Science News

  • The genetic origins of the world's first farmers clarified
    on May 12, 2022 at 4:18 pm

    The genetic origins of the first agriculturalists in the Neolithic period long seemed to lie in the Near East. A new study shows that the first farmers actually represented a mixture of Ice Age hunter-gatherer groups, spread from the Near East all the way to south-eastern Europe.

  • Livestock and dairying led to dramatic social changes in ancient Mongolia
    on May 11, 2022 at 6:23 pm

    The movement of herders and livestock into the eastern steppe is of great interest to researchers, but few scholars have linked the introduction of herds and horses to the rise of complex societies.

  • Ancient DNA gives new insights into 'lost' Indigenous people of Uruguay
    on May 11, 2022 at 4:35 pm

    The first whole genome sequences of the ancient people of Uruguay provide a genetic snapshot of Indigenous populations of the region before they were decimated by a series of European military campaigns.

  • How the black rat colonized Europe in the Roman and Medieval periods
    on May 3, 2022 at 6:13 pm

    New ancient DNA analysis has shed light on how the black rat, blamed for spreading Black Death, dispersed across Europe -- revealing that the rodent colonized the continent on two occasions in the Roman and Medieval periods. By analyzing DNA from ancient black rat remains found at archaeological sites spanning the 1st to the 17th centuries in Europe and North Africa, researchers have pieced together a new understanding of how rat populations dispersed following the ebbs and flows of human […]

  • Study reveals Stonehenge landscape before the world-famous monument
    on April 29, 2022 at 7:16 pm

    Four thousand years before Stonehenge was constructed, land within the World Heritage Site was covered by open woodland, with meadow-like clearings, inhabited by grazing animals and hunter-gatherers, according to new research.

  • Research finally answers what Bronze Age daggers were used for
    on April 29, 2022 at 6:49 pm

    Analysis of Bronze Age daggers has shown that they were used for processing animal carcasses and not as non-functional symbols of identity and status, as previously thought. A revolutionary new method has enabled the world's first extraction of organic residues from ten copper-alloy daggers.

  • Before Stonehenge monuments, hunter-gatherers made use of open habitats
    on April 27, 2022 at 6:06 pm

    Hunter-gatherers made use of open woodland conditions in the millennia before Stonehenge monuments were built, according to a new study.

  • Remote Ireland community survived a millennium of environmental change
    on April 27, 2022 at 6:06 pm

    A remote community in Ireland was adaptable enough to persist through a millennium of environmental change, according to a new study.

  • Dramatic events in demographics led to the spread of Uralic languages
    on April 27, 2022 at 2:05 pm

    Our understanding of the prehistory of the Finnish language is becoming clearer: Shifts in climate and periods of drought may have been the original reasons for which the community, which originated in western Siberia, spread first from east to west and later from south to north.

  • Ancient skeletons reveal the history of worm parasites in Britain
    on April 21, 2022 at 6:15 pm

    New research reveals the scale of parasitic worm infections in Britain from the Prehistoric to the early Victorian periods.

  • Study challenges theories of earlier human arrival in Americas
    on April 20, 2022 at 9:04 pm

    The new analysis suggests that misinterpretation of archaeological evidence at certain sites in North and South America might be responsible for theories that humans arrived long before 13,000-14,200 years ago.

  • Prehistoric people created art by firelight, new research reveals
    on April 20, 2022 at 7:15 pm

    Stones that were incised with artistic designs around 15,000 years ago have patterns of heat damage which suggests they were carved close to the flickering light of a fire, a new study has found.

  • Getting to the root of corn domestication; knowledge may help plant breeders
    on April 20, 2022 at 7:13 pm

    A unique confluence of archeology, molecular genetics and serendipity guided researchers to a deeper understanding of how modern corn was domesticated from teosinte, a perennial grass native to Mexico and Central America, more than 5,000 years ago.

  • New study confirms potential of geoelectrical methods in search for hidden graves
    on April 12, 2022 at 1:54 pm

    New research is helping law enforcement agents, forensic scientists and historians uncover attempts to hide victims.

  • First European farmers' heights did not meet expectations
    on April 7, 2022 at 9:09 pm

    A combined study of genetics and skeletal remains show that the switch from primarily hunting, gathering and foraging to farming about 12,000 years ago in Europe may have had negative health effects as indicated by shorter than expected heights in the earliest farmers, according to an international team of researchers.

  • How did visitors experience the domestic space in Pompeii?
    on April 6, 2022 at 1:53 pm

    Researchers have used virtual reality and 3D eye-tracking technology to examine what drew the attention of the visitors when entering the stunning environment of an ancient Roman house. The team recreated the House of Greek Epigrams in 3D and tracked the gaze of study participants as they viewed the home.

  • Origins of the Avars elucidated with ancient DNA
    on April 1, 2022 at 4:21 pm

    Less known than Attila's Huns, the Avars were their more successful successors. They ruled much of Central and Eastern Europe for almost 250 years. We know that they came from Central Asia in the sixth century CE, but ancient authors and modern historians debated their provenance. Now, a multidisciplinary research team of geneticists, archaeologists and historians has obtained and studied the first ancient genomes from the most important Avar elite sites discovered in contemporary Hungary. This […]

  • Researchers use skull CT scans to estimate assigned sex at birth
    on March 28, 2022 at 3:25 pm

    Researchers have proposed a method of assigned sex estimation that is 'population-inclusive,' or one that did not inherently rely on any estimation of ancestry (population affinity) by using 3D volume-rendered computed tomography (CT) scans of ancestry skulls to estimate assigned sex at birth.

