Why did the medieval Europeans switch from tunics, which were favored by the earlier civilizations like Greeks and the Romans, to pants? The answer is simple: horses win wars. All around the world, societies which had mastered the art of horseback combat wiped out those that had not. The theory goes that men in battle need protect their most sensitive organ. So pants it was.
A 77,000-year-old mattress was discovered in the Sibudu rock shelter in South Africa, a few miles from the Indian Ocean. The three-foot-by-six-foot mattress, what they call bedding, consisted of compacted layers, less than an inch thick, and was probably used as both a sleeping and a work surface. The mattress also came with built-in pest controls: In addition to grasses and sedges, it was made from the stems and leaves of a type of laurel tree known as Cryptocarya woodii, whose aromatic leaves contain insecticides that kill mosquitoes. Pretty neat!
Naked Mole Rats Help Archaeologist Make Major Find
A researcher, Prof. Avraham Faust, was studying naked mole rats at Tel 'Eton, near the Hebron hills in the central Israeli lowlands. The little burrowing rodents are endemic to the region. They burrow everywhere, and whatever is in the way when they burrow, they deposit topside. If the rodent piles contain lots of pottery sherds, the area had been settled. If not, not. At Tel 'Eton there were a lot of artifacts in the naked mole rat piles, for a place that supposedly had never been inhabited.
With the rodents' help, Faust accidentally found the second-ever monumental structure which can be dated to the united Judah Kingdom ruled by King David and his son, King Solomon, in the 900s BCE.
Any claim for Davidic finds are -- to put it mildly -- controversial. There are ongoing debates about the first monumental structure dated to the Davidic era. And this new, second find is also debated. The vast majority of the findings in the house date to the 700s B.C.E, a couple of hundred years after the united Judah Kingdom. But Faust suspects its foundations date from the Davidic period of the united kingdom. The big house, which they dubbed the “governor’s residency” (though it could have been something entirely different) may exemplify what they call the "old-house effect": a building or settlement that existed for generations, but only left significant remains from its final form.
This little round granite bowl has a secret. Just 9 inches wide, it balances perfectly on 0.15 square inches! The top rests horizontally when the bowl is placed on a glass shelf. That’s only possible because the entire bowl has a symmetrical wall thickness, no part thicker or thinner than the rest. Any asymmetry would cause a lean. This amount of precision is difficult in today’s machine age -- how were they able to do it in ancient Egypt? Click through the image gallery to see more pictures of this little wonder.
An armored dinosaur has been found in Alberta, so well-preserved that it looks like a statue. The specimen was preserved in 3D, perfectly hardening into sandstone, from its snout its hips. Paleontologists were able to determine, just by looking at it, that this discovery is also a new species.
So what did this new dinosaur look like? Well, according to the researchers, it is the “dinosaur equivalent of a tank.” It was 5.5 meters long (about 18 feet) and weighing more than 1,300 kilograms (or 2,800 pounds). There is ornamentation around its eyes, six-sides plates on the sides of its skull, and distinct alternating lines of spikes and scales along its back. The prickly skin even contains molecular clues suggesting it was reddish on its backside, and lighter on its underside! That’s a lot of detail about a species, all from one specimen.
The new dinosaur been named Borealopelta, or “northern shield.”
Traces of potato flour have been found on ancient stone tools in a desert shelter -- think an overhang rather than a cave -- in south-central Utah. The site is known as North Creek Shelter, and had been used intermittently from 11,500 to just 150 years ago. The stone tools with potato flour traces were found in a stratum between 10,100 to 10,900 years old. Similar evidence was also found on tools that were uncovered in the higher, and more recent, strata of the site, indicating that wild potatoes have been part of the indigenous diet in the Southwest for thousands of years.
A huge cache of stone inscriptions from one of Africa's oldest written languages have been unearthed in a vast "city of the dead" in Sudan. The inscriptions are written in the obscure 'Meroitic' language, the oldest known written language south of the Sahara, which remains only partially deciphered. The city of the dead is Sedeinga, located on the western shore of the Nile River in Sudan, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of the river's third cataract. It was once part of Nubia, a gold-rich region south of Egypt, which was home to multiple great ancient kingdoms. Sedeinga itself holds the vestiges of at least 80 brick pyramids and more than 100 tombs from the kingdoms of Napata and Meroe, which lasted from the 600s BCE to the 300s CE. They were cosmopolitan kingdoms, mixing Egyptian culture and sub-Saharan culture. One of the finds in Sedeinga, for instance, is a temple to the Egyptian goddess Ma'at, but depicted with Sub-Saharan African features for the first known time.
Norway's Best-Preserved Stone Age Remains, Reconstructed
The face of Norway’s best-preserved Stone Age skeleton has been reconstructed thanks to modern forensic art. He lived and died about 7,500 years ago in Vistehola, Norway. Analyses show that the Viste Boy was approximately 15 when he died, and stood a bit less than 1.25 meters tall (about 4 feet).
From their studies of rubbish in and around Vistehola archaeologists determined that this clan was between 10 and 15 people. They lived off fish — mostly cod — as well as oysters, mussels, cormorants, elk and wild pig.
Surrounding the famous Stonehenge are the less famous Aubrey Holes, a circle of 56 chalk pits, which rings around the famous main structure. The Aubrey Holes are not a new discovery, they have been excavated since the 1920s. Cremated remains have been found inside the chalk pits suggesting Stonehenge at one point served as a burial ground.
In 2016, archaeologists excavating Aubrey Hole 7 found the remains of 14 women. They ranged in age from 4,000 to 5,000 years old. Because they were buried at Stonehenge, the women must have been high status when they lived. But nothing further is known about them. And it is interesting that no children were found. Was there a separate burial place for children? Or were their remains treated differently than adults? The new find brings new mystery to this old, old site.
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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!