New issues of the journals of the Estonian Academy Publishers are available

Brief reviews of the journals:

In the new issue of Estonian Journal of Archaeology, Ivar Leimus and Andres Tvauri analyse 61 unique reckoning counters excavated from the 15th-century landfill at Jahu Street 6 in Tallinn. These brass coin-like tokens were used as an aid in calculating on lines. Counters started to be produced in France and England already in the 13th century and in the 16th–18th centuries they were widespread also in Estonia; however, counters found in Tallinn dating to the end of the 15th century are still very rare here. Most of the found counters were made in Nuremberg, Germany, some in France. The collective of authors led by Maris Niinesalu-Moon deals with the triple burial discovered in 2019 in Tallinn, Pärnu Road 41, which dates to the 4th century BC. What makes the burial place rare in the Estonian context is that it was not a stone grave but a grave dug into the ground, that grain was sprinkled on top of it, and the accompanying items – a bell-pendant and a thin bracelet – turned out to be unique. In addition, spherical magnetic droplets – hammer scales – were found around the grave, which points to the oldest iron smithing site in Estonia so far. The site and burials were analysed using a wide range of scientific methods. 

Mari Tõrv and Gunilla Eriksson look at the diet of people buried in the Tamula Neolithic cemetery in the light of stable isotope analysis. It turned out that their diet was relatively uniform, consisting mainly of freshwater resources. Nutrition differed somewhat between children and adults, but not between men and women. An analogous diet also characterized the individuals from the earlier Veibri burial site, while the variability was greater in Zvejnieki in Latvia, apparently due to a much longer burial period.

The new issue of the Supplementary Series of Estonian Journal of Archaeology contains eight articles, which are an output of the project PRG29 ‘Foreign vs local in the eastern Baltic medieval and early modern foodways: tracing the changing food consumption through provenance analysis’ supported by the Estonian Research Council.

Erki Russow and Arvi Haak write about pots and hearths, i.e., the material environment of domestic foodways in Estonia in the 13th–18th centuries.

In her article, Inna Põltsam-Jürjo discusses the norms that determined the consumption of meat and meat products in the 13th–18th century Estonia. During medieval times, people’s diet was subject to multiple controls, which also included the food traditions that people followed in their daily lives, and which can be interpreted as a type of regulation mechanism.

In the next article, Eve Rannamäe and Ülle Aguraiuja-Lätti write about the zooarchaeological research which bases on a substantial amount of bone finds of domestic and wild animals from the medieval and early modern contexts. The article gives an overview about the animal taxonomy, morphology and distribution within Estonia, and also about the consumption of animal products both by urban and rural people.

Sander Nuut et al. focus on the roles of dogs and cats in the 13th–18th century Estonia, asking whether they were kept as pets or working animals or had some other function. Interestingly, the dog can also be considered as one of the components of the human food table.

The research of Freydis Ehrlich et al. focuses on the zooarchaeology and consumption of birds in Estonia from the 1200s to the 1800s. Bones of the domestic chicken were predominantly found in the material, but the presence of game birds on the table of wealthier people revealed the social difference between the populations.

Lembi Lõugas and Ülle Aguraiuja-Lätti discuss the changes in seafood exploitation and consumption in the Medieval and Early Modern Period and the import of seafood to different regions of Estonia. For dried cod and oysters, the area of origin of import extends to the North Sea or other seas of the European coast of the Atlantic Ocean.

Ülle Aguraiuja-Lätti and Martin Malve write about the dietary habits of people in medieval and early modern Estonia based on stable isotope analyses. These analyses allow looking at the long-term nutritional aspects of single individuals and possible preferences for, e.g., seafood.

In the last article, Martin Malve deals with the infectious diseases that affected the inhabitants of Estonia in the middle and early modern times, the more severe forms of which are revealed in the skeleton of the sick person. Changes in certain parts of the skeleton are caused, for example, by leprosy, syphilis and tuberculosis and these diseases mostly spread among urban people.

