Tag: Archaeology and Anthropology

5 Takeaways From the Ancient DNA Research Story

What can genes tell us about who we are? Millions of people around the word have begun using consumer ancestry services like 23andMe in an attempt to peer into their personal origins and understand where they came from. Meanwhile, though, in a handful of elite genetics labs around the world, scientists have begun analyzing ancient […]

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Is Ancient DNA Research Revealing New Truths — or Falling Into Old Traps?

PART I 1. The Ghosts of Teouma A faint aura of destiny seems to hover over Teouma Bay. It’s not so much the landscape, with its ravishing if boilerplate tropical splendor — banana and mango trees, coconut and pandanus palms, bougainvillea, the apprehensive trill of the gray-eared honeyeater — as it is the shape of […]

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Trilobites: In an Ancient Nun’s Teeth, Blue Paint — and Clues to Medieval Publishing

Anita Radini, an archaeologist at the University of York, in England, spends a lot of time looking at tartar. Really old tartar. Tartar, or dental plaque — that film of bacteria that feels like sweaters on your teeth — contains a wealth of information about what long-dead individuals encountered in their daily lives. Dr. Radini […]

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Ancient Thoroughbred Horse With Bronze-Plated Saddle Is Discovered in Pompeii

LONDON — The horse, a thoroughbred, was wearing a bronze-plated military saddle and ready to go when Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the ancient city of Pompeii in A.D. 79. The horse, too, was covered in pumice and ash. Almost 2,000 years later, archaeologists unearthed the petrified horse, along with the remains of two others, […]

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Matter: ‘Spirits Won’t Rest’: DNA Links Ancient Bones to Living Aboriginal Australians

In the 1800s, thousands of Aboriginal Australians were the victims of a terrible trade in the name of science. Anatomists opened their graves and stole their skeletons. After massacres of Aboriginal Australians, police officers sold body parts to museums. Today, many of these bones lie far from home. “Our old people’s remains have been stolen […]

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Egypt Unearths Tomb of Royal Priest From 4,400 Years Ago

Archaeologists have discovered a well-preserved, 4,400-year-old tomb of a royal priest and his family in Egypt, in a “one of a kind” find, the Egyptian authorities announced on Saturday. The tomb was unearthed in Saqqara, a city south of Cairo and a vast necropolis from ancient Egypt. The discovery dates from the rule of Neferirkare […]

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Matter: Narrower Skulls, Oblong Brains: How Neanderthal DNA Still Shapes Us

People who sign up for genetic testing from companies like 23andMe can find out how much of their DNA comes from Neanderthals. For those whose ancestry lies outside Africa, that number usually falls somewhere between 1 percent and 2 percent. Scientists are still a long way from understanding what inheriting a Neanderthal gene means to […]

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It Could Be the Age of the Chicken, Geologically

It’s one thing to eat chicken every day. It’s something else to have that on your permanent record, as in the geological record, the remnants of our time that archaeologists or aliens of the future will sift through to determine who we were and how we shaped our world. But a group of scientists argue […]

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News Analysis: Should We Contact Isolated Tribes?

Two weeks ago a young American made a doomed mission to North Sentinel Island, a speck in the Bay of Bengal and home to perhaps the most isolated people on earth — all 50 or so of them. Ever since he was a boy, John Chau, an evangelical missionary with an acute case of wanderlust, […]

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Missionary’s Killing Reignites Debate About Isolated Tribes: Contact, Support or Stay Away?

The recent killing of an American missionary by members of an isolated tribe on a small island in the Indian Ocean has reignited questions about the fate of the last few groups of people living off the grid. In an era when people across the globe are hyper-connected by technology and increasingly interlocked economies, the […]

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Pontius Pilate’s Name Is Found on 2,000-Year-Old Ring

The name of Pontius Pilate, the Roman official who ordered the killing of Jesus, according to the Gospel, is mentioned in thousands of sermons every year and is familiar to countless people, but little is known about his life and work. To the very short list of clues about Pilate as a historical figure, archaeologists […]

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Retrieving Body of Missionary Killed on Remote Indian Island Is a Struggle

When Indian police officers in a small boat pulled within sight of the remote island, they saw something strange. A group of islanders were huddled on the beach. Carrying bows, arrows and spears, they appeared to be guarding something. Police officials said it could have been the body of John Allen Chau. The 26-year-old American […]

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A Man’s Last Letter Before Being Killed on a Forbidden Island

Before he was killed by an isolated tribe on a remote Indian Ocean island, John Allen Chau, a young American on a self-propelled mission to spread Christianity, revealed two things: that he was willing to die, and that he was scared. “You guys might think I’m crazy in all this,” he wrote in a last […]

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Rich, Ancient City Is Unearthed in Greece

LONDON — First, the archaeologist and her team uncovered a sarcophagus from a village in southern Greece in 1984. Thirty-four years later, an ancient road in the same village led to a Roman mausoleum. Then, in October, a lost city called Tenea was found. “After I uncovered the sarcophagus, I knew I had to go […]

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Matter: Crossing From Asia, the First Americans Rushed Into the Unknown

Nearly 11,000 years ago, a man died in what is now Nevada. Wrapped in a rabbit-skin blanket and reed mats, he was buried in a place called Spirit Cave. Now scientists have recovered and analyzed his DNA, along with that of 70 other ancient people whose remains were discovered throughout the Americas. The findings lend […]

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Matter: In Cave in Borneo Jungle, Scientists Find Oldest Figurative Painting in the World

On the wall of a cave deep in the jungles of Borneo, there is an image of a thick-bodied, spindly-legged animal, drawn in reddish ocher. It may be a crude image. But it also is more than 40,000 years old, scientists reported on Wednesday, making this the oldest figurative art in the world. Until now, […]

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Trilobites: When Human Relatives First Visited a Green Arabian Peninsula

Buried in the Arabian desert’s sand are clues to the peninsula’s wetter, greener past. Fossils from long-extinct elephants, antelope and jaguars paint a prehistoric scene not of a barren wasteland, but of a flourishing savanna sprinkled with watering holes. Now, scientists have found what they think is evidence of the activities of early human relatives, […]

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