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A mysterious necklace with 2,500 ornaments buried next to a child reveals a complex culture from 9,000 years ago | Science & Tech

Over 9,000 years ago in a remote area of present-day Jordan, a tribe decided to bury a recently deceased child in style. Rather than a contemporary family ceremony of discreet mourning, the funeral rite probably brought together all the inhabitants of the Ba’ja village, and perhaps even people from the surrounding area. They built a small tomb for the child made of vertical stones and buried the minor under other ones, which had been cut and worked, in the basement of an extant house with several floors. The burial culminated with the Neolithic society placing an elaborate body ornament made of thousands of beads on the corpse; the child was approximately eight years old, and the sex is unknown. The presence of ochre scattered all over the body of the deceased in the tomb—especially the mound of that reddish pigment placed next to the child’s legs—indicates that it was a ritual.

In addition to demonstrating the tribe’s intentionality in bidding farewell to the child, the complexity of the ritual highlights the importance of the funeral in the social life of these early Neolithic farmer-herders. That is the conclusion that Hala Alarashi, of the Spanish Research Council’s Center for the Archaeology of Social Dynamics, reached in her study, which the academic journal PLoS ONE published today. Her international and multidisciplinary team has investigated the archaeological site of Ba’ja in Jordan and reconstructed the necklace. “I have studied many Neolithic collections all over the Near East, the Nile and the Horn of Africa, and I have never seen this,” explains Alarashi, who is also affiliated with to the Côte d’Azur University in Nice, France. According to the researcher, the use of pearls and shells from the Red Sea, along with their ornamental elaboration with patterns done at a highly professional level, is “characteristic of this area of the eastern Mediterranean; [it’s] typical of the Petra region.” Alarashi adds that “they [were] people who really [knew] what they [were] doing; there was a very clear idea.”

The discovery of the necklace in the tomb, which is dated between 7,400 and 6,800 BC, helps researchers to understand the importance of symbols in the transmission of status and identity within the Neolithic culture. The pendant has over 2,500 stones in different colors and of disparate provenance, indicating that its creation “had another meaning beyond the personal adornment that we attach to it today; it was not pure decoration,” Alarashi says.

The reconstruction of the over-7000-year-old necklace from Ba'ja, now on display at the new Petra Museum in Jordan.
The reconstruction of the over-7000-year-old necklace from Ba’ja, now on display at the new Petra Museum in Jordan. HALA ALARASHI/PLOS ONE

The exotic nature of the raw materials—with elements that can be traced to areas far from Jordan—used to manufacture the necklace provides unprecedented information about how this already-sedentary tribe might have functioned. According to the researcher, the fact that the necklace combines such varied material is spectacular: “The two fossil amber beads that we have analyzed [are] a very important finding because, until now, we had not found that [material] so far back in time; amber was associated with more recent cities like Mesopotamia or Pharaonic Egypt.”

The scientist highlights childhood’s importance in this tribe’s culture, since it made such a symbolically complicated artifact in economic and technical terms, as well as in its conception and artistic design. Complex layers of meticulous work reveal that the Ba’ja community was a highly developed society. It had artisans, farmers and the trade networks necessary to obtain the most desired materials from other regions. In other words, it had everything it needed at the time to elaborate a funerary necklace and deposit it next to the corpse. That action could be understood as “getting rid of it on the spot, according to our current standards,” Alarashi says ironically, smiling via videoconference. But, she clarifies, the society that buried the child with full honors “may not have perceived economic wealth as we do today.” The researchers’ reconstruction of the original necklace is now on display at the Petra Museum in southern Jordan.

 The child’s tomb in Ba'ja, Jordan, with the scattered necklace at the start of the research and recovery work.
The child’s tomb in Ba’ja, Jordan, with the scattered necklace at the start of the research and recovery work.Hala Alarashi/PLoS ONE

For that reason, the burial must have been a special public event, the researchers explain in their publication, which also justifies the tomb’s laborious construction. It was “a moment to gather people to share emotions and remember…this individual,” the archaeologist says. The author is very careful when mentioning the buried child’s biological characteristics because it is impossible to definitively determine the minor’s sex: “We have tried [to do so] with DNA analysis, but [the results] have not been satisfactory because the collagen has not been preserved.” In their research article, the authors note that the area is very arid and the meters of sediment under which the body is buried have corroded the biological and bone tissues, which caused the corpse to fall apart quickly.

