Neolithic agricultural revolution and the origins of private property

© AlamyCave painting of cow & horses, Lascaux, France. Humankind first started farming in Mesopotamia about 11,500 years ago. Subsequently, the practices of cultivating crops and raising livestock emerged independently at perhaps a dozen other places around the world, in what archaeologists call the Neolithic Agricultural Revolution. It’s one of the most thoroughly-studied episodes in prehistory — but a new paper in the Journal of Political Economy shows that most explanations for it don’t agree with the evidence, and offers a new interpretation. With farming came a vast expansion of…

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Gene analysis reveals Bronze Age slavery

© Open Forum Australia High status families in late Neolithic and Bronze Age Germany kept slaves, genetic analysis reveals. The finding, reported in the journal Science, provides fresh insight into ancient life in Europe, showing that complex slave-owning societies were well established long before those of classical Greece and Rome. The research, centred on genome-wide data gathered from 104 individuals buried in Germany’s Lech Valley between about 2500 BCE and 1700 BCE, was conducted by researchers led by archaeo-geneticist Alissa Mittnik from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of…

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The age of the Great Sphinx

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Vivid gladiator fresco discovered at Pompeii

The fresco was uncovered in what experts think was a tavern frequented by gladiators A vivid fresco depicting an armour-clad gladiator standing victorious as his wounded opponent stumbles gushing blood has been discovered in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, Italy’s culture ministry said Friday. The striking scene in gold, blue and red was uncovered in what experts think was a tavern frequented by gladiators, who fought each other, prisoners and wild animals for the public’s entertainment. “We do not know how this fight ended. Gladiators were killed or shown…

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The mysterious ancient figure challenging China’s history

A spectacular jade carving may hold the clue to an early society that predates what many historians believed to be China’s oldest, writes Alastair Sooke. A grimacing figure wearing an elaborate feathered headdress is riding on the back of a frightening monster. He must be powerful, perhaps even supernatural, because he effortlessly subdues this sharp-clawed beast with bulging eyes. But who, exactly, is he? A shaman? A god? And why is he forcing historians to tear up the conventionally accepted timeline of Chinese history? Earlier this year, while filming China’s…

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The mysterious ancient figure challenging China’s history

A spectacular jade carving may hold the clue to an early society that predates what many historians believed to be China’s oldest, writes Alastair Sooke. A grimacing figure wearing an elaborate feathered headdress is riding on the back of a frightening monster. He must be powerful, perhaps even supernatural, because he effortlessly subdues this sharp-clawed beast with bulging eyes. But who, exactly, is he? A shaman? A god? And why is he forcing historians to tear up the conventionally accepted timeline of Chinese history? Earlier this year, while filming China’s…

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400,000 years ago prehistoric humans ate bone marrow like canned soup

© Dr. Ruth Blasco/AFTAUMarrow inside a metapodial bone after six weeks of storage. Tel Aviv University researchers, in collaboration with scholars from Spain, have uncovered evidence of the storage and delayed consumption of animal bone marrow at Qesem Cave near Tel Aviv, the site of many major discoveries from the late Lower Paleolithic period some 400,000 years ago. The research provides direct evidence that early Paleolithic people saved animal bones for up to nine weeks before feasting on them inside Qesem Cave. The study was published in the October 9…

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DNA study sheds new light on the people of the Neolithic Battle Axe Culture

© Uppsala University In an interdisciplinary study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, an international research team has combined archaeological, genetic and stable isotope data to understand the demographic processes associated with the iconic Battle Axe Culture and its introduction in Scandinavia. In 1953, a significant burial site belonging to the Battle Axe Culture was found when constructing a roundabout in Linköping. 4,500 years ago, a man and a woman were buried together with a child, a dog and a rich set of grave goods including one of…

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1,000 lost ancient sites found using lidar on Scottish isle of Arran

