Taxonomy term


Widening the window of human dispersal into Arabia

The vast sea of sand that is much of the Arabian Peninsula presents a formidable barrier to travel, even with today’s modern conveniences. How and when our ancestors crossed this dry expanse after leaving Africa — on their way to populating the rest of the world — has long been a mystery. Now, a new paleoclimate study paints a wetter picture of Arabia during the time of human expansion, and the findings may change scientists’ thinking about the route and timing of early human migrations out of Africa.

31 Jul 2015

Down to Earth With: Industrial Archaeologist Fred Quivik

Fred Quivik is no ordinary historian. Though he likes dusty books and archives to be sure, Quivik looks at history through objects, specifically the equipment, buildings and landscapes of industrial sites. He’s an industrial archaeologist, digging into the past of former mine sites, factories and other environmentally degraded places to see how they are connected to people and companies today. Quivik has done this sleuthing as a historic preservation consultant and as an expert witness in lawsuits dealing with Superfund sites. He has looked at sites across the U.S., focusing especially on the West, and now teaches at Michigan Tech University in Houghton, Mich. 
18 Jul 2015

Golden Gate ghost ships rediscovered

Just beyond San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is a shipwreck graveyard where as many as 300 vessels lie in silty underwater repose. A team of NOAA researchers conducting a two-year study to identify and map the long-forgotten ships in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and the adjacent Golden Gate National Recreation Area has announced the discovery of three wrecks: the 1863 wreck of the clipper ship Noonday, the 1910 shipwreck SS Selja and an unidentified early steam tugboat wreck tagged the “mystery wreck” — all now obscured by mud and silt on the ocean floor.

11 Jan 2015

Rome's lead water pipes likely not a health risk

Ancient Rome was renowned for its vast and advanced plumbing system that brought freshwater to the city through viaducts and distributed it to the population via metal and clay pipes. But Rome’s civil engineers didn’t know about the neurological effects of lead in drinking water as we do today.

15 Nov 2014

Down to Earth With: Molecular biologist Sarah L. Anzick

In May 1968, when Sarah L. Anzick was 2 years old, the 12,600-year-old remains of a male toddler were discovered at the base of a bluff on her family’s ranch near Wilsall, Mont. The Anzick infant — one of just a handful of ancient skeletons to have been found in North America and the only known Clovis burial site —  had been carefully buried with more than 100 stone and bone tools.

28 Oct 2014

How the Spanish invasion altered the Peruvian coast

When Francisco Pizarro landed in Peru in 1532, his band of Spanish conquistadors set off a chain of far-reaching consequences for the people and economics of western South America. A new study has found that the Spanish invasion also changed the shoreline of northern Peru, by actually ending a several-thousand-year cycle of anthropogenic alteration.

05 Oct 2014

Message in a bottle gourd

For about the last 10,000 years, bottle gourds (Lagenaria siceraria) have been cultivated the world over for food and crafted into canteens, instruments and other utilitarian goods. But just how they became globally ubiquitous by the Early Holocene has long been a subject of debate among anthropologists and archaeologists. Some scientists thought the plant migrated with humans from Africa to Asia and, eventually, across the Bering land bridge to the Americas. But a new study suggests it’s unlikely the plants would have survived the long trek through harsh Arctic conditions, and instead offers a different globe-tripping hypothesis for everyone’s favorite dried fruit-turned-drinking vessel.

04 Jul 2014

Environmental changes contributed to Mediterranean cultural crisis

About 3,200 years ago, urban cultures thrived in the Eastern Mediterranean until invasions in coastal and inland areas, compounded by agricultural decline, created a regional crisis.

13 Sep 2013

Old landscapes see the light thanks to improved imaging

Archaeology has come a long way from the days when the only way to find something was to dig it up. These days, in addition to shovels and brushes, many researchers also use noninvasive imaging techniques to look into the past without disturbing a site.

05 Jun 2013

On Hannibal's Trail: The clues are in the geology

Standing at the summit of one of the Alps’ tallest mountain passes in the fall of 218 B.C., Hannibal peered into enemy territory: Italy’s Po River Valley. The panorama was reassuring. Hannibal’s plan — a sneak attack of the Romans on their own soil — was at last within reach. As his army trudged along a snow-covered path, Hannibal, Carthage’s greatest military leader, used the sight of Italy to encourage his ailing troops to keep going.

They needed the encouragement.

01 Oct 2010