Thirsty wheat needed new water management strategy in ancient China

Research from Washington University in St. Louis shows that a practice of purposeful water management, or irrigation, was adopted in northern China about 4,000 years ago as part of an effort to grow new grains that had been introduced from southwest Asia. But the story gets more complex from there. Wheat and barley arrived on the scene at about the same time, but early farmers only used water management techniques for wheat.

In new book, historian explores archaeologists’ and Egyptologists’ social networks

When most of us think of social networks, we think of connecting digitally with others through sites like Facebook, TikTok or Twitter. A new book by Dr. Kathleen Sheppard, an associate professor of history at Missouri University of Science and Technology, discusses a different type of social network – a physical network of archaeologists, Egyptologists, tourists and other travelers who were drawn to Egypt in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Study points to Armenian origins of ancient crop with aviation biofuel potential

Camelina, also known as false flax or Gold-of-Pleasure, is an ancient oilseed crop with emerging applications in the production of sustainable, low-input biofuels. Multidisciplinary research from Washington University in St. Louis is revealing the origins and uses of camelina and may help guide decisions critical to achieving its potential as a biofuel feedstock for a greener aviation industry in the future.

New evidence supports idea that America’s first civilization was made up of ‘sophisticated’ engineers

The Native Americans who occupied the area known as Poverty Point in northern Louisiana more than 3,000 years ago long have been believed to be simple hunters and gatherers. But new Washington University in St. Louis archaeological findings paint a drastically different picture of America’s first civilization.

Prehistoric climate change repeatedly channelled human migrations across Arabia

Recent research in Arabia – a collaboration between scientists at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, the Heritage Commission of the Saudi Ministry of Culture, and many other Saudi and international researchers – has begun to document the incredibly rich prehistory of Saudi Arabia, the largest country in Southwest Asia.

’Til the cows come home

Meat and dairy played a more significant role in human diets in Bronze Age China than previously thought. A new analysis also suggests that farmers and herders tended to sheep and goats differently than they did their cows, unlike in other parts of the world — keeping cows closer to home and feeding them the byproducts of grains that they were growing for their own consumption, like the grass stalks from millet plants.

Weizmann Institute Archaeologists: Following the Footsteps of Humankind Out of Africa

Boker Tachtit in the Negev is a crucial archaeological site for studying the spread of Homo sapiens out of Africa and the subsequent demise of Neanderthals. Using techniques so sophisticated that they can date grains of sand, Weizmann’s Prof. Elisabetta Boaretto and colleagues have shown that previous dating of the site was incorrect – and that early humans and Neanderthals cohabitated at the site.

Study highlights need to replace ‘ancestry’ in forensics with something more accurate

A new study finds forensics researchers use terms related to ancestry and race in inconsistent ways, and calls for the discipline to adopt a new approach to better account for both the fluidity of populations and how historical events have…

Climate changed the size of our bodies and, to some extent, our brains

The average body size of humans has fluctuated significantly over the last million years and is strongly linked to temperature. Colder, harsher climates drove the evolution of larger body sizes, while warmer climates led to smaller bodies. Brain size also…

Ancient ostrich eggshell reveals new evidence of extreme climate change thousands of years ago

Evidence from an ancient eggshell has revealed important new information about the extreme climate change faced by human early ancestors. The research shows parts of the interior of South Africa that today are dry and sparsely populated, were once wetland…

How can ‘shark dandruff’ contribute to coral reef conservation?

For 400 million years, shark-like fishes have prowled the oceans as predators, but now humans kill 100 million sharks per year, radically disrupting ocean food chains. Based on microscopic shark scales found on fossil- and modern coral reefs in Caribbean…

New book highlights need for Chaco Canyon preservation

Lincoln, Nebraska, July 1, 2021 — Carrie Heitman can still remember the moment when — as an undergraduate visiting for the first time — Chaco Culture National Historic Park became the cornerstone of her academic career in anthropology. “You have…

New fossil discovery from Israel points to complicated evolutionary process

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. — Analysis of recently discovered fossils found in Israel suggest that interactions between different human species were more complex than previously believed, according to a team of researchers including Binghamton University anthropology professor Rolf Quam. The research team,…

National Geographic Society grant to fund research into Easter Island

Binghamton University anthropologists Robert DiNapoli and Carl Lipo received a $60,280 grant from the National Geographic Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration to explore how ancient populations managed freshwater scarcity.