9,000-year-old ritual complex found in Jordan desert

Archaeologists deep in the Jordanian desert have discovered a 9,000-year-old ritualistic complex near what is thought to be the earliest known large human-built structure worldwide.

The Stone Age shrine site, excavated last year, was used by gazelle hunters and features carved stone figures, an altar and a miniature model of a large-scale hunting trap.

The giant game traps the model represents — so-called “desert kites” — were made of long walls that converge to corral running gazelles into enclosures or holes for slaughter.

Similar structures of two or more stone walls, some several kilometres (miles) long, have been found in deserts across Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey and Kazakhstan.

The Neolithic-era ritual site was discovered inside a larger campsite last October by a joint French-Jordanian team called the South Eastern Badia Archaeological Project.

The nearby desert kites in Jibal al-Khashabiyeh are “the earliest large-scale human built structures worldwide known to date,” said a statement by the SEBA Project.

It hailed the “spectacular and unprecedented discovery” of the ritualistic site, believed to date to about 7000 BC.

It featured two steles with anthropomorphic features, the taller one 1.12 metres high, other artefacts including animal figurines, flints, and some 150 arranged marine fossils.

The wider, decade-old research project aims to study “the first pastoral nomadic societies, as well as the evolution of specialised subsistence strategies”.

The desert kites suggest “extremely sophisticated mass hunting strategies, unexpected in such an early timeframe,” said the project’s statement.

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The human brain doubled in power, very suddenly, 200,000 years ago. Why?

There seems to have been a profound difference in cognitive abilities between early Homo sapiens and our immediate predecessor, Homo erectus. Sure, erectus stood upright — a big, um, step forward — but with the emergence of Homo sapiens, we see traces of art, pictography, and tool usage, and we believe humankind made its first forays into language.

In the early 1990s, psychedelic advocate and ethnobotanist Terence McKenna published his book Food of the Gods in which he surmised that homo sapiens’ cognitive leap forward was due to their discovery of magic mushrooms. The scientific community never took McKenna’s theory very seriously, considering it mostly trippy speculation — these days, his ideas have largely been relegated to the spacier corners of Reddit. Now, however, the idea has acquired a new advocate, psilocybin mycologist Paul Stamets, who’s suggesting McKenna was right all along.

In McKenna’s Stoned Ape hypothesis,” he posited that as humans began to migrate to new areas, at some point they came upon psychedelic mushrooms growing in cow droppings, as is their wont, and then ate them. After ingesting them, and more specifically the psilocybin they contained, their brains kicked into overdrive, acquiring new information-processing capabilities, and a mind-blowing expansion of our imaginations in the bargain. Many modern users of psychedelics claim the world never looks the same again after such an experience. As McKenna put it, “Homo sapiens ate our way to a higher consciousness,” and, “It was at this time that religious ritual, calendar making, and natural magic came into their own.”

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Artificial Intelligence Has Found an Unknown ‘Ghost’ Ancestor in The Human Genome

Nobody knows who she was, just that she was different: a teenage girl from over 50,000 years ago of such strange uniqueness she looked to be a ‘hybrid’ ancestor to modern humans that scientists had never seen before.

Only recently, researchers have uncovered evidence she wasn’t alone. In a 2019 study analysing the complex mess of humanity’s prehistory, scientists used artificial intelligence (AI) to identify an unknown human ancestor species that modern humans encountered – and shared dalliances with – on the long trek out of Africa millennia ago.

“About 80,000 years ago, the so-called Out of Africa occurred, when part of the human population, which already consisted of modern humans, abandoned the African continent and migrated to other continents, giving rise to all the current populations”, explained evolutionary biologist Jaume Bertranpetit from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Spain.

As modern humans forged this path into the landmass of Eurasia, they forged some other things too – breeding with ancient and extinct hominids from other species.

Up until recently, these occasional sexual partners were thought to include Neanderthals and Denisovans, the latter of which were unknown until 2010.

