For many decades, scientists have tried to understand the past by doing as our forebears did. One important endeavor in what is called experimental archaeology involves moderns crafting Stone Age tools by chipping away at rocks. Why toil at whittling rocks by hand using other rocks when machine tools are readily available?
One reason is to get at the question of what role toolmaking may have played in brain evolution, given the demands this task places on both mental faculties and motor skills. Toolmaking’s contribution to human evolution is controversial, though. Some theorists suggest that Paleolithic tool manufacture has little to with neural development, others hold that it is a driving force for our swollen frontal lobes.
The advent of the brain scanner has opened up the possibility of finding out who is right. I talked to Dietrich Stout, a professor of anthropology at Emory University about a recent paper in PLOS One that looked at the demands on brainpower that toolmaking placed on our Paleolithic ancestors from 500,000 to 2.6 million years ago.
Food storage is a vital component in the economic and social package that comprises the Neolithic, contributing to plant domestication, increasingly sedentary lifestyles, and new social organizations. Recent excavations at Dhra′ near the Dead Sea in Jordan provide strong evidence for sophisticated, purpose-built granaries in a predomestication context ≈11,300–11,175 cal B.P., which support recent arguments for the deliberate cultivation of wild cereals at this time. Designed with suspended floors for air circulation and protection from rodents, they are located between residential structures that contain plant-processing instillations. The granaries represent a critical evolutionary shift in the relationship between people and plant foods, which precedes the emergence of domestication and large-scale sedentary communities by at least 1,000 years.
Une tablette d’argile vieille de près de 4 000 ans donne les spécifications techniques précises d’un bateau où mettre « tout ce qui vit ». L’assyriologue britannique Irving Finkel, qui l’a étudiée, explique en quoi elle éclaire les origines du mythe du Déluge.
Des archéologues ont découvert du mercure liquide au cœur d'une pyramide de la cité précolombienne de Teotihuacan, au Mexique. L'équipe scientifique croit que la présence de ce métal lourd pourrait montrer le chemin d'un tombeau royal dans le monument construit il y a plus de 1800 ans.
Here’s the question: does the existence of life in the universe reflect something deep and fundamental or is it merely an accident and epiphenomenon? There’s an interesting new theory coming out of the field of biophysics that claims the cosmos is indeed built for life, and not just merely in the sense found in the so-called “anthropic principle” which states that just by being here we can assume that all of nature’s fundamental values must be friendly for complex organisms such as ourselves that are able to ask such questions. The new theory makes the claim that not just life, but life of ever growing complexity and intelligence is not just likely, but the inevitable result of the laws of nature.
Gyptis, réplique d’une barque antique de pêche, est prête à reprendre la mer après un hiver passé au sec. Flash-back sur sa fabrication, sans clou ni vis, grâce à des spécialistes en archéologie expérimentale qui ont reproduit les gestes et le savoir-faire des charpentiers grecs de l’époque.
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