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Experts say ancient homo sapiens didn't breed with Neanderthals

Neanderthals vs homo sapiens sapiens
© Erich Ferdinand / Flickr.com
Scientists have challenged the theory that humanity's ancestors interbred with Neanderthals.
Anthropologists have dealt a blow to theories that Homo sapiens and Neanderthals interbred, bequeathing humans today with some of the genetic legacy of their mysterious cousins.

Over the last two years, several studies have suggested that Homo sapiens got it on with Neanderthals, an enigmatic hominid who lived in parts of Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East for up to 300,000 years but vanished 30-40,000 years ago.

The evidence for this comes from fossil DNA, which shows that on average Eurasians and Asians share between 1 per cent and 4 per cent of their DNA with Neanderthals, but Africans almost none.

But a new study by scientists at Britain's University of Cambridge says the shared DNA came from a shared ancestor, not from "hybridisation" or reproduction between the two hominid species.
Sherlock

New Kenyan fossils shed light on early human evolution

© Louise Leakey
Meave Leakey (left) with Cyprian Nyete (right) and other members of the field crew reconstructing pieces of specimen KNM-ER 60000 at the field camp in 2009.
Exciting new fossils discovered east of Lake Turkana confirm that there were two additional species of our genus - Homo - living alongside our direct human ancestral species, Homo erectus, almost two million years ago. The finds, announced in the prestigious scientific journal Nature, include a face, a remarkably complete lower jaw, and part of a second lower jaw. They were uncovered between 2007 and 2009 by the Koobi Fora Research Project (KFRP), led by Meave and Louise Leakey.

KFRP's fieldwork was facilitated by the Turkana Basin Institute (TBI), and supported by the National Geographic Society, which has funded the KFRP since 1968.

Four decades ago, the KFRP discovered the enigmatic fossil known as KNM-ER 1470 (or "1470" for short). This skull, readily distinguished by its large brain size and long flat face, ignited a longstanding debate about just how many different species of early Homo lived alongside Homo erectus during the Pleistocene epoch.
Blackbox

Neolithic Man: The First Lumberjack?


A polished axe from the PPNB period.
During the Neolithic Age (approximately 10000-6000 BCE), early man evolved from hunter-gatherer to farmer and agriculturalist, living in larger, permanent settlements with a variety of domesticated animals and plant life. This transition brought about significant changes in terms of the economy, architecture, man's relationship to the environment, and more.

Now Dr. Ran Barkai of Tel Aviv University's Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations has shed new light on this milestone in human evolution, demonstrating a direct connection between the development of an agricultural society and the development of woodworking tools.

"Intensive woodworking and tree-felling was a phenomenon that only appeared with the onset of the major changes in human life, including the transition to agriculture and permanent villages," says Dr. Barkai, whose research was published in the journal PLoS One. Prior to the Neolithic period, there is no evidence of tools that were powerful enough to cut and carve wood, let alone fell trees. But new archaeological evidence suggests that as the Neolithic age progressed, sophisticated carpentry developed alongside agriculture.
People

Remaking history: A new take on how evolution has shaped modern Europeans

Investigators reporting in the Cell Press journal Trends in Genetics say that new analytical techniques are changing long-held, simplistic views about the evolutionary history of humans in Europe. Their findings indicate that many cultural, climatic, and demographic events have shaped genetic variation among modern-day European populations and that the variety of those mechanisms is more diverse than previously thought.

Recent advances in paleogenetics are providing never-before-seen glimpses into the complex evolution of humans in Europe, helping researchers piece together the events that ultimately created what is now known as modern man. Following the period when ice sheets were at their maximum extension across the earth (between 27,000 and 16,000 years ago), hunter-gatherer populations re-colonized most parts of Europe. Then around 8,000 years ago, the first farming populations appeared on the continent during the so-called Neolithic transition. For several thousand years, two separate modes of life coexisted in Europe: hunter-gatherer populations continued to rely on wild food resources, while farming populations had an entirely different demographic profile and lifestyle that consisted of domesticated crops and livestock, pottery, housing, and storage technology.
Magnify

Archaeologists Find Thracian Town on Bulgarian Sea Coast

Thracian town discovered bulgaria
© BGNES
The first ever archaeology excavations in the southern Black Sea town of Tsarevo are already yielding precious finds.

Bulgarian archaeologists have discovered a Thracian settlement during the first ever excavations in the town of Tsarevo on the southern Black Sea coast.

The team is led by Milen Nikolov, an archaeologist from the Regional History Museum in the Black Sea city of Burgas.

The settlement is very close in location to the town church "Uspenie Bogorodichno." The find proves that Tsarevo and nearby areas have a history more ancient that what was believed until now.
Info

Remains of Hundreds of Ancient Warriors Found in Bog

Ancient Skull
© Curator Ejvind Hertz, Skanderborg Museum
This skull, uncovered among the remains of many other warriors at Alken Enge in Denmark, has a mortal wound in the back of the cranium.
For almost two months so far, excavators in Denmark have been uncovering the remains of hundreds of warriors who died violently about 2,000 years ago.