But in this study, a third ex from long ago was isolated in Eurasian DNA, thanks to deep learning algorithms sifting through a complex mass of ancient and modern human genetic code.

Using a statistical technique called Bayesian inference, the researchers found evidence of what they call a “third introgression” – a ‘ghost’ archaic population that modern humans interbred with during the African exodus.

“This population is either related to the Neanderthal-Denisova clade or diverged early from the Denisova lineage,” the researchers wrote in their paper, meaning that it’s possible this third population in humanity’s sexual history was possibly a mix themselves of Neanderthals and Denisovans.

In a sense, from the vantage point of deep learning, it’s a hypothetical corroboration of sorts of the teenage girl ‘hybrid fossil’ identified in 2018; although there’s still more work to be done, and the research projects themselves aren’t directly linked.

“Our theory coincides with the hybrid specimen discovered recently in Denisova, although as yet we cannot rule out other possibilities”, one of the team, genomicist Mayukh Mondal from the University of Tartu in Estonia, said in a press statement at the time of discovery.

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In tree rings and radioactive carbon, signs of the Vikings in North America

Vikings from Greenland — the first Europeans to arrive in the Americas — lived in a village in Canada’s Newfoundland exactly 1,000 years ago, according to research published Wednesday.

Scientists have known for many years that Vikings — a name given to the Norse by the English they raided — built a village at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland around the turn of the millennium. But a study published in Nature is the first to pinpoint the date of the Norse occupation.

The explorers — up to 100 people, both women and men — felled trees to build the village and to repair their ships, and the new study fixes a date they were there by showing they cut down at least three trees in the year 1021 — at least 470 years before Christopher Columbus reached the Bahamas in 1492.

“This is the first time the date has been scientifically established,” said archaeologist Margot Kuitems, a researcher at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and the study’s lead author.

“Previously the date was based only on sagas — oral histories that were only written down in the 13th century, at least 200 years after the events they described took place,” she said.

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Six-million-year-old Cretan footprints challenge beliefs about human evolution

A new study has pushed back the estimated age of 50 footprints preserved in rocks on the Mediterranean island of Crete – footprints that were already thought to be among the oldest pre-human prints in the world, and have now been dated to around 6.05 million years ago.

The international team of researchers, whose study was published this week in Scientific Reports, used refined dating techniques to more accurately place the precious imprints in history, but the claims are deeply controversial, challenging prevailing wisdom about human evolution.

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Scientists find evidence of humans making clothes 120,000 years ago

From the medieval fashion for pointy shoes to Victorian waist-squeezing corsets and modern furry onesies, what we wear is a window to our past.

Now researchers say they have found some of the earliest evidence of humans using clothing in a cave in Morocco, with the discovery of bone tools and bones from skinned animals suggesting the practice dates back at least 120,000 years.

Dr Emily Hallett, of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, the first author of the study, said the work reinforced the view that early humans in Africa were innovative and resourceful

“Our study adds another piece to the long list of hallmark human behaviours that begin to appear in the archaeological record of Africa around 100,000 years ago,” she said.

While skins and furs are unlikely to survive in deposits for hundreds of thousands of years, previous studies looking at the DNA of clothing lice have suggested clothes may have appeared as early as 170,000 years ago – probably sported by anatomically modern humans in Africa.

The latest study adds further weight to the idea that early humans may have had something of a wardrobe.

Writing in the journal i Science, Hallett and colleagues report how they analysed animal bones excavated in a series of digs spanning several decades at Contrebandiers Cave on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. The cave has previously been revealed to contain the remains of early humans.

Hallett said she began studying the animal bones in 2012 because she was interested in reconstructing the diet of early humans and exploring whether there had been any changes in diet associated with changes in stone tool technology.

However, she and her colleagues found 62 bones from layers dating to between 120,000 and 90,000 years ago that showed signs of having been turned into tools.

