Ancient Hominins Lived In China Much Earlier Than Previously Thought

Recently, stone tools from 2.1 million years ago in northwestern China were discovered. These tools are the oldest hominin tools found outside of Africa. And they suggest that hominins migrated out of Africa much earlier, and spread much farther east, than once thought.

The earliest hominin remains outside of Africa right now is a Homo erectus fossil found in a cave in Georgia, dating to about 1.85 million years ago. The new finds in China mean hominins were outside Africa about 250,000 years earlier, and 3,500 miles to the east. Interestingly, no hominin remains have been found in the area. Based on the tools’ age it is believed that they belonged to Homo habilis or Homo erectus.

Of course all this hinges on the tools being hominin tools. And the dating being correct. Still, if everything holds up, what a find!

Heatwave in Ireland Reveals Prehistoric Stone Monument

Thanks to the low rainfall, the outline of this prehistoric stone circle, or henge, was shown in how the crops grew.

Here’s how it works. Moisture lodges in archaeological features a little more than in plain soil. So when a drought hits, the plants directly above the archaeological features get a little more water than the plants not over an archaeological feature.

A drone flying over privately-owned fields is credited with the discovery.

Humans Are Just Embryos, By Star Standards

According astronomical standards, a star that was formed 2 million years ago is considered to still be in its youth.

DNA sheds light on African history

DNA from ancient remains is used to reconstruct thousands of years of population history in Africa. Researchers sequenced the genomes of 16 individuals who lived between 8,000 and 1,000 years ago, in what is today Malawi and Tanzania. Early on, the researchers found, the indigenous people of southern Africa used to be more widespread. Or their genes were. Markers of what is today southern African descent was found in individuals in Malawi and Tanzania who lived between 8,100 and 1,400 years ago.

But between 8,000 and 4,000 years ago, farming arrived in eastern Africa. Further DNA analysis revealed the hunter-gatherers in eastern Africa had mixed extensively with the incoming farmers. There was also migration from the Middle East in prehistory. About 38% of the ancestry of a 3,100-year-old livestock herder from Tanzania was related to ancient farmers from the Levant region.

A Tiny Carving That’s Making Big Waves In Greece

More than two years ago researchers from the University of Cincinnati unearthed a 3,500-year-old tomb in the southwest of Greece. The tomb belonged to a Bronze Age warrior nicknamed the “Griffin Warrior." Inside were beautiful treasures, which made headlines and challenged previous theories about how Greek civilization developed.

Almost a year after the tomb was found, a new discovery was made. A tiny, tiny sealstone -- just an inch and a half wide. The “Pylos Combat Agate” meticulously displays two warriors engaged in battle with bodies strewn at their feet, with some details less than a millimeter wide. The carving is perhaps most astonishing because it predates artistic skills that were not associated with Greek civilization for another thousand years.

The anatomical precision in the fighter's muscles, for instance, is not seen again until the classical period of Greek art, around 2,500 years ago. Also astonishing? Magnifying glasses were not believed to be used for another thousand years, either. The anonymous artist either had hawk-level eyesight, or the magnifying glass was invented earlier than previously believed.

One tiny seal is upending archaeologists' understanding of how ancient Greek art developed and progressed. It shows a sophistication and interest in true-to-life representational art literally centuries ahead of its time.

Temple of Amada

The oldest temple ever discovered in Nubia, the famous land south of ancient Egypt, was built during the 18th and 19th Dynasties (or between 1,550 and 1,189 BCE). Egyptian pharaohs made many revisions and renovations over the years. During Akhenaten's famous reign, for instance, all references to the god Amun were effaced, but then Seti I of Egypt's 19th dynasty had the name restored. Click through the image gallery to see more pictures from the temple.

The Temple of Amada is no longer in its original place on the east bank of the Nile River, because it was moved to a higher, safer spot as Lake Nasser flooded in the 1960s and 1970s.

When Does A Goat Ride A Tiger?

When the tiger is a Shang Dynasty drinking vessel, of course! Circa 1600 BCE - 1046 BCE.

A Stone-Age Venice

Natural disasters were a constant threat to the people living in the ancient Neolithic city of Liangzhu in China's Yangtze Delta. Annual monsoons could easily flood the city. So the city constructed an extensive network of dams and reservoirs and an enormous levee, in and around the 740-acre city. There were 51 canals, 11 dams, and 2 reservoirs. The waterworks likely also irrigated rice paddies and helped transport stone and timber from the nearby mountains.

To have built it all, Liangzhu must have used massive amounts of labor and resources. And they did so between 5,000 and 4,800 years ago -- about 1,000 years before state-level societies capable of such large public works were thought to have developed. That makes Liangzhu either an outlier, or proof that complex ancient societies developed earlier than we thought.

Venus Figurine or Abstract Art?

This 15,000-year-old bone pendant was found in Vlakno Cave, in Croatia. It may be a late type of Venus figurine, such as the famous Venus of Willendorf, which dates to more than 24,000 years ago. Venus figurines might have evolved over those 9,000 years, become more abstract and less realistic.

The geometric pattern on the bone is similar to patterns on other pieces of art from the Epigravettian period, a late Paleolithic culture on the European side of the Mediterranean. And similar examples of Epigravettian female figurines have been found in Dolni Vestovice in the Czech Republic and Mal'ta in Russia.

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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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