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E.g., 06/19/2019
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  • News

    People may have smoked marijuana in rituals 2,500 years ago in western China

    Mourners gathered at a cemetery in what’s now western China around 2,500 years ago to inhale fumes of burning cannabis plants that wafted from small wooden containers. High levels of the psychoactive compound THC in those ignited plants, also known as marijuana, would have induced altered states of consciousness. 

    Evidence of this practice comes from Jirzankal Cemetery in Central Asia’s...

    06/12/2019 - 14:01 Archaeology, Plants
  • News

    These knotted cords may hide the first evidence that the Incas collected taxes

    While excavating an Inca outpost on Peru’s southern coast, archaeologist Alejandro Chu and his colleagues uncovered some twisted surprises.

    In 2013, the scientists were digging in one of four rooms lining the entrance to what had been a massive storage structure, and they started finding sets of colored and knotted strings poking through the ground. Known as khipus, these odd Inca...

    06/11/2019 - 07:00 Archaeology
  • News

    Hominids may have been cutting-edge tool makers 2.6 million years ago

    Discoveries in East Africa of what may be the oldest expertly sharpened stone implements suggest that early members of the human genus, Homo, invented these tools by around 2.6 million years ago, researchers say. But their conclusions are controversial.

    New finds at a site in Ethiopia called Ledi-Geraru fit a scenario in which various early Homo groups devised ways to sharpen handheld...

    06/03/2019 - 15:00 Anthropology, Archaeology
  • News in Brief

    Cave debris may be the oldest known example of people eating starch

    Small fire pits in a South African cave have yielded what researchers regard as the oldest known examples of a key dish in ancient humans’ daily menu. No, not dessert. Think roasted plant starches.

    Charred plant remains found in Klasies River Cave date to as early as around 120,000 years ago, and as late as roughly 65,000 years ago, say archaeologist Cynthia Larbey of the University of...

    05/31/2019 - 09:00 Archaeology, Human Evolution
  • News in Brief

    Ancient South American populations dipped due to an erratic climate

    Ancient South American populations declined sharply as rainfall became increasingly unpredictable starting around 8,600 years ago, researchers say.

    But hunter-gatherer groups from the Andes and the Amazon to the continent’s southern tip bounced back quickly once rain returned to a relatively stable pattern about 6,000 years ago, report archaeologists Philip Riris and Manuel Arroyo-Kalin...

    05/09/2019 - 13:17 Archaeology, Climate
  • News in Brief

    An ancient pouch reveals the hallucinogen stash of an Andes shaman

    A leather bag stuffed with ritual items, found high in the Andes Mountains, has yielded rare clues to South American shamans’ hallucinatory visions around 1,000 years ago.

    One artifact in the radiocarbon-dated bag, a pouch stitched out of three fox snouts, contains chemical traces of five mind-altering substances obtained from at least three plants, say bioarchaeologist Melanie Miller of...

    05/06/2019 - 15:00 Archaeology, Plants
  • News in Brief

    Excavations show hunter-gatherers lived in the Amazon more than 10,000 years ago

    Hunter-gatherers occupied the southwestern Amazon rainforest by around 10,600 years ago — at least several thousand years earlier than previously thought.

    Excavated food remains and human burials at several locations in Bolivia support a scenario in which hunter-gatherers regularly occupied those spots for large parts of the year. The unearthed evidence also indicates that the hunter-...

    04/24/2019 - 14:00 Archaeology
  • News in Brief

    Ancient sculptors made magnetic figures from rocks struck by lightning

    People living at least 2,000 years ago near the Pacific Coast of what’s now Guatemala crafted massive human sculptures with magnetized foreheads, cheeks and navels. New research provides the first detailed look at how these sculpted body parts were intentionally placed within magnetic fields on large rocks.

    Lightning strikes probably magnetized sections of boulders that were later carved...

    04/22/2019 - 08:00 Archaeology
  • News in Brief

    Newly translated Cherokee cave writings reveal sacred messages

    Shortly before being forced out of their homeland in the 1830s, Cherokee people of the southeastern United States left written accounts on cave walls of secretive rituals. Now researchers have translated some of those messages from long ago.

    Cherokee inscriptions in Alabama’s Manitou Cave, now a popular tourist destination, describe religious ceremonies and beliefs using written symbols...

    04/16/2019 - 09:00 Archaeology
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Cities’ reveals common ground between ancient and modern urban life

    CitiesMonica L. SmithViking, $30

    Ancient Rome’s Monte Testaccio and modern Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market reveal a lot about the nature of cities. Monte Testaccio is a hill made of broken pottery in the middle of Rome. Around 2,000 years ago, people tossed empty wine and olive oil vessels onto what was then a garbage heap. Tokyo’s vast seafood emporium, also known as Toyosu Market,...

    04/16/2019 - 05:00 Archaeology, Anthropology