The evidence of violence is clear at the site, which is now a bog. Excavators reported today (Aug. 14) that they have uncovered damaged human bones, including a fractured skull and a thigh bone that was hacked in half, along with axes, spears, clubs and shields.

Over the years, human bones have turned up periodically in the area. This summer's excavation follows on work done in 2008 and 2009, when archaeologists found single, scattered bones lying under about 6.6 feet (2 meters) of peat on an old lake bed in the Alken Enge wetlands near Lake Mossø in East Jutland, Denmark.

Excavators say they will exhume remains found on the site in the coming days, which they plan to study to glean more information about who these warriors were and where they came from.

Though this summer's excavation is nearing its end, there are indications more artifacts remain buried. Small test pits dug within the 99-acre (40-hectare) wetlands continue to reveal new finds, excavation director Ejvind Hertz, field director of the Scanderborg Museum, said in a statement.
Palette

The astonishing 2,500 year old tattoos of a Siberian princess, and how they reveal little has changed in the way we decorate our bodies

The intricate patterns of 2,500-year-old tattoos - some from the body of a Siberian 'princess' preserved in the permafrost - have been revealed in Russia.

The remarkable body art includes mythological creatures and experts say the elaborate drawings were a sign of age and status for the ancient nomadic Pazyryk people, described in the 5th century BC by the Greek historian Herodotus.

But scientist Natalia Polosmak - who discovered the remains of ice-clad 'Princess Ukok' high in the Altai Mountains - is also struck about how little has changed in more than two millennia.
© Siberian Times
Researchers have revealed the stunning tattoo of a Russian princess, which have been preserved for 2,500 years
Info

Italy's Shaky Past Hidden in Ancient Records

Italian Quake
© USGS
The shaking intensity of the magnitude 6.3 earthquake that struck L'Aquila, Italy on April 6, 2009.
Amid weeks of endless tremors, in a central Italian city already destroyed by an earthquake, two warring factions laid down their arms, signed a truce and took cover in their huts. The earthquake of Dec. 3, 1315, had stunned the men of L'Aquila into retreat. It was a sign, they believed, that their years-long war should immediately end.

Nearly 700 years later, a historical seismologist at Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology uncovered that treaty and used it, along with hundreds of other historical documents, to piece together the seismic history of central Italy's Abruzzo region.

The history that Emanuela Guidoboni and her team found was a tumultuous one: Hundreds of quakes have rocked Abruzzo over the last two millennia. Guidoboni's group believes its findings, which span 15 centuries, will help improve seismic hazard calculations for this quake-prone region.
Blackbox

Could there have been Ceratopsian dinosaurs in Pre-Columbian South America?

Look at Behemoth, which I made along with you and which feeds on grass like an ox. What strength it has in its loins, what power in the muscles of its belly! Its tail sways like a cedar; the sinews of its thighs are close-knit. Its bones are tubes of bronze, its limbs like rods of iron. It ranks first among the works of God...Job 40

Ceratopsian dinosaur skull
Evidence indicating the historical presence of ceratopsian dinosaurs in South America within the last 1,000 years would be controversial for at least two reasons; one, ceratopsian dinosaurs are thought by modern science to have been extinct for 65 million years and two, science at most only recognizes the presence of one type of ceratopsian dinosaur on that entire continent.

Ceratopsian dinosaurs were, vegetarian, quadruped, frilled and horned dinosaurs whose fossils have been found primarily in North America, Asia and Europe. Incidentally, they also had tails like a cedar; Certainly much thicker than that of the hippo which some believe is described in the book of Job.

Unusual identifying features for this dinosaur include the rostral bone which gives its face a beak like appearance and the jugal bones which scientists most often depict as bones protruding from the side of the animals face. Ceratopsia is derived from the Greek for "horned face".

Only one species has been identified from fossils in South America, Notoceratops and the scant fossils upon which that tentative identification was based have since been lost.
Question

Severed Hands Discovered in Ancient Egypt Palace

Severed Hand
© Axel Krause
A severed right hand discovered in front of a Hyksos palace at Avaris (modern-day Tell el-Daba). It would have been chopped off and presented to the king (or a subordinate) in exchange for gold. This discovery is the first archaeological evidence of the practice. At the time they were buried, about 3,600 years ago, the palace was being used by King Khayan. The Hyksos were a people believed to be from northern Canaan, they controlled part of Egypt and made their capital at Avaris on the Nile Delta.
A team of archaeologists excavating a palace in the ancient city of Avaris, in Egypt, has made a gruesome discovery.

The archaeologists have unearthed the skeletons of 16 human hands buried in four pits. Two of the pits, located in front of what is believed to be a throne room, hold one hand each. Two other pits, constructed at a slightly later time in an outer space of the palace, contain the 14 remaining hands.

They are all right hands; there are no lefts.

"Most of the hands are quite large and some of them are very large," Manfred Bietak, project and field director of the excavations, told LiveScience.

The finds, made in the Nile Delta northeast of Cairo, date back about 3,600 years to a time when the Hyksos, a people believed to be originally from northern Canaan, controlled part of Egypt and made their capital at Avaris a location known today as Tell el-Daba. At the time the hands were buried, the palace was being used by one of the Hyksos rulers, King Khayan. [See Photos of the Buried Hands]
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