Mother’s Milk Holds the Key to Unlocking an Evolutionary Mystery from the Last Ice Age

Sunrise at noon in the Arctic. Little exposure to sun was a piece of the genetic puzzle. Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, CC BY Why was one gene mutation that affects hair, teeth, sweat glands and breasts ubiquitous among ice age Arctic people? New research points to the advantage it provided for ancestors of Native Americans. By Dr. Leslea Hlusko / 04.26.2018 Associate Professor of Integrative[…]

How Genetics Helped Crack the History of Human Migration

A family migrating to western US in 1886. Marion Doss/Flickr, Creative Commons Humans evolved in Africa, spread across the world, and then it gets messy. Luckily advances in genetic sequencing have helped us track the complex history of human migration. By Dr. George Busby / 01.12.2016 Post-Doctoral Research Associate Wellcome Trust Center for Human Genetics Oxford University Over the past 25 years, scientists have supported the view[…]

First Peoples: Two Ancient Ancestries ‘Reconverged’ with Settling of South America

New research using ancient DNA finds that a population split after people first arrived in North America was maintained for millennia before mixing again before or during the expansion of humans into the southern continent. Recent research has suggested that the first people to enter the Americas split into two ancestral branches, the northern and[…]

How Early Humans First Began to Paint Animals

Painting from El Castillo cave (Cantabria, Spain). Early Upper Palaeolithic or older. Photo Becky Harrison and courtesy Gobierno de Cantabria., Author provided Figurative art may derive from Neanderthal hand prints and the hunter’s keen eye for perceiving animals.    By Dr. Derek Hodgson and Dr. Paul Pettitt / 05.04.2018 Hodgson: Research Associate in Archaeology, University of York Pettitt:[…]

Raiders of the Lost Marks: Uncovering the Prehistoric Rock Art of the Cochno Stone

Ludovic Mann (right) and a colleague studying the site in 1930s. Historic Environment Scotland It’s arguably Europe’s premier Bronze Age art site -– but it has spent the last 50 years hidden underground. By Dr. Kenneth Brophy / 09.14.2016 Senior Lecturer in Archaeology University of Glasgow In the foothills of the Kilpatrick Hills, a short walk from the Faifley housing[…]

Bones of Iron Age Warriors May Reveal Link between Yorkshire’s ‘Spear People’ and Ancient Gauls

One of the spear points found in the 2,500-year-old grave in Pocklington, East Yorkshire. Anna Gowthorpe/PA What’s in a name? In search of the link between the Parisi people of East Yorkshire and Parisii of northern France. By Dr. Peter Halkon / 03.18.2016 Senior Lecturer in Archaeology University of Hull Around 150 skeletons buried in 75 graves have been discovered in an Iron Age cemetery near the town of Pocklington[…]

Mass Grave Reveals Organized Violence among Europe’s First Farmers

The owner of this skull had a nasty run in with an axe. Christian Meyer These massacres entail killing on a relative scale seen today only in the most war-torn countries. By Dr. Rick Schulting / 08.07.2015 Lecturer in Scientific and Prehistoric Archaeology University of Oxford The discovery of 26 bodies with lethal injuries in a 7,000[…]

What Neolithic Rock Art Can Tell Us about the Way Our Ancestors Lived 6,000 Years Ago

Rock art in central Northumberland, northern England. Author provided Trying to save Neolithic rock art made by our ancient ancestors is no easy task. But it tells us how people used to live.    By Dr. Aron David Mazel and Dr. Myra J. Giesen / 12.20.2017 Mazel: Reader in Heritage Studies Giesen: Visiting Fellow Newcastle University The British and Irish countryside is often celebrated for its wealth of[…]

6,000-Year-Old Monument Offers Tantalizing Glimpse of Britain’s Neolithic Civilization

Cat’s Brain long barrow is near the more famous Stonehenge (pictured) but predates it by hundreds of years. Shutterstock An archaeological dig at Cat’s Brain has unearthed a remarkable insight into life in Britain before Stonehenge. By Dr. James Leary / 11.20.2017 Director of Archaeology Field School University of Reading This summer, the University of Reading Archaeology Field School excavated[…]

