Ancient news stories

Mystery of Tibiscum: How did half a Roman fort vanish without a trace 1,700 years ago?
16th April 2017 | | Ancient

The Roman fort and civilian town of Tibiscum, in what is now Romania, was founded around the year 100 CE. It was thought to have been destroyed by the Barbarians around 300 CE. But Polish archaeologists have now discovered evidence that can’t be explained by conflict with Barbarians. Much of the settlement appears to have been not just razed to the ground, but entirely gone.

Can we ever find Jesus’s DNA? I met the scientists who are trying to find out
16th April 2017 | Ancient

It was the first stop on an extraordinary journey. On a bright but bitterly cold January afternoon earlier this year, I found myself on a small island in the Black Sea, just off Sozopol on the east coast of Bulgaria. Sveti Ivan has long been a destination for travellers: it boasted a temple of Apollo in ancient times. But I was there to speak to an old Bulgarian archaeologist about the most important find of his career.

Ancient sacred art resurrected in city of Jesus’s birth
16th April 2017 | | Ancient

In Bethlehem, a group of enthusiasts specializing in the sacred craft of iconography work to keep the 2,000-year-old tradition alive

Down a Bethlehem alleyway, sunlight illuminates a golden icon of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, signaling the revival of an ancient art being practiced in the workshop inside.

Silk-Covered Body Discovered at Inner Mongolia Cemetery
16th April 2017 | | Ancient

A silk-covered body inside a coffin and a silver bowl depicting Greek goddesses are among the discoveries at a 1,500-year-old cemetery in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region in China.

Another female Bronze Age icon is now known to have travelled across Europe
16th April 2017 | Ancient

The discovery in 2015 that the remains of the teenage Egtved Girl discovered in Denmark were not in fact Danish caused an outcry. Partly because this Danish Bronze Age icon turned out not to be Danish after all, and partly because she demonstrated that Bronze Age people travelled far and wide—including women.

Scans of Viking Swords Reveal a Slice of Norse Culture
16th April 2017 | | Ancient

High-tech scans of Viking swords are revealing details of how the weapons were made and how their role changed in Viking society over time.

A new analysis of three Viking swords has found that, as fearsome as these seafaring people were, these specific “weapons” were probably not sturdy enough for battle or raiding, and instead were likely decorative.

The Tallest Men in the World Trace Back to Paleolithic Mammoth Hunters
15th April 2017 | | Ancient, Humans

Men from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Netherlands, Croatia, and Montenegro are, on average, the tallest in the world, according to new research that helps to explain why such individuals often grow to six feet and more in height.

Prehistoric Native Americans farmed macaws in ‘feather factories’
15th April 2017 | | Ancient

To ancient peoples of the American Southwest, a macaw’s brilliant feathers weren’t just adornments. They were status symbols and spiritual emblems — so precious, in fact, that macaws were kept in captivity and deliberately plucked of their plumage, new evidence suggests.

14,000-year-old village discovered in Canada one of oldest settlements ever found in North America
15th April 2017 | | Ancient

An ancient village believed to be one of the oldest human settlements ever found in North America has been discovered during an excavation on a remote island in British Columbia.

Bedbugs bugged prehistoric humans, too
15th April 2017 | | Ancient

The oldest known specimens of bedbug relatives have been unearthed in an Oregon cave system where ancient humans once lived. The partial fossils from three different species in the bedbug family date back 5,000 to 11,000 years, predating a previous find from 3,500 years ago

Ant agricultural revolution began 30 million years ago in dry, desert-like climate
15th April 2017 | | Ancient, Animal Life

Millions of years before humans discovered agriculture, ants were farming fungus beneath the surface of the Earth. By tracing their evolutionary history, scientists have learned about a key transition in their agricultural evolution. This transition allowed the ants to achieve higher levels of complexity in farming, rivaling the agricultural practices of humans. Scientists report that this transition likely occurred when farming ants began living in dry climates.

Penguin poo reveals how volcanic eruptions almost killed off the seabirds
15th April 2017 | | Ancient, Animal Life

Ardley Island, in the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica, is inhabited by around 5,000 pairs of gentoo penguins. This makes it one of the largest breeding colonies for the penguin species, yet penguins on the island have had a tough time surviving.

The penguin colony was periodically wiped out by three volcanic eruptions

This is what the earliest ancestor of birds and dinosaurs looked like
15th April 2017 | | Ancient

Before there were dinosaurs, there was this creature: the 10-foot, long-necked Telocrater.

For a study published today in the journal Nature, a team of researchers analyzed the remains of Teleocrater rhadinus, a common ancestor of birds and dinosaurs. It walks on four legs, has a very long neck and tail, and can be seven to 10 feet long.

Alt: Early dinosaur relative walked like a croc

Newfound Tusk Belonged to One of the Last Surviving Mammoths in Alaska
15th April 2017 | | Ancient

A prehistoric campfire and a number of archaeological treasures — including a large tusk of a mammoth, and tools fashioned out of stone and ivory — remained hidden for thousands of years in the Alaskan wilderness until researchers discovered them recently.

Mimicking an impact on Earth’s early atmosphere yields all 4 RNA bases
15th April 2017 | Ancient, Earth

There aren’t a lot of individual experiments that have ended up being staples of high school textbooks, but Stanley Miller and Harold Urey did one of them. Miller and Urey are the people who sealed up a mixture of gases meant to model the Earth’s early atmosphere and jolted the gas with some sparks. What emerged was a complex mix of chemicals that included amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.

These May Be the Deepest Traces of Life on Earth
13th April 2017 | Ancient, Animal Life, Earth

On Earth circa four billion years ago, life was hard. Frequent asteroid strikes turned parts of the planet into molten rock. Food and livable spaces were few and far between. What was a microbe to do to survive?

Some very early life could have made it by staying deep—living as far as six miles below the seafloor.

Forget sponges: The earliest animals were marine jellies
13th April 2017 | Ancient

When cartoonist and marine-biology teacher Steve Hillenburg created SpongeBob SquarePants in 1999, he may have backed the wrong side of one of the longest-running controversies in the field of evolutionary biology.

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