Press Releases 2019

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New study shows common carp aquaculture in Neolithic China dating back 8,000 years

September 16, 2019
By using age-mortality and species-selection profiles from prehistoric East Asia, researchers identified carp aquaculture in Henan Province, China, thousands of years earlier than previously reported.   [more]
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Teeth offer vital clues about diet during the Great Irish Famine

September 09, 2019
Scientific analysis of dental calculus of the Famine’s victims found evidence of corn (maize), oats, potato, wheat and milk foodstuffs. [more]
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Patrick Roberts, Stephan Schiffels, and Robert Spengler awarded ERC Starting Grants

September 03, 2019
The highly competitive grants will allow the recipients to fund research groups on their projects "PANTROPOCENE: Finding a Pre-industrial, Pan-tropical 'Anthropocene'", "MICROSCOPE: Zooming into the Population History of Iron Age Europe with Rare Genetic Variants", and "FEDD: Fruits of Eurasia: Domestication and Dispersal". [more]
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Archaeological assessment reveals Earth’s early transformation through land use

August 29, 2019
Humans caused significant environmental change around the globe by about 3,000-4,000 years ago, much earlier than prior estimates, as revealed by a new international study. [more]
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Biomolecular analyses of Roopkund skeletons show Mediterranean migrants in Indian Himalayas

August 20, 2019
The lake was thought to be the site of an ancient catastrophic event that left several hundred people dead, but the first ancient whole genome data from India shows that diverse groups of people died at the lake in multiple events approximately 1000 years apart. [more]
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Human genetic diversity of South America reveals complex history of Amazonia

August 02, 2019
New study explores genetic roots of 26 populations from diverse regions and cultures of western South America and Mexico, revealing long-distance connections between speakers of related languages, and new traces of genetic diversity within Amazonia. [more]
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New book "Fruit from the Sands: The Silk Road Origins of the Foods We Eat" by Dr. Robert N. Spengler III

July 25, 2019
All of the plants on our kitchen tables have a long and mysterious history. Many of them can trace part of their ancestry back to the ancient Silk Road trade routes. New archaeobotanical data is illustrating how the domestication and dispersal process for the plants unfolded, as presented in Dr. Spengler’s new book. [more]
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Grazing Animals Drove Domestication of Grain Crops

July 08, 2019
The ancestral relatives of millets and other small-seeded crops originally evolved to be dispersed by megafaunal grazers of the Pleistocene and earlier epochs, and in some cases later came to rely on pastoral herds to disperse their seeds. [more]
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Ancient DNA sheds light on the origins of the Biblical Philistines  

July 03, 2019
Ancient genomes suggest that the Philistines descended from people who migrated across the Mediterranean and reached the shores of the southern Levant at the beginning of the Iron Age. [more]
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Rising sea levels have destroyed evidence of shell middens at many prehistoric coastal sites

June 12, 2019
In examining prehistoric coastal sites on the Arabian Peninsula, researchers found that even large sites have been affected by coastal erosion due to sea-level rise.  Past studies of the diet of coastal populations may now need to be reevaluated given the potential underestimation of shellfish use. [more]
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The Origins of Cannabis Smoking: Marijuana Use in the First Millennium BC

June 12, 2019
A chemical residue study of incense burners from ancient burials at high elevations in the Pamir Mountains of western China has revealed psychoactive cannabinoids. This study provides some of the earliest clear evidence for the use of cannabis for its psychoactive compounds, and the awareness of higher THC-producing varieties of the plant.   [more]
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Dramatic change in ancient pastoralist diets associated with expansion of political networks across the Eurasian steppe

June 10, 2019
Strengthening of political networks coincided with the intensification of agricultural production, resulting in the widespread adoption of millet by populations across Eurasia. [more]
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Ancient DNA sheds light on the migration and impact of Arctic hunter-gatherers to North America about 5000 years ago