Testing Ancient Human Hearing via Fossilized Ear Bones

3D virtual reconstruction of two-million-year-old ear. Rolf Quam, CC BY-ND Beyond the cool factor of figuring out hominin hearing capacities two million years ago, these findings could help answer the tantalizing question of when did human vocalized language first emerge. By Dr. Rolf Quam / 09.25.2015 Associate Professor of Anthropology Binghamton University (SUNY) How did the world sound to our ancient human relatives[…]

Ancient Human Bone Reveals When We Bred with Neanderthals

Behold the femur. Bence Viola, MPI EVA Radiocarbon-dated to around 45,000 years old. By Dr. Daniel Zadik / 10.24.2014 Postdoctoral Researcher in Genetics University of Leicester When a human bone was found on a gravelly riverbank by a bone-carver who was searching for mammoth ivory, little did he know it would provide the oldest modern-human genome yet sequenced. The[…]

How Tiny Black Spots Shed Light on the Homo Naledi Mystery

A replica of a Homo naledi skull. GCIS/Flickr, CC BY-ND New evidence suggests that Homo naledi didn’t deliberately deposit their dead in a hidden chamber. By Dr. Francis Thackeray / 07.27.2016 Phillip Tobias Chair in Paleoanthropology Evolutionary Studies Institute University of the Witwatersrand Many questions have been thrown up by the discovery in South Africa of a previously unidentified human relative,[…]

Fossil Evidence Reveals that Cancer in Humans Goes Back 1.7 Million Years

The earliest hominin cancer. Patrick Randolph-Quinney (University of Central Lancashire/University of the Witwatersrand) Cancer is not the modern disease many believe it to be. New fossil evidence from two South African caves suggests that its origins lie deep in prehistory.    By Dr. Patrick Randolph-Quinney (left) and Dr. Edward John Odes (right) / 09.12.2016 Randolph-Quinney: Reader/Associate Professor in Biological and Forensic Anthropology, University of Central Lancashire Odes: Postdoctoral Researcher, Bone Pathology[…]

Why Did Some Early Human Societies Practice Violent Human Sacrifice?

Illustration of ritualised human sacrifice in traditional Hawaiian culture, as documented by the French explorer and artists Jaques Arago in 1819.Arago, Jacques. (1822). Promenade autour du monde: pendant les années 1817, 1818, 1819 et 1820, sur les corvettes du roi l’Uranie et la Physicienne, commandées par M. Freycinet Human sacrifice seems horrifying and costly. But there[…]

Indian Stone Tools Could Dramatically Push Back Date When Modern Humans First Left Africa

Middle Palaeolithic artefacts emerged during excavation at Attirampakkam. Sharma Centre for Heritage Education, India Modern humans could have left Africa shortly after evolving, making it to India in tens of thousands of years. By Dr. Patrick Randolph-Quinney / 01.31.2018 Reader/Associate Professor in Biological and Forensic Anthropology University of Central Lancashire We are all children of Africa. As members of the hominin species Homo sapiens, you and[…]

African Tools Push Back the Origin of Human Technological Innovation

By about 320,000 years ago, humans in Kenya began using color pigments and manufacturing more sophisticated tools. Human Origins Program, Smithsonian Scientists have discovered sophisticated tools in Kenya that are much older than expected.    By Dr. Patrick Randolph-Quinney (left) and Dr. Anthony Sinclair (right) / 03.15.2018 Randolph-Quinney: Reader/Associate Professor in Biological and Forensic Anthropology, University of Central Lancashire Sinclair: Professor of Archaeological[…]

Our Ancient Obsession with Food: Human as Evolutionary Master Chefs

A reconstruction of Homo erectus making fire, Zhoukoudian Museum, China. Darren Curnoe, Author provided Few of us pause to reflect on the hugely important role diet plays in the ecology and evolutionary history of all species. By Dr. Darren Curnoe / 06.05.2015 Associate Professor Biological Anthropology and Archaeological Science UNSW Australia Amateur cook-offs like the hugely popular MasterChef series now in its[…]

The First Brexit: When Britain Geologically Separated from Europe

Artist’s impression of waterfalls pouring over the original land bridge connecting England with France. CREDIT: Imperial College London/Chase Stone Almost half a million years ago a huge flood started breaking the apart the land bridge that joined England and France. By Dr. Simon Redfern / 04.04.2017 Professor in Earth Sciences University of Cambridge As Brexit looms, Earth scientists have[…]

7,000-Year-Old Prehistoric Native American Burial Site Found Underwater in Gulf of Mexico

