have caused 25% to 30% of deployed personnel to develop a syndrome of chronic fatigue, pain, hyperalgesia, cognitive and affective dysfunction.

Concepts: Israel, Iran–Iraq War, Iraq War, Medicine, Depleted uranium, Gulf War syndrome, 2003 invasion of Iraq, Gulf War


Due to the lack of written records or inscription, the origin and affiliation of Indian Jewish populations with other world populations remain contentious. Previous genetic studies have found evidence for a minor shared ancestry of Indian Jewish with Middle Eastern (Jewish) populations. However, these studies (relied on limited individuals), haven’t explored the detailed temporal and spatial admixture process of Indian Jewish populations with the local Indian populations. Here, using large sample size with combination of high resolution biparental (autosomal) and uniparental markers (Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA), we reconstructed genetic history of Indian Jewish by investigating the patterns of genetic diversity. Consistent with the previous observations, we detected minor Middle Eastern specific ancestry component among Indian Jewish communities, but virtually negligible in their local neighbouring Indian populations. The temporal test of admixture suggested that the first admixture of migrant Jewish populations from Middle East to South India (Cochin) occurred during fifth century. Overall, we concluded that the Jewish migration and admixture in India left a record in their genomes, which can link them to the ‘Jewish Diaspora’.

Concepts: North Africa, Chromosome, Hebrew language, Middle East, DNA, Asia, Indian Ocean, Israel


The Late Epipalaeolithic Natufian (~14,600 - 11,500 cal BP) is a key period in the prehistory of southwest Asia. Often described as a complex hunting and gathering society with increased sedentism, intensive plant exploitation and associated with an increase in artistic and symbolic material culture, it is positioned between the earlier Upper- and Epi-Palaeolithic and the early Neolithic, when plant cultivation and subsequently animal domestication began. The Natufian has thus often been seen as a necessary pre-adaptation for the emergence of Neolithic economies in southwest Asia. Previous work has pointed to the Mediterranean woodland zone of the southern Levant as the ‘core zone’ of the Early Natufian. Here we present a new sequence of 27 AMS radiocarbon dates from the Natufian site Shubayqa 1 in northeast Jordan. The results suggest that the site was occupied intermittently between ~14,600 - 12,000 cal BP. The dates indicate the Natufian emerged just as early in eastern Jordan as it did in the Mediterranean woodland zone. This suggests that the origins and development of the Natufian were not tied to the ecological conditions of the Mediterranean woodlands, and that the evolution of this hunting and gathering society was more complex and heterogeneous than previously thought.

Concepts: Neolithic, Western Asia, Israel, Syria, Mesolithic, Levant, Jordan, Fertile Crescent


The present paper examines the talk of three senior figures from the Palestinian Hamas political movement. Data are drawn from a series of journalistic interviews that were conducted in the months leading up to the invasion of Gaza by Israel in December 2007. Using membership categorization analysis, we explore the membership categories and category-bound attributes that interviewers use in questions about responsibility for potentially culpable actions and the ways that these are taken up, challenged, or reworked by interviewees in presenting their own versions. The analytic findings show that interviewers deploy categories bound up with terrorism while interviewees develop alternative categorizations of resistance. Interviewers construct Palestinians as victims of Hamas' actions while interviewees construct them as victims of Israeli aggression and international indifference. In warranting these alternative constructions, the interviewees contrast current behaviours of the international community with those of the past and align current Palestinian actions with those previously taken by Western nations in resisting illegitimate occupations. Through these descriptions of categories and actions, the interviewees attribute to the wider international community responsibility for addressing the events of the ongoing conflict.

Concepts: Palestinian people, Present, Yasser Arafat, Palestinian territories, Palestine Liberation Organization, Gaza Strip, Palestinian National Authority, Israel


Ultra-orthodox Jews compose a segregated group that struggles to preserve its centuries-old way of life by strictly adhering to the Jewish religious law in every aspect of life. Their health habits were infrequently studied to date. We sought to determine the smoking prevalence and to find its significant correlates in the ultra-orthodox Jewish population of Israel.

Concepts: Jewish population, Cigarette, Jewish ethnic divisions, Zionism, Jews, Israel, Judaism, Halakha


Tropical or Mediterranean theileriosis is a tick-borne hemoprotozoan disease that poses important health problems in cattle. The etiological agent is the apicomplexan parasite Theileria annulata that occurs around the Mediterranean basin, Middle East, and southern Asia. PCR-based assays have been developed for detecting theilerial infections, and the gene encoding an immunodominant major merozoite/piroplasm surface antigen of T. annulata (Tams1) is a commonly used genomic target. However, several studies revealed that this gene is highly polymorphic raising questions concerning the suitability of Tams1 gene-targeted primers to detect all T. annulata isolates. In this work, we re-evaluated the in silico sensitivity of previously developed primers targeting the Tams1 gene, designed novel and more comprehensive primers for its amplification, and established efficient standard and real-time PCR assays for assessing the presence or absence of T. annulata in bovine blood samples.

Concepts: Immune system, Genome, Protein, Theileria, Turkey, Molecular biology, Israel, Asia