ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Tropical spices have long been utilized in traditional medicine and cuisine. New archaeological evidence highlights temporal changes in the nature and scale of the ancient spice trade and in the ancient usage of these plants. Furthermore, a study of their 'materiality' highlights that the impact of spices extends beyond their material properties. Here the botanical remains of spices recovered from archaeological excavations at a port active in the Roman and medieval Islamic spice trade are evaluated.
Evolutionary medicine acknowledges that many chronic degenerative diseases result from conflicts between our rapidly changing environment, our dietary habits included, and our genome, which has remained virtually unchanged since the Palaeolithic era. Reconstruction of the diet before the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions is therefore indicated, but hampered by the ongoing debate on our ancestors' ecological niche.
Humans behave altruistically in natural settings and experiments. A possible explanation-that groups with more altruists survive when groups compete-has long been judged untenable on empirical grounds for most species. But there have been no empirical tests of this explanation for humans. My empirical estimates show that genetic differences between early human groups are likely to have been great enough so that lethal intergroup competition could account for the evolution of altruism.
Whether man is predisposed to lethal violence, ranging from homicide to warfare, and how that may have impacted human evolution, are among the most controversial topics of debate on human evolution. Although recent studies on the evolution of warfare have been based on various archaeological and ethnographic data, they have reported mixed results: it is unclear whether or not warfare among prehistoric hunter-gatherers was common enough to be a component of human nature and a selective pressure for the evolution of human behaviour.
This paper aims primarily at two things: The first is to present an overview of the newly developed field of "neuroarchaeology" and discuss its theoretical grounding in Material Engagement Theory (MET) and the extended mind hypothesis.