Researchers from New Zealand's University of Otago studying 3,000-year-old skeletons from the oldest known cemetery in the Pacific Islands are casting new light on the diet and lives of the enigmatic Lapita people, the likely ancestors of Polynesians.
Three prehistoric sites in the Upper Mun River Valley of north-eastern Thailand have provided a detailed chronological succession comprising 12 occupation phases. These represent occupation spanning 2300 years, from initial settlement in the Neolithic (seventeenth century BC) through to the Iron Age, ending in the seventh century AD with the foundation of early states. The precise chronology in place in the Upper Mun River Valley makes it possible to examine changes in social organisation, technology, agriculture and demography against a background of climatic change. In this area the evidence for subsistence has been traditionally drawn from the biological remains recovered from occupation and mortuary contexts. This paper presents the results of carbon isotope analysis to identify and explain changes in subsistence over time and between sites, before comparing the results with two sites of the Sakon Nakhon Basin, located 230km to the north-east, to explore the possibility of regional differences.
The origins of the Neolithic in the Near East were accompanied by significant ritual and symbolic innovations. New light is thrown on the social context of these changes by the discovery of a bone wand displaying two engraved human faces from the Early Neolithic site of Tell Qarassa in Syria, dating from the late ninth millennium BC. This small bone object from a funerary layer can be related to monumental statuary of the same period in the southern Levant and south-east Anatolia that probably depicted powerful supernatural beings. It may also betoken a new way of perceiving human identity and of facing the inevitability of death. By representing the deceased in visual form the living and the dead were brought closer together.
Agriculture arose during a period of profound global climatic and ecological change following the end of the Pleistocene. Yet, the role of phenotypic plasticity – an organism's ability to change its phenotype in response to the environment – and environmental influences in the dramatic phenotypic transformations that occurred during plant domestication are poorly understood. Another factor possibly influential in agricultural origins, the productivity of crop plant wild progenitors in Late Pleistocene vs. Holocene environments, has received increasing attention recently and merits further investigation. In this study, we examined phenotypic characteristics and productivity (biomass, seed yield) in the wild progenitor of maize, the teosinte Zea maysssp. parviglumis H.H. Iltis & Doebley, when it was first exploited and cultivated by growing it in atmospheric CO2 concentrations and temperatures characteristic of the late-glacial and early Holocene periods. Plants responded with a number of attributes uncharacteristic of teosinte in today's environments, including maize-type traits in vegetative architecture, inflorescence sexuality, and seed maturation. Teosinte productivity was significantly lower in late-glacial compared with early Holocene and modern environments. Our evidence indicates that: a) ancestral biological characteristics of crop plant progenitors aren't always predicted from living examples, b) some important maize phenotypic traits were present at initial human exploitation and selection, and c) Pleistocene plant productivity should be considered a significant factor in the chronology of food production origins.
El escritor y periodista Martí Gironell publicará el próximo 5 de marzo su novela más ambiciosa, 'El primer héroe', con la que se estrena como fichaje de Ediciones B y que ambienta en la prehistoria desde un asentimiento inspirado en el de La Draga del municipio gerundense de Banyoles.
Gironell, después de los éxitos obtenidos con sus anteriores novelas, se ha convertido en la gran apuesta de Ediciones B, que lanza 20.000 ejemplares en castellano y 30.000 en catalán.
El autor ha explicado a EFE en una de las cabañas que reproducen las del asentamiento de la Draga, a pocos metros del lago de Banyoles, que esta obra se empezó a gestar hace seis años y que su intención era crearla a partir de este poblado neolítico.
The Trypillia (Russian Tripolye) mega-sites in the Kirovograd and Cherkassy regions of Ukraine constitute the largest sites in fourth millennium BC Europe (Videiko 2004). Discovered in the 1970s, aerial photography and geophysical prospection were used to produce plans of these sites in what has been termed 'the first mega-site methodological revolution' (Videiko 2012). The five largest mega-sites are Taljanky (340ha), Nebelivka (260ha), Dobrovody (250ha), Tomashivka (220ha) and Maydanetskoe (200ha) (Videiko 2012). At Taljanky, over 2000 structures have been documented by geophysical prospection and excavation (Burdoet al. 2012). The resulting population estimates, together with an apparent three-level settlement hierarchy (Ellis 1984), imply the possibility of state-level societies contemporary with Uruk developments in Iraq. The rationale, origins and collapse of these large sites, however, has remained unclear, as has their impact on the local environment and their place in local and regional settlement structures.
The African origins of Egyptian civilisation lie in an important cultural horizon, the ‘primary pastoral community’, which emerged in both the Egyptian and Sudanese parts of the Nile Valley in the fifth millennium BC. A re-examination of the chronology, assisted by new AMS determinations from Neolithic sites in Middle Egypt, has charted the detailed development of these new kinds of society. The resulting picture challenges recent studies that emphasise climate change and environmental stress as drivers of cultural adaptation in north-east Africa. It also emphasises the crucial role of funerary practices and body decoration.
Vers 10 000 ans av. J.-C., bien avant les royaumes mésopotamiens ou l'Égypte pharaonique, des sociétés sophistiquées émergent au Proche-Orient. Ce sont elles qui abandonnent peu à peu la chasse et la cueillette des hommes préhistoriques, pour l'agriculture et l'élevage. Ce sont elles aussi qui apporteront ce mode de vie en Europe, changeant à jamais le cours de son histoire. Depuis les années 1950, des découvertes en Turquie, Syrie, Israël, Palestine et Jordanie notamment, dépeignent des sociétés complexes, aux mœurs et rituels élaborés.
Autour de 8200 ans av. J-.C., ces sociétés semblent connaître une évolution religieuse ou idéologique assez profonde. Alors que les visages humains étaient très rares dans leur répertoire artistique, voire totalement absents pour les périodes les plus anciennes, ils apparaissent à profusion à partir de cette date. Et ils deviennent un petit peu plus réalistes, moins schématiques.
Archaeologists excavating Ohio Hopewell mounds occasionally come across the remains of people who had been buried with separate human skulls. Hopewell artisans also sculpted representations of decapitated heads and headless human torsos.
Stonehenge: è mistero di come le pietre più piccole siano state trasportate attraverso il canale di Bristol Il sito neolitico, che si trova vicino ad Amesbury, nel Regno Unito, e patrimonio dell'Umanità dal 1986, è noto perché composto da un insieme circolare di pietre erette, conosciute come megaliti.
Analysis of the odd lumps found on the necks and chests of mummies from northwestern China’s Taklamakan Desert has shown them to be made of cheese. “We not only identified the product as the earliest known cheese, but we also have direct …evidence of ancient technology,” Andrej Shevchenko of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics toldUSA Today. The low-lactose cheese had been made by combining milk with a “starter” of bacteria and yeast—not the killing of a young calf, lamb, or kid for rennet. Shevchenko adds that the low cost of producing this cheese would have helped encourage the spread of herding throughout Asia.