Taxonomy term

human history

A labyrinth of silver mines uncovered on the shores of the Aegean Sea

By the fifth and fourth centuries B.C., silver mines under the ancient Greek city of Thorikos, now known as Lavrio, were the most important mines in Greece. Recent underground exploration of the network of tunnels found at the foot of the city’s Mycenaean-aged Acropolis is shedding new light on the scale — and miserable conditions — of the mines.

16 Jun 2016

Travels in Geology: Turkey's storied Turquoise Coast

Turkey’s Turquoise Coast — where the rugged Taurus Mountains meet the Mediterranean Sea — owes its breathtaking scenery to tectonic contortions that have created a landscape that is both spectacular and geographically complex. The many Mediterranean civilizations that have inhabited this coastline left behind an impressive legacy of ruins.
09 Jun 2016

Social trends and shifting climates had complex effects in medieval Italy

It’s easy to anecdotally pin environmental changes and their societal impacts on shifting climates. But when scientists and historians came together to look at environmental changes through the warm Medieval Climate Anomaly and cold Little Ice Age in Rieti, Italy, they found that the real story of climate and social change is much more complex — and interesting.

02 Jun 2016

Did the Medieval Warm Period welcome Vikings to Greenland?

Vikings are often depicted as hardy folk and fearsome warriors, but they were not immune to the harsh realities of the northern latitudes. Archaeological evidence suggests that Viking migrations around the North Atlantic were highly influenced by climate, with new settlements being colonized during warm periods and abruptly abandoned during colder times. However, according to a new study of glacial movements in Greenland during the time of Viking occupation, the local climate may have been just as cold when the Vikings arrived as when they left 400 years later. The finding may further shrink the area thought to have been affected by the Medieval Warm Period.

09 May 2016

Geologic Column: May: Nature's forces in collision

Throughout history, May 1 has probably had more festivals and events associated with it than any other day of the year, from celebrations of spring and fertility to a day of protest for workers’ rights.

29 Apr 2016

Comment: How long have humans been altering Earth's climate?

The early anthropogenic hypothesis holds that greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, as early as 7,000 years ago, kept the Holocene climate warmer than it otherwise would have been.

08 Apr 2016

A long layover on the Bering land bridge

About 11,500 years ago, two infants were laid to rest side by side in a shallow grave 80 kilometers southeast of what is now Fairbanks, Alaska. The area was once part of Beringia, a strip of ice-free land connected to Asia during the last ice age. Researchers found the remains in 2013, and have now sequenced the complete mitochondrial genomes of the two children. The results revealed that the infants had different mothers and that their genetic signatures are found today throughout North and South America.

23 Mar 2016

Earliest Americans were wide-ranging wanderers

About 40 years ago, when the Monte Verde archaeological site in southern Chile was dated to 14,800 years ago, conventional ideas of American anthropology were turned on their heads. Until then, the “Clovis First” theory, which held that modern humans only began populating the Americas from Asia via the Bering land bridge roughly 13,500 years ago, was widely accepted. That people had lived thousands of kilometers farther south more than 1,000 years before the Clovis culture arose came as a shock initially, but the idea, and the Monte Verde site, has gradually become accepted over time.

27 Feb 2016

Geologic Column: Thanksgiving's unsung hero

Thanksgiving as we know it in America today has only been celebrated since President Lincoln declared it a national holiday in 1863, thanks to the entreaties of Sarah Josepha Hale, an influential writer and editor.

13 Nov 2015

Isotopes could reveal ancient American turquoise trade

For centuries before the arrival of Europeans, turquoise was prized among pre-Hispanic cultures of North America. Caches of the distinctive, creamy-blue-green mineral have been unearthed in crypts and other ritually significant structures in what are now the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Farther south, in Mesoamerica, archaeologists have found elaborate mosaic masks and ornamentation made of turquoise pieces. Despite multiple anthropological and historical hints, identifying where the turquoise used by different civilizations came from has proven difficult. But in a recent study, scientists have described a geochemical fingerprinting technique that may help parse the geographic origins of turquoise specimens and illuminate trade routes in ancient America.
 
09 Nov 2015

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