Archaeology

Empires have risen and fallen and often it has been due to changes in the climate. When agriculture was a more demanding endeavor people wanted the most fertile lands and as that shifted, so did cities.

For that reason, climate change has often been cited as the most logical reason for a huge population collapse in Europe at the end of the Bronze Age. Now archaeologists and environmentalists say they can prove definitively that climate change could not have been the culprit. Because the changes in climate that scientists believed to coincide with the fall in population in fact occurred at least two generations later.


The remains of two Ice Age infants are the youngest human remains ever found in northern North America, according to a new paper.

The remains of the infants date to around 11,000 years ago and were found in 2013 at an excavation of the Upward Sun River site, near the Tanana River in central Alaska.  


Underneath the ancient royal buried ground of Saqqara in the Egyptian desert lies something even creepier than mummies that might come back to life - mummies that might come back to life and be adorable.

The Sacred Animal Necropolis, as it was called after being discovered by archaeologists last century, was dedicated to Anubis - that is the one with the head of a dog/jackal - and is believed to contain up to 8 million animals, most of them small dogs. It's hard to be sure because the animals were not mummified the way royal members were so they have just basically decomposed into heaps of DNA. Most were placed there in the Late- (747-332 B.C.) and Ptolemaic (332-30 B.C.) Periods.

The social sciences have simultaneously become increasingly specialized and over-lapping. A new field calls itself Continental Shelf Prehistoric Research and it studies the remains of prehistoric human settlements which are now submerged beneath coastal waters.

Some of the now-drowned sites are tens of thousands of years old, requiring archaeologists to get help from oceanography and the geosciences. A recent paper describes how during the successive ice ages of the last million years, the sea level dropped at times by up to 120 meters and the exposed area of the continental shelf added 40% to the land area of Europe; a terrain occupied by vegetation, fauna, and people.

Think you're extreme? 12,000 years ago Ice Age Humans lived and worked at an altitude of almost 15,000 feet, high in the Peruvian Andes.

The sites in the Pucuncho Basin, located in the Southern Peruvian Andes, are the highest-altitude Pleistocene archaeological sites found to-date. The primary site, Cuncaicha is a rock shelter at 4,480 meters above sea level, with a stone-tool workshop below it. There is also a Pucuncho workshop site where stone tools were made at 4,355 meters above sea level.


An international team has retrieved antiquities including tableware, ship components, and a giant bronze spear that would have belonged to a life-sized warrior statue from an ancient Greek ship that sank more than 2,000 years ago off the remote island of Antikythera.

The Antikythera wreck was first discovered in 1900 by sponge divers who were blown off course by a storm. They subsequently recovered a haul of ancient treasure including bronze and marble statues, jewelry, furniture, luxury glassware, and the surprisingly complex Antikythera Mechanism. But they were forced to end their mission at the 55-meter-deep site after one diver died of the bends and two were paralyzed.



A close up of one of the hand stencils found in the prehistoric caves in Indonesia. Credit: Kinez Riza, Author provided

By Paul S.C.Taçon, Griffith University; Adam Brumm, Griffith University, and Maxime Aubert, Griffith University


Image: 
Charlie Phillips/flickr. CC BY 2.0

By Joel N. Shurkin, Inside Science

(Inside Science) -- The enemy of archaeology everywhere is salt. It destroys buildings, disassembles art works, and can turn ancient pottery into piles of dust.


Tokat Castle. Credit: Flickr

It's not a surprise that as we get ready for Halloween season, stories will start to appear that relate to the macabre. And nothing is more macabre to modern minds than the tale of Vlad Dracul, who was on the front lines battling the Muslims in Eastern Europe and reputedly impaled 20,000 bodies as a warning to them.

It seemed to have worked, at least in that famous instance. You can imagine a sane Ottoman general seeing that spectacle and thinking 'Do we want to own a country where people have not set a guy like that on fire? The personnel headaches would be tremendous.'

Artifacts from a 325,000-year-old site in Armenia finds that human technological innovation occurred intermittently throughout the Old World, rather than spreading from a single point of origin (usually hypothesized as Africa), as previously thought.