© Historic Environment Scotland.An aerial photo of the Isle of Arran, where new technology has revealed 1,000 previously unknown ancient sites. A cutting-edge archaeological project using innovative technology has revealed around 1,000 previously unknown archaeological sites on the Isle of Arran. The project, undertaken by archaeologists at Historic Environment Scotland (HES), used airborne laser scanning, also known as lidar, to document the land surface in 3D. Prehistoric settlements, medieval farmsteads and a Neolithic cursus monument – an exceptionally rare find on the west coast of Scotland – are among the…

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1,000 lost ancient sites found using lidar on Scottish isle of Arran

© Historic Environment Scotland.An aerial photo of the Isle of Arran, where new technology has revealed 1,000 previously unknown ancient sites. A cutting-edge archaeological project using innovative technology has revealed around 1,000 previously unknown archaeological sites on the Isle of Arran. The project, undertaken by archaeologists at Historic Environment Scotland (HES), used airborne laser scanning, also known as lidar, to document the land surface in 3D. Prehistoric settlements, medieval farmsteads and a Neolithic cursus monument – an exceptionally rare find on the west coast of Scotland – are among the…

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Freud, Sexual Abuse, and B’nai B’rith

In the last few years, there have been lots of news reports (e.g., here), documentary films (e.g., Yoland Zauberman’s “M”), and articles (e.g., here and here) about sexual abuse of children in Orthodox Jewish communities. In March 2017, for instance, Haaretz reported that the Israeli police arrested 22 ultra-Orthodox Jews for sex crimes against minors and women, and in July 2019 The Times of Israel reported that “Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman was alleged to have improperly intervened to aid at least 10 sex offenders from Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community.” In…

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5,000-year-old Canaanite megalopolis may rewrite history

© Assaf Peretz, Israel Antiquities AuthorityAerial photograph of the Early Bronze Age excavation site near modern Harish. A massive 5,000-year-old metropolis that housed some 6,000 residents has been uncovered alongside Israel’s newest city, Harish, during new roadworks. The 160-acre (over 650 dunam) city is the largest Early Bronze Age settlement excavated in Israel, the Israel Antiquities Authority announced on Sunday. “It is much larger than any known site in the land of Israel — and outside the land of Israel — in the region of Jordan, Lebanon, southern Syria,” said…

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SOTT FOCUS: MindMatters: Decoding the American Minds: The Deep History of America’s Culture Wars

© SOTT The United States is a big country, but its population is anything but homogenous. For its entire history the people of its various regions have clashed over everything from politics and economics, to religion and cultural norms. But why? Today on MindMatters we discuss Colin Woodard’s book American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, inspired by the earlier work of David Hackett Fischer. The current cultural landscape of North America traces back to its beginnings: the first settlers of its numerous colonies…

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45,000 year old ‘projectile weapons’ oldest ever found in Europe

A team of Japanese and Italian researchers, including from Tohoku University, have evidenced mechanically delivered projectile weapons in Europe dating to 45,000-40,000 years — more than 20,000 years than previously thought. This study, entitled “The earliest evidence for mechanically delivered projectile weapons in Europe” published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, indicated that the spearthrower and bow-and-arrow technologies allowed modern humans to hunt more successfully than Neanderthals — giving them a competitive advantage. This discovery offered important insight to understand the reasons for the replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans. Apparently,…

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Divers excavate Roman shipwreck packed with perfectly preserved wine, olive oil & KETCHUP jugs

© Balearic Institute of Maritime Archeology StudiesPerfectly-sealed earthenware amphorae carrying Roman delicacies The Roman delicacies spent 1,800 years on the bottom of the Mediterranean to become a true ‘feast’ for the archeologists, who said that they’ve stumbled upon one of the best preserved shipwrecks from the period. The Balearic Institute of Maritime Archeology Studies posted a video that pictured the ship and its artifacts, as well as the complex job done by the divers to recover them from the deep. “This wreck is one of the best preserved in the…

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Black Death traced back to Russia’s Volga region via ancient DNA

