-The Monthly Buzz-
In This Issue:
5,000 year-old fingerprint found in Orkney
Wildcats to be reintroduced to Britain after being hunted to near extinction
Dhaka muslin clothed emperors and goddesses in the ancient world, and how it could be making its return
Universal basic income experiment wrapped in California; here’s the conclusions
5,000 Year-Old Fingerprint Found in Orkney
At the Ness of Brodgar excavation site in Orkney, a potter’s fingerprint has survived on a piece of pottery potentially since the Neolithic period. Thousands of years ago, a potter pressed their thumb into a section of wet clay and in the present day archaeologist Roy Towers discovered the print amongst a large collection of Neolithic fragments.
The print was found among the largest collection of late Neolithic ceramics in the UK, but is currently the only confirmed fingerprint of the excavation.
The structures and artifacts that make up the Ness of Brodgar are thought to have been made around 3,300 – 3,000 BC and include six-meter-thick walls and a large, Neolithic temple.
The excavation director described the print as giving the workers a ‘personal, poignant connection to the people of Neolithic Orkney’, appreciating not just the buildings and artifacts but the people who made them.
More details here: https://www.nessofbrodgar.co.uk/neolithic-fingerprint/
Wildcats Could be Reintroduced to the UK After Hundreds of Years
As one of the rarest and most endangered native mammals in Britain, the European wildcat has not been seen in England and Wales for over a century. Currently, the only wildcats in Britain can be found in Scotland’s Highlands, verging on the edge of extinction.
That could all change soon, as the Wildwood Trust is planning a country-wide breeding project to restore the lost species.
Wildwood Trust is partnered with Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Vincent Wildlife Trust to helm to restore the European wildcat to Britain’s environment. Wildwood is currently breeding the cats in preparation for their introduction to the wild and ‘will be launching a national appeal later this year to raise funds to build the breeding facilities’.
Experts determine that reintroducing wild wildcats into England and Wales will not only preserve the wildcat from extinction, but can benefit the ecosystem by naturally controlling the population of prey animals as well as some predators, like foxes, by increasing competition for food.
The Return of an Ancient, Precious Fabric
Dhaka muslin, a fabric originating from what is now Bangladesh (but then Bengal), was once the most valuable and sought-after fabric in the world. A incredibly intricate and delicate form of muslin, Dhaka muslin could only be made with a type of cotton found along the Meghna river, including a sixteen-step process ending in a textile so thin and light it was described as ‘woven air’. For thousands of years, Dhaka muslin clothed emperors, statues of ancient goddesses and in the Georgian era became the premier fashion of the aristocracy.
As popular as it was, the methods of making the fabric has since been lost to time in large part due to the colonial enterprises of the British East India Trading Company, who suppressed Bengal’s weaving industry so as to maintain western cloth’s global monopoly in textiles.
By genetically recreating the phuti karpas plant that was pivotal to the fabric and spending six months meticulously weaving a 300 thread count fabric, Saiful Islam and his team have produced several saris made of a hybrid form of Dhaka muslin. He is optimistic that in the near future they will be able to produce clothes of pure Dhaka muslin with an even higher thread count.
To learn more about Dhaka muslin’s history and return: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210316-the-legendary-fabric-that-no-one-knows-how-to-make
Stockton, California and the Benefits of Free Money
Stockton, California has one of the highest poverty rates in the US, and the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration (SEED) has put in place a two-year basic income experiment to try and address its dire economic issues.
A group of hand-picked families from areas of the city with the poorest household income averages were paid $500 into their accounts every month. The two-year trial ended in February and SEED has since published the results, which show that a universal basic income has significant benefits to a community. After the start of the experiment, recipients partaking in full-time jobs increased from 28% to 40% within a year as opposed to the 5% increase within the control group, alongside significant improvements to mental health and wellbeing.
The extra income allowed poorer families to adapt better to unexpected expenses, such as car breakdowns or food shortages. The majority of the income however, as reported, went to basic food, bills and clothes.
This trial as well as the similar experiment in Finland show that there are some prominent, material benefits to a universal basic income, and that contrary to what some might say, recipients are unlikely to become dependent on the income or spend it all on alcohol or cigarettes.