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Tuesday, January 21, 2020
The last days of Homo erectus

The last days of Homo erectus

Skulls from central Java may come from the last surviving population of Homo erectus, suggests a new study dating the fossil bed and the surrounding landscape. The population's death roughly coincides with dramatic changes in the environment, which may have caused the species' extinction long before the first Homo sapiens reached Southeast Asia. The “last…
DNA from 5,700-year-old ‘gum’ shows what one ancient woman may have looked like

DNA from 5,700-year-old ‘gum’ shows what one ancient woman may have...

Fossilized bones and teeth aren’t the only source of ancient human DNA. The genetic material also sticks around in birch pitch “chewing gum,” which can hold enough DNA to piece together the genetic instruction books, or genomes, of long-dead people, researchers report December 17 in Nature Communications. By analyzing a 5,700-year-old chewed wad of pitch…
A 43,900-year-old cave painting is the oldest story ever recorded

A 43,900-year-old cave painting is the oldest story ever recorded

At this very moment, you're a participant in one of the things that makes us human: the telling and consumption of stories. It's impossible to say when our species began telling each other stories—or when we first evolved the ability to use language to communicate not only simple, practical concepts but to share vivid accounts…
A nearly 44,000-year-old hunting scene is the oldest known storytelling art

A nearly 44,000-year-old hunting scene is the oldest known storytelling art

An Indonesian cave painting that shows wild animals encountering otherworldly hunters represents the oldest known example of art depicting lifelike figures as well as of visual storytelling, researchers say. Discovered in December 2017 on the island of Sulawesi, this roughly 4.5-meter-wide hunting scene was painted at least 43,900 years ago, says a team led by…
Archaeologists have finally found ancient Egyptian wax head cones

Archaeologists have finally found ancient Egyptian wax head cones

Long before extraterrestrial Coneheads in Saturday Night Live skits claimed to have come from France, real-life cone heads existed in Egypt. Prominent people wearing cone-shaped headgear appear frequently in Egyptian art dating from around 3,550 to 2,000 years ago. But none of those cones have ever been found, until now. Archaeologists report unearthing two such…
Floor pavements in Pompeii illustrate surveying technology

Floor pavements in Pompeii illustrate surveying technology

L. FERRO, G MAGLI, M. OSANNA Decorative pavements in the floor of a recently unearthed Roman house in Pompeii offer a glimpse into the life and work of an ancient land surveyor. The pavements depict a stylized drawing of an ancient surveyor’s tool called a groma, along with a diagram of a surveying technique and…
Infrared images reveal hidden tattoos on Egyptian mummies

Infrared images reveal hidden tattoos on Egyptian mummies

SAN DIEGO — Modern technology is illuminating tattoos on mummified, ancient Egyptians that until now had gone unnoticed. Infrared photography has helped to identify tattoos on seven mummified individuals dating to at least 3,000 years ago at a site called Deir el-Medina, archaeologist Anne Austin of the University of Missouri–St. Louis reported November 22 at…
A sculpted rock discovered in Jordan might be the earliest recognized chess piece

A sculpted rock discovered in Jordan might be the earliest recognized...

SAN DIEGO — A palm-sized sandstone object found in 1991 at an Early Islamic trading outpost in what’s now southern Jordan appears to be the oldest known chess piece. This roughly 1,300-year-old rectangular piece of rock with two hornlike projections on top resembles several rooks, also known as castles, that have been found at other…
An AI discovered a concealed Nazca Line in Peru revealing a humanoid figure

An AI discovered a concealed Nazca Line in Peru revealing a...

Artificial intelligence is putting on its Indiana Jones hat. An AI trained to recognize Nazca Lines, ancient designs in the desert plains of Peru, has discovered a new geoglyph etched into the earth: a faint humanoid figure a few meters across. The figure joins a collection of more than 2,000 previously known Nazca Lines, depicting…
400- year-old warships in Swedish channel might be sis of doomed Vasa

400- year-old warships in Swedish channel might be sis of doomed...

Enlarge / These curved timbers, called knees, help support deck beams. Two 17th-century shipwrecks on the bottom of a busy Swedish shipping channel may be the sister ships of the ill-fated Vasa. Archaeologists with Sweden's Vrak—Museum of Wrecks discovered the vessels in a 35-meter-deep channel near Stockholm during a recent survey. Neither wreck is as…

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