Ancient times and elderly people

Did Agatha Christie suffer from Alzheimer’s at the end? U of T Magazine reports on a Canadian study intended to use computers to find out.

Avid Christie fans had the unsettling feeling that there might have been: the plot wasn’t as tight, the mystery not as carefully conceived. In 2004, the English academic Peter Garrard argued that evidence of Iris Murdoch’s Alzheimer’s disease appeared in her written work even before her doctor diagnosed it. So Ian Lancashire, an English professor at the University of Toronto, decided to analyze a selection of Christie’s novels.

He teamed up with Graeme Hirst, a professor in the computer science department. After digitizing copies of the books and developing their own analytical software, they examined the first 50,000 words of 16 of Christie’s novels. The earliest one, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was written at the beginning of her career, when she was in her mid-twenties. The last one, Postern of Fate, was penned when she was 82. She died at 85 of natural causes.

Tip: Mirabilis.

Most historical studies, operating on an evolutionist/materialist model, are written from the point of view that people first organized towns and cities (the beginnings of civilization) for economic reasons, developing religious institutions, as a sort of afterthought, later on.

But a German-born archaeologist, Klaus Schmidt is challenging that assumption, on the basis of a discovery in Turkey.

Schmidt has uncovered a vast and beautiful temple complex, a structure so ancient that it may be the very first thing human beings ever built. The site isn’t just old, it redefines old: the temple was built 11,500 years ago—a staggering 7,000 years before the Great Pyramid, and more than 6,000 years before Stonehenge first took shape. The ruins are so early that they predate villages, pottery, domesticated animals, and even agriculture—the first embers of civilization. In fact, Schmidt thinks the temple itself, built after the end of the last Ice Age by hunter-gatherers, became that ember—the spark that launched mankind toward farming, urban life, and all that followed.

Tip: First Thoughts.

7 thoughts on “Ancient times and elderly people”

  1. Is this the temple that was in the news the last couple of days?

    It was believed to be a work of Salomon because of how thick the walls were and how expensive it would have been to build it like that. Only someone like Solomon could have afforded it. Many folks at the scene believe it proves the Bible!

    But then came the report from the “world”…nah, no way it was Solomon’s. Everyone knows the Bible, including David and Solomon, is just a fairy tale…so it is just a great building….

  2. Lars, did you see the short article on someone finding a Viking boat anchor? It is on the same page as the Agatha story…. in the tip; Mirabilis.

    Interesting bit….

  3. John B: This temple is way older than Solomon. It’s way older than Abraham.

    The Viking anchor is interesting, but nothing earth-shattering. We know what Viking anchors looked like, and the idea that it could “prove” that Vikings settled down on the Isle of Skye is very old news. We’ve always known that Vikings settled down on the Isle of Skye.

  4. Hunter gatherers have to maintain an extremely low population density, otherwise they starve. They could have a place they meet annually for a few days, so as not to exhaust the local food supply.

    I wonder if this site had been an annual gathering place, slowly improved over the generations and abandoned or nearly so for most of the year.

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