Stone Tools at Arabian ‘Crossroads’ Present Mysteries of Ancient Human Migration

Hand axes from the site of Saffaqah, Saudi Arabia. (Palaeodeserts/Ian R. Cartwright) Hominins made stone tools in central Arabia 190,000 years ago, and the hand axe technology raises questions about just who they were. By Brian Handwerk / 11.29.2018 early 200,000 years ago, at the confluence of two long-vanished river systems in the heart of Arabia,[…]

Stone Tools Date Early Humans in North Africa to 2.4 Million Years Ago

Archaeological excavation at Ain Boucherit, Algeria. Mathieu Duval, Author provided Ancient stone tools found in what is now Algeria show early humans likely spread across Africa more rapidly than first thought.    By Dr. Mathieu Duval (left) and Dr. Mohamed Sahnouni (right) / 11.29.2018 Duval: ARC Future Fellow, Griffith University Sahnouni: Archéologue et professeur, National Center for Research on Human Evolution (CENIEH) When did early humans first arrive in[…]

Women in the Stone Age

The ‘Venus of Willendorf’ at around 28,000 years old is one of the earliest depictions of women in art (Source: Ziko van Dijk). Wikimedia Commons Taking a quick look at some examples where Palaeolithic women or their activities tell us something about our past. By Dr. Darren Curnoe / 02.23.2017 Associate Professor Biological Anthropology and Archaeological Science UNSW Australia[…]

The Agricultural Revolution: Positive Progress or Biggest Blunder in History?

A neolithic farm in Scotland that may be the oldest in northern Europe. / Photo by Drewcorser, Wikimedia Commons Twelve thousand years ago everybody lived as hunters and gatherers. But by 5,000 years ago most people lived as farmers. By Dr. Darren Curnoe / 10.18.2017 Associate Professor Biological Anthropology and Archaeological Science UNSW Australia Twelve thousand years ago[…]

Conflict, Violence, and Conflict Resolution in Hunting and Gathering Societies

April 1562, The Timucua, an indigenous tribe in Florida, shoot burning arrows into the village of a rival tribe. The huts, made of dry palm branches, burn quickly and the attackers could escape unpursued. Original Artwork: After an engraving by Jacques Le Moyne. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images) Conflicts prior to the development of agriculture which[…]

Structure and Characteristics of Prehistoric to Modern Hunter-Gatherers

Photo by Arizona State University Archaeological evidence to date suggests that all human beings were hunter-gatherers prior to twelve thousand years ago. Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 11.02.2018 Public Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief Introduction Hunter-gatherer is an anthropological term used to describe human beings who obtain their food from the bounty of nature, hunting animals and gathering wild plants. It[…]

Welcome to the New Meghalayan Age: How It Fits with Earth’s Geologic History

India’s Mawmluh Cave, home of the reference stalagmite for the newly named age. Abhijeet Khedgikar/Shutterstock.com 2018 brought the announcement of a new geologic age that covers the last 4,200 years. How do scientists divide up Earth’s timeline and what do these demarcations mean? By Dr. Steven Petsch / 09.11.2018 Associate Professor of Geosciences University of[…]

Strong Women Did a Lot of Heavy Lifting in Ancient Farming Societies

Early agrarian women—like these murdered in what is now western France some 6500 years ago—may have been critical manual laborers in their societies. Didier Descouens/Wikimedia Commons Prehistoric women shouldered a major share of the hoeing, digging, and hauling in early agricultural societies. By Michael Price / 11.29.2017 Forget about emotional labor. Women living 7000 years ago[…]

Homo Sapiens: Beyond DNA to Symbolic Communication

Skull of a Homo sapiens (a.k.a. modern human) individual, on display at the Harvard Museum of Natural History / Photo by Chris Devers, Flickr, Creative Commons Homo sapiens (‘wise man’), or modern humans, are the only species of human still around today. By Emma Groeneveld / 03.31.2017 Historian Introduction Homo sapiens (‘wise man’), or modern[…]

Human Evolution: The Many Mysteries of Homo Naledi

This hand was discovered in articulation and all bones are represented except for the pisiform. / Photo by Lee Roger Berger Research Team, Wikimedia Commons More than 1500 fossils from the Rising Star cave system in South Africa have been assigned to a new human species, Homo naledi, which displays a unique combination of primitive[…]

