Taxonomy term

human history

Monsoon shifts shaped early Chinese cultures

Rapid, climate-driven shifts in monsoon patterns may have shaped ancient Chinese societies, according to new research. And their history could be our future.

01 Jun 2017

Tibetan Plateau populated long before advent of agriculture

Due to the harsh living conditions of the Tibetan Plateau — which has an average elevation over 4,500 meters — archaeologists have long assumed that people didn’t live in the Himalayan high country until after the adoption of agriculture in this region of the world, about 3,600 years ago. But a new study of a trove of handprints and footprints found around a fossilized mud spring in Tibet is suggesting that people may have lived here as early as 13,000 years ago.

16 May 2017

Did the first humans arrive in North America a lot earlier?

New dating of artifacts recovered from a site in the northern Yukon, on the Alaskan border, may push back the hypothesized entry date of the first American colonizers via a northwestern route — long thought to have occurred over the Bering land bridge between 18,000 and 14,000 years ago — by several thousand years.

10 Apr 2017

Travels in Geology: Easter Island's enduring enigmas

Easter Island, a lonely island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, is steeped in mystique — and not just for its famous, perplexing statues and controversial story of societal collapse. How the island formed has also baffled geologists for decades.

27 Mar 2017

Early Pacific seafarers set sail in El Niño years

Even with modern airplanes and ships, the far-flung islands of Tonga, Samoa, Hawaii, Micronesia and Fiji are difficult to reach. Thousands of years ago, the seafarers who first settled the islands had a much more arduous journey, sailing thousands of kilometers and navigating by the stars. According to a new study, these intrepid travelers may have gotten a boost from weather associated with El Niño-Southern Oscillation patterns, which sweep through the Pacific every three to seven years.

27 Feb 2017

Travels in Geology: The Dead Sea Rift: Salty soaks and ancient earthquakes in a storied land

The Dead Sea and the surrounding area boast impressive geology — from ancient earthquake records to pillars of salt — that bears witness to civilization-shaping stories.

09 Feb 2017

The first Americans: How and when were the Americas populated?

The latest research suggests humans first came to the Americas by boat, though along which coast remains controversial. Archaeologists and geologists are working together to try to solve the mystery of how and when the first Americans arrived. 

 

01 Jan 2017

Earliest evidence of humans in the Americas

Map showing the earliest evidence of humans in the Americas. 

01 Jan 2017

Tilted Himalayan temples hold clues to past shaking

The Himalayan Mountains have not been raised gently. The ongoing collision between India and Asia that has uplifted the highest mountain range on Earth is punctuated by large earthquakes. But one region in the northwest Himalaya, known as the Kashmir seismic gap, has remained eerily quiet, save for a magnitude-7.8 event in 1905, and a mysterious quake in 1555. Now, a new study looking at damaged temples in the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh in India, within the seismic gap, is shedding some light on the two historical quakes.

18 Nov 2016

Humans, megafauna coexisted in Patagonia before extinction

During the last ice age, giant mammals roamed the wide-open steppes of what is now Patagonia. Around the time that humans were making their way down through North America and into South America, the climate began warming and large species of giant sloths and saber-toothed cats soon disappeared. Now, researchers looking at mitochondrial DNA from some of these megafaunal species are shedding light on the timing of the extinction and whether encroaching humans or changing climate — or both — were to blame for their disappearance.

11 Oct 2016

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