The Face of a 2,000-Year-Old Woman

This is Meritamun. Her name means "beloved of Amun," the great Egyptian creator/sun god. She lived in ancient Egypt, sometime between 1500 BCE and 331 BCE, and was likely high status judging by the quality of the linens she was mummified with. Meritamun was between 18 and 25 when she died.

Analysis of Hominin Teeth Tells Us About Prehistoric Breastfeeding Practices

Analysis of growth rings in Australopithecus africanus teeth may tell us about prehistoric hominin's breastfeeding habits. A recent analysis looked at four teeth, recovered from South Africa’s Sterkfontein Cave, belonged to two individuals who lived between 2.6 and 2.1 million years ago. The results suggest that they exclusively breastfed for the first six to nine months of life.

Although other foods were added around the 1st birthday, milk intake also ramped up again each year, over a period of four or five years. Why this yearly return to breastmilk? Perhaps during times of food scarcity, mothers would return to breastfeeding, to ensure their children got enough to eat.

The analysis found an additional piece of evidence suggesting that breastmilk was a starvation-food used to keep young children nourished. Levels of lithium in the teeth rose right before the period of breastfeeding began each year. Such a distinctive biological time-stamp connected to the later-life breastfeeding suggests that the breastfeeding began again each year in the same season, likely corresponding to the time of year when food was scarcest. One can speculate that lithium was high in a specific food source which became available only during a certain season each year (like apples in autumn) -- or which Australopithecus africanus only resorted to when other foods were scarce (like tree bark in winter).

Bronze Age Palace Uncovered By Iraqi Drought

Drought has revealed the remains of a 3,400-year-old palace in the Mosul Dam reservoir, in Iraq's Kurdistan region. The palace, at a site known as Kemune, once stood on an elevated terrace on the eastern banks of the Tigris River. It appears to be from the Mittanni Empire. For those (like me) whose history classes did not mention the Mittanni, it was a Bronze Age, Hurrian-speaking empire, which ruled parts of northern Mesopotamia and Syria in the 1400s and 1300s BCE.

There are a number of notable finds from archaeological examinations of Kemune. Ten cuneiform tablets were uncovered, which have been sent for translation. The palace's mudbrick walls are 6 feet thick and 6 feet high in some places. Suggesting when they were originally built, the walls were even taller and more impressive. There are also traces of rare red and blue wall-paint still detectable. That makes Kemune only the second site in the region where Mittanni wall paintings have been found. Unfortunately, the palace has been overtaken by the dam's water since the archaeological investigation took place. And no emergency archaeological efforts are planned -- just a wait until the next drought.

Europe Once Had Giant Ostrichs

These flightless birds were 11 feet tall and weighed nearly half a ton at an estimated 450 kilograms. For context: the ostrich is he largest bird on earth and adult ostriches weigh just 150 kilos (330 lbs).

The Pachystruthio dmanisensis was discovered using a femur bone found in 2018 on the Crimean Peninsula, in the northern Black Sea. Based on other animal remains found in the same cave this particular dmanisensis is estimated to have died between 1.5 and 2 million years ago. It is at the right time to have been around when the first humans migrated to the area!

Athletes in ancient Greece smeared olive oil on their bodies before a competition. The oil made their skin more supple and made them appear, as classical writers described, "like gleaming statues of the gods."

PreHistoric BYOPs

During the 2000s BCE, Neolithic Britons held annual celebrations at sacred monuments such as Stonehenge. New research reveals that people from all over the island attended these BYOPs — Bring Your Own Pigs. Isotope analysis of porcine bones from several henge sites in southwestern England indicates that the pigs eaten there were not raised locally. Not only did festivalgoers travel from as far away as Scotland, northeastern England, and western Wales, they transported their own pigs with them.

The first known Treatise of Hippology, or study of horses, was written in the Hittite language by a man named Kikkuli around 1300 BCE.

The first blue-feathered prehistoric bird has been detected by science. It’s feathers are long gone, but remains of their pigment were analyzed, and fall on the spectrum of what human eyes call “blue.” The bird lived about 48 million years ago.

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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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