Evidence of a Prehistoric Massacre Extends the History of Warfare

Skeletal remains of a group of foragers massacred around 10,000 years ago on the shores of a lagoon is unique evidence of a violent encounter between clashing groups of ancient hunter-gatherers, and suggests the “presence of warfare” in late Stone Age foraging societies. The fossilised bones of a group of prehistoric hunter-gatherers who were massacred[…]

Anthropologists Link Human Uniqueness to Hunter-Gatherer Group Structure

Photography of Lascaux animal painting / Wikimedia Commons One of the most complex human mysteries involves how and why we became an outlier species in terms of biological success. By Rebecca Howe Research findings published in the March 11 edition of the journal Science by an international team of noted anthropologists, including several from Arizona[…]

Early Hunter-Gatherer Environmental Modifications for Food

Photo by Arizona State University Hunting and gathering activities were the primary way for humans to feed themselves from their natural environments during over 90% of human history. By Dr. Heather Karsten Associate Professor of Crop Production and Ecology Pennsylvania State University Hunting and gathering activities were the primary way for humans to feed themselves[…]

Synthetic Palaeontology: Reconstructing Ancient Life with Modern Technology

Reconstruction of ancient life and environments is an extremely challenging problem. By Dr. William Irvin Sellers Professor, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences University of Manchester Abstract One of the major goals of palaeontology is the reconstruction of life on earth at specific times in the past. The major pieces of evidence that we can[…]

A Background to the History of Ancient Greece

The Temple to Apollo at Delphi / Photo by Greudin, Wikimedia Commons The history of ancient Greece offers fascinating insights into the possibilities and limitations of human existence. By Dr. Thomas R. Martin Jeremiah W. O’Connor, Jr. Professor of  Classics College of the Holy Cross Introduction “Most things in the history of Greece have become[…]

Monuments of the Neolithic European Landscapes

Silbury Hill Neolithic mound. It stands 30 metres high and 160 metres wide, and comprises half a million tonnes of chalk. It is non-megalithic, but still a huge accomplishment. Copyright © Stu Smith 2013 – Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0). Cropped In the Neolithic there were no maps. However, most times people[…]

Prehistory and the Neolithic Age in Europe

Cereal in West Kennet (Wiltshire, United Kingdom). Copyright © Victor Jimenez Jaimez 2014 – Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) The emergence, adaptation, growth, and spread of new technology and social orders.   By Dr. Víctor Jiménez Jáimez (left) and Dr. David W. Wheatley (right) Jáimez: Marie Curie IEF Post-Doctoral Researcher in Archaeology[…]

Reconstructing Past Climates

Near Oymyakon in Yakutia, Russia / Photo Maarten Takens, Wikimedia Commons To work out how the climate has changed over time, climate scientists need long-term records. By Dr. K. Jan Oosthoek Associate Member, Centre for Environmental History Australian National University Documentary data To get a more convincing assessment of a statement such as a regular occurrence[…]

The Neanderthal-Sapiens Connection

Skulls of Homo sapiens (left) and Neanderthal (right) from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. This derivative work shows the skulls from the original display on a plain black background and with the annotation removed. / Photo by hairymuseummatt, Wikimedia Commons Genetic research has shown that the Neanderthals are a sister group to us – we share a common[…]

Early Human Migration

Image via learnerlog.org, Creative Commons Out of Africa and gradually stretching around the globe. By Emma Groeneveld / 05.15.2017 Historian Disregarding the extremely inhospitable spots even the most stubborn of us have enough common sense to avoid, humans have managed to cover an extraordinary amount of territory on this earth. Go back 200,000 years, however,[…]

Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherer Societies: Development and Adaptation

Artist’s vision of woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) in a late Pleistocene landscape in northern Spain. Mammoths were hunted by prehistoric humans. / Photo by Mauricio Antón, Wikimedia Commons To say anything meaningful about prehistoric hunter-gatherers and their way of life, their developments and adaptations throughout time must be highlighted. By Emma Groeneveld / 12.09.2016 Historian Hunter-gatherer[…]

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[…]