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  • News in Brief

    An ancient child’s ‘vampire burial’ included steps to prevent resurrection

    Excavations in an ancient Roman cemetery turned poignantly eerie last summer.

    In one grave lay a roughly 10-year-old child, possibly the victim of malaria, with a stone inserted in his or her mouth. That practice was part of a funeral ritual intended to prevent the youngster from rising zombielike and spreading disease to the living, researchers say. Such "vampire burials" indicate signs...

    10/16/2018 - 13:00 Archaeology
  • 50 years ago, a 550-year-old seed sprouted

    550-year-old seed sprouts — 

    A seed of the South America herb achira (Canna sp.), taken from an ancient Indian necklace, has germinated, and the young plant is growing well.… Carbon-14 dating of bones at the site sets the seeds’ age at about 550 years.… The plant from the old seed appeared to have a disturbed gravity orientation, but is still growing fairly normally. — Science News...

    10/10/2018 - 07:00 Plants, Archaeology
  • News

    Laser mapping shows the surprising complexity of the Maya civilization

    A laser-shooting eye in the sky has revealed the previously unappreciated size and complexity of ancient Maya civilization, both before and during its presumed heyday, scientists say.

    Maya people in what’s now northern Guatemala built surprisingly extensive defensive structures and roads as part of political systems featuring interconnected cities, starting at least several hundred years...

    09/27/2018 - 14:22 Archaeology, Technology
  • News

    This South African cave stone may bear the world’s oldest drawing

    A red, crosshatched design adorning a rock from a South African cave may take the prize as the oldest known drawing.

    Ancient humans sketched the line pattern around 73,000 years ago by running a chunk of pigment across a smoothed section of stone in Blombos Cave, scientists say. Until now, the earliest drawings dated to roughly 40,000 years ago on cave walls in Europe and Indonesia.

    ...
    09/12/2018 - 13:00 Archaeology, Human Evolution
  • News in Brief

    German skeletons hint that medieval warrior groups recruited from afar

    Power systems transcended kinship in medieval Europe. A burial site in southern Germany contains members of a powerful warrior family who journeyed widely to find recruits to join the household and support a post-Roman kingdom, a new study suggests.

    Thirteen individuals interred at Niederstotzingen belonged to the Alemanni, a confederation of Germanic tribes that were conquered by and...

    09/05/2018 - 14:00 Genetics, Anthropology, Archaeology
  • The –est

    Cheese found in an Egyptian tomb is at least 3,200 years old

    What may be the oldest known solid cheese has been found in an ancient Egyptian tomb.

    Made from a mixture of cow milk and either sheep or goat milk, the cheese filled a broken clay jar unearthed from a 13th century B.C. tomb for Ptahmes, the mayor of the ancient city of Memphis, researchers report online July 25 in Analytical Chemistry.

    Chemist Enrico Greco, who did the work while...

    08/17/2018 - 08:53 Science & Society, Archaeology, Chemistry
  • News

    The debate over people’s pathway into the Americas heats up

    Despite recently getting a cold shoulder from some researchers, a long-standing idea that North America’s first settlers entered the continent via an ice-free inland corridor boasts more scientific support than any other proposal, an international team says.

    New World colonizers from Asia may also have traveled by canoe down the Northwest Pacific Coast and perhaps much farther, as...

    08/08/2018 - 14:00 Archaeology, Anthropology, Genetics
  • News

    Cremated remains reveal hints of who is buried at Stonehenge

    Stonehenge attracted the dead from far beyond its location in southern England.

    A new analysis of cremated human remains interred at the iconic site between around 5,000 and 4,400 years ago provides the first glimpse of who was buried there. Some were outsiders who probably spent the last decade or so of their lives in what’s now West Wales, more than 200 kilometers west of Stonehenge,...

    08/02/2018 - 09:00 Anthropology, Archaeology
  • Feature

    Conflict reigns over the history and origins of money

    Wherever you go, money talks. And it has for a long time.

    Sadly, though, money has been mum about its origins. For such a central element of our lives, money’s ancient roots and the reasons for its invention are unclear.

    As cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin multiply into a flock of digital apparitions, researchers are still battling over how and where money came to be. And some draw...

    07/29/2018 - 08:00 Anthropology, Archaeology
  • News

    How an ancient stone money system works like cryptocurrency

    Digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, and the blockchain technologies used to record digital transactions on a public ledger may not be so revolutionary.

    At least several hundred years ago, islanders on Yap in western Micronesia used principles at the heart of cryptocurrencies to conduct business, says archaeologist Scott Fitzpatrick of the University of Oregon in Eugene.

    “Stone...

    07/29/2018 - 08:00 Anthropology, Archaeology