The December 2023 issue of Estonian Journal of Earth Sciences contains five papers covering a range of topics from Cambrian geochemistry to the application of geophysical techniques in exploring subsurface voids.

Abdelfattah Azizi and co-authors studied geochemistry of the early Cambrian strata of Anti-Atlas, Morocco, to evaluate the provenance of the terrigenous material and reconstruct paleoredox conditions of the Cambrian sea in the region. Major and trace element composition suggests that the rocks were most likely Paleoproterozoic–Neoproterozoic granites and metasediments of the Kerdous inlier. Paleoredox proxies such as U/Al, V/Al and Mo/Al suggest that the studied formations were deposited in the oxic environment. This implies that the seawater redox status was not driving the transition from stromatolite-dominated microbial consortium to the thrombolite-archaeocyathan biota with shelly metazoans observed in the studied interval.

Jānis Karušsand co-authors tested the practical usability of electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) for identifying subsurface karst features. Authors concluded that synthetic modelling with the ERT method cannot always identify subsurface cavities, and problems with detecting air-filled karst sinkholes can arise not only in areas where surrounding rocks have a high electrical resistivity but also where surrounding rocks have a low resistivity.

Ülo Suursaar analysed variations in wind velocity components and average air flow properties on the Estonian coast in 1966–2021, with the focus on the Sõrve Peninsula, Saaremaa Island. It appears that both westerly and easterly sub-components of winds increased by 0.5 m/s in 2004–2021, affecting the west and east coast of the peninsula, respectively. Sea ice forcing load was more than twice as high on the western coast, but the relative effect was smaller, as ice conditions were milder there. The SW-directed flow strengthened over the study period because of an increase in the easterly and northerly wind speed subset and a decrease in the ice cover on the Gulf of Riga.

Daiga Pipira and co-authors studied the uppermost Devonian or basal Carboniferous dolocretes – carbonate-rich deposits formed within soils. The strong role of soil processes was indicated by various sedimentological and geochemical features. The peculiar vertical clay-dolomite structures represent root structures of early trees. The authors conclude that the extensive development of soil processes and formation of the vertical structures was stimulated by seasonally wet monsoon climate during the end-Devonian glaciation and the related sea regression.

Normunds Stivrins characterized the spatial distribution of three main phyla of phytoplankton (Cyanobacteria, Charophyta and Chlorophyta) in Latvian lakes, using non-pollen palynomorph analysis from modern surface sediment samples. The results showed the dominance of Chlorophyta in most waterbodies across Latvia. Charophyta dominated only in forested areas, whereas Cyanobacteria were dominant in sites closer to human-populated and recreation centres, including urban and agricultural land-use areas. The abundance of Cyanobacteria is correlated with warmer mean winter temperatures, indicating a potential threat related to climate change.

The December issue of Linguistica Uralica consists of Mansi studies in honour of Elena Skribnik’s 70th birthday. Jeremy Bradley and Rogier Blokland review the practicalities of print realization and the role of Unicode in the history of Uralic minority languages with a focus on Mansi. Bernadett Bíró and Katalin Sipőcz survey the newspaper Lūimā Sēripos ‘Northern Dawn’ for writings which reflect on the Mansi language in Mansi. North Mansi figures in Csilla Horváth’s and Nikolett Mus’ study on variation in copula use in nominal clause types, as well as in Susanna Virtanen’s investigation of non-clause-initial placement of subjects. The paper by Gerson Klumpp investigates differential object marking in West Mansi, where direct objects may be flagged with a multi-functional dative-lative case. 

In the new issue of Oil Shale, the article “A two-step model for assessing the potential of shale-derived chemicals by oxidation of kukersite” by Estonian researchers looks into the alternative transformation process of kukersite kerogen and directs future experimental research in this area. The presented approach provides a simple model for the oxidation of kukersite, highlighting the significant role of resorcinol units, particularly at the beginning of the oxidation process.

