Jesus lived 2,000 years ago. There was no such thing as the English language, and most human beings had never even seen paper. 2,500 years before *that* is when we thought the first Egyptian mummies were made. But now, as New Scientist reports, we’ll have to move the date of the first mummies back by another 2,000 years: It had been assumed that before about 2500 BC, when Egyptians wanted to mummify their deadMovie Camera, they placed the wrapped bodies outside and let the hot, dry air and desert sand do the hard work. Deliberate mummification with preserving oils and resins was thought to be a much later development. But the earliest known Egyptian burials date from 4500 to 3350 BC. These led some Egyptologists to suspect that mummification began early, but there was no hard evidence of this. For the first time, the bandages, skin and wadding from these ancient burials have been chemically […]
SONG: “Jump, Jump, Jump”.
SOURCE: Based on “Fish and Adaptation: Mangrove Fish Jumps into Air in Warming Water”, Nature World News, 21 Oct 2015, as used in the post “Global warming might make the fish jump.”
ABSTRACT: First, let me say that this was done on time, even early. It started as a jokey thing I was singing to my son while he was watching me play guitar on the couch, and I decided what the hell. They call it “playing” music for a reason. (I guess if I spoke …
In 1775, Pennsylvania Magazine wanted its readers to be up to date on the very latest in technological advances, including this machine for… well, it seems to be some kind of a caisson for dredging harbors, more than something that “cleanses docks.” Anyway, it’s very impressive, this American ingenuity.
From the device’s description: The machine consists of a horse-drawn crane on a boat with a crane and shovel. A man is shown operating the shovel. Includes a detail of …
SONG: “All Praise Black Ice”.
SOURCE: Based on “New Horizons Finds Blue Skies and Water Ice on Pluto”, NASA.gov, 8 Oct 2015, as used in the post “There’s water ice on another planet. Not Mars. Pluto.”
Laryngitis followed by a business trip and here I am, a couple weeks late. I hope the brass section makes up for that.
(Yes, there’s brass in there, somewhere. I really need help mastering these things, but one does what one can in between everything e…
They don’t look so hot.
Science Art: Chemical Laboratory room. Experimental Research labs, Burroughs Wellcome and Co. Tuckahoe, New York
Welcome to Wellcome.
They’ve got all kinds of wonderful things in their image gallery, including this marvelous experimenter in an even more marvelous experimental lab.
In 1935, this was where the future was made.
Three idols, from the Anales del Museo Nacional de Chile, published between 1892 and 1910.
I found them in the Biodiversity Heritage Library, which is usually full of biological specimens.
These three, however, are a little different… even if no one knows where two of them came from. Arica is a port city near two valleys that divide the Atacama Desert in north Chile.
He (or more likely she, even though as described in the text, “no hai tetas” and “la barba es d…
That’s what Sci-News.com and Science Daily are reporting that University of Toronto researchers have found. A trove of thousands of really really old tools: Science Daily Steven James Walker from the Department of Archaeology at UCT, lead author of the journal paper, says: “The site is amazing and it is threatened. We’ve been working well with developers as well as the South African Heritage Resources Agency to preserve it, but the town of Kathu is rapidly expanding around the site. It might get cut off on all sides by development and this would be regrettable.” … The Kathu Townlands site is one component of a grouping of prehistoric sites known as the Kathu Complex. Other sites in the complex include Kathu Pan 1 which has produced fossils of animals such as elephants and hippos, as well as the earliest known evidence of tools used as spears from a level dated to half a million years […]
The Guardian opens the classicists’ bathroom door to reveal a Greek discovery – world’s oldest erotic graffiti: Certainly, Dr Andreas Vlachopoulos, a specialist in prehistoric archaeology, didn’t think so when he began fieldwork on the Aegean island four years ago. Until he chanced upon a couple of racy inscriptions and large phalluses carved into Astypalaia’s rocky peninsula at Vathy. The inscriptions, both dating to the fifth and sixth centuries BC, were “so monumental in scale” – and so tantalisingly clear – he was left in no doubt of the motivation behind the artworks. “They were what I would call triumphant inscriptions,” said the Princeton-trained professor who found them while introducing students to the ancient island world of the Aegean. “They claimed their own space in large letters that not only expressed sexual desire but talked about the act of sex itself,” he told the Guardian. “And that is very, very rare.” Photos (probably SFW) at […]
