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Latest Archaeology News

 Americas

Pre-Columbus climate change may have caused Amazon population decline

Indigenous Amazonia populations may have been in decline prior to ‘Great Dying’ UNIVERSITY OF READING Research News SHARE PRINT E-MAIL Climate change impacts felt in the Amazon rainforest prior to the arrival of European settlers after 1492 may have meant populations of indigenous people were already in decline before the ‘Great Dying’, new research has suggested. Scientists studying fossil pollen and charcoal data from across the Amazon say it appears to show that human management of the rainforest may have peaked around 1200 AD, before some sites were abandoned, allowin…

New findings show connections between the ancient horse populations in North America, where horses evolved, and Eurasia, where they were domesticated A new study of ancient DNA from horse fossils found in North America and Eurasia shows that horse populations on the two continents remained co.
Easter Islanders’ strict separation between clans may have preserved cultural diversity

After a long journey, a group of settlers sets foot on an otherwise empty land. A vast expanse separates them from other human beings, cutting off any possibility of outside contact. Their choices will make the difference between survival and death. The people of Easter Island may have something to teach future Martian colonists. Binghamton University anthropologists Carl Lipo and Robert DiNapoli explore how complex community patterns in Rapa Nui — the indigenous name for both the island and its people — helped the isolated island survive from its settlement in the 12th to 13th…

Ancient gut microbiomes may offer clues to modern diseases

Research News Scientists are rapidly gathering evidence that variants of gut microbiomes, the collections of bacteria and other microbes in our digestive systems, may play harmful roles in diabetes and other diseases. Now Joslin Diabetes Center scientists have found dramatic differences between gut microbiomes from ancient North American peoples and modern microbiomes, offering new evidence on how these microbes may evolve with different diets. The scientists analyzed microbial DNA found in indigenous human paleofeces (desiccated excrement) from unusually dry caves in Utah and no…

Europe
Forensic archaeologists begin to recover Spanish Civil War missing bodies


CRANFIELD UNIVERSITY Research News SHARE PRINT E-MAIL [image: IMAGE] IMAGE: THE MISSING FACES OF THOSE WHOSE BODIES THE TEAM ARE TRYING TO FIND. view more CREDIT: GEMA ORTIZ IGLESIAS Forensic archaeologists and anthropologists from Cranfield University have started to recover the bodies of victims executed by the Franco regime at the end of the Spanish Civil War during an excavation in the Ciudad Real region of Spain. The team from Cranfield is working with partners from the University Complutense of Madrid (UCM) and social anthropologists from Mapas de Memoria (Maps of…

Bubonic plague had long-term effect on human immunity genes

Scientists examined DNA from mass grave of plague victims in Germany Scientists examining the remains of 36 bubonic plague victims from a 16th century mass grave in Germany have found the first evidence that evolutionary adaptive processes, driven by the disease, may have conferred immunity on later generations of people from the region. “We found that innate immune markers increased in frequency in modern people from the town compared to plague victims,” said the study’s joint-senior author Paul Norman, PhD, associate professor in the Division of Personalized Medicine at the Un…

Fields of opium poppies once bloomed where the Zurich Opera House underground garage now stands. Through a new analysis of archaeological seeds, researchers at the University of Basel have been able to bolster the hypothesis that prehistoric farmers throughout the Alps participated in domesticating the opium poppy. Although known today primarily as the source of opium and opiates, the poppy is also a valuable food and medicinal plant. Its seeds can be use…
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Less wastage during production of marble slabs in the Roman imperial period than today


Analysis of wall decoration dating to the second century A.D. provides new insights into marble extraction and processing When it comes to ancient Roman imperial architecture, most people usually have a mental image of white marble statues, columns, or slabs. While it is true that many buildings and squares at that time were …

New evidence suggests sexual division of labor as farming arose in Europe at the start of the Neolithic

A new investigation of stone tools buried in graves provides evidence supporting the existence of a division of different types of labor between people of male and female biological sex at the start of the Neolithic. Alba Masclans of Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas in Barcelona, Spain, and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal *PLOS ONE* on April 14, 2021. Previous research has suggested that a sexual division of labor existed in Europe during the transition to the Neolithic period, when farming practices spread across the continent. However…

Who fought in the ancient Greek Battles of Himera? Chemical evidence provides answers


Geochemical tests reveal truths and myths in historical accounts of military conflict PLOS Research News SHARE PRINT E-MAIL [image: IMAGE] IMAGE: TEMPLE OF VICTORY AT HIMERA, SICILY, CONSTRUCTED BY THE DEFEATED CARTHAGINIANS AFTER THE FIRST BATTLE OF HIMERA IN 480 BCE. view more CREDIT: KATHERINE REINBERGER Geochemical evidence reveals that armies in the Battles of Himera were a mixture of locals and outsiders, according to a study published March 24, 2021 in the open-access journal *PLOS ONE* by Katherine Reinberger of the University of Georgia, US, and colleagues. Thes…

