Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Ancient humans may have started hunting 2 million years ago

Notches on a bone left by human butchering activity
Jennifer A. Parkinson, Thomas W. Plummer, James S. Oliver, Laura C. Bishop

Ancient humans were regularly butchering animals for meat 2 million years ago. This has long been suspected, but the idea has been bolstered by a systematic study of cut marks on animal bones.

The find cements the view that ancient humans had become active hunters by this time, contrasting with earlier hominins that ate mostly plants.

The new evidence comes from Kanjera South, an archaeological site near Lake Victoria in Kenya. Kanjera South has been excavated on and off since 1995. 

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Neolithic cattle site could change understanding of what beef meant to people of Ireland

Credit: University College Dublin

An archaeological site in Dublin with an unusually large collection of cattle remains could potentially change the understanding of beef and cattle herding in Middle Neolithic Ireland and Europe. 

Data collected from the N2 Kilshane excavation in north county Dublin near Finglas by researchers from the UCD School of Archaeology and Queen's University Belfast suggests that the multipurpose use of cattle for milk, meat and as draft animals was far more complex in later 4th millennium BC Atlantic Europe than previously thought.

The remains of at least 58 individual cattle were recovered from the ditches of an enclosure excavated at Kilshane dating back some 5,500 years, and the site is one of the few with large faunal assemblages to be unearthed in Ireland.

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Monday, January 10, 2022

3,000-Year-Old Remains Of Badass Women Warriors Found In Armenian Cemetery


More than three millennia ago, across the Mediterranean and Near East, society collapsed. Previously stable dominant empires and civilizations were brought to their knees, entire languages disappeared, and what had been pastoral and nomadic communities were replaced with imposing and fortified citadels run by a paranoid elite.

Life was violent and cruel. People were forced to take up arms to defend themselves and their kin. But while we’re used to the idea of men saddling up and waging war, a new paper, published recently in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, has found the remains of two female warriors – horse-riding women who fought for their people with bows and arrows.

“Previously, it was common knowledge that the injuries on males' skeletons testify to military clashes, whereas on females' – to … raids or domestic violence,” lead author Anahit Khudaverdyan told IFLScience.

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Hunter-Gatherer Sites in Sweden Yield Metalworking Artifacts


LULEÅ, SWEDEN—Evidence of metalworking some 2,000 years ago by hunter-gatherers has been discovered at two archaeological sites in northeastern Sweden, according to a Science News report. At Sangis, Carina Bennerhag and Kristina Söderholm of Luleå University of Technology and their colleagues uncovered a rectangular iron-smelting furnace with a frame of stone slabs and a clay shaft. Holes in the frame may have allowed air to be pumped inside with a bellows placed on flat stones. Byproducts of heating iron ore at high temperatures were found within the structure, which has been radiocarbon dated to between 200 and 50 B.C. Pottery dated from 500 B.C. to A.D. 900, fish bones, and items made of iron and steel, knives made of two or more layers, and a molded bronze buckle were also found in the area. Evidence at Vivungi, the second site, dates to around 100 B.C. and includes fire pits and the remains of two iron-smelting furnaces containing iron ore, byproducts of iron production, and pieces of ceramic wall lining. 

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Monday, December 20, 2021

Five ice-age mammoths unearthed in Cotswolds after 220,000 years

Sir David Attenborough with some of the mammoth bones found in the gravel quarry near Swindon. Photograph: Julian Schwanitz/BBC/Windfall Films

Five ice-age mammoths in an extraordinary state of preservation have been discovered in the Cotswolds, to the astonishment of archaeologists and palaeontologists.

The extensive remains of two adults, two juveniles and an infant that roamed 200,000 years ago have been unearthed near Swindon, along with tools used by Neanderthals, who are likely to have hunted these 10-tonne beasts. More are expected to be found because only a fraction of the vast site, a gravel quarry, has been excavated.

Judging by the quality of the finds, the site is a goldmine. They range from other ice-age giants, such as elks – twice the size of their descendants today, with antlers 10ft across – to tiny creatures, notably dung beetles, which co-evolved with megafauna, using their droppings for food and shelter, and freshwater snails, just like those found today. Even seeds, pollen and plant fossils, including extinct varieties, have been preserved at this site.

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Neanderthals Changed Ecosystems 125,000 Years Ago – Were Not “Primal Hippies


Hunter-gatherers caused ecosystems to change 125,000 years ago. These are the findings of an interdisciplinary study by archaeologists from Leiden University in collaboration with other researchers. Neanderthals used fire to keep the landscape open and thus had a big impact on their local environment. The study was published in the journal Science Advances on December 15, 2021.

“Archaeologists have long been asking questions about the character and temporal depth of human intervention in our planet’s ecosystems. We are increasingly seeing very early, generally weak signs of this,” says Wil Roebroeks, Archaeology professor at Leiden University.

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Sunday, December 19, 2021

Get up close to Skara Brae with new 3D model of 5,000-year-old settlement

The interior of House Seven at Skara Brae. Although this structure has been closed to the public since 2006, the new 3D model allows virtual visitors to explore the interior.
(Historic Environment Scotland)

A new 3D model of Skara Brae is offering online visitors an immersive digital experience of the 5,000-year-old Neolithic settlement.

The Historic Environment Scotland (HES) model was created using ultra-fast, high-resolution laser scanners which capture 3D spatial data in the form of a point cloud. Hundreds of overlapping photographs are then combined with the 3D data to create the photogrammetric model.

