“Our closest evolutionary cousins the Neanderthals continue to fascinate scientists and pre-historians.
Fossils and DNA strongly suggest we shared a common ancestor with them, genetic clocks placing the split between us in the range of 550,000 to 765,000 years ago.
Our fascination stems from the fact they are our closest evolutionary cousins; we have hundreds of fossils from them, so have a pretty good idea what they looked like; and they were the first extinct human species we knew about, with Neanderthal bones found discovered in the first half of the 19th century.
Neanderthals have historically also represented the archetypical brutish caveman in popular culture.
Each year dozens of research articles are published examining almost every aspect of their biology and behaviour, as gleaned from the fossil and archaeological records they have left behind.”
“It is one of the world’s most famous Neolithic sites, one of the best preserved signs of how our ancestors lived thousands of years ago.
But a new book, written by the former head of Glasgow’s museums and galleries, claims that the prevailing view of Skara Brae, that it is the remains of a neolithic village, is wide of the mark – he believes it was a ‘sacred sauna’.
He believes that the houses, made from closely fitting flat stone slabs, set in large mounds of midden, were in fact rooms where families went to honour the spirits of their ancestors whilst experiencing the severe heat created by hot stones laid in water troughs.
The art critic, writer and curator compares the site to other stone sties in Turkey – Gobekli Tepe – and the island of Gozo – Ggantija.”
[Having visited Skara Brae during one of the Morien Institute accessible archaeological expeditions in 2003 I can honestly say it certainly is an impressive series of ancient structures. Ancient Native Americans had their ‘sweat lodges’ in which hot stones and water generated steam and stories were told, so why not the ancient inhabitants of the Orkney Islands as well? An interesting theory and well worth reading the full story in The Herald – Ed.]
“In their second study to be published in just over a year, an SFU led team of scientists has discovered that ancient coastal Indigenous people were more than hunter-gatherers.
Casting a large interdisciplinary research net has helped Simon Fraser University archaeologist Dana Lepofsky and 10 collaborators dig deeper into their findings about ancient clam gardens in the Pacific Northwest and formulate new perspectives.
Lepofsky’s research team has discovered that Northwest Coast Indigenous people didn’t make their living just by gathering the natural ocean’s bounty.
Rather, from Alaska to Washington, they were farmers who cultivated productive clam gardens to ensure abundant and sustainable clam harvests.
In its new paper published by American Antiquity, Lepofsky’s team isolated novel ways to date the stone terraces that created clam beaches.
They are certainly more than 1,000 years old and likely many thousands of years older.
The researchers identified many places where people built gardens on bedrock-creating ideal clam habitats where there was none before.
This, the researchers concluded, clearly challenges the notation that First Nations were living in wild, untended environments.”
[It never fails to amaze me how wrong the picture of prehistory we are taught in our schools and colleges has been. From arctic Canada to the southern tip of South America, evidence is constantly emerging which shows that ancient people modified their environments for food production in more intelligent ways that modern peoples can only look at in awe.
Here is yet another interdisciplinary study that rewrites prehistory, the intpretation of which can no longer be left to archaeologists alone – Ed.]
“The geoglyph, Triple Spiral, dating back to 600 years ago and located in Trujillo was destroyed by agricultural invaders within the last month, according to El Comercio.
The Peruvian Association of Rock Art (APAR) reported that the individuals responsible were indeed people who strived to rid the site of any archaeological evidence in the hopes of irrigating and occupying the land for agricultural purposes.
Representative of APAR, Victor Corcuera determined that the invaders did the damage intentionally as they only drove their machinery on the geoglyphs and left the remaining land un-furrowed, according to El Comercio.
Archaeologists have determined that the geoglyphs design belongs to a phase later than that of the Chimu culture.”
“The Southern Silk Road, probably the earliest of all those ancient trading routes and modern tourism icons, like the rest of them across the vast lands of Central Asia, appears to have had many diversions, both major and minor.
