Seven hominin footprints dated to some 120,000 years ago were identified among hundreds of animal prints in northern Saudi Arabia’s Nefud Desert. The footprints were dated using optical stimulated luminescence, a way of measuring how much ionizing radiation an area has been exposed to. It's often used to get the age of sediment, and sometimes fired bricks or pottery. The hominin prints are thought to have been left by two or three modern humans who may have come to what was then a shallow lake along with camels, buffalo, and elephants.

How Did Ancient Egyptians Keep Track Of Their Cows?

With a Sekhmet-shaped cattle band, of course! Cattle brand is in the shape of the lion-headed goddess, Sekhmet, also known as "the destroyer," "lady of life" and the one who protected truth/justice. Perhaps her head was used so the truth of the cow's owner would be protected? Circa 1500 - 1200 BCE. (Brand is from the British Museum, statue is from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.)

Inscribed brick in Akkadian from Ešnunna, Iraq which a dog once walked over, leaving behind their paw prints. Circa 2000-1900 BCE.

Diary of a Pyramid Laborer

This is the oldest known papyrus containing text, dating to 2550 BCE. It is the diary of one inspector Merer, basically a logbook, where he recorded the daily activities of stone transportation from the Tura limestone quarry to and from Giza during the 4th Dynasty.

Math Points Towards Climate Change Ending Ancient Civilization

A new mathematical proof has identified that climate change could be responsible for the end of the Indus River Valley civilization around 3,000 years ago. To determine the amount of rain in a given monsoon over the last 5,700 years, scientists had previously analyzed the presence or absence of a specific isotope in stalagmites in a North Indian cave. Mathematical scientist Nishant Malik used that data to look specifically at the time period when the Indus River Valley civilization was around. The isotope patterns suggested a major change in monsoon patterns around when the civilization was beginning to rise. And then a reverse shift in monsoon patterns when the civilization was declining. This strongly points to climate change as the downfall of the Indus River Valley civilization -- not war, or earthquakes, as has previously been suggested.

Limestone hedgehog on its own wheeled vehicle. Found near the temple of Inshushinak cache in Susa, Iran, it dates to the Middle Elamite period, circa 1500-1200 BCE.

New DNA Analysis of Ancient Egyptians

Ancient Egyptians shared little DNA with sub-Saharan Africans. A recent study looked at the genomes of ancient Egyptians from the New Kingdom through the Roman era, and found their DNA was most closely related to Near East. Modern Egyptians are more related to sub-Saharan Africans than their ancient counterparts: the ancient samples were 6 to 15%, modern samples 14 to 21%. This suggests population movements post-Roman era. One particularly well-preserved DNA sample was even tested for physical characteristics, and suggested a lighter skin pigmentation, dark-colored eyes, and lactose intolerance.

This Strange Creature Was The First Hibernator

Researchers analyzing 250-million-year-old fossils found evidence that this pig-sized mammal relation, a genus called Lystrosaurus, hibernated. Normally fossils don't tell us much about metabolism rate shifts that are evidence of hibernation. But the Lystrosaurus has tusks that grow continuously. Like tree rings, the tusks give a record of the animal's activity. A comparison of cross-sections of tusks from six Antarctic Lystrosaurus and cross-sections of tusks from four Lystrosaurus from South Africa showed periods of less growth and greater stress that were exclusive to the Antarctica samples. The distinct periods match up with what modern hibernating animals go through today. It also matches where the animals lived: living in Antarctica, hibernation makes sense as a way to handle extreme seasonal weather. Turns out hibernation is a very, very old adaptation

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    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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