Photo by Ivor Molleema, Florida Department of State In an unprecedented discovery, archaeologists identify a site where prehistoric people once buried their dead—now submerged beneath the waves. By Megan Gannon / 02.28.2018 Venice is Florida’s unofficial capital of fossil hunting. Divers and beachcombers flock to this city on the Gulf Coast, mostly seeking palm-sized teeth[…]

Why This Paleolithic Burial Site is So Strange (And So Important)

Ivory beads and ochre—affixed to the pelvic bones of a child—likely decorated the burial clothing of this 10-year-old interred at Sunghir some 34,000 years ago. / E. Trinkaus/Trinkaus and Buzhilova/Antiquity An ancient interment site in Russia challenges us to rethink how Paleolithic humans in Europe treated their dead and organized their societies. By Lea Surugue /[…]

How We Discovered that Neanderthals Could Make Art

Neanderthal art. P. Saura    By Dr. Chris Standish (left) and Dr. Alistair Pike (right) / 02.22.2018 Standish: Postdoctoral Fellow of Archaeology Pike: Professor of Archaeological Sciences University of Southampton What makes us human? A lot of people would argue it is the ability of our species to engage in complex behaviour such as using language,[…]

Ancient America before 1492

Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 02.14.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief 1 – Early Inhabitants of the Americas 1.1 – Migration to North America Civilization in America began during the last Ice Age when nomadic Paleo-Indians migrated across Beringia. America was inhabited by humans long before the first European set foot on the continent. The beginning[…]

Prehistoric Wine Discovered in Inaccessible Caves Forces a Rethink of Ancient Sicilian Culture

Deep inside Monte Kronio, hot, humid and sulfurous caves held an ancient secret. Giuseppe Savino, La Venta Esplorazioni Geografiche By Dr. Davide Tanasi / 02.14.2018 Assistant Professor of History Center for Visualization and Applied Spatial Techniques (CVAST) University of South Florda Monte Kronio rises 1,300 feet above the geothermally active landscape of southwestern Sicily. Hidden in[…]

Prehistoric Art: The Language of Images

Paleolithic sculptures found in caves are some of the earliest examples of representational art. Hand Stencils from Argentina, c.11,000 – 7,500 BCE Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 02.14.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief 1 – The Stone Age Stone Age art illustrates early human creativity through small portable objects, cave paintings, and early sculpture and architecture.[…]

The Study of History and the Rise of Civilization

Creative Commons Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 02.12.2018 Historian Editor-in-Chief, Brewminate The Study of History Splitting History How Do We Write History? The word history comes ultimately from Ancient Greek historía, meaning “inquiry,” “knowledge from inquiry,” or “judge.” However, the question of what kind of inquiries historians pose, what knowledge they seek, and how they interpret the[…]

Fossil Jaw Bone from Israel is Oldest Modern Human Found Outside Africa

Fossilized teeth from a modern human who lived in Israel close to 200,000 years ago. Israel Hershkovitz, Tel Aviv University, Creative Commons By Dr. Rolf Quam / 01.25.2018 Associate Professor of Anthropology Binghamton University (SUNY) New fossil finds over the past few years have been forcing anthropologists to reexamine our evolutionary path to becoming human. Now[…]

Hurtling Back through Time – Harvard Wintersession Course and the Atlatl (Spear Thrower)

During Wintersession, students learn to make and use the technology that revolutionized human life. The atlatl, or spear-thrower, is a 10,000-year-old tool developed independently across the globe by cultures from the Arctic to New Zealand. The workshop takes place in the Peabody Museum at Harvard University. Andrew Majewski (pictured), the workshop instructor, demonstrates how to[…]

Frozen in Time: Glacial Archaeology on the Roof of Norway

Artefacts revealed by melting ice patches in the high mountains of Oppland shed new light on ancient high-altitude hunting.  Climate change is one of the most important issues facing people today and year on year the melting of glacial ice patches in Scandinavia, the Alps and North America reveals and then destroys vital archaeological records of past human activity.[…]

Neanderthals in 3D: L’Homme de La Chapelle

A neanderthal skull, left hand side of one of Boule’s stereographs included in his L’Homme de La Chapelle (1911) – Source: author’s scan. More than just a favourite of Victorian home entertainment, the stereoscope and the 3D images it created were also used in the field of science. Lydia Pyne explores how the French palaeontologist Marcellin Boule[…]