Irish Central has more on the pristine site in a little village in County Louth that used to be a Viking winter base: Geophysical tests funded by Dundalk’s County Museum have allowed scientists to make the big breakthrough. They have now confirmed that the Linn Duchaill site, beside the river Glyde and south of Dundalk Bay, was where the Vikings brought their long ships or longphorts to be repaired. It was also the base for inland raids as far as Longford and north to Armagh. Although eventually abandoned as a port due to poor tides and a shallow bay, Linn Duachaill was also a large trading town as the Vikings exported Irish slaves and looted goods. Experts have been blown away by the find on farmland in the small village. Louth County Museum curator Brian Walsh told the Irish Examiner: “This site is mind-blowing. It is untouched, there is no motorway going through it and […]
A Siberian fisherman netted a priceless archaeological artifact – a little statue from 2000 BCE. No word from the New York Daily News on the one that got away: Nikolay Tarasov, 53, netted the extraordinary 4,000-year-old figurine while fishing in his hometown of Tisul, in Russia’s Kemerovo region. The small object got tangled in his net and Tarasov was getting ready to chuck it back into the river when he glanced down to take another look. That’s when he saw a face staring back up at him. “I stopped and washed the thing in the river and realized it wasn’t a stone of an unusual shape, as I thought earlier, but a statuette,” the man told the Siberian Times. … Tisul’s History Museum was stunned when Tarasov brought them the find. Experts said it was made out of horn that has fossilized. They have dated it to the Bronze Age and believe it may have […]
At least, Laboratory Equipment says, in ancient Egypt. A new study of carbon-levels in mummies has found that until recently, when people settled down to build cities, they stopped eating (too much) meat: All carbon atoms are taken in by plants from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by the process of photosynthesis. By eating plants, and the animals that had eaten plants, the carbon ends up in our bodies. … The researchers reported their findings in the Journal of Archaeological Science. They measured carbon-13 to carbon-12 ratios (and also some other isotope ratios) in bone, enamel and hair in these remains, and compared them to similar measurements performed on pigs that had received controlled diets consisting of different proportions of C3 and C4 foodstuffs. As pigs have a similar metabolism to humans, their carbon isotope ratios could be compared to what was found in the mummies. Hair absorbs a higher rate of animal proteins than […]
Science Daily twists the archaeological order of things around a little. Humans came out of Africa, humans in Africa have domesticated cattle for thousands of years, the easy assumption is that cattle were first domesticated in Africa and kind of moved out with us into the Fertile Crescent, where they helped us settle down and build the first cities. Fresh milk to build bricks! But no – geneticists have proved that cattle came out of Mesopotamia and went out of the “cradle of civilization” and moved back to Africa: Lead researcher Jared Decker, an assistant professor of animal science in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, says the genetics of these African cattle breeds are similar to those of cattle first domesticated in the Middle East nearly 10,000 years ago, proving that those cattle were brought to Africa as farmers migrated south. Those cattle then interbred with wild cattle, or aurochs, which […]
Miami Herald gets the low-down on the underground 305 – hidden under Miami streets and condos and neon-lit skyscrapers, there’s a prehistoric village (and a priceless piece of the past) under what’s supposed to become a development project: Archaeologists who for months have been uncovering mounting evidence of an ancient and extensive Native American village in the middle of downtown Miami have concluded it’s likely one of the most significant prehistoric sites in the United States. The archaeologists, under the direction of veteran South Florida archaeologist Bob Carr, have so far painstakingly dug up eight large circles comprised of uniformly carved holes in the native limestone that they believe to be foundation holes for Tequesta Indian dwellings dating as far back as 2,000 years. They have also discovered linear, parallel arrangements of hundreds of such postholes stretching across the site that Carr hypothesizes mark the foundation for other structures, possibly boardwalks connecting the dwellings. The […]
