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Cultural History
The roots of culture; history and pre-history.
Curated by Deanna Dahlsad
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DNA From 12,000-Year-Old Skeleton Helps Answer the Question: Who Were the First Americans?

DNA From 12,000-Year-Old Skeleton Helps Answer the Question: Who Were the First Americans? | Cultural History | Scoop.it

Some 12,000 years ago, a teenage girl took a walk in what’s now the Yucatan Peninsula and fell 190 feet into a deep pit, breaking her pelvis and likely killing her instantly. Over time, the pit—part of an elaborate limestone cave system—became a watery grave as the most recent ice age ended, glaciers melted and sea levels rose.


In 2007, cave divers happened upon her remarkably preserved remains, which form the oldest, most complete and genetically intact human skeleton in the New World. Her bones, according to new research published in Science, hold the key to a question that has long plagued scientists: Who were the first Americans?


Prevailing ideas point to all Native Americans descending from ancient Siberians who moved across the Beringia land bridge between Asia and North America between 26,000 and 18,000 years ago. As time wore on, the thinking goes, these people spread southward and gave rise to the Native American populations encountered by European settlers centuries ago.


But therein lies a puzzle: "Modern Native Americans closely resemble people of China, Korea, and Japan… but the oldest American skeletons do not," says archaeologist and paleontologist James Chatters, lead author on the study and the owner of Applied Paleoscience, a research consulting service based in Bothell, Washington.


The small number of early American specimens discovered so far have smaller and shorter faces and longer and narrower skulls than later Native Americans, more closely resembling the modern people of Africa, Australia, and the South Pacific. "This has led to speculation that perhaps the first Americans and Native Americans came from different homelands," Chatters continues, "or migrated from Asia at different stages in their evolution."


The newly discovered skeleton—named Naia by the divers who discovered her, after the Greek for water—should help to settle this speculation. Though her skull is shaped like those of other early Americans, she shares a DNA sequence with some modern Native Americans. In other words, she’s likely a genetic great-aunt to indigenous people currently found in the Americas.


The new genetic evidence from Naia supports the hypothesis that the first people in America all came from northeast Asia by crossing a land bridge known as Beringia. When sea levels rose after the last Ice Age, the land bridge disappeared.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald, Jocelyn Stoller
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Which Genes Did We Get From Neandertals?

Which Genes Did We Get From Neandertals? | Cultural History | Scoop.it
Ancient mixed couples gave us key genes but were partially genetically incompatible, two new studies suggest

Via Religulous
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Mystery humans spiced up ancients’ rampant sex lives

Mystery humans spiced up ancients’ rampant sex lives | Cultural History | Scoop.it
Genome analysis suggests interbreeding between modern humans, Neanderthals, Denisovans and a mysterious archaic population.

Via Scott Scanlon
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Light skin gene mirrors socio-cultural boundaries in Indian...

Light skin gene mirrors socio-cultural boundaries in Indian... | Cultural History | Scoop.it

atural selection is not the sole factor in skin tone variation across the Indian sub-continent, with cultural and linguistic traits still delineating this skin pigment genetic mutation


...But while the complete dominance of the gene in Europeans is likely to be solely down to natural selection, they say, the rich diversity of this genetic variant in India – high in some populations while non-existent in others, even neighbouring ones – has some correlation with factors of language, ancestral migration and distinct social practices such as limiting marriage partners to those with specific criteria.


Via David Connolly
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David Connolly's curator insight, November 14, 2013 3:53 PM

Has some interesting concepts hidden in this.   the death of the Ayran destruction of the Harrapans theory...  for one!

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Ancestor of Native Americans in Asia was 30% "Western Eurasian"

Ancestor of Native Americans in Asia was 30% "Western Eurasian" | Cultural History | Scoop.it
The complete genome has recently been sequenced from 4 year old Russian boy who died 24,000 years ago near Lake Baikal in a location called Mal’ta, the area in Asia believed to be the origin of the...

Via Community Village Sites
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Neolithic ruins shed light on dawn of Chinese civilization

Neolithic ruins shed light on dawn of Chinese civilization | Cultural History | Scoop.it
The neolithic Shimao Ruins are believed to be the biggest prehistoric city ruins found in China. The find has had a significant impact in changing historical studies about Chinese civilisation.

Via Laura Brown
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joseph mora's curator insight, October 3, 2013 1:27 PM

shows, that the shimao runs are one of the bigest of the neolithic ruins/cities found. 

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Inca child sacrifices were drunk, stoned for weeks before death - NBC News.com

Inca child sacrifices were drunk, stoned for weeks before death - NBC News.com | Cultural History | Scoop.it

Three Inca children found mummified atop a 20,000-foot volcano in South America consumed increasing amounts of coca leaf and corn beer for up to a year before they were sacrificed, according to a new study.

Sedation by the plant and alcohol combined with the frigid, high-altitude setting may explain how the children were killed. There is no evidence for direct violence, the researchers noted.

The coca leaf and corn beer consumption rises about six months before death and then skyrockets in the final weeks, especially for the eldest, a 13-year-old girl known as the "Ice Maiden."

"She was probably heavily sedated by the point at which she succumbs to death," Andrew Wilson, an archaeologist at the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom and the study's lead author, told NBC News.