The links between the emerging civilisations of the known world, east, west and south, have, especially along that which runs through Central Asia, left many conspicuous landmarks of the wealth that travelled that way.
In China, as in Bangladesh and India, too, such traces are not hard to find.
However, water has always been regarded, logically, as the highway of the ancient world, and it is the great rivers of South Asia that have left clues to their early, and extensive use for trade between those emerging civilisations of Europe, Asia, and Africa.”
“Though the tombs of two ancient Egyptian priests excavated recently had been vandalized and their bones scattered across the burial chamber many centuries ago, beautiful paintings on the walls and some objects are intact.
The paintings and some artifacts show the priests were involved in the sacred rite of mummification.
The remains of the deceased were in the tombs but had been strewn about. Experts believe the Sixth Dynasty tombs from about 4,200 years ago were vandalized in the Seventh or Eighth dynasties during the 21st century BC, says The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities Facebook page.
Archaeologists found some artifacts in the tombs that had not been broken. No sarcophagi were found.”
“Bone disease and a lack of calcium could have led to the extinction of the woolly mammoth, according to new analysis by a Siberian palaeontologist.
Sergey Leshchinsky has spent more than a decade examining 23,500 bones and teeth belonging to the hairy beast, and found almost every one had traces of osteoporosis.
He has concluded that climate change and associated geological processes affected the chemical composition of soil and water in the mammoths’ habitat, and led to them suffering from chronic mineral shortages.
That in turn, he said, resulted in them often breaking their limbs and spines, left them open to predators and caused them problems simply surviving.”
[In October 1900, Captain Dimitrious Kondos was leading a team of sponge divers near the the island of Antikythera off the coast of Greece. They noticed a shipwreck about 180 feet below the surface and began to investigate. Amongst the artifacts that they brought up was a coral-encrusted piece of metal that later archaeologists found was some sort of gear wheel.
The rest of the artifacts, along with the shape of the boat, suggested a date around 2000 years ago, which made the find one of the most anomalous that had ever been recovered from the Greek seas. It became known as The Antikythera Mechanism.
In 2006 the journal “Nature” published a letter, and another paper about the mechanism was published in 2008, detailing the findings of Prof. Mike G. Edmunds of Cardiff University. Using high-resolution X-ray tomography to study the fragments of the anomalous Antikythera Mechanism, they found that it was in fact a bronze mechanical analog computer that could be used to calculate the astronomical positions and various cycles of the Moon – as seen from the Earth: – Ed]
Part of the Antikythera Mechanism
Antikythera Mechanism Research Project
2000-year-old analog computer recreated
More Antikythera Mechanism Information & Commentary:
“The 2300 BC Event takes a new look at an old puzzle: what happened at this date to cause the various advanced societies on the Earth to simultaneously collapse?
Civilizations in Anatolia and Greece, through Egypt and the Middle East, and eastward to India and Central Asia were at their height. The collapse of these civilizations due to earthquakes and climatic changes has been mirrored by similar interruptions on all continents, in the Arctic, and extending to the Pacific.
The discontinuities have long puzzled archaeologists and historians. New religions and accompanying mythologies appeared at this time in all cultural regions describing bombardment and flooding from the skies.
Strangely, the dominant aspect of the mythologies, however, is the observation and worship of a ring appearing to surround the Earth, oriented to the two Ursa (Bear) constellations.”
“After rumors surfaced about the sun bisecting a petroglyph at Chaco Canyon, people never looked at the site the same again.
The discovery proposed a cosmology at Chaco, and the book looks at the people who lived in the San Juan Basin from 850 AD to 1300, developing an elaborate culture around the cycles of the sun and moon.
Anna Sofaer’s pioneering work on Chaco Canyon, a World Heritage Site, should be required reading for anyone interested in how the prehistoric people of the American Southwest conceptualized their universe and placed themselves within that universe.”