The Emerging Picture of Prehistoric Arabia
Annual Review of Anthropology
Vol. 15: 461-490 (Volume publication date October 1986)
M Tosi
In lieu of an abstract, the publisher reproduces the first page of the article. (Link)

Letters to my Tutor….

My dearest Simone,

I was more consciously aware of holes in my knowledge when reading “The Emerging Picture of Prehistoric Arabia.”  A greater familiarity with the geography of the region, a very clear picture of the geological timeline and geological processes, a better understanding of non-Western history all would have helped.  Certainly I understand how to consult a map and appropriate reference materials, but I’m finding that I can no longer put off committing to memory a wider body of information.  I have too often told myself not to waste brain space on information that I could easily look up.

When I chose this article I didn’t immediately have in mind the fact that Arabia stands apart from the typical timeline of agricultural development.  Certainly I had been exposed to discussions of pastoralism, hunting and gathering and maritime economies, but I don’t know that I had given much thought to them in a prehistoric context in the sense discussed by Tosi, that study of the prehistory of the region could be used to complement “traditional focus on agricultural origins and early urbanism” and used to develop “a more comprehensive definition of economic evolution.”  It’s worthy of a bookmark.

As to the archaeology in the region, both the geographical and political climates in the region make establishing a prehistoric chronology difficult.  Erosion hampers the recovery of organic remains resulting in only a handful of radiocarbon dates; remains such as rock carvings and megaliths lack the contextual means of dating; passing of data from colonial authorities to local authorities and still more local authorities results in loss of context for the collected data.   Tosi’s discussion of all of these seemed interesting, but I wasn’t in a mind to digest it.

The author seemed to be an interesting sort.  Andrew Lawler wrote the following in a May 2010 article in Science:

“He told colleagues he was looking for ancient lapis lazuli mines. But when Maurizio Tosi crossed into Afghanistan at the height of the war between the Soviet Union and the mujahedin in 1984, his real goal was to locate wooden boxes that had once contained American-supplied Stinger missiles. Those missiles threatened Soviet helicopters, and Moscow was eager to trace the route they had taken into Pakistan. … ” (Link)

I should be able to locate the full text of this article soon.

Of late I have been distracted and uninspired.  Inspiration isn’t necessary for productivity, but it helps.  I hope that you do not grow tired of me.

Ever true,