Ancient news stories
In a 1981 Smithsonian Magazine article, geologist Farouk El-Baz theorizes that the ancient Egyptians didn’t create the sphinx from scratch, like the pyramids, but that desert winds formed the overall contours of the sphinx and the ancient stonemasons gave the rock a celestial facelift. Now, scientists from New York University have tested that theory…See the study here.
A study in the Netherlands reported that regular participants in ayahuasca ceremonies have better general well-being, fewer chronic or lifestyle-related diseases, more physical activity, and a more balanced diet compared to the general population of the Netherlands. The study was published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.
Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered a 3,500-year-old cemetery that contains a “Book of the Dead” papyrus.
Excavations on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi have uncovered two unique and deadly artefacts dating back some 7,000 years – tiger shark teeth that were used as blades. These finds, reported in the journal Antiquity, are some of the earliest archaeological evidence globally for the use of shark teeth in composite weapons – weapons made with multiple parts.
In a twist in the ancient human story, emerging evidence suggests that we may have worn shoes as early as the Middle Stone Age (75,000—150,000 years ago). This could mean that our species had complex cognitive and practical abilities much earlier than was previously thought.
In their study, reported on the open-access site PLOS ONE, the group used a variety of techniques to identify the source of red coloring on shell beads found in an Israeli cave decades ago.
The ruins of a 5,000-year-old tomb in a construction that reflects the pinnacle of neolithic engineering in northern Britain has been unearthed in Orkney.
A comparison of the genomes of a Neanderthal who lived 120,000 years ago in Siberia with those from modern humans in sub-Saharan Africa has revealed insight into the migratory and interbreeding history of both species. See the paper here.
Sometimes, years of painstaking excavation work are required to uncover the artifacts of the past – and sometimes, as with a recent earthquake in Mexico City, much of the hard digging work is done by nature.
An extreme drought in parts of the Amazon has led to a dramatic drop in river water levels, exposing dozens of usually submerged rock formations with carvings of human forms that may date back some 2,000 years.
It’s a familiar story to many of us: In prehistoric times, men were hunters and women were gatherers. Women were not physically capable of hunting because their anatomy was different from men. And because men were hunters, they drove human evolution.But that story’s not true… See the research here and here.
The Moon’s youthful good looks are apparently deceptive. A new study of tiny grains of zircon in Apollo lunar samples suggests that it’s even older than we thought, by a good 40 million years. The research is due to be published in Geochemical Perspectives Letters.
In spite of the myriad of findings detailing their genetic and cultural similarities, our long-extinct ‘cousins’ are still all too often exiled into their own species, Homo neanderthalensis. That categorization is due for a change…See the study here.
A team of scientists have identified the oldest pieces of Baltic amber ever found on the Iberian Peninsula, revealing that this luxury material used in jewelry and handicrafts around the world was already being imported more than 5,000 years ago. See the study here.
Modern humans migrated to Eurasia 75,000 years ago, where they encountered and interbred with Neanderthals. A new study published in the journal Current Biology shows that at this time Neanderthals were already carrying human DNA from a much older encounter with modern humans.