Double water channels may have been used to maintain the system while enabling constant operation JOHANNES GUTENBERG UNIVERSITAET MAINZ Research News  IMAGE: THE TWO-STORY KUR?UNLUGERME BRIDGE, PART OF THE AQUEDUCT SYSTEM OF CONSTANTINOPLE: TWO WATER CHANNELS PASSED OVER THIS BRIDGE – ONE ABOVE THE OTHER. view more CREDIT: PHOTO/©: JIM CROW Aqueducts are very impressive examples of the art of construction in the Roman Empire. Even today, they still provide us with new insights into aesthetic, practical, and technical aspects of constructi…
Bronze Age migrations changed societal organization and genomic landscape in Italy

A new study in *Current Biology* from the Institute of Genomics of the University of Tartu, Estonia has shed light on the genetic prehistory of populations in modern day Italy through the analysis of ancient human individuals during the Chalcolithic/Bronze Age transition around 4,000 years ago. The genomic analysis of ancient samples enabled researchers from Estonia, Italy, and the UK to date the arrival of the Steppe-related ancestry component to 3,600 years ago in Central Italy, also finding changes in burial practice and kinship structure during this transition. In the last ye…

UNIVERSITY OF GÖTTINGEN MAP SHOWING THE SPREAD OF WEIGHING TECHNOLOGY IN BRONZE AGE EUROPE (C. 2300-800 BC) view more CREDIT: N IALONGO How did people living in the Bronze Age manage their finances before money became widespread? Researchers from the Universities of Göttingen and Rome have discovered that bronze scrap found in hoards in Europe circulated as a currency. These pieces of scrap – which might include swords, axes, and jewellery broken into pieces – were used as cash in the late Bronze Age (1350-800 BC), a…
Ancient DNA reveals origin of first Bronze Age civilizations in Europe


Finding shed light on role of migration in Neolithic to Bronze Age transition and emergence of Indo-European languages CENTER FOR GENOMIC REGULATION Research News [image: IMAGE] IMAGE: SKELETON OF ONE OF THE TWO INDIVIDUALS WHO LIVED IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BRONZE AGE AND WHOSE COMPLETE GENOME WAS RECONSTRUCTED AND SEQUENCED BY THE LAUSANNE TEAM. IT COMES… view more CREDIT: EPHORATE OF ANTIQUITIES OF KOZANI, HELLENIC MINISTRY OF CULTURE, GREECE. COURTESY OF DR GEORGIA KARAMITROU-MENTESSIDI. The first civilisations to build monumental palaces and urban centres in Europe are more…

The last battle of Anne of Brittany: isotopic study of the soldiers of 1491

Research News A multidisciplinary team of researchers from INRAP, CNRS, the universities of Ottawa, Rennes 2, Toulouse III Paul Sabatier and the Max Planck Institute has recognised the soldiers of the last battles of the siege of Rennes in 1491. These are the only witnesses of the forces involved in the conflict between the armies of Duchess Anne of Brittany and the King of France. This research and its methodology are currently the subject of two articles in the *PLOS ONE* review. The excavation of the Jacobins convent in Rennes From 2011 to 2013, a team from INRAP excavated …

Israel
Second Temple period remains unearthed at Jerusalem’s Gethsemane – The First Remains from the era that Jesus visited the site

*Archaeological excavations preceding development work unearthed a 2000-year-old ritual bath near the famous modern church, together with the remains of a church from the Byzantine period (c. 1500 years ago). The finds were uncovered during an Israel Antiquities Authority archaeological excavation with the assistance of scholars from the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum. * The discoveries were presented in Jerusalem last Monday, December 21, 2020, with the participation of the Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton* One of the first archaeological evidence of its kind of Se…

Impressive 1600-year-old mosaic uncovered during archaeological excavations in Yavne

* The mosaic was found during excavations by the Israel Antiquities Authority, financed by the Israel Lands Authority before the development of a new neighborhood * Archaeologists say it may have graced a mansion in the affluent neighborhood located near the industrial area * An impressive 1600-year-old mosaic found during archaeological excavations in Yavne is to be placed on public display at the city’s cultural center, in a joint initiative launched by Yavne municipality, the Israel Antiquities Authority, and the Israel Land Authority. In recent years, the Israel Antiquities…

A “Lucky” Bronze Oil Lamp Meant for Good Fortune Was Uncovered During Excavations of the City of David’s Pilgrimage Road

