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Preview: EurekAlert! - Archaeology

EurekAlert! - Archaeology

The premier online source for science news since 1996. A service of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Last Build Date: Thu, 27 Oct 2016 22:06:01 EDT

Copyright: Copyright 2016 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); All rights reserved.

The scent of death (video)

Thu, 27 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(American Chemical Society) Some scientists have an important, if morbid, job: They study the smell of decomposing human bodies. By understanding the chemical makeup of human cadaver smell, as opposed to the smell of other decomposing animals, forensic scientists could improve the training of cadaver dogs and corpse recovery efforts. Find out more about this macabre but meaningful work in the latest Speaking of Chemistry video:

Ancient burials suggestive of blood feuds

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(University of Arizona) University of Arizona bioarchaeologist James Watson's analysis of ancient graves provides new insight into the social and biological factors that might have motivated violent killings and atypical burials thousands of years ago, and how some of those factors may still be relevant today.

Weather forecasts for the past

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(University of Helsinki) Analysis of mammal teeth can reveal local environmental conditions. A new study employs data collected from Kenyan national parks over the past 60 years, combined with traits of the teeth of herbivorous mammals. The results were recently published in the journal PNAS.

New findings on the history of the early-Islamic caliphate palace Khirbat al-Minya

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz) Archaeologists from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany started excavations in September 2016 at Khirbat al-Minya, an early-Islamic caliphate palace on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. Led by PD Dr. Hans-Peter Kuhnen of the JGU Department of Ancient Studies, the team is hoping to find out how the site looked before the palace was built and whether the building was used for different purposes after the catastrophic earthquake of 749 AD.

Exceptionally preserved fossil fish from Silurian of China illuminates jaw evolution

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters) In a study published Oct. 20 in Science, paleontologists from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology and Uppsala University in Sweden reported a second Silurian maxillate placoderm, Qilinyu rostrate, which bridges the gnathal and maxillate conditions. Researchers proposed that the maxilla, premaxilla, and dentary are homologous to the gnathal plates of placoderms and that all belong to the same dental arcade, and the gnathal-maxillate transformation occurred concurrently in upper and lower jaws, predating the addition of infradentary bones to the lower jaw.

In the name of the popes: How the Church shaped Europe

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(University of Erlangen-Nuremberg) How did Europe become what it is today and what role did the institution of the Church play? As part of the project 'Regesta Pontificum Romanorum' historians of Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg are working together with the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities to comprehensively examine all papal contacts from their beginnings through to 1198.

Study finds earliest evidence in fossil record for right-handedness

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(University of Kansas) By examining striations on teeth of a Homo habilis fossil, a new discovery led by a University of Kansas researcher has found the earliest evidence for right-handedness in the fossil record dating back 1.8 million years.

Mapping the elephant ivory trade: New evidence revealed

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(University of York) Archaeologists from the University of York have conducted pioneering analysis on historic ivory, revealing where East African elephants roamed and where they were hunted in the 19th century.

Archaeologists use drones to trial virtual reality

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(Australian National University) Archaeologists at The Australian National University and Monash University are conducting a trial of new technology to build a 3-D virtual-reality map of one of Asia's most mysterious sites -- the Plain of Jars in Laos.

Monkeys are seen making stone flakes so humans are 'not unique' after all

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(University of Oxford) In a paper, published in Nature, the research team says this finding is significant because archaeologists had always understood that the production of multiple stone flakes with characteristics such as conchoidal fractures and sharp cutting edges was a behaviour unique to hominins. The paper suggests that scholars may have to refine their criteria for identifying intentionally produced early stone flakes made by hominins, given capuchins have been observed unintentionally making similar tools.

Resilient 'risky-and-reliable' plant use strategy may have driven Neolithization in Jordan

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(PLOS) A resilient dietary strategy balancing reliable wetland plants and 'riskier' seasonal grasses may have driven adoption of the sedentary lifestyle which later became typical of Neolithic humans, according to a study published Oct. 19, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Monica Ramsey from the University of Toronto, Canada, and colleagues.

Extensive heat treatment in Middle Stone Age silcrete tool production in South Africa

Wed, 19 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(PLOS) Humans living in South Africa in the Middle Stone Age may have used advanced heating techniques to produce silcrete blades, according to a study published Oct. 19, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Anne Delagnes from the CNRS (PACEA - University of Bordeaux, France) and colleagues.

Age of 1st chief's ancient tomb reveals Pacific islanders invented new kind of society

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(Southern Methodist University) A new study from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, used uranium series dating and X-ray fluorescence to date and source an ancient coral reef capital in the Pacific Ocean and determine it was the earliest of the islands ruled by a single chief. The discovery will yield new keys to how societies emerge and evolve, and how they transform from simple societies to more complex ones, said study leader and SMU archaeologist Mark McCoy.

