Taxonomy term

archaeology

Easter Island inhabitants drank brackish water to survive

The remote Chilean island of Rapa Nui, also known as Easter Island, is famous for its 961 giant stone statues and monuments, erected between 1200 and 1600. Called moai, these statues have been a mystery for years, especially considering just a few thousand people inhabited the small, resource-limited Pacific island nearly 3,700 kilometers west of Chile. “Why did people put the statues where they did?” asks Carl Lipo, an archaeologist at Binghamton University in New York. The answer, according to new research, may have something to do with the civilization’s water supply.

20 Feb 2019

Archaeologists hit pay dirt in medieval latrines

Archaeologists digging in Lübeck, Germany, unearthed an unusual source of information about past dietary habits in the city: parasite eggs recovered from 700-year-old latrines.

12 Feb 2019

Fats on Neolithic pottery pinpoint climate cooling event

About 8,200 years ago, right around the time that animals such as cows and sheep were first being domesticated in the Near East for meat and milk, the planet underwent a cooling event that lasted about 160 years. How this cold snap, known as the 8.2-kiloyear event, affected early farmers has long been a mystery, as archaeological evidence from the period of the cooler and drier climate has been scant. But new research investigating fatty residues preserved on scraps of pottery found at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Çatalhöyük in Turkey is offering some clues.

05 Dec 2018

Turning modern "eyes" on ancient sites

People have inhabited Jerash, Jordan, since the Neolithic. But much of its history has been buried by subsequent occupation, including over the last two centuries. Archaeologists have excavated Jerash with trowels and screens to uncover its long history, but now, with the help of lidar and old photographs, a team of researchers is discovering more about Jerash’s past by gazing down on the city from the sky.

13 Nov 2018

No river meant no floods for ancient Indus settlements

Large Middle Eastern rivers like the Nile, Tigris, Euphrates and Tiber were critical for the development of early urban societies in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Ancient Rome. And researchers have long thought that the rise, and eventual decline, of cities in the ancient Indus Civilization, which spread across about 1 million square kilometers of what’s now northwestern India and Pakistan from roughly 4,600 to 3,900 years ago, also depended on major rivers, namely those emerging from the Himalayas. But a new study looking at river sediments from the time of the civilization and earlier suggests that wasn’t the case for every ancient Indus city; some may have benefited from being farther away from large rivers and their periodic floods.

01 Apr 2018

No river meant no floods for ancient Indus settlements

Large Middle Eastern rivers like the Nile, Tigris, Euphrates and Tiber were critical for the development of early urban societies in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Ancient Rome. And researchers have long thought that the rise, and eventual decline, of cities in the ancient Indus Civilization, which spread across about 1 million square kilometers of what’s now northwestern India and Pakistan from roughly 4,600 to 3,900 years ago, also depended on major rivers, namely those emerging from the Himalayas. But a new study looking at river sediments from the time of the civilization and earlier suggests that wasn’t the case for every ancient Indus city; some may have benefited from being farther away from large rivers and their periodic floods.

23 Jan 2018

Turkey DNA reveals Mesa Verde denizens moved to New Mexico

The Mesa Verde region of southern Colorado was home to as many as 30,000 Puebloans through the middle of the 13th century, until severe drought drove them south into New Mexico, ending the cliff dwellers’ reign. In a new study, researchers have charted this mass migration using mitochondrial DNA from a novel source: turkey bones from the domesticated birds kept by Puebloans in both Mesa Verde and northern New Mexico.

28 Dec 2017

Earthquakes shaped ancient Greek culture

In ancient Greece, earthquakes frequently shook the ground and devastated cities and temples. But time after time, people built — and rebuilt — prominent structures near dangerous faults. How much the ancient Greeks knew about earthquakes and fault behavior is unclear. But in a new study in Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association, researchers suggest that the relationship between sacred sanctuaries and faults is more than coincidental, and that earthquakes may have had a previously underappreciated cultural significance to the ancient civilization.

22 Dec 2017

Humans arrived Down Under earlier than thought

Analysis of sediments surrounding a trove of artifacts discovered in northern Australia suggests the first humans arrived on the continent about 10,000 years earlier than previously thought, a finding that has implications for the hypothesized role of humans in the extinctions of Australian megafauna.

07 Nov 2017

Northern Finns didn't starve during Little Ice Age

Today, Finland’s Northern Ostrobothnia region is one of the northernmost places in Europe that can support agriculture. But how this region fared during the Little Ice Age — a period of globally cooler temperatures that lasted roughly from A.D. 1300 to 1850 — is unknown. Scientists assume the climatic cooling would have adversely affected food supplies. Now, however, the discovery of a mysterious medieval cemetery in northern Finland dating to the middle of the Little Ice Age is offering clues that the inhabitants were well fed and well suited to the northern clime.

31 Oct 2017

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