© Archeodunum SAS/Gourvennec MichaëlMass grave, Toulouse In the 14th century, the Black Death wiped out as much as 60% of the population of Europe, spreading rapidly from the shores of the Black Sea to central Europe. Although historical records first document its appearance in 1346 C.E. in the lower Volga region of Russia, researchers didn’t know whether the highly virulent strain of Yersinia pestis bacterium that caused the deadly pandemic came from a single source or was introduced to Europe more than once by travelers carrying diverse strains of plague…

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Pompeii: Wild parties, riots and famine preceded cataclysmic eruption of Vesuvius, inscription reveals

© Eric VANDEVILLE/Getty ImagesPompeii was buried in ash in A.D. 79 in the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Vesuvius. In the decades before the city of Pompeii was buried in ash by the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79, everyday life was filled with parties and struggles. That’s according to a recently deciphered inscription found on the wall of a Pompeii tomb that was discovered there in 2017. The inscription describes a massive coming-of-age party for a wealthy young man. who reaches the age of an adult citizen. According…

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The Nabataeans: Work begins on uncovering mystery civilization in Saudi Arabia

© Richard DuebelThis rock tomb is just one of the monuments left in the area by the Nabataeans A team of researchers is carrying out the first in-depth archaeological survey of part of Saudi Arabia, in a bid to shed light on a mysterious civilisation that once lived there. The Nabataean culture left behind sophisticated stone monuments, but many sites remain unexplored. The rock-strewn deserts of Al Ula in Saudi Arabia are known for their pitch-black skies, which allow stargazers to easily study celestial bodies without the problem of light…

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New evidence sheds light on Younger Dryas impact hypothesis

© Shutterstock Just less than 13,000 years ago, the climate cooled for a short while in many parts of the world, especially in the northern hemisphere. We know this because of what has been found in ice cores drilled in Greenland, as well as from oceans around the world. Grains of pollen from various plants can also tell us about this cooler period, which people who study climate prehistory call the Younger Dryas and which interrupted a warming trend after the last Ice Age. The term gets its name from…

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Bones from rare Mesolithic cave burial rediscovered in England

Cheddar Man lived in the Somerset area 9,000 years ago and was buried in Cheddar Gorge, where his nearly complete skeleton was discovered in 1903 Two boxes of human remains rediscovered after 55 years have been found to be as old as the Cheddar Man – Britain’s oldest complete skeleton. The bones were discovered in a cave in Cannington Park Quarry near Bridgwater, Somerset, in the 1960s. Soon after they “disappeared”, and were recently found at Somerset Heritage Centre near Taunton, Cotswold Archaeology said. Radiocarbon dating has shown them to…

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Dishing the dirt on Denisova cave: A refuge for hominins and a home to bears, wolves and hyenas

© Dr Mike Morley, Flinders UniversityMicroscopic studies of sediment left in the cave includes fossil droppings left by predatory animals such as hyenas and wolves. Fossil animal droppings, charcoal from ancient fires and bone fragments litter the ground of one of the world’s most important human evolution sites, new research reveals. The latest evidence from southern Siberia shows that large cave-dwelling carnivores once dominated the landscape, competing for more than 300,000 years with ancient tribes for prime space in cave shelters. A team of Russian and Australian scientists have used…

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The earliest evidence for spears in Europe

A team of Japanese and Italian researchers, including from Tohoku University, have evidenced mechanically delivered projectile weapons in Europe dating to 45,000-40,000 years – more than 20,000 years than previously thought. This study, entitled “The earliest evidence for mechanically delivered projectile weapons in Europe” published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, indicated that the spearthrower and bow-and-arrow technologies allowed modern humans to hunt more successfully than Neanderthals – giving them a competitive advantage. This discovery offered important insight to understand the reasons for the replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans. ©…

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420,000 years ago archaic humans collected swan feathers in Qesem Cave, Israel

© Ruth BlascoA swan wing found at Qesem Cave has marks that can only be from defeathering: Like among the ancient Owl People of Louisiana, feather-based ritual may have been a mark of respect, says Tel Aviv University’s Ran Barkai. Over a million years ago, archaic humans ate of the rat, did not shrink at the shrew and somehow caught and consumed birds too. No sign has yet been found that they harbored ritualistic or symbolic regard for micro-mammals, but regarding the birds at least — these ancient hominins didn’t…

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Körtik Tepe – Older than Göbekli Tepe?