New tools identify key evolutionary advantages from ancient hominid interbreeding

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press)) Neanderthals. Denisovans. Homo sapiens. Around 50,000 years ago, these hominids not only interbred, but in some cases, modern humans may have also received a special evolutionary advantage from doing so. In a new study published in the advanced online edition of Molecular Biology and Evolution, computational biologists Fernando Racimo, Davide Marnetto and Emilia Huerta-Sánchez have developed statistical tools and simulations to successfully identify the signatures of these interbred genomic regions.

The Higgs Bison -- mystery species hidden in cave art

Tue, 18 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(University of Adelaide) Ancient DNA research has revealed that Ice Age cave artists recorded a previously unknown hybrid species of bison and cattle in great detail on cave walls more than 15,000 years ago.

Earthquake series cause uplift variations at continental margins

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(GFZ GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Helmholtz Centre) A new mechanism may explain how earthquakes with magnitudes larger than M7 are linked to coastal uplift. This has important implications for the seismic hazard and the tsunami risk along shores of many countries. The mechanism is proposed by a team of scientists led by Vasiliki Mouslopoulou of GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences in Tectonics. The idea is that series of severe earthquakes within a geologically short period of time cause the rising of the land.

Ancient hominid 'hanky panky' also influenced spread of STIs

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press)) With recent studies proving that almost everyone has a little bit of Neanderthal DNA in them (up to 5 percent), it's become clear our ancestors displayed hominid hanky panky, and with it, a potential downside, the spread of sexually transmitted infections. By reconstructing the evolutionary ancestry and timing of HPV, the most common STI, researchers have now generated compelling evidence that HPV co-diverged with archaic and modern humans -- only to be repopulated at a much later date through their contact by Neanderthals.

Agriculture development & its imprints in environmental records during Neolithic Age in north China

Fri, 14 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(Science China Press) The Yellow River valley of northern China is the center for the domestication of millet crops (broomcorn millet and foxtail millet). However, the intensification and expansion of millet-based agriculture during the Neolithic period and its impact on the environment has not been well understood. Now researchers in Lanzhou have deepened the understanding of these issues, based on comparative analysis of up-dated dataset of multidisciplinary including archaeobotany, chronology, skeletal isotope and palaeoenvironment.

Archaeology under the canopy

Thu, 13 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(University of California - Santa Barbara) UCSB's Anabel Ford has devoted her career to conservation and research at the ancient Maya city.

EARTH: Humans, megafauna coexisted in Patagonia before extinction

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(American Geosciences Institute) As we celebrate National Fossil Day, EARTH Magazine brings you a story set in Pleistocene South America, and was home to large megafauna species like giant sloths and saber-toothed cats. At some point as the climate warmed and human settlers began hunting, the megafauna living in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego went extinct.

The 'end of pain': How anesthesia works (video)

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(American Chemical Society) Anesthesia now allows tens of thousands of patients every day to avoid the pain and memories of their procedures. But how does anesthesia work? This week, Reactions looks at scientists' current understanding of what happens when you go under. Watch the video here:

Scientists map genome of African diaspora in the Americas

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus) Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus along with colleagues at Johns Hopkins University and other institutions have conducted the largest ever genome sequencing of populations with African ancestry in the Americas.

Genome of fiercely protective Fonni's Dog reflects human history of Sardinia

Tue, 11 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(Genetics Society of America) A genomic analysis of 28 dog breeds has traced the history of the remarkable Fonni's Dog, a herd guardian endemic to Sardinia. The results reveal that the dog's ancestors came from the same geographic areas as Sardinia's human migrants. Just as Sardinian people have provided a wealth of genetic insights to scientists, the canine natives are an example of an isolated population that could prove a powerful resource for finding genes influencing health and behavior.

Research to answer a 'crushing' evolutionary question

Wed, 05 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(New Jersey Institute of Technology) Studying the physical features of long-extinct creatures continues to yield surprising new knowledge of how evolution fosters traits desirable for survival in diverse environments. Placodonts are a case in point -- specifically, the placodont teeth that Stephanie Crofts, an NJIT post-doctoral researcher, has written about in an article recently published in the journal Paleobiology.

Accidental discoveries that went boom (video)

Tue, 04 Oct 2016 00:00:00 EDT

(American Chemical Society) Chemistry typically involves precise measurements and careful testing in order to get significant results. Yet several notable discoveries happened simply by accident -- ultimately altering how society views science. Find out how several explosives and the beginnings of the Nobel prizes came to be in this second volume of accidental discoveries that changed the world. Check out this week's Reaction video here: