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  • 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
  • The –est

    The oldest known astrolabe was used on one of Vasco da Gama’s ships

    While searching for shipwreck remains near Oman in the Arabian Sea in 2014, divers discovered an unusual metal disk that has since proven to be the world’s oldest known mariner’s astrolabe, British researchers report.

    The navigational device came from the wreckage of a ship in the Portuguese armada that had been part of explorer Vasco da Gama’s second voyage to India from 1502 to 1503....

    03/22/2019 - 06:00 Archaeology
  • The –est

    A 2,000-year-old tattoo tool is the oldest in western North America

    While taking an inventory of stored artifacts excavated in Utah in 1972, archaeologist Andrew Gillreath-Brown thought he recognized one: a tattooing tool. That previously overlooked find dates to nearly 2,000 years ago, making it the oldest known tattoo implement from western North America.

    Until now, several similar tattoo implements from the U.S. Southwest dated to no more than around...

    03/04/2019 - 16:00 Archaeology
  • News in Brief

    Ancient Angkor’s mysterious decline may have been slow, not sudden

    Angkor’s moat is giving up the medieval Cambodian city’s secrets, showing that the metropolis gradually dwindled over roughly a century.

    The last capital of the Khmer Empire, Angkor was the world’s most extensive city in the 1200s, home to hundreds of thousands of people in its urban core and comparable numbers of rice farmers in the surrounding area. But Angkor mysteriously declined in...

    02/25/2019 - 15:00 Archaeology
  • News in Brief

    Tooth plaque shows drinking milk goes back 3,000 years in Mongolia

    WASHINGTON — Ancient people living in what’s now Mongolia drank milk from cows, yaks and sheep — even though, as adults, they couldn’t digest lactose. That finding comes from the humblest of sources: ancient dental plaque.

    Modern Mongolians are big on dairy, milking seven different animal species, including cows, yaks and camels. But how far into the past that dairying tradition extends...

    02/17/2019 - 07:00 Archaeology
  • News

    The spread of Europe’s giant stone monuments may trace back to one region

    From simple rock arches to Stonehenge, tens of thousands of imposing stone structures dot Europe’s landscapes. The origins of these megaliths have long been controversial. A new study suggests that large rock constructions first appeared in France and spread across Europe in three waves.

    The earliest megaliths were built in what’s now northwestern France as early as around 6,800 years...

    02/11/2019 - 15:00 Archaeology