ancient history

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China's Ancient Terracotta Army May Rewrite History

Researchers say they prove that contact with West occurred far earlier than thought

(Newser) - Marco Polo's travels to China in the 13th century are the first well documented record of a European reaching the empire. But archaeologists studying a famous trove of terracotta figures dug up in China now suggest that the first contact with the West occurred much earlier than thought—some... More »

World's Oldest Wooden Statue Twice as Old as Pyramids

New dating puts Shigir Idol at 11K years old, 1.5K years older than thought

(Newser) - When scientists first tried in 1997 to date the famous Shigir Idol wooden sculpture —originally found in a Siberian peat bog in 1890—radiocarbon dating suggested the art was so old the findings were widely disputed. Now, armed with better tech, scientists turned to one of the world's... More »

Scroll So Charred It Looks Like Charcoal Finally Read

1.5K-year-old scroll sat unreadable since being found in 1970

(Newser) - When a 1,500-year-old scroll was found in the ashes of an ancient synagogue on the shores of the Dead Sea just south of Jerusalem in 1970, it was so charred it resembled a piece of charcoal and was impossible to read or preserve. But now, thanks to the latest... More »

Workers Stumble on 2K-Year-Old Marvel in Jerusalem

Ancient aqueduct worked 'intermittently' until last century, experts say

(Newser) - Workers constructing a sewer line in East Jerusalem last month discovered a 2,000-year-old water-supply system that—think about this—worked fairly well until the last century, LiveScience reports. The 13-mile long Lower Aqueduct, which was fed by a spring south of Bethlehem and runs through four modern-day Jerusalem neighborhoods,... More »

8K Years Ago, Women Reproduced Way More Often Than Men

Scientists aren't sure why, but one theory involves successful farmers

(Newser) - Scientists are puzzling over a new discovery regarding Stone Age sex: It seems that for every 17 women who reproduced at the time, just one man did the same. The findings are based on an analysis of the DNA of 450 people from geographically diverse locations. Researchers compared Y-chromosome DNA,... More »

2M-Year-Old Stones May Have Belonged to Children

Chinese site thought to possibly be ancient playground

(Newser) - An investigation into what appears to be a nearly 2 million-year-old site in China's Hebei province suggests the spot served an important purpose: fun. The South China Morning Post compares the dig site to a "playground" for ancient hominids, noting that it was home to some 700 stone... More »

How a Drone Could Settle Debate Over the Ancient Amazon

Researchers will scan ground in search of geoglyphs

(Newser) - Experts are divided over how ancient people lived in what is now Brazil, and they're turning to a drone to help them learn the answers. "While some researchers think that Amazonia was inhabited by small bands of hunter-gatherers and shifting cultivators who had a minimal impact on the... More »

Scientists 'Read' Words on Ancient, Burnt Scrolls

X-ray technology could lead to great literary finds

(Newser) - It's been centuries since a certain set of ancient scrolls was discovered in 1752, but their words have largely remained a secret. The 300-some rolled-up pieces of papyrus were in Herculaneum, a town pummeled by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. The scrolls were left in a... More »

King Herod's Hallway Linked to 'Horrible' Gangrene

Reviled ancient ruler was too sick to use palace, experts say

(Newser) - Archaeologists have uncovered a corridor into Herod the Great's ancient palace but say the infamous king never really put the hallway to use, NBC News reports. In fact he turned Herodium, roughly 7 miles south of Jerusalem, into a burial monument when he fell horribly ill. "Surprisingly, during... More »

'Ancient Music of Babylon' Recorded for 1st Time

Stef Conner writes music, sings to ancient poems

(Newser) - A singer with folk roots and a guy who "plays a mean lyre" have recorded haunting songs that sound something like ancient Babylonian music, Raw Story reports. No one knows what Babylonians listened to—the tunes are long-lost—but singer/composer Stef Conner says she relied on the natural stresses... More »

