Anthropology

Charred grains of barley, millet and wheat deposited nearly 5,000 years ago at campsites in the high plains of Kazakhstan show that nomadic sheepherders played a surprisingly important role in the early spread of domesticated crops throughout a mountainous east-west corridor along the historic Silk Road, suggests new research from Washington University in St. Louis.

"Our findings indicate that ancient nomadic pastoralists were key players in an east-west network that linked innovations and commodities between present-day China and southwest Asia," said study co-author Michael Frachetti, PhD, an associate professor of archaeology in Arts&Sciences at Washington University and principal investigator on the research project.


Do you live where your job is or do you move to be near people who match your personality as far as being agreeable or conscientious? 

California has three Democratic state senators under indictment, all being paid while due process makes its way. That seems very conscientious, though there is no chance that would be the case if the politicians facing jail time were Republicans. According to a new paper in Political Research Quarterly, state policies mirror the personalities of the public. If so, the personalities of Californians may veer toward being gun runners while they endorse bans on guns, and having $500 billion in debt while declaring their budget balanced.


The popular belief is that religion and being poor are the biggest risk factors for violent radicalization but a new analysis by Queen Mary University of London has instead found that youth, wealth, and being in full-time academia are more common in the UK.

The pioneering research assessed population prevalence of sympathies for terrorist acts – a key marker of vulnerability to violent radicalisation – and their relationship with commonly assumed causes of radicalisation. The community study surveyed over 600 men and women of Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Muslim heritage in London and Bradford, aged 18-45.


Linguists have conducted what they call an evolutionary analysis to the relationship between North American and Central Siberian languages and say the results indicate that people moved out from the Bering Land Bridge, with some migrating back to central Asia and others into North America.


It's no surprise that natural selection does not always take an evolutionary time scale. 

When thousands of knights died during the Crusades at Acre, natural selection was being channeled. Yes, there were still other mechanisms of evolution but when the available pool of people is changed, positive selection is changed also. Pinpointing that on a time scale can be tough but there has been much research into the factors that have influenced the human genome since the end of the last Ice Age and a team of anthropologists, geneticists and archaeologists have analyzed ancient DNA from skeletons and found that selection has had a significant effect on the human genome even in the past 5,000 years.


We often think of the migration of Asians into America as a event that occurred when the Bering Sea was lower: They basically went over the land bridge that existed, from one part to another.

Genetic and environmental evidence indicates instead that it was instead a conservative process and that they spent 10,000 years in shrubby lowlands on the broad land bridge that once linked Siberia and Alaska. 

University of Utah anthropologist Dennis O'Rourke and colleagues seek to reconcile existing genetic and environmental evidence for human habitation on the Bering land bridge – also called Beringia – with an absence of archaeological evidence.


If climate change sends us all back to the Stone Age, we wouldn't be the first culture. Or at least to the Bronze Age.

It used to be that changes in climate were simply history, now they are an indictment of everything we might hold dear, like electricity.

4,100 years ago, write scholars in Geology, an abrupt weakening of the summer monsoon affected northwest India and the resulting drought coincided with the beginning of the decline of the metropolis-building Indus civilization that spanned present-day Pakistan and India.


Anthropologists have developed mathematical models that they say describe development patterns in both modern urban areas and ancient cities settled thousands of years ago.


Everyone claims to care about diversity, individualism and tolerance. Very few people (R.I.P. Pete Seeger) really do. Instead, they want their beliefs affirmed and they want to demonize the opposition at every turn

The remoteness and anonymity of social media makes aggressive and cultural political posturing easy - that is why people  who think the majority of their friends have differing opinions than their own engage less on Facebook. Politically active tend to stick in their own circles, ignore those on the other side and become more polarized.   


Western humans are rare in that we drink milk after weaning.  Milk is the staple food for infants and contains the sugar lactose but most mammals lose the ability to digest lactose, and thus milk, as they get older. 

The ability to digest the sugar is governed by the production of the enzyme lactase in the small intestine. As children get older, the lactase gene is gradually disabled, which means that no lactase is formed and the lactose enters the colon undigested, where it is typically converted into acids and hydrogen gas and, in many people, causes the painful symptoms of lactose intolerance.