The First American Cities

Peru's archaeological site of Caral made headlines in 2001 when carbon-dating proved the site to be from around 2627 BCE. That's the same time when the Egyptians started the construction of their first pyramid complexes. Caral's layout showed neighborhoods for specific trades, and higher-status and lower-status neighborhoods. It sprawled across 163 acres, and appears to have administrative as well as ceremonial areas, including six large pyramidal structures. Its early carbon dating make Caral, along with 18 similarly dated sites that have been discovered clustered together in the Supe Valley, are the earliest-known cities in the Americans. It would be another 1,000 years before the first Olmec cities arose in Mesoamerica.

Where Was Cattle Domesticated First?

Cattle were domesticated independently in South Asia, West Asia (Anatolia), and Africa from local wild bovines. In South Asia (what it today Pakistan), cattle appear to have been domesticated by about 6,500 to 6,000 BCE. In Anatolia, cattle appears to have been domesticated a little earlier, between 7,000 and 6,500 BCE. African cattle domestication happened at least by 6,000 BCE. However, it is possible that it happened much earlier, with an earliest suggested date of 9,000 BCE. If the earlier date is correct, cattle were first domesticated in Africa.

Re-Dating Rock Art in Siberia and Mongolia

While examining weathered rock art in Siberian Russia, archaeologists found additional rock images, some 12 miles away in northwestern Mongolia. When the Russian engravings were discovered in the 1990s and early 2000s at Kalgutinsky Rudnik, the images were thought to be between 8,000 and 10,000 years old. The animals shown were not identifiable, and researchers were not sure if they depicted extinct or imagined creatures. The new study identified an additional image from the Mongolian sites of a woolly rhinoceros and a baby woolly mammoth. Woolly mammoths went extinct some 15,000 years ago which makes the sites at least that old. The images were also shown to have been made with stone implements. In addition, the patina on the stones indicates the images are older than previously thought. The researchers concluded the images in the two locations had been drawn in the so-called Kalgutinsky style, which dates to the Upper Paleolithic period (roughly 40,000 years ago to 10,000 years ago).

A Fun Attempt To Discern What Phoenicians Looked Like

We know the ancient Phoenicians spoke a Semitic language, originated in the Levant (today's Lebanon), and spread around the Mediterranean basin from 1500 to 300 CE, building towns and trading posts. But what did they look like?

Looking For Extinct Hominins' DNA In Modern Icelanders

A team of scientists from Aarhus University, deCODE Genetics, and the Max Planck Society looked for fragments of Neanderthal DNA in the genomes of more than 27,000 Icelanders. When they combined all the fragments they reconstructed at least 38 percent of a Neanderthal genome!

They then compared this new Icelandic Neanderthal DNA with other Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes, and found that the Neanderthal DNA in modern Icelanders is more similar to Neanderthal DNA found in Croatians than to Neanderthal DNA found in Russians. Icelanders were also found to carry traces of Denisovan DNA. Thismay have been transferred to modern humans via Neanderthals, whose ancestors mixed with Denisovans, then homo sapiens.

Examining the mutations in the Neanderthal DNA specifically, the researchers concluded that in general, Neanderthal children had older mothers and younger fathers than the modern humans. The researchers found that overall, Neanderthal DNA contributes to a slightly reduced risk of prostate cancer, slightly shorter height, and slightly faster blood clotting time for today's Icelanders.

One of the horse statues has been dated to at least 2,800 years ago, the time of the Israelite Kingdom, and the other to the Hellenistic period at least 2,200 years ago. Horses had become deeply established in the region by that time, albeit for mobility and for prestige. Horses were not for pulling plows, but to get about, and visit or conquer the neighbors. These are not the first horse statuary found in the region which were relatively popular by about 3,000 years ago. But they are the best preserved.

Potential Human Sacrifice Found at Shang Dynasty Burial

Archaeologists have uncovered a headless human skeleton in a pit at central China’s Chaizhuang site, which dates to the late Shang Dynasty (1600–1050 BCE). The person was placed facing north, in a kneeling position, with their hands crossed in front of them. The overall effect suggests they had been beheaded as a human sacrifice. Oracle bones bearing glyphs describing just such a practice have been found at the Yin Ruins, the capital of the Shang Dynasty. At Chaizhuang, the researchers also found an oracle bone bearing the “Kan” glyph, which is associated with sacrificing people and livestock in pits and upright burials. This would be the first archaeological evidence of a beheaded human sacrifice, though.

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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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