Via David Connolly
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Horseshoe Crab Fossil, 300 Million Years Old, Discovered By 10-Year-Old Bruno Debattista

Horseshoe Crab Fossil, 300 Million Years Old, Discovered By 10-Year-Old Bruno Debattista | Cultural History | Scoop.it
Ever brought in something this good for show-and-tell? An unusual rock, which a 10-year-old student presented to his classmates, has turned out to be an incredibly rare, 320 million-year-old fossil of a horseshoe crab's footprints.
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Clovis genome settles debate on indigenous American lineage

Clovis genome settles debate on indigenous American lineage | Cultural History | Scoop.it
Nearly 50 years of archaeological research points to the Clovis complex as having developed south of the North American ice sheets from an ancestral technology, now this theory has been confirmed

Via David Connolly
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David Connolly's curator insight, February 14, 8:41 AM

Inhabiting what is now North America around 12,600 years ago the Clovis people (named after the type site in New Mexico) were not the first humans to walk this land, but they do represent the first widespread occupation of the continent – until the culture mysteriously disappeared only a few hundred years after its origin.

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Archaeologists find prehistoric Romeo and Juliet locked in eternal embrace - USATODAY.com

Archaeologists find prehistoric Romeo and Juliet locked in eternal embrace - USATODAY.com | Cultural History | Scoop.it
It could be humanity's oldest story of doomed love. Archaeologists have unearthed two skeletons from the Neolithic period locked in a tender embrace and buried outside Mantua, just 25 miles south of Verona, the romantic city where Shakespeare set...

Via Jahaiyra Albert, Sarah Kerr
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Jahaiyra Albert's curator insight, October 11, 2013 3:35 PM

This is just the cutest!

Sarah Kerr's curator insight, November 21, 2013 6:14 PM

I'm going to categorize this scoop under Women in Ancient History because, it is lovey-dovey. This scoop is about a grave site uncovered outside  Mantua. The two people buried are locked in a hugging embrace and are given the nickname of "Romeo and Juliet" just because the ancient story which takes place in Verona, Italy is just 25 miles from where this site was uncovered. 

Patrick Kwong's curator insight, January 29, 2:16 PM

The article says that they are still wondering how they died. But even though we know how Romeo and Juliet die, this seems like an ancient predecessor for Shakespeare's classic.

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65 Million Year Old Triceratops For Sale

65 Million Year Old Triceratops For Sale | Cultural History | Scoop.it
Bob the triceratops is up for sale! The 65 million year old was found in North Dakota, and we'd like him to stay here too. Details at:...
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Deanna Dahlsad's curator insight, November 14, 2013 11:29 PM

Click for links with more details

www.jaxretrorama.com's curator insight, November 17, 2013 12:38 AM

Now this is something that is really vintage.....

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Stone Age farmers, hunters kept their distance

Stone Age farmers, hunters kept their distance | Cultural History | Scoop.it
Neolithic skeletons in German cave provide reminder of the power of social boundaries.

Via The QI Elves, Sarah Kerr
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Sarah Kerr's curator insight, October 31, 2013 3:48 PM

This story explores the differencesbetween Neolithic farmers and indigenious people of Europe. The indigenious people first moved away from the new settlers and then came back. Throughout this time, each culture was distant from each other and never meshed. The two cultures were distinctly different and neither planned on mixing their cultures together.

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7,500 Years Old "Toy Car" -- The Earliest Evidence Of The Wheel | Humans Are Free

7,500 Years Old "Toy Car" -- The Earliest Evidence Of The Wheel | Humans Are Free | Cultural History | Scoop.it

Author Cliff Dunning: "Historians tell us the oldest civilized cultures who developed the wheel are around 5,000 years old, and yet, new discoveries are continually pushing this date further back – WITHOUT our history books reflecting on the new information. Generations of people still believe that the oldest organized civilizations are those that lived in the Middle East, parts of China and groups scattered throughout the world. Before 3,000 years – we are told that man lived in caves. Here is an example of the wheel, attached to a small toy car of some type that was found to be 7,500 years old. - See more at: http://humansarefree.com/2013/09/7500-years-old-toy-car-earliest.html#sthash.lgBLBDoq.dpuf


Via Laura Brown
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New and cheaper method to screen ancient bones for DNA

New and cheaper method to screen ancient bones for DNA | Cultural History | Scoop.it

Hege Ingjerd Hollund proposes a combination of three screening methods:


  • microscope examination
  • inspection with ultraviolet light
  • infra-red spectrometry (a form of chemical analysis)


No single way of checking old bones produces an adequate result,” she explains. “I believe combining different approaches will give the best outcome.”


This solution is proposed in the thesis she has had accepted by the Free University of Amsterdam, which makes her one of the few Norwegians with a PhD in conservation of ancient remains.


These methods are not only fast and simple to do, but they also preserve the piece cut or drilled from the bone,” she says. “This can therefore be reused in other analyses.”

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Men, Women, and Inequality in the Neolithic

Men, Women, and Inequality in the Neolithic | Cultural History | Scoop.it

Does the rich dude get the hot chick -- even in prehistory?

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Sarah Kerr's curator insight, November 7, 2013 1:06 AM

This scoop explores the who the  greater gender was in Neolithic times.