I have studied many Neolithic collections all over the Near East, the Nile and the Horn of Africa, and I have never seen this before

Hala Alarashi of the Spanish Research Council and Côte d’Azur University

Manuel González, a professor emeritus at the University of Cantabria (Spain), praises the finding: “[The fact] that a child [was] buried with honors shows that 9,000 years ago the tribe [there] already had some kind of social stratification, where the child’s importance [and] prestige, did not depend on their actions or achievements.” The expert in prehistoric times, who was not involved in this research project, emphasizes that “the individual’s personal value was in belonging to a community within that society. That is the most interesting thing.” González, who has worked at other sites in Jordan, believes that this burial reinforced the group’s social cohesion, so the funerary practice was “very important,” much as it is today. He goes on to say: “Relationships in the world of the living [intersected] with that of their forebears and ancestors, much like in many communities today, [where] nationalist heroes, or [heroes] from some seminal battle to which nationalism appeals, serve as acts of cohesion between us… to [build community], we turn to the past to reinforce the bond.”

The researcher believes that the complex process of making the pendant puts an end to the myth that the first sedentary societies were isolated and basic: the “Fertile Crescent [a historical region that includes the territories of the Mediterranean Levant and Mesopotamia] has always been a key transit point between different seas and communication routes, reflecting societies immersed in a wider network of trading goods.” According to González, that was where the Neolithic revolution represented a paradigm shift in social structures: “We don’t realize that for two million years we were hunter-gatherers, [we were] essentially tribal. Only in the last 10,000 years did we start [doing] agriculture and raising livestock, as in the society we are discussing here; in essence, [we became] something else.”

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Assessing Property Size: What Square Footage Can You Get With The Average UK House Price In Your Area?

Assessing Property Size In The UK

In the United Kingdom, there is a prevailing tendency to gauge the size of residences based on the number of bedrooms rather than square footage. In fact, research indicates that three out of five individuals are unaware of the square footage of their property.

However, a comprehensive analysis conducted by Savills reveals significant variations in property sizes throughout the country. For instance, with the average property price standing at £340,837, this amount would typically afford a studio flat spanning 551 square feet in London, according to the prominent estate agency.

Conversely, in the North East region, the same sum would secure a spacious five-bedroom house measuring 1,955 square feet, nearly four times the size of a comparable property in London.

Best value: Heading to the North East of England is where buyers will get the most from their money

In Scotland, the median house price equates to a sizable investment capable of procuring a generous four-bedroom residence spanning 1,743 square feet. Conversely, in Wales, Yorkshire & The Humber, and the North West, this sum affords a slightly smaller four-bedroom dwelling of approximately 1,500 square feet, while in the East and West Midlands, it accommodates a 1,300 square foot home. In stark contrast, within the South West, £340,837 secures a modest 1,000 square foot property, and in the East, an even more confined 928 square feet.

London presents the most challenging market, where this budget offers the least purchasing power. Following closely, the South East allows for 825 square feet of space or a medium-sized two-bedroom dwelling. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, emphasizes the profound disparity in purchasing potential across Britain, ranging from compact studio flats in London to spacious four or five-bedroom residences in parts of North East England.

While square footage serves as a critical metric, with a significant portion of Britons unfamiliar with their property’s dimensions, the number of bedrooms remains a traditional indicator of size. Personal preferences, such as a preference for larger kitchens, may influence property selection. For those prioritizing ample space, Easington, County Durham, offers a substantial 2,858 square foot, five-bedroom home, while Rhondda, Wales, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Scotland, provide 2,625 and 2,551 square feet, respectively. Conversely, in St Albans, Hertfordshire, £340,837 secures a mere 547 square feet, equivalent to a one-bedroom flat.

The disparity continues in central London, where purchasing power diminishes considerably. In Kensington, the budget accommodates a mere 220 square feet, contrasting with the slightly more spacious 236 square feet in Westminster. Conversely, in Dagenham, the same investment translates to 770 square feet. Three properties currently listed on Rightmove exemplify the diversity within this price range across the UK market.

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

South of the river: This semi-detached house is located near to three different train stations

2. Lewisham: One-bed house, £345,000

This one-bedroom property in Lewisham, South London, is on the market for £345,000.

The semi-detached house is set over two floors, and has a private patio.

The property is located near to bus links and amenities, as well as Catford train station.

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

Edinburgh fringe: This three-bed property is located on the edge of the city, near to the town of Musselburgh

3. Edinburgh: Three-bed house, £350,000

This three-bedroom detached house in Edinburgh could be yours for £350,000.

The house, which has a two-car driveway, boasts a large kitchen diner, and is within easy reach of Newcriaghall train station.


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Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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