Tag Archives | Archaeology

Evidence of Earliest Known Murder Found

Cranium 17 bone traumatic fractures. (A) Frontal view of Cranium 17 showing the position of the traumatic events T1 (inferior) and T2 (superior); (B) Detailed ectocranial view of the traumatic fractures showing the two similar notches (black arrows) present along the superior border of the fracture outlines. Note that the orientation of the two traumatic events is different; (C) Detail of the notch in T1 under 2X magnification with a light microscope. (D) Endocranial view of T1 and T2 showing the large cortical delamination of the inner table (black arrows).

Cranium 17 bone traumatic fractures.
(A) Frontal view of Cranium 17 showing the position of the traumatic events T1 (inferior) and T2 (superior); (B) Detailed ectocranial view of the traumatic fractures showing the two similar notches (black arrows) present along the superior border of the fracture outlines. Note that the orientation of the two traumatic events is different; (C) Detail of the notch in T1 under 2X magnification with a light microscope. (D) Endocranial view of T1 and T2 showing the large cortical delamination of the inner table (black arrows).

Evidence of the earliest murder has emerged in the form of a fractured skull recovered from the Sima de los Huesos Middle Pleistocene site.

Lethal Interpersonal Violence in the Middle Pleistocene via PLOS One:

Evidence of interpersonal violence has been documented previously in Pleistocene members of the genus Homo, but only very rarely has this been posited as the possible manner of death.

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100-Million-Year-Old Predatory Cockroach Found in Amber

Manipulator modificaputis gen. et sp. n. (Manipulatoridae fam.n.) holotype SMNS Bu-116 (deposited in the Stuttgart Museum of Natural History) from the Cretaceous Myanmar amber. A – left view, B – dorsal view, C – detail on the forewing articulation, D – forewing surface hexagonal structure. Scales 0.5 mm. Photo credit: Geologica Carphatica

Manipulator modificaputis gen. et sp. n. (Manipulatoridae fam.n.) holotype SMNS Bu-116 (deposited in the Stuttgart Museum of Natural History) from the Cretaceous Myanmar amber.
A – left view
B – dorsal view
C – detail on the forewing articulation
D – forewing surface hexagonal structure. Scales 0.5 mm.
Photo credit: Geologica Carphatica

It’s the stuff of nightmares: a predatory cockroach (which hunted at night, of course) was recently found preserved in amber. The cockroach and its kin coexisted with dinosaurs and was found near a mine in Noije Bum, Myanmar.

This predator bears a striking resemblance to a praying-mantis. Scientists, Peter Vršanský from the Geological Institute in Bratislava, Slovakia, and Günter Bechly from the State Museum of Natural History in Stuttgart, Germany, say that its long legs and and long neck indicate that these critters were adept hunters.

“The specimen is one of dozens of preserved insects found in the area, making it the most important site of dinosaur-age amber in the world,” says Vršanský.… Read the rest

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Tools Found In Kenya 700,000 Years Older Than Previous Record Holder

"LakeTurkanaSouthIsland" by User:Doron - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

LakeTurkanaSouthIsland” by User:DoronOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The tools are 3.3 million years old.

Ian Johnston via The Independent:

The world’s oldest tools – made by ancestors of modern humans some 3.3 million years ago – have been found in Kenya.

Stones had been deliberately “knapped” or flaked to make a sharp cutting edge, researchers said, according to Sciencemagazine.

They are about 700,000 years older than the previous record holder and are likely to have been made by Australopithecus, an ape-like ancestor of Homo sapiens, or another species, Kenyanthropus.

Archaeologist Sonia Harmand, of New York’s Stony Brook University, told the annual meeting of the US Paleoanthropology Society: “The artefacts were clearly knapped and not the result of accidental fracture of rocks.”

About 150 flakes, the stones they were taken from and anvils on which the stones were placed while they were struck were found near Lake Turkana in Kenya.

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Prehistoric Sex Toys

Neolithic Carved chalk phallus from an infilled pit in a ditch of Maumbury rings, now at Dorset County Museum. Photo by CM Dixon/Print Collector/Getty Images

Neolithic
Carved chalk phallus from an infilled pit in a ditch of Maumbury rings, now at Dorset County Museum.
Photo by CM Dixon/Print Collector/Getty Images

Because, hey, we’ve always had needs.

Chris Wild, over at Mashable, has curated this fabulous collection of old school sex toys. These phalluses are generally believed to have doubled as tools, such as hammerstones, while some archaeologists doubt that they were ever used for personal pleasure. However, after looking at them, it’s hard to believe they didn’t come in handy in more ways than one.

“‘There are many non-dildoish uses for which [they] may have been intended but without doubt anyone at the time would have seen the penile similarities,'” Dr. Martin Rundkvist, archaeologist, told Mashable.