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SCIENTISTS DISCOVER THE ANCIENT BIRTHPLACE OF MARIJUANA

For thousands of years, humans have lit up around the world, enjoying the high that comes from cannabis.

But the controversial politics surrounding the drug has made it difficult for scientists to figure out its genetic origins. Where did cannabis come from and how did it evolve into the potent green that brings us pleasure?

Scientists finally have an answer to that question — and the evolution of modern-day cannabis and how it diverged from its very close relative hemp is even wilder than you might think.

New research published Friday in the journal Science Advances used genetics to trace the ancient birthplace of Cannabis sativa, from which we harvest pot today.

The cultivation of marijuana has much longer roots than we previously understood, according to the study — including evidence that our cultivation of pot may have led to the extinction of pure, wild, ancient strains of cannabis.

Cannabis “is one of the first cultivated crop species,” Luca Fumagalli, a co-author on the study from the University of Lausanne’s Laboratory for Conservation Biology, tells Inverse.

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Mystery Of The 100 Ton ‘Boxes’ At The Serapeum Of Saqqara

Located North West of the Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara, we find the Serapeum of Saqqara. According to archaeologists, it was the burial-place of the Apus Bulls, literally speaking the living manifestations of the Egyptian God Ptah. This necropolis found near Memphis, Egypt is believed to have been built sometime around 1300 BCE, by Ramesses II.

Ever since its discovery in 1850 the Serapeum of Saqqara has puzzled archaeologists and researchers and the tunnels that have been unearthed since have been the subject of debate among many. This majestic ancient labyrinth is home to 25 megalithic stone ‘boxes’, weighing between 70 to 100 tons

Part of the megalithic boxes, the 30-ton lids were made of the same blocks of stone. Upon discovery, some of these were blown open with the aid of gunpowder, only to find the inside of these giant boxes empty. Researchers have no idea what their actual purpose was, or how these giant boxes were made thousands of years ago…

Interestingly, most of these boxes are made of rose granite, an extremely hard rock mined at a quarry located about 800 kilometers from Saqqara while other boxes were made from an even harder material, diorite, found even further away from Saqqara.

The precision of the boxes is another characteristics that has left researchers or anyone who visits the place, baffled, with deviations registering in the thousandths of an inch.

Extreme precision, thousands of years ago.

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Ancient Tablet Shows Pythagorean Theorem 1000 Years Before His Birth

An almost 4000-year-old clay tablet displays an early form of applied geometry practiced by the ancient Babylonians, thousands of years before the math was initially thought to have been discovered.

Did The Babylonians Have Geometry?

Trigonometry was largely understood to have been first discovered by the Greeks around the second century BCE. The word itself came from a combination of the Greek words for ‘earth’ and ‘measure.’

Prominent figures such as Euclid and Pythagoras created foundations and theorems that were instrumental in advancing the understanding of mathematics throughout the western world. Some of their work is still being used in current modern applications, such as Pythagoras’ theorem regarding right triangles.

While the Greeks may have had the greatest impact worldwide with their mathematical discoveries, it would eventually be revealed that they were not the first. In 2017, researchers at the University of New South Wales found a famous Babylonian tablet from 3,700 years ago, known as “Plimpton 322,” (seen below) that contained a trigonometric table inscribed on it. It had sequences of numbers that are known as Pythagorean triples, despite it being thousands of years before Pythagoras lived when the tablet was used.

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Archaeologists Claim They’ve Discovered the Trojan Horse in Turkey

Turkish archaeologists claim they have found what they believe are pieces of the Trojan Horse. According to a report by newsit.gr, Turkish archaeologists excavating the site of the historical city of Troy on the hills of Hisarlik have unearthed a large wooden structure. Historians and archaeologists think what they have discovered are remains of the legendary Trojan Horse.

The excavations brought to light dozens of fir planks and beams up to 15 meters (49 feet) long. The remnants were assembled in a strange form, that led the experts to suspect they belong to the Trojan Horse. The wooden structure was inside the walls of the ancient city of Troy.

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