Older than Gobekli Tepe, …Located on the Tigris River, Körtik Tepe to me provides part of the answer to who built Gobekli Tepe…and were they hunter gatherers? This site was occupied 12,500 years ago to 11,700 years ago, right in the window of the Younger Dryas cataclysms 12,800 years ago and 11,600 years ago. © Hurriyet Daily NewsExcavations in Körtik Hill (Körtik Tepe) in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır’s Bismil district have unearthed more than 30,000 artifacts in 17 years. [embedded content] References: Another blow to the materialist view of…

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Wemyss: The Scottish caves housing mysterious carvings from the Bronze Age to the Picts

Wemyss Caves The Wemyss Caves house mysterious carvings from as early as 300AD. In the face of natural and human threats, archaeologists are racing to decode them before they vanish. Hidden beneath the medieval ruins of Macduff’s Castle in Fife, Scotland, lies an even more ancient wonder: a series of 4,000- to 1,500-year-old carvings that archaeologists have yet to fully comprehend. Inside the shadowy, red-tinged Wemyss Caves hide ancient etchings of animals, hunting scenes and what might be the first rendering of a Scottish ship. As archaeologists and historians work…

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SOTT FOCUS: MindMatters: Origins of the Power Elite: Inequality and “The 1%”

© SOTT According to Walter Scheidel in The Great Leveler, the only ways to equalize the distribution of wealth effectively have involved violence on a massive scale: famine, war, state collapse, revolution. But how did things get so inequal in the first place? Today on MindMatters we discuss the first chapter of Scheidel’s book, which provides an overview of the history of inequality. From chimps and hunter-gatherers to the first farmers and the emergence of classes of elites, there has always been – and arguably always will be – inequality.…

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The temple of Queen Amastris possibly found at Black Sea coastal town

© Arkeolojik Haber Apparently belonging to a temple of columns and marble pedestals were found at Drilling excavations in the Amasra district of Bartın. It is estimated that the temple may belong to the temple of Queen Amastris, who gave the district its name. Archeologists have discovered ancient pillars and pillar bases believed to be from the sanctuary of Princess Amastris in Turkey’s northern Bartın province. The pillars were found during drilling launched by Amasra Museum Directorate in the Amasra district in the port town. Based on the height of…

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Pictish human remains found in Highlands may be of high status woman

© James McComas/TarradaleIt is believed the 1,400-year-old remains could be that of a woman. A Pictish skeleton thought to be around 1,400-years-old has been found in the Highlands with the archaeologist who found the human remains speaking of his “eureka moment”. The bones were found at the site of what is believed to be a Pictish-era cemetery near Muir of Ord on the Black Isle. Archaeologists did not expect to find any human remains given the acidic properties of the soil at the site. But Steven Birch, who led the…

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Mysterious megastructures unearthed in Ukraine

© Robert Hofmann, et al/CC by 4.0These magnetic anomalies in the soil at a site called Maidanetske clued the researchers into the existence of the megastructure that they eventually decided to excavate. The excavation of a Stone Age community center in Ukraine is helping explain why large groups of tens of thousands of people flourished and then fell more than 5,000 years ago. The “megastructure” excavated in Ukraine was large compared with the houses around it, though not particularly huge by modern standards. At 2,045 square feet (190 square meters),…

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Time to axe the Anglo-Saxons? Rethinking the ‘migration period’

© Steve SherlockThis circular pendant and gold and glass beads come from Grave 70 at Street House – a 7th-century cemetery near Loftus (see CA 281). Did ‘the Anglo-Saxon migrations’ take place, and were Romano-British leaders replaced by those of Germanic descent? Susan Oosthuizen’s new book, The Emergence of the English, is a call to rethink our interpretations of the 5th and 6th centuries AD, reflecting on whether many of the assumptions we make about the period are actually supported by evidence. Interpretations that cannot be upheld should be discarded,…

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