Ancient news stories
The United States bought Alaska from Russia in 1867. From that moment on, the future of a great northern territory and its original inhabitants changed forever. Enjoy scrolling through this collection of 47 historic photographs from the Library of Congress.
The remains of roasted, chopped and defleshed dog skulls in the Eurasian steppe are providing evidence of a bizarre rite of passage for young boys from 4000 years ago – one that might have echoes in the foundation myth of ancient Rome. “The nature of this ritual was that they killed and then consumed very large numbers of dogs and some wolves with them,” says David Anthony at Hartwick College in New York.
Total solar eclipses have inspired wonder and awe throughout history, with the first known reference to an eclipse dating back about 5,000 years. But when the moon passes between Earth and the sun and darkens skies across the United States on August 21, there will be one major difference between modern-day skywatchers and ancient cultures that witnessed the same celestial phenomenon: We’ll have much less fear.
Millions of people await the Great American Eclipse on August 21, 2017. A thousand years ago, early Pueblo people called Chacoans captured their experiences of a total solar eclipse in 1097 by carving it into a rock — a circle with looping streamers that resemble the sun’s outer atmosphere, or corona. Not only does this rock art, or petroglyph, in Chaco Canyon depict a solar eclipse with a gigantic eruption of plasma called a coronal mass ejection (CME), its looping lines may have evoked a wondrous, inspirational experience, said solar astronomer J. McKim Malville, a University of Colorado Boulder professor emeritus, who is an expert in archaeoastronomy. He believes there is the possibility that the glory of that experience for the people living in Chaco in 1097 was transformed to an increased reverence and increased appreciation of the sun.
For centuries, if an archaeologist wanted to find an ancient or mythical site, they trudged through desert sands or rainforest thickets armed with little more than rumors, hand-drawn maps, historical accounts, biblical texts, and a lot of educated guesswork. But all that changed in the late 20th century when some of them began using a new tool: remote sensing. By gathering data and images from satellites and aircraft, researchers began to uncover a wealth of new finds. Like the glow of a flickering bulb, images taken from above shed light on previously dark landscapes.
From ocean-going robots to virtual reconstructions of ancient cities, new tools and techniques are transforming archaeology like never before. All these futuristic technologies and others are bringing archaeologists ever closer to understanding the lives of our ancestors. We’re at the cutting edge of trying to understand who we are as humans.
With foraging is his prayer time and traditional cooking is his meditation, Chef Karlos Baca sheds the colonial mindframe of the modern culinary world and waxes poetic on reconnecting indigenous people with their ancestral foods.
DNA research finds that the majority of Puerto Ricans have Native blood. Their society was not killed off by Spanish invaders in the 1600’s. “Our study showed there was assimilation,” geneticist Martinez-Cruzado explained, “but the people were not extinguished. Their political and social structure was, but the genes were not.” The Taino people were assimilated into a new colonial order, and still remain Taino mixed with Africans and Spaniards.
Whether sexual or asexual, reproduction is a necessity for all organisms to ensure their genetic material survives after they’ve bitten the dust (or in this case, the wet sand). Half-a-billion-year-old animals are no different. Although in many ways it’s difficult to study how these ancient organisms reproduced, doing so is a critical aspect of our research. Here are some of the things we know about reproduction in the Ediacaran Period.
Rock art is part of our common heritage, regardless of our social, cultural, religious or economic status; the sites and the images they contain were created as part of daily life in the past. These visual expressions of mankind’s ideas are found worldwide. In a series of lectures, Karen Osland, a California archaeologist and ethnobotany teacher, explains how recent discoveries suggest people have been processing earth pigments into paint for more than 77,000 years.
A young man in Slovakia, freshly graduated from Hlohovec, saw an unusual metal object sticking out of the ground during a grill party near the Váh river. He contacted preservationists in Trnava and they recognized the object as a dagger on a stick from the older Bronze Age, almost 4,000 years old. Only four such daggers have been found.
Rare 1,000-year-old Calusa Indian artifacts, including pieces of wood, rope, and fishing net, were retrieved from a waterlogged midden located along the ancient shoreline in Pineland, Florida. The fishing net, likely fashioned from native cabbage palm tree fiber, has some of its knots still attached in a grid an inch wide. The deposit also contained clamshell weights and unburned seeds from a gourd-like squash, possibly all that remains of attached gourds that once enabled the net to float.
In South American shamanism, Vilca is the most sacred of all the plant medicines, although it’s practically unknown to a world that’s already becoming remarkably aware and (ill-advisedly) comfortable with Ayahuasca. For over 3,500 years, a human finger with a channel bored through its center has been used as an inhaler for Vilca, perhaps the most powerful psychoactive plant medicine in the world, by people seeking a glimpse of transcendence, in a sacred ceremony of the Huachuma mesada. While the Egyptians built their physical wonder of the world, the people of Chavín in the Peruvian Andes had already perfected the Vilca ritual as the peak of mind-and-spirit-expanding shamanic practices. Inhaled while already under the powerful influence of Huachuma (AKA San Pedro, a mescaline-based psychoactive medicine similar to Peyote), it forms a bridge between life, death, and rebirth.
Located on Peru’s northwest coast, Pañamarca was one of many ceremonial centers sacred to the Moche people. This colour slideshow from Archaeological Institute of America details explanations of the iconography of some of the best preserved murals that adorn the adobe structures at the site.
A second modern stone circle draws visitors at newly opened Tout Quarry Sculpture Park and Nature Reserve in Dorset, England. Tout Quarry first began producing stone for London buildings in 1750. This now abandoned quarry has been brought back to life with a series of artworks that have been etched right into the remaining stone, creating an enchanting labyrinth of stone carvings and monoliths.
On Cedros Island, Mexico, Matthew Des Lauriers got the first inkling that he had stumbled on something special when he pulled over on a dirt road, meandered across the landscape, scanning for stone tools and shell fragments left by the people who had lived on the island in the past. After analysis of what he found was dated to 12,000 years ago, we have more evidence for disproving the crumbling Clovis First theory.