The article “Classification and potential of continental shale oil resources in China and resource evaluation methods and criteria” is certainly of considerable interest. Authors of the article summarize and analyse the exploration progress made in the typical shale oil exploration areas in China and the geological insights gained through the exploration activities. The corresponding resource evaluation methods and quantitative models are proposed. The authors point out that there are obvious differences between oil shale and shale oil, but there are also some connections. The obvious difference is that oil shale is a shallow-buried organic solid mineral, while shale oil mostly refers to the liquid hydrocarbons in organic-rich shale, which may exist in various forms: free, adsorbed and dissolved. The connections between oil shale and shale oil lie in that the liquid hydrocarbons obtained by in-situ cracking of deeply buried oil shale deposits are in-situ converted shale oil.

The new issue of Proceedings of the Estonian Academy of Sciences celebrates the 75th anniversary of academician Jaak Järv. The authors of the articles are his former and current students from Estonian and foreign research institutions and companies. The articles focus on research into bioactive compounds and the identification of their potential action mechanisms. In several studies, methods of chemical kinetics are used for this purpose, which have also found application in the development of bioanalytical methodologies and the necessary equipment. Additionally, computer modelling of proteins has been used in the research, which allows a deeper analysis of phenomena related to the regulation of biocatalysis. The issue also introduces several companies of the students of Jaak Järv, or where he himself is active as a consultant or a member of board.

The recent issue of Trames contains six articles.

In the opening paper, Ukrainian researchers Olena Pavlova et al. present a historical and civilisational treatment about the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. The aggression war constitutes a sharp conflict between two countries of different political, economic and cultural systems, which influences the whole region, relations between the two countries, and threatens to destroy the entire system of international justice. The Russian-Ukrainian conflict has deep historical roots. The article offers solutions to punish the aggressor and ways to solve the civilisational conflicts.

In the next article, Pakistani authors Muhammad Nadeem Mirza et al. examine the structural sources of distrust between China and Russia. In recent decades, both countries have adopted strategies of accommodation, normalization and convergence, which transformed their cooperation into a comprehensive strategic partnership. The cooperation is weakened by their views and assessment of the world order, imbalance in bilateral trade and investment, rivalry in their respective spheres of influence, the Russians’ fear of Chinese immigrants, ideological differences and an asymmetrical power distribution between the two. Such conflicts inhibit any long-time cooperation between the countries.

The third article by Zoudan Ma from China analyses the border situation between China and Korea and the crossing of the border. At first this was a political mission, a diplomatic ritual that developed into economic relations. Throughout history, border crossing was characterized by its dual essence, including both the ritual and mundane, exotic and domestic, national and international elements.

The Polish scholar Mateusz Rozmiarek takes a look at the influence of Olympic circus on the Polish inhabitants in the mid-19th century Grand Duchy of Posen. Although this was local entertainment, it contributed to people’s mental and physical health. Via the performance of professional sportsmen, circus promoted self-development attitudes and a need to move towards set aims, which was especially significant in the context of the Poles’ independence aspirations.

The article by Chinese authors Su Wang and Qingqing Xiao presents an overview of the whistling art of China. Whistling was among the first human auditory and ideographical means. As a singular cultural phenomenon, whistling (xiao)has been popular in China for a long time. It was religious magic and a way to keep alchemists and Taoists in good shape. On the one hand, whistling has the function of expressing personal emotions and lifting the mood, on the other, it can lead to the unity of heaven and humankind, i.e., man’s return to nature.

The final article by a young Kazakh researcher Rustem Dosmurzinov focuses on the pre-Islamic world view of Kazakhs. Central Asia and Kazakhstan have been on the crossroads of civilisations and the area of interaction of various religious traditions of the world – Zoroastrism, Buddhism, Christianity (Nestorianism), Maniсhaeism and Islam. Kazakhs never broke their contact with nature, and that is why people’s beliefs and superstition relied on animist and totemistic beliefs and magic. The cornerstone of the Kazakh world view was belief in the possibility to change the world to suit people’s traditions, and this reflected in special clothes, traditions and customs.

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