Ancient news stories

Rare Evidence of Pregnancy-Related Death Found at Ancient Troy
21st January 2017 | | Ancient

Death during pregnancy or childbirth would have been common in the ancient world, but these stories are often invisible in the archaeological record. However, in a new study of ancient DNA, researchers reported evidence of a woman who died of a pregnancy complication — specifically, a fatal bacterial infection — 800 years ago at Troy.

Fossils from ancient extinct giant flightless goose suggests it was a fighter
19th January 2017 | Ancient

A small team of researchers from Italy, Norway and Austria has found evidence of an ancient extinct goose relative that once lived in what is now central Italy. In their paper published in Royal Society Open Science, the team describes the fossils they found, what they suggest the bird once looked like and possibly how it behaved.

We might finally have found where complex life came from
18th January 2017 | | Ancient

It sounds like something out of Norse mythology, but new evidence suggests that all complex life on Earth, including humans, might have evolved from Asgard – a large group of microbes that were once found all over the world.

How the darkness and the cold killed the dinosaurs
18th January 2017 | | Ancient

66 million years ago, the sudden extinction of the dinosaurs started the ascent of the mammals, ultimately resulting in humankind’s reign on Earth. Climate scientists now reconstructed how tiny droplets of sulfuric acid formed high up in the air after the well-known impact of a large asteroid and blocking the sunlight for several years, had a profound influence on life on Earth.

Megalodon Met Its Demise When Its Prey Went Extinct
18th January 2017 | | Ancient

Megalodon, the largest known shark that ever lived, had a taste for small whales and it went extinct when populations of their favorite prey collapsed as the Pliocene Epoch (5.3–2.58 million years ago) drew to a close, new evidence indicates.

Jungle explorers contract rare flesh-eating disease among ruins of ancient lost ‘City of the Monkey God’
17th January 2017 | | Ancient

A group of explorers and archaeologists were struck down by an aggressive tropical disease which eats through the face while uncovering the mysteries of a legendary lost city in Honduras.

Alt: Explorers find disease-cursed City of the Monkey God and nearly lose their faces to flesh-eating parasite

Stalagmites in dry corridor suggest Amazonia maintained forests during the last ice age
17th January 2017 | Ancient

An international team of researchers has found evidence that suggests that Amazonia did not revert to savannah during the last ice age and instead remained forested. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the researchers describe how they retrieved stalagmite samples from a cave in one of the drier parts of Amazonia and used them to calculate not only how dry the area became during the last ice age, but what sorts of vegetation were growing

Aboriginal Australians co-existed with the megafauna for at least 17,000 years
17th January 2017 | | Ancient

Australia was once home to giant reptiles, marsupials and birds (and some not so giant), but the extinction of this megafauna has been the subject of a debate that has persisted since the 19th century.

Iran’s Centuries-Old Windmills May Soon Stop Turning
17th January 2017 | Ancient

In the village of Nashtifan in northeastern Iran, Mohammad Etebari serves as the last keeper of an ancient tradition. Now elderly, Etebari has dedicated his life to keeping the town’s few dozen historic windmills turning.

Sumerians Looked to the Heavens as They Invented the System of Time… And We Still Use it Today
17th January 2017 | | Ancient

One might find it curious that we divide the hours into 60 minutes and the days into 24 hours – why not a multiple of 10 or 12? Put quite simply, the answer is because the inventors of time did not operate on a decimal (base-10) or duodecimal (base-12) system but a sexagesimal (base-60) system. For the ancient Sumerian innovators who first divided the movements of the heavens into countable intervals, 60 was the perfect number.

The fake news that sealed the fate of Antony and Cleopatra
17th January 2017 | | Ancient

The papers and social media are today full of claims of fake news; back and forth the accusations fly that one side of the political divide in the US has been filling the world with lies in order to discredit the other. We used to call this propaganda; now it’s fake news.

Poisoned, shot and beaten: why cyanide alone may have failed to kill Rasputin
17th January 2017 | | Ancient

The end of December marked the 100th anniversary of the death of Rasputin, the “mad monk of Russia”, or “lover of the Russian queen” if you believe the Boney M song, though you probably shouldn’t. While the song is undoubtedly a floor-filler, unsurprisingly it is not exactly a reliable historical account of Rasputin’s life.

8,500-year-old Silk Found in Chinese Tombs, Oldest Evidence Ever
17th January 2017 | | Ancient

8,500-year-old silk found in ancient tombs in China is now the oldest evidence of people using silkworms to create the highly-sought-after textile, pushing the date back for such an occurrence by thousands of years.

Byzantine skeleton yields 800-year-old genomes from a fatal infection
17th January 2017 | | Ancient

Eight hundred years ago, in a hardscrabble farming community on the outskirts of what was once one of the fabled cities of the ancient world, Troy, a 30-year-old woman was laid to rest in a stone-lined grave.

Like others in the Byzantine era graveyard, the woman’s bones bore the unmistakable signs of a hard agrarian existence.

Retroviruses ‘almost half a billion years old’
16th January 2017 | | Ancient

Retroviruses – the family of viruses that includes HIV – are almost half a billion years old, according to new research by scientists at Oxford University. That’s several hundred million years older than previously thought and suggests retroviruses have ancient marine origins, having been with their animal hosts through the evolutionary transition from sea to land.

Tomatillo fossil is oldest nightshade plant
16th January 2017 | | Ancient

Two tiny tomatillo fossils have kicked the origin of nightshade plants back to the age of dinosaurs.

The fossils, pressed into 52-million-year-old rock, suggest that the nightshade family originated millions of years earlier than scientists had suspected, researchers report in the Jan. 6 Science.

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