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9-Foot ‘Butcher Crocodile’ Likely Ruled Before Dinosaurs

A life reconstruction of the giant crocodile ancestor (Carnufex carolinensis) that lived some 231 million years ago in what is now North Carolina. Credit: Copyright Jorge Gonzales. Open access

A life reconstruction of the giant crocodile ancestor (Carnufex carolinensis) that lived some 231 million years ago in what is now North Carolina.
Credit: Copyright Jorge Gonzales. Open access

Bad. Ass.

Jeanna Bryner via Live Science:

A 9-foot-tall beast with bladelike teeth once stalked the warm and wet environs of what is now North Carolina some 230 million years ago, before dinosaurs came onto the scene there, scientists have found.

Now called Carnufex carolinensis, the crocodile ancestor likely walked on its hind legs, preying on armored reptiles and early mammal relatives in its ecosystem, the researchers say.

They named it Carnufex, meaning “butcher” in Latin, because of its long skull, which resembles a knife, and its bladelike teeth, which it likely used to slice flesh off the bones of prey, said lead study author Lindsay Zanno, of NC State University and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences. “‘Butcher’ seemed a very appropriate way to get that into the minds of people,” Zanno told Live Science in an interview.

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Arabic Engraved Ring Found in Viking Grave

Viking-Islamic-Ring

A ring found in a 9th century grave in Birka, Sweden (home to a Viking trading center) suggests that Vikings had contact with Islamic civilizations. The silver ring, found in a Viking woman’s grave, has a beautiful violet-colored glass gem engraved with “To Allah” or “For Allah” in Arabic. “Ancient texts mention contact between Scandinavians and members of Islamic civilization, but such archaeological evidence is rare.”

h/t Boing Boing.

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Mystery UFO-like Disc Found in Russia

via News.com.au:

Coal miners claim to have discovered a bizarre flying saucer while completing excavation work in Siberia’s Kuznetsk Basin, Russia.

Almost perfectly circular in shape with a diameter of 1.2 metres and weighing roughly 200kg, the unusual object was found hidden 40 metres underground.

Given the position of the finding, it is suggested the object may be older than mammoth bones, which have been discovered in the same location at a depth of 25 metres.

Excavator Boris Glazkov, 40, who found the object, said it stood out because of its distinctive shape and size.

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h/t Unexplained Mysteries.

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Prehistoric High Times: Early Humans Used Magic Mushrooms, Opium

Sonja (CC BY 2.0)

Sonja (CC BY 2.0)

By Agata Blaszczak-Boxe via LiveScience:

Opium, “magic” mushrooms and other psychoactive substances have been used since prehistoric times all over the world, according to a new review of archaeological findings.

The evidence shows that people have been consuming psychoactive substances for centuries, or even millennia, in many regions of the world, said Elisa Guerra-Doce, an associate professor of prehistory at the University of Valladolid in Spain, who wrote the review.

Guerra-Doce’s previous research showed the use of psychoactive substances in prehistoric Eurasia. The new review “brings together data related to the early use of drug plants and fermented beverages all over the world,” Guerra-Doce told Live Science.

For example, the evidence shows that people have been chewing the leaves of a plant called the betel since at least 2660 B.C., according to Guerra-Doce’s report. The plant contains chemicals that have stimulant- and euphoria-inducing properties, and these days is mostly consumed in Asia.

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Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism, the First Computer

"NAMA Machine d'Anticythère 1". Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

The Antikythera mechanism (Fragment A – front)
NAMA Machine d’Anticythère 1“. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

By Jo Marchant via Smithsonian.com:

After 2,000 years under the sea, three flat, misshapen pieces of bronze at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens are all shades of green, from emerald to forest. From a distance, they look like rocks with patches of mold. Get closer, though, and the sight is stunning. Crammed inside, obscured by corrosion, are traces of technology that appear utterly modern: gears with neat triangular teeth (just like the inside of a clock) and a ring divided into degrees (like the protractor you used in school). Nothing else like this has ever been discovered from antiquity. Nothing as sophisticated, or even close, appears again for more than a thousand years.

For decades after divers retrieved these scraps from the Antikythera wreck from 1900 to 1901, scholars were unable to make sense of them.

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Mummy Mask May Reveal Oldest Known Gospel

This mummy mask was one of the masks that the researchers took apart to reveal ancient papyri. This mummy mask is similar to the one that contained the first century gospel fragment. Credit: Courtesy of Prof. Craig Evans

This mummy mask was one of the masks that the researchers took apart to reveal ancient papyri. This mummy mask is similar to the one that contained the first century gospel fragment.
Credit: Courtesy of Prof. Craig Evans

Owen Jarus writes at LiveScience:

A text that may be the oldest copy of a gospel known to exist — a fragment of the Gospel of Mark that was written during the first century, before the year 90 — is set to be published.

At present, the oldest surviving copies of the gospel texts date to the second century (the years 101 to 200).

This first-century gospel fragment was written on a sheet of papyrus that was later reused to create a mask that was worn by a mummy. Although the mummies of Egyptian pharaohs wore masks made of gold, ordinary people had to settle for masks made out of papyrus (or linen), paint and glue.

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