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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 »

Elephant Ancestor's Bones Alter Our Continent's History

Gomphotheres appear to have roamed North America as recently as 13,400 years ago

(Newser) - North America's prehistoric Clovis people were known hunters of large mammoths and mastodons. But another elephant ancestor, the smaller gomphothere, may also have fallen prey to the ambitious hunter-gatherers. An archaeological dig begun in 2007 in northwestern Mexico now carbon dates that site—which has given up Clovis spear... 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 »

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 »

In Iraq, Clues to Long-Lost Temple Emerge

Doctoral student works amid threat of ISIS attack in Kurdistan

(Newser) - An archaeologist is closing in on the location of an ancient temple so venerated that when it was sacked in 714 BC, its king tore off his crown, "pulled out his hair, pounded his chest with both hands"—then killed himself, according to an early account. The long-lost... More »

Medieval Skeleton May Be Oldest Down Syndrome Case

Child buried 1.5K years ago had the common characteristics

(Newser) - Archaeologists in France have unearthed what they say is the earliest known case of Down Syndrome, reports New Scientist . A child buried about 1,500 years ago in what is now Chalon-sur-Saone has the short, broad skull and other features characteristic of the syndrome. "This case represents the earliest... More »

Rome's Colosseum Was Once a 'Condo'

Amphitheater functioned as a 'condo' for centuries

(Newser) - If only these walls could talk. Rome's iconic Colosseum, built nearly 20 centuries ago in 72 AD, has long been known as the site of gory gladiator battles and animal slaughter. Now, archaeologists who spent three weeks studying an excavated area beneath some 80 arched entrances that opened up... More »

Archaeologists' Puzzle: Where Was Plymouth Colony?

Researchers conducting major dig to find site of original settlement

(Newser) - It's one of the most important sites in the history of the United States—but we still don't know where, exactly, it was. That's why University of Massachusetts archaeologists are digging for signs of the original Plymouth colony, the Boston Globe reports. The borders of today's... More »

Historian: Stonehenge Builders Botched the Job

Ronald Hutton says they were careless 'cowboys'

(Newser) - Stonehenge: Monumental human achievement, or total screwup? It's pretty much both, professor Ronald Hutton argued this week at a Daily Mail history festival , saying the structure was built by incompetent builders and left unfinished. For example, he said, one of the stones had clearly broken in half. "If... More »

Ancient Burial Site Reveals 4K-Year-Old Chariots

Also inside: gold artifacts, potential human sacrifices

(Newser) - A dig at a 4,000-year-old burial site in the country of Georgia has turned up a pair of wooden chariots along with human remains, possibly from sacrifices, LiveScience reports. The 39-foot-high Early Bronze Age mound is known as a kurgan and would have been the resting place of a... More »

Explorer: I Found La Salle's Ship in Lake Michigan

Hopes to get permission to excavate, prove it's 17th-century vessel

(Newser) - A 17th-century ship called the Griffin has long eluded shipwreck hunters, but one especially persistent hunter thinks he's finally found the vessel that belonged to French explorer La Salle. Steve Libert tells AP that he is "99.9% sure" that he and his team have spotted the ship,... More »

Egyptologist: I've Solved Mystery of Vanishing Army

Cambyses' troops weren't done in by a sandstorm but by another army, says professor

(Newser) - An expert on Egyptian history thinks he's figured out what happened to an army of 50,000 men that seemingly vanished in the Egyptian desert around 524 BC, reports Nature World News . Legend has it that the "lost army of Cambyses" got swallowed up in a sandstorm, an... More »

Archaeologists Seek Home of Mormon Founder's Father

Illinois dig unearths 10K years of history

(Newser) - Archaeologists in Nauvoo, Ill., are searching for a key site in the history of America's biggest homegrown religion. Over the last few years, some 10,000 items—including buttons, window glass, and bits of pottery—have been found by a team trying to find the former home of the... More »

Archaeologists Whip Up 'Elixir of Long Life'

Recipe includes aloe, lots of alcohol

(Newser) - Archaeologists were digging under a former German beer garden in New York City's Lower East Side when they came upon a stash of 150-year-old liquor bottles. Among them was a small vial—once the container for an "Elixir of Long Life," DNAInfo reports. "We wanted to... More »

World's Oldest Pair of Pants Found

They were probably worn by ancient horse riders in China

(Newser) - Archaeologists working at an ancient graveyard in western China have unearthed what they say is the oldest pair of pants ever found, reports Science News . In fact, they found two pairs, and the clothing items are not only functional but relatively stylish. The wool pants were found with the remains... More »

Archaeologists Find Graves of Confederate Soldiers

Buried in a Virginia cemetery section created for Union soldiers

(Newser) - Archaeologists have in the last two months uncovered the unmarked graves of as many as 40 Confederate soldiers in Old City Cemetery in Lynchburg, Va. That adds to the tally of about 50 unmarked Confederate graves found in the same part of the cemetery last year—a section known as... More »

Woolly Mammoths' Undoing: Dogs?

They may have helped humans round up the huge creatures

(Newser) - Scientists are floating an intriguing new theory about the demise of woolly mammoths: Dogs may have driven them to their graves. Specifically, dogs that learned to hunt with humans, reports Science . The idea stems from research of sites around the world known as mammoth cemeteries because of the huge number... More »

Skeleton May Belong to Viking King From Ireland

King Olaf ruled in 10th century

(Newser) - A skeleton unearthed in Scotland might be that of a long-lost Viking king who ruled in Ireland in the 10th century, reports the BBC . Archeologists think they've found the remains of King Olaf Guthfrithsson, or at least somebody in his entourage. One of the telltale signs is a belt... More »

Spanish Conquest Literally Changed Peru's Shape

Age-old process on coastline halted with departure of Incas

(Newser) - The coming of the Spanish conquistadors changed Peru's shape forever—literally, according to researchers who say sand ridges stopped forming along the northern coast after the Incas were forced out of the area or killed by disease after Francisco Pizarro's 1532 arrival. Phys.org explains that radiocarbon dating... More »

Ancient Skeleton May Settle Debate on First Americans

Girl from 12K years ago has same DNA as modern Native Americans

(Newser) - A slight teenage girl who died in a Mexican cave 12,000 years ago may help settle a long-simmering debate in archaeological circles, reports USA Today : Where did the very first Americans come from? The answer doesn't seem to be Europe, Australia, or southeastern Asia, but rather a land... More »

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