Category Archives: Anthropology

What do we know about the lives of Neanderthal women?

Rebecca Wragg Sykes writes: The first Neanderthal face to emerge from time’s sarcophagus was a woman’s. As the social and liberal revolutions of 1848 began convulsing Europe, quarry workers’ rough hands pulled her from the great Rock of Gibraltar. Calcite mantling her skull meant that, at first, she seemed more a hunk of stone than… Read More »

What new science techniques tell us about ancient women warriors

Annalee Newitz writes: Though it’s remarkable that the United States finally is about to have a female vice president, let’s stop calling it an unprecedented achievement. As some recent archaeological studies suggest, women have been leaders, warriors and hunters for thousands of years. This new scholarship is challenging long-held beliefs about so-called natural gender roles… Read More »

Could Covid-19 have wiped out the Neandertals?

John Hewitt writes: Everybody loves Neandertals, those big-brained brutes we supposedly outcompeted and ultimately replaced using our sharp tongues and quick, delicate minds. But did we really, though? Is it mathematically possible that we could yet be them, and they us? By the same token, could not the impossibly singular Mitochondrial Eve, her contemporary Y-chromosome… Read More »

How civilization broke our brains

Derek Thompson writes: Several months ago, I got into a long discussion with a colleague about the origins of the “Sunday scaries,” the flood of anxiety that many of us feel as the weekend is winding down and the workweek approaches. He said that the culprit was clear, and pointed to late-stage capitalism’s corrosive blend… Read More »

Is anyone on Earth not an immigrant?

Kelly Slivka writes: Human beings tend to be fascinated with their beginnings. Origin stories are found across cultures, religions, ethnicities and nationalities — and they are all deeply important. These stories tell people where they come from, how they fit in and how everyone fits together. One of these stories, of course, is the story… Read More »

Cahokian culture spread across eastern North America 1,000 years ago in an early example of diaspora

Cahokia’s mound-building culture flourished a millennium ago near modern-day St. Louis. JByard/iStock via Getty Images Plus By Jayur Mehta, Florida State University An expansive city flourished almost a thousand years ago in the bottomlands of the Mississippi River across the water from where St. Louis, Missouri stands today. It was one of the greatest pre-Columbian… Read More »

Turbulent environment set the stage for leaps in human evolution and technology 320,000 years ago

Drilling 139 meters down to volcanic rock provided scientists with a million-year environmental record. Human Origins Program, Smithsonian By Richard Potts, Smithsonian Institution People thrive all across the globe, at every temperature, altitude and landscape. How did human beings become so successful at adapting to whatever environment we wind up in? Human origins researchers like… Read More »

Art, adornment and sophisticated hunting technologies flourished not only in prehistoric Europe but across the globe

Gaia Vince writes: In 1868, workmen near the hamlet of Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil in southwestern France opened up a rock shelter and found animal bones, flints and, most intriguingly, human skulls. Work on the road was paused while a geologist, Louis Lartet, was called to excavate the site. What he discovered would transform our understanding of… Read More »

48,000-year-old arrowheads reveal early human innovation in the Sri Lankan rainforest

M. C. Langley/Shutterstock/The Conversation By Michelle Langley, Griffith University; Oshan Wedage, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, and Patrick Roberts, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History Archaeological excavations deep within the rainforests of Sri Lanka have unearthed the earliest evidence for hunting with bows and arrows outside Africa. At… Read More »

Why are there so many humans?

By Karen L. Kramer, Sapiens, June 9, 2020 Something curious happened in human population history over the last 1 million years. First, our numbers fell to as low as 18,500, and our ancestors were more endangered than chimpanzees and gorillas. Then we bounced back to extraordinary levels, far surpassing the other great apes. Today the… Read More »

Fossil find suggests Homo erectus emerged 200,000 years earlier than thought

The ~2 Ma Homo erectus cranium, DNH 134, from the Drimolen Fossil Hominin site. Matthew V. Caruana Stephanie Baker, University of Johannesburg; Angeline Leece; Jesse Martin, La Trobe University; Matthew Caruana, University of Johannesburg; Prof. Andy I.R. Herries, La Trobe University, and Renaud Joannes-Boyau, Southern Cross University The human evolutionary path is complicated. It’s almost… Read More »