5 Ancient Skeletons Found in Shackles

Child's remains among those discovered at Roman site

(Newser) - Investigating an ancient Roman burial site in southwest France, researchers came upon a creepy find: Five skeletons—one of them a child's—were stuck in shackles, the Independent reports. Iron chains were locked around the ankles of three of the skeletons, while another had shackles on its neck. The... More »

Home of Ancient Cult Found in Israel

Giant complex contains animal bones, face masks

(Newser) - Archeologists in Israel have discovered a 3,300-year-old complex where an ancient cult likely gathered, UPI reports. The complex, at a site known as Tel Burna, is made up of rooms surrounding a giant courtyard measuring 52 feet by 52 feet. It's not certain who the cult worshiped, but... More »

Female Skeleton Casts Light on Ancient Earthquake

Archaeologists say temblor flattened Hippos in 363AD

(Newser) - Archaeologists investigating the remains of an ancient city overlooking the Sea of Galilee say they've found the best evidence yet of a devastating earthquake—one of two that leveled the Greco-Roman municipality, the Jerusalem Post reports. The University of Haifa researchers, who have been excavating Hippos for 15 years,... More »

This Tiny Copper Awl Is Rewriting History

Awl is oldest metal object ever found in Middle East

(Newser) - A small copper awl found in a woman's ancient grave in Israel is rewriting history. It's the oldest metal object ever found in the Middle East, and was probably owned by the apparently important 40-year-old woman buried with it in an extravagant Tel Tsaf grave, LiveScience reports. The... More »

Kinder, Gentler Humans Built Modern Culture

Study finds link between lower testosterone, evolutionary jump

(Newser) - Maybe all mankind needed to become more civilized was a kinder, gentler touch, suggests a study out of the University of Utah and Duke University. The new research now links a drop in testosterone to our ancestors' sudden jump into civilized behavior about 50,000 years ago. This is when... More »

Mammoths and Mastodons Stuck Close to Home

Study of ancient teeth reveal surprising clues about how and where they lived

(Newser) - Mr. Snuffleupagus and friends didn’t much like to leave home—at least not the ones that lived in what is now Ohio and Kentucky, a University of Cincinnati study reveals. Researchers had long believed mammoths and mastodons were nomadic, but their teeth tell a different story. Mammoths ate grasses... More »

Who Needs Dentists? Early Humans Ate This Weed

Ancients who snacked on purple nut sedge had few cavities

(Newser) - The purple nut sedge, or nut grass, is generally considered a nasty, fast-spreading, and hard-to-kill nuisance weed today. But for our ancestors, it not only served as a nutritious meal, it cleaned their teeth, according to a new study on PLoS ONE . An analysis of hardened bits of plaque from... More »

Some People Ignored Writing for Thousands of Years

Ancient Assyrians still used clay markers, 2K years later

(Newser) - What if people still used typewriters in the year 4,000? Or wrote with a stone and chisel today? That's roughly the equivalent of what archaeologists discovered in Turkey, where a dig dating to 600 to 900 BC turned up clay tokens alongside cuneiform tablets, the Smithsonian reports. The... More »

Why Skulls of Kids Encircled Ancient Villages

Bronze Age villages placed skulls to ward off flooding, researchers say

(Newser) - Visitors to some ancient villages in Switzerland and Germany weren't greeted by a nice garden or an archway. They encountered skulls—children's skulls, researchers say. According to a new study , certain lakeshore villages placed children's skulls and bones outside of town in an effort to ward off... More »

Mysterious Coin Stash Unearthed—After 2K Years

26 Roman and Late Iron Age coins found in Derbyshire

(Newser) - A cave in Britain may have been the perfect hiding place for a stash of coins … because 2,000 years passed before anyone found them. A climber sheltering from the rain happened upon four coins in Dovedale, Derbyshire, reports the Ashbourne News Telegraph , which led to a National Trust... More »

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