  • Smells like ancient society: Scientists find ways to study and reconstruct past scents
    on March 28, 2022 at 3:21 pm

    In a new paper, researchers discuss the importance of scent in human history and address how and why experts might investigate smells from the past.

  • Rewriting the history books: Why the Vikings left Greenland
    on March 23, 2022 at 7:16 pm

    One of the great mysteries of late medieval history is why did the Norse, who had established successful settlements in southern Greenland in 985, abandon them in the early 15th century? The consensus view has long been that colder temperatures, associated with the Little Ice Age, helped make the colonies unsustainable. However, new research upends that old theory. It wasn't dropping temperatures that helped drive the Norse from Greenland, but drought.

  • Migrants from south carrying maize were early Maya ancestors
    on March 23, 2022 at 2:12 pm

    Archaeologists show that a site in Belize was critical in studying the origins of the ancient Maya people and the spread of maize as a staple food.

  • Genomic analysis supports ancient Muwekma Ohlone connection
    on March 21, 2022 at 7:04 pm

    A research collaboration with the Muwekma Ohlone tribe -- whose ancestral lands include the Stanford campus -- shows a genetic relationship between modern-day Tribe members and individuals buried nearby who lived more than 1,900 years ago.

  • The colored skeletons of Çatalhöyük, Turkey, from 9,000 years ago
    on March 18, 2022 at 3:02 pm

    An international team provides new insights about how the inhabitants of the 'oldest city in the world' in Çatalhöyük (Turkey) buried their dead. Their bones were partially painted, excavated several times and reburied. The findings provide insight into the burial rituals of a fascinating society that lived 9000 years ago.

  • New computer predictive model useful in identifying ancient hunter-gatherer sites
    on March 17, 2022 at 8:36 pm

    Researchers looking to identify some of the most difficult 'finds' in archaeology --including sites used by nomadic hunter-gatherer communities--are tapping technology to help in the search.

  • Exploring ancient tuberculosis transmission chains
    on March 10, 2022 at 4:50 pm

    Tuberculosis (TB) is the second most common cause of death worldwide by an infectious pathogen (after Covid-19), but many aspects of its long history with humans remain controversial. Researchers found that ancient TB discovered in archaeological human remains from South America is most closely related to a variant of TB associated today with seals, but surprisingly these cases were found in people who lived nowhere near the coast. This implies that these cases were not the result of direct […]

  • Ancient humans impact African island environment
    on February 28, 2022 at 4:44 pm

    Unguja Ukuu, an archaeological settlement located on the Zanzibar Archipelago in Tanzania, was a key port of trade in the Indian Ocean by the first millennium when the island was populated by farming societies establishing trade links toward the Indian Ocean, China and beyond. New research describes how human activities modified the shoreline at Unguja Ukuu.

  • Largest ever human family tree: 27 million ancestors
    on February 24, 2022 at 7:08 pm

    Researchers have taken a major step towards mapping the entirety of genetic relationships among humans: a single genealogy that traces the ancestry of all of us.

  • 350-year-old remains in a Stone Age site in Portugal
    on February 22, 2022 at 6:52 pm

    An African man who lived just 350 years ago was buried in a prehistoric shell midden in Amoreira in Portugal. This was very surprising because Amoreira and other midden sites in the Muge region are well known by archaeologists for the cemeteries of the last hunter-gatherers living in the area 8,000 years ago. To investigate this burial researchers combined biomolecular archaeology, ancient DNA, and historical records.

  • Everyone has heard of King Arthur, but 90% of medieval chivalry and heroism manuscripts have been...
    on February 17, 2022 at 7:13 pm

    New research finds that, while the Knights of the Round Table have won global fame, most medieval heroic or chivalric stories in English have been lost. Meanwhile, more than three quarters of medieval stories in Icelandic and Irish survive to the present, in an unusual pattern suggesting island 'ecosystems' helped preserve culture.

  • Portable toilets of the ancient Roman world
    on February 11, 2022 at 1:06 pm

    Archaeologists develop method of identifying intestinal parasites concealed within 1,500-year-old 'chamber pot'. New technique helps distinguish portable toilets from other jars and ceramic vessels, leading to greater understanding of gut health in the past.

  • Mystery origin of iconic Aussie snakes unlocked
    on February 10, 2022 at 8:41 pm

    New research has found the first tangible evidence that the ancestors of some of Australia's most venomous snakes arrived by sea rather than by land -- the dispersal route of most other Australian reptiles.

  • Bronze Age women altered genetic landscape of Orkney, study finds
    on February 7, 2022 at 8:56 pm

    An international team has used ancient DNA to rewrite the history of the Scottish Orkney islands to show that Orkney actually experienced large-scale immigration during the Early Bronze Age, which replaced much of the local population.

  • Prehistoric human vertebra discovered in the Jordan Valley tells the story of prehistoric migration...
    on February 2, 2022 at 1:03 pm

    A new study presents a 1.5 million-year-old human vertebra discovered in Israel's Jordan Valley. According to the research, ancient human migration from Africa to Eurasia was not a one-time event but occurred in waves.



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