Archaeology

Ancient DNA sheds light on Viking origins, travels

Enlarge / Modern reconstruction of a Viking longboat. Dun.can / Flickr A recent study of ancient DNA sheds light on who the Viking groups were and how they interacted with the people they met. The Viking Age, from around 750 to 1100 CE, left a cultural and economic impact that stretched from the coast of …

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“Stonehenge Lego” scale model reveals the pagan monument’s unique soundscape

Enlarge / Acoustic research using a scale model 1/12th the size of Stonehenge finds that the completed monument would have magnified speech and improved musical sounds, but only for those inside the stone circle. Acoustics Research Centre/University of Salford Scientists built a scale model of Stonehenge, the famous megalithic structure of stones in Wiltshire, England, …

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Peer inside a mummified cat from ancient Egypt, courtesy of high-res 3D X-rays

Enlarge / Scientists have digitally unwrapped three mummified animals from ancient Egypt using Micro CT scanning. Above: Digital unwrapping of a mummified cat’s head, likely a strangled kitten. Swansea University The ancient Egyptians mummified animals as well as humans, most commonly as votive offerings to the gods available for purchase by visitors to temples. Many …

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Early hominins made a cutting tool from a hippopotamus femur

Enlarge By Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74486418 Hand axes are fairly common finds at sites dating between 2 million and 1 million years old. These sturdy tools have two sides (also called faces) and a sharp edge at one end. But hand axes are usually made of stone, so archaeologists working at the Konso …

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The volcano that caused famines in ancient Rome? It was in Alaska

Enlarge / The 10km-wide caldera on Alaska’s Unmak Island formed during the 43 BCE Okmok II eruption. Kerry Key (Columbia University, New York, NY) Roman writers described unusual weather and famines in the years following Julius Caesar’s assassination in 44 BCE, adding to the turbulence of the civil war that marked the transition from Republic …

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An ancient Roman city has been fully mapped using ground-penetrating radar

Enlarge / Ground-penetrating radar map of the temple in the Roman city of Falerii Novi, Italy. L. Verconck Falerii Novi was once a walled town just north of Rome, likely founded around 241 BC as a relocation site for a Falisci tribe that had rebelled against the Romans. Located on a volcanic plateau, archaeologists surmise …

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South Asia now has the oldest evidence of bows and arrows outside Africa

Enlarge Langley et al. 2020 For more than 100,000 years, the earliest humans hunted Pleistocene megafauna with wooden throwing spears. But by at least 64,000 years ago, people in Africa had invented a deadly new way to hunt: the bow and arrow. Bows and arrows eventually became a staple of hunting and warfare for cultures …

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Archaeologists find a way to look for ancient beer

Enlarge / Barley grain used in the production of beer at the Asahi Kanagawa Brewery in Japan. Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg/Getty Images Over the last few years, archaeologists have learned a lot from ancient people’s dirty dishes. Microscopic residues clinging to the inside of potsherds contain chemical traces of ancient food and drink, which have revealed remarkable …

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Medieval arrows caused injuries similar to gunshot wounds, study finds

Enlarge / Reconstruction of the angle of entry into a cranium collected during the excavation of the burial ground of a medieval Dominican friary in Exeter, England. Oliver Creighton/University of Exeter The English longbow was a powerful medieval weapon said to be able to pierce an opponent’s armor and may have been a decisive factor …

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