June 05, 2019
An ancient population of Arctic hunter-gatherers, known as Paleo-Eskimos, made a significant genetic contribution to populations living in Arctic North America today. [more]
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Details of first historically recorded plague pandemic revealed by ancient genomes

June 04, 2019
Analysis of 8 new plague genomes from the first plague pandemic reveals previously unknown levels of plague diversity, and provides the first genetic evidence of the Justinianic Plague in the British Isles. [more]
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Humans used northern migration routes to reach eastern Asia

May 29, 2019
New article suggests wetter climates may have allowed Homo sapiens to expand across the deserts of Central Asia by 50-30,000 years ago. [more]
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Exploring the Origins of the Apple

May 27, 2019
Apples originally evolved in the wild to entice ancient megafauna to disperse their seeds. More recently, humans began spreading the trees along the Silk Road with other familiar crops. Dispersing the apple trees led to their domestication. [more]
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Origin of Sino-Tibetan language family revealed by new research

May 06, 2019
Phylogenetic analysis of the Sino-Tibetan language family, which includes Chinese, Tibetan, and Burmese, suggests that it originated about 7,200 years ago in North China and was linked to the Neolithic cultures of the late Cishan and early Yangshao. [more]
Original 1556527022

Details of the history of inner Eurasia revealed by new study

April 29, 2019
Researchers combining genetics, archaeology, history and linguistics have gained new insights into the history of inner Eurasia, once a cultural and genetic crossroads connecting Europe and Asia. [more]
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Human history through tree rings: Trees in Amazonia reveal pre-colonial human disturbance

April 03, 2019
New study shows that tropical trees act as a living record of past human activity in the Amazon. [more]
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First Anatolian farmers were local hunter-gatherers that adopted agriculture

March 19, 2019
The first farmers from Anatolia, who brought farming to Europe and represent the single largest ancestral component in modern-day Europeans, are directly descended from local hunter-gatherers who adopted a farming way of life. [more]
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Unique diversity of the genetic history of the Iberian Peninsula revealed by dual studies

March 14, 2019
Two studies, one looking at Iberian hunter-gatherers between 13,000 and 6000 years ago and another looking at Iberian populations over the last 8000 years, add new resolution to our understanding of the history and prehistory of the region. [more]
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Diet-Induced Changes Favor Innovation in Speech Sounds

March 14, 2019
Diet-induced changes in the human bite resulted in new sounds, such as “f”, in languages all over the world, a study by an international team led by researchers at the University of Zurich has shown. The findings contradict the theory that the range of human sounds has remained fixed throughout human history. [more]
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Sea otters’ tool use leaves behind distinctive archaeological evidence

March 14, 2019
Researchers used an interdisciplinary approach combining ecology and archaeological methods to study sea otters' past behavior. [more]
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Vast record of past climate fluctuations now available thanks to laser imaging of shells

March 06, 2019
Refined techniques for laser imaging of shell growth rings are tapping into previously hidden data of marine climate change. By examining human and ecological responses to those changes, we learn more about what to expect from climate change in the future. [more]
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The Monkey Hunters: Humans colonize South Asian rainforest by hunting primates

February 19, 2019
New study provides direct evidence for the hunting of tree-dwelling monkeys and other small mammals by Homo sapiens 45,000 years ago in the rainforest of Sri Lanka. [more]
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The Caucasus: complex interplay of genes and cultures

February 04, 2019
Genetic studies of ancient populations in the Caucasus region testify to the complex interaction of populations from the Eurasian steppe and the Caucasus Mountains in the Bronze Age [more]
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New studies reveal deep history of Denisovans and Neanderthals in southern Siberia

January 30, 2019
More than 150 new dates provide the first robust chronology for Denisova Cave, the only site in the world known to have been occupied by both Neanderthals, Denisovans, and later by modern humans. [more]
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Humans colonized diverse environments in Southeast Asia and Oceania during the Pleistocene

January 28, 2019
New review compares the regional adaptations of humans and