*The First Discovery of its Kind in Jerusalem and One of the Few in the World* A rare bronze oil lamp, shaped like a grotesque face that is cut in half, was recently discovered in excavations conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in the City of David National Park. Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologists Ari Levy and Dr. Yuval Baruch believe that the lamp, which was discovered in the foundations of a building built upon the pilgrimage road, was intentionally deposited in order to bring good fortune to the building’s residents. “The offering of this lamp may atte…


Neanderthals
Scientists discover a new feature that distinguishes modern humans from Neanderthals


[image: IMAGE] IMAGE: SCIENTISTS DISCOVER A NEW FEATURE THAT DISTINGUISHES MODERN HUMANS FROM NEANDERTHALS view more CREDIT: PAVEL ODINEV / SKOLTECH Skoltech scientists and their colleagues from Germany and the United States have analyzed the metabolomes of humans, chimpanzees, and macaques in muscle, kidney, and three different brain regions. The team discovered that the modern human genome undergoes mutation which makes the adenylosuccinate lyase enzyme less stable, leading to a decrease in purine synthesis. This mutation did not occur in Neanderthals, so the scientists believe …

Findings on Neanderthal oral microbiomes offer new clues on evolution, health

Research News A new study looking at the evolutionary history of the human oral microbiome shows that Neanderthals and ancient humans adapted to eating starch-rich foods as far back as 100,000 years ago, which is much earlier than previously thought. The findings suggest such foods became important in the human diet well before the introduction of farming and even before the evolution of modern humans. And while these early humans probably didn’t realize it, the benefits of bringing the foods into their diet likely helped pave the way for the expansion of the human brain becaus…


Australia
Ancient Australian Aboriginal memory tool superior to ‘memory palace’ learning
Jonathan Kantrowitz, Archaeology News Report – 1 week ago
Research News Australian scientists have compared an ancient Greek technique of memorising data to an even older technique from Aboriginal culture, using students in a rural medical school. The study found that students using a technique called memory palace in which students memorised facts by placinthem into a memory blueprint of the childhood home, allowing them to revisit certain rooms to recapture that data. Another group of students were taught a technique developed by Australian Aboriginal people over more than 50,000 years of living in a custodial relationship with the Au…
Asia
Archaeologists pinpoint population for the Greater Angkor region

Long-running archaeological research, boosted by airborne lidar sensing and machine-learning algorithms, finds that Cambodia’s Greater Angkor region was home to 700,000-900,000 people. The sprawling city, which thrived from the 9th to 15th centuries, has slowly revealed its forest-hidden past to archaeologists, but its total population has been a mystery. The new estimate, made possible by a study designed at the University of Oregon, is the first for the entire 3,000-square-kilometer mix of urban and rural landscape. The findings published May 7 in the journal *Science Advanc…

Africa
Review: Most human origins stories are not compatible with known fossils


Fossil apes can inform us about essential aspects of ape and human evolution, including the nature of our last common ancestor AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY Research News SHARE PRINT E-MAIL [image: IMAGE] IMAGE: THE LAST COMMON ANCESTOR OF CHIMPANZEES AND HUMANS REPRESENTS THE STARTING POINT OF HUMAN AND CHIMPANZEE EVOLUTION. FOSSIL APES PLAY AN ESSENTIAL ROLE WHEN IT COMES TO RECONSTRUCTING THE NATURE… view more CREDIT: PRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM © CHRISTOPHER M. SMITH In the 150 years since Charles Darwin speculated that humans originated in Africa, the number …

Africa’s oldest human burial site uncovered


Research News SHARE PRINT E-MAIL [image: IMAGE] IMAGE: KARST SYSTEM LOCATED 50 KILOMETERS NORTH OF MOMBASA IN KENYA (TOP); 3D RECONSTRUCTION OF THE ARRANGEMENT OF THE CHILD’S REMAINS (CENTER), ARTISTIC RECONSTRUCTION OF THE BURIAL (DOWN) view more CREDIT: © MOHAMMAD JAVAD SHOAEE / JORGE GONZÁLEZ / ELENA SANTOS / F. FUEGO / MAXPLANCK INSTITUTE / CENIEH. The discovery of the earliest human burial site yet found in Africa, by an international team including several CNRS researchers1, has just been announced in the journal *Nature*. At Panga ya Saidi, in Kenya, north of Momba..

Study offers earliest evidence of humans changing ecosystems with fire

YALE UNIVERSITY Research News Mastery of fire has given humans dominance over the natural world. A Yale-led study provides the earliest evidence to date of ancient humans significantly altering entire ecosystems with flames. The study, published on May 5 in the journal *Science Advances*, combines archaeological evidence — dense clusters of stone artifacts dating as far back as 92,000 years ago — with paleoenvironmental data on the northern shores of Lake Malawi in eastern Africa to document that early humans were ecosystem engineers. They used fire in a way that prevented reg…