Ancient news stories

Did humans create the Sahara desert?
23rd March 2017 | Ancient

New research investigating the transition of the Sahara from a lush, green landscape 10,000 years ago to the arid conditions found today, suggests that humans may have played an active role in its desertification.

Alt: African Neolithic Populations Helped Create Sahara Desert, Research Suggests

‘Oldest plants on Earth’ discovered
22nd March 2017 | | Ancient

The origins of plants may go back hundreds of millions of years earlier than previously thought, according to fossil evidence.

Ancient rocks from India suggest plants resembling red algae lived 1.6 billion years ago in what was then shallow sea.

Long Before Trees Overtook the Land, Earth Was Covered by Giant Mushrooms
22nd March 2017 | | Ancient

24 feet tall and three feet wide, these giant spires dotted the ancient landscape

From around 420 to 350 million years ago, when land plants were still the relatively new kids on the evolutionary block and “the tallest trees stood just a few feet high,” giant spires of life poked from the Earth.

Metabolism may be older than life itself and start spontaneously
22nd March 2017 | | Ancient, Animal Life

A set of chemical reactions occurring spontaneously in Earth’s early chemical environments could have provided the foundations upon which life evolved.

The discovery that a version of the Krebs cycle, which occurs in most living cells, can proceed in the absence of cellular proteins called enzymes suggests that metabolism is older than life itself.

Complex Life Could Be Vastly Older Than Thought
22nd March 2017 | | Ancient, Animal Life

It was around 1.6 billion years ago that a community of small, bright red, plantlike life-forms, flitting around in a shallow pool of prehistoric water, were etched into stone until the end of time. Or at least until a team of Swedish researchers chipped their fossilized remnants out of a sedimentary rock formation in central India.

As the planet gets hotter, some mammals may get smaller
22nd March 2017 | | Ancient, Animal Life

Fifty-six million years ago, about 10 million years after the dinosaurs went extinct, something strange happened to our planet.

It got hot. Really hot.

Hotter than it had ever been since the Earth formed a few billion years earlier.

Earliest Depiction of ‘Fiery Serpent’ Found in Medieval Painting
22nd March 2017 | | Ancient

Italian researchers examining a medieval painting may have found the earliest visual depiction of dracunculiasis, a horrifying parasitic infection in which a worm up to 3 feet long creeps out of the skin.

Medieval ‘false leg’ strap found at Gloucester Cathedral
22nd March 2017 | | Ancient

A strap for a medieval false leg has been uncovered by archaeologists digging at Gloucester Cathedral.

Metal pieces from a prosthesis band were found with a skeleton in the old lay cemetery.

New research indicates that Alfred the Great probably wasn’t that great
22nd March 2017 | | Ancient

Was Alfred the Great really that great? If we judge him on the basis of new findings in landscape archaeology that are radically changing our understanding of warfare in the Viking Age, it would seem not. It looks like Alfred was a good propagandist rather than a visionary military leader.

It wasn’t just Greece: Archaeologists find early democratic societies in the Americas
22nd March 2017 | | Ancient

The candidate for political office stood in a plaza, naked, bracing himself against the punches and kicks. The crowd roared, pulsing around him like a beating heart. People for whom he had risked his life in war after war hurled blows and insults from all directions. The candidate breathed deeply. Trained as a warrior, he knew he had to stay calm to reach the next phase of his candidacy.

Archaeology Students Seek Answers to Lost Civilization
22nd March 2017 | | Ancient

In a lab in Frick Hall at California University of Pennsylvania, archaeology students sift through the finds of digs stored for as much as four decades. They are searching for clues to civilizations as much as two millennia old.

Two New Scientific Papers Suggest a Catastrophic Extraterrestrial Impact Event Occurred 12,000 Years Ago
22nd March 2017 | | Ancient

Alternative history’ researcher and author Graham Hancock has long postulated that a cataclysm some 12,000 years ago might have wiped out advanced civilisations. In his most recent book Magicians of the Gods he discusses at length the Younger Dryas period (c. 12,900 to c. 11,700 calendar years ago), which began when temperatures plummeted over the course of just a few decades – and the ‘heretical’ theory that this event may have been caused by a comet impact.

Now, two new papers recently published in respected journals may perhaps provide material support for that idea.

Stone Age tools and animal bones in Tunisia provide new clues on a 72,000-year-old ‘early human corridor’ across Africa
22nd March 2017 | | Ancient

Lying at the ‘crossroads’ for north-south movements between the Sahara and the Mediterranean, Tunisia is one of the world’s key regions for under early human travels.

Researchers have now discovered animal bones and stone tools in the land that once formed a giant lake in Tunisia.

How a 400,000-year-old skull fragment hints at ancient ‘unified humanity’
21st March 2017 | | Ancient

At one point, any new human fossil from hundreds of thousands of years ago might have drawn intrigue. If the new bones looked different from others that had been found before, they may have even been hailed as a new archaic human species, and given a taxonomic name in the genus Homo.

But some scientists say evidence is mounting that paleoanthropologists in the past may have been too quick to categorize hominin fossils as distinct species.

Alt: 400,000-year-old fossil human cranium is oldest ever found in Portugal

Human skull evolved along with two-legged walking, study confirms
21st March 2017 | Ancient

The evolution of bipedalism in fossil humans can be detected using a key feature of the skull — a claim that was previously contested but now has been further validated by researchers at Stony Brook University and The University of Texas at Austin.

Nose form was shaped by climate
21st March 2017 | | Ancient

Big, small, broad, narrow, long or short, turned up, pug, hooked, bulbous or prominent, humans inherit their nose shape from their parents, but ultimately, the shape of someone’s nose and that of their parents was formed by a long process of adaptation to our local climate, according to an international team of researchers.

Chinese scientists use remote sensing technology to detect underground Great Wall remains
21st March 2017 | Ancient

More than 1,000 years ago, several dotted, flake-shaped sections of the Great Wall stood in Xinjiang, protecting the border and the trade road. Recently, researchers from the China Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth (RADI) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) analyzed the distribution of ancient Great Wall sections in Xinjiang using remote sensing technology. They also used the technology to “restore” the wall’s appearance.

News stories covering history, archaeology, ancient Egypt, and mysteries of the past.