When I restarted this blog, I decided to focus on geography, and generally steer clear of either really personal posts or the political issues of the day.  But sometimes that distinction doesn’t really hold up.  The US’s treatment of people who were brought here as children is an example: it’s just the sort of current-politics issue I didn’t want to be talking about here, but it’s also somewhat on topic and so intensely personal for me that I can’t leave it alone.

I’ll start with some biographical information for context.  I was born in Turkey, but when I was very young the country went through a period of political violence that my parents very reasonably decided that we should get away from.  Because my great-grandfather had shrewdly taken advantage of the brief period when İstanbul was colonised, we had EU citizenship, so we were able to move to Britain as legal, documented, above-board immigrants.  Thus my lifetime of being the most privileged sort of immigrant began before I could even speak in sentences. Continue reading “DACA”

Clues in cuneiform

I just read about some very cool big data archaeology. A group of economists and historians constructed a dataset from 4,000-year-old cuneiform tablets, adding up to hundreds of records of trade transactions between cities. They treated trade volumes as proxies for the distance between cities, presumably calibrated using trade between pairs of cities with known locations. But many of these cities are lost to modern people, and that’s where this gets really interesting: if archaeological site A traded with lost city B, the researchers could plot a radius around A for the likely distance to B. With enough known locations, they can start to narrow down where the lost cities must be:

Narrowing down the location of a lost city

Source: Washington Post. Original paper: Trade, merchants, and the lost cities of the Bronze Age.