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E.g., 08/17/2019
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  • News

    Engraved bones reveal that symbolism had ancient roots in East Asia

    Lines engraved between 125,000 and 105,000 years ago on two animal bones found in northern China held some sort of meaning for their makers, researchers say.

    These ancient markings provide the oldest evidence of symbolic activity by humans or our close evolutionary relatives in East Asia, says a team led by archaeologists Zhanyang Li and Luc Doyon, both of Shandong University in Jinan,...

    08/14/2019 - 06:00 Archaeology, Human Evolution
  • News

    Ancient Maya warfare flared up surprisingly early

    In 697, flames engulfed the Maya city of Witzna. Attackers from a nearby kingdom in what’s now Guatemala set fires that scorched stone buildings and destroyed wooden structures. Many residents fled the scene and never returned.       

    This surprisingly early instance of highly destructive Maya warfare has come to light thanks to a combination of sediment core data, site excavations and...

    08/05/2019 - 11:00 Anthropology, Archaeology
  • Reviews & Previews

    Satellites are transforming how archaeologists study the past

    Archaeology from SpaceSarah ParcakHenry Holt and Co., $30

    The term “space archaeology” may conjure up images of astronauts hunting for artifacts from little green men, but the field is much more down to Earth. Space archaeologists use satellite imagery and other remote-sensing techniques to look for ancient sites on our planet. As archaeologist Sarah Parcak explains in her new book...

    08/04/2019 - 08:00 Archaeology, Anthropology, Science & Society
  • Reviews & Previews

    ‘Fruit from the Sands’ explores the Silk Road origins of apples, tea and more

    Fruit from the SandsRobert N. Spengler IIIUniv. of California, $34.95

    Many popular foods can be traced back to trade caravans and herding groups that turned Central Asia into a hub of globalization several thousand years ago. In Fruit from the Sands, archaeobotanist Robert Spengler, who studies how people used plants in the past, surveys evidence suggesting that the ancient Silk...

    07/23/2019 - 10:56 Archaeology
  • Essay

    Ancient humans used the moon as a calendar in the sky

    The sun’s rhythm may have set the pace of each day, but when early humans needed a way to keep time beyond a single day and night, they looked to a second light in the sky. The moon was one of humankind’s first timepieces long before the first written language, before the earliest organized cities and well before structured religions. The moon’s face changes nightly and with the regularity of...

    07/09/2019 - 08:00 Anthropology, Archaeology, Planetary Science
  • News

    East Asians may have been reshaping their skulls 12,000 years ago

    Ancient tombs in China have produced what may be some of the oldest known human skulls to be intentionally reshaped.

    At a site called Houtaomuga, scientists unearthed 25 skeletons dating to between around 12,000 years ago and 5,000 years ago. Of those, 11 featured skulls with artificially elongated braincases and flattened bones at the front and back of the head, says a team led by...

    07/03/2019 - 06:00 Anthropology, Archaeology
  • News in Brief

    Peru’s famous Nazca Lines may include drawings of exotic birds

    Massive drawings of birds etched by pre-Inca people on southern Peru’s Nazca desert plateau include several exotic surprises, Japanese researchers say.

    Three avian images depict species that live far outside the region where the famous drawings were created, zooarchaeologist Masaki Eda of Hokkaido University Museum and his colleagues conclude. A drawing previously classified as a...

    06/26/2019 - 07:00 Archaeology, Animals
  • News

    Capuchin monkeys’ stone-tool use has evolved over 3,000 years

    Excavations in Brazil have pounded out new insights into the handiness of ancient monkeys.

    South American capuchin monkeys have not only hammered and dug with carefully chosen stones for the last 3,000 years, but also have selected pounding tools of varying sizes and weights along the way.

    Capuchin stone implements recovered at a site in northeastern Brazil display signs of shifts...

    06/24/2019 - 11:00 Archaeology, Animals
  • 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