As well as offering a unique perspective on the iconic site, the digital model also allows users to explore how climate change and its impacts have shaped Skara Brae – from its discovery just over 170 years ago as the result of a severe winter storm, to the threat of coastal erosion from rising sea levels and increasingly frequent extreme weather events the site is experiencing today.

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The objects that help us understand Stonehenge

Bronze Age sun pendant, 1000–800BC © The Trustees of the British Museum

The British Museum’s major Stonehenge exhibition sees over 430 objects brought together from across Europe to explore the history – and mystery – of the ancient monument

Even the British Museum can’t quite manage to bring the actual stones into the gallery for its forthcoming exhibition exploring the history of our greatest ancient monument.

But as reported widely, they are doing the next best thing by bringing together a highly impressive array of Bronze Age treasures – and the remains of the astonishing wooden monument dubbed Seahenge, which recently emerged after millennia from beneath the sands of a Norfolk beach.

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Early Humans May Have Transformed Their Surroundings

(Leiden University)

LEIDEN, THE NETHERLANDS—UPI reports that hundreds of butchered animal bones, some 20,000 stone artifacts, and evidence of fire building have been discovered at a 125,000-year-old Neanderthal site in the Neumark-Nord lake basin in central Germany’s Geisel Valley by a team of researchers led by Wil Roebroeks of Leiden University. Samples of ancient pollen at the site indicate that the area had been cleared of trees, while pollen counts in the nearby Harz Mountains show that they were forested. Neanderthals and other early humans, Roebroeks concluded, were a factor in shaping the vegetation in this environment. “We might expect to find other examples of this, especially since Neanderthals and their contemporaries were skilled in fire technology,” he said. Read the original scholarly article about this research in Science Advances. For more on Neanderthals, go to "Neanderthal Hearing."

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Neanderthals, the Original Gardeners, Intentionally Altered the Landscape as Much as 125,000 Years Ago, a Study Finds

Archaeological site at Neumark-Nord in Germany. Courtesy Wil Roebroeks, Leiden University.

Hunter-gatherers were making changes to the ecosystem as early as 125,000 years ago, according to a newly published study by researchers from Leiden University in the Netherlands and Johannes Gutenberg University in Germany. Decades of excavations at a quarry known as Neumark-Nord near Halle, Germany, have turned up plentiful evidence of Neanderthal activity, including indications that these hominins may have converted areas of forest into grasslands. This is the earliest evidence of such activity, said the findings, which were published in the journal Science Advances.

“Among other things, we found the remains of hundreds of slaughtered animals, surrounded by numerous stone tools and a huge amount of charcoal remains,” said Wil Reobroeks of Leiden University.

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Monday, December 13, 2021

Spectacular 3D Video Depicts Ancient Athens as Never Seen Before

A realistic reconstruction of ancient Athens. Credit: Ancient Athens 3D

A spectacular 3D video reconstruction of ancient Athens in the late 5th century BC takes the viewer over the city pinpointing its monuments, markets, temples, and neighborhoods.

The video made by Ancient Athens 3D and released in November presents the city the way it would look in the years before the defeat in the Peloponnesian War in 404 BC.

The city of Athens was completely destroyed by the Persian army in the years 480-479 BC. In the years that followed, the Athenians managed to rebuild their city and by the middle of the 5th century BC, the statesman and general Pericles ordered an extensive construction program that made Athens the center of classical Greece.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

At least 2 hominin species lived at Laetoli site 3.6 million years ago

A human relative left these five tracks in a 3.6 million-year-old layer of sediment at the Laetoli Fossil site in Tanzania.

The first evidence of human relatives walking on two feet comes from about 70 footprints left by at least two Australopithecus afarensis walking across soft volcanic ash about 3.6 million years ago. A. afarensis was a short hominin with a jutting lower jaw, which walked upright but may also have spent some time in the trees; the most famous member of the species is the fossils of a woman now called Lucy.

Not far from that site, another set of footprints reveals that Lucy and her kin may have lived alongside another bipedal hominin species, one that moved very differently.

The forgotten footprints

When the footprints were first spotted in 1976, the paleoanthropologists who unearthed them from what's called Site A weren't sure what to make of them. Paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey suggested they could be hominin tracks, but others weren't so sure. One anthropologist even suggested the tracks could have been left by a young bear walking on its hind legs for a few steps.

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Monday, November 15, 2021

12 Types Of Extinct Human Species And How They Differ


Today, Homo sapiens are the only type of humans on Earth. However, we modern humans are just the most recent of many other human species that once existed. In fact, we don't know how many species, since scientist keep on finding new species of human. As Britannica explains, the forerunners to humans diverged from apes during the Middle Miocene Epoch from 16 to 11.6 million years ago. These nearly-human species then evolved so that by the Pliocene Epoch some 5.3 to 2.6 million years ago, the human genus, Homo, arose.

Species of human are considered distinct by several traits. They are bipedal striders. They generally have large brains. Some also developed tools and use language. These traits became more pronounced as humans evolved further.

What is truly mind blowing is that there were times when there were several different species of human cohabitating the planet. When considering how well we humans of the same species get along with each other, it is not hard to speculate on how intra-human species relations were.

Let's take a look at some of these species of extinct humans and how they differed with one another. The truth of the matter is that the human species was once very diverse.

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