PhysOrg takes a deeper look at the reasons why prehistoric doctors poked holes in their patients’ heads: However, evidence shows that healers in Peru practiced trepanation—a surgical procedure that involves removing a section of the cranial vault using a hand drill or a scraping tool—more than 1,000 years ago to treat a variety of ailments, from head injuries to heartsickness. … “For about 400 years, from 600 to 1000 AD, the area where I work—the Andahuaylas—was living as a prosperous province within an enigmatic empire known as the Wari,” [Santa Barbara bioarchaeologist Danielle Kurin] said. “For reasons still unknown, the empire suddenly collapsed.” And the collapse of civilization, she noted, brings a lot of problems. “But it is precisely during times of collapse that we see people’s resilience and moxie coming to the fore,” Kurin continued. “In the same way that new types of bullet wounds from the Civil War resulted in the development of […]
Meaning, although PhysOrg stops short of saying so, that we could maybe someday build a hominin from scratch. As it is, though, we’ve still got a lot we can do today, now that we’ve figured out the 400,000-year-old genetic code of Homo heidelbergensis: Matthias Meyer and his team from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, have developed new techniques for retrieving and sequencing highly degraded ancient DNA. They then joined forces with Juan-Luis Arsuaga and applied the new techniques to a cave bear from the Sima de los Huesos site. After this success, the researchers sampled two grams of bone powder from a hominin thigh bone from the cave. They extracted its DNA and sequenced the genome of the mitochondria or mtDNA, a small part of the genome that is passed down along the maternal line and occurs in many copies per cell. The researchers then compared this ancient mitochondrial DNA […]
DNA analysis presented at the Royal Society in London shows, Nature says in the most delicate way possible, that ancient humans were getting it on more than we suspected: The ancient genomes, one from a Neanderthal and one from a member of an archaic human group called the Denisovans, were presented on 18 November at a meeting on ancient DNA at the Royal Society in London. The results suggest that interbreeding went on between the members of several ancient human-like groups in Europe and Asia more than 30,000 years ago, including an as-yet-unknown human ancestor from Asia. “What it begins to suggest is that we’re looking at a Lord of the Rings-type world — that there were many hominid populations,” says Mark Thomas, an evolutionary geneticist at University College London who was at the meeting but was not involved in the work. … The Denisovan genome indicates that the population got around: [David] Reich[, an […]
National Geographic looks into the caves and reports on the earliest artists’ small, beautiful hands: Archaeologist Dean Snow of Pennsylvania State University analyzed hand stencils found in eight cave sites in France and Spain. By comparing the relative lengths of certain fingers, Snow determined that three-quarters of the handprints were female. “There has been a male bias in the literature for a long time,” said Snow, whose research was supported by the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration. “People have made a lot of unwarranted assumptions about who made these things, and why.” Archaeologists have found hundreds of hand stencils on cave walls across the world. Because many of these early paintings also showcase game animals—bison, reindeer, horses, woolly mammoths—many researchers have proposed that they were made by male hunters, perhaps to chronicle their kills or as some kind of “hunting magic” to improve success of an upcoming hunt. The new study suggests […]
Sweden’s The Local rewrites history with a pre-Viking farm that they’re calling “shocking”: “It is completely unique,” Jan Heinerud at Västerbotten’s Museum in Umeå told The Local on Friday. “We have never previously found a long house like this so far north.” The farm was discovered in the area between Backen and Klabböle in an area known as Klockaråkern and it is thought that the farm was in use for almost 600 years from around 1100 BC. … Heinerud explained that the find changes the history of the region around Norrland’s main city of Umeå and raises further interesting questions over how the area was used between 500 BC and 500 AD, of which little is known. [via Archaeological News]
Archaeologists in China have found a collection of bamboo texts – including copies of the I Ching, Tao Te Ching, the Analects of Confucius and other classics. New York Times reports on the fragile, waterlogged library that’s older than Jesus: “When we opened the box it had a bad smell. Moldy. Many were broken,” said Li Xueqin, an eminent historian and paleographer at the university. Underneath the hard, impacted mud was something stunning: ancient literary texts, written on the bamboo strips in pure, stable ink. For three months, Mr. Li’s team cleaned the slender strips, a difficult job because the very cells of the bamboo were saturated with water, making them as soft as cooked noodles. Inscribed with some of the earliest known texts of the Chinese classics and believed to have been illegally excavated from the tomb of a historian who lived in the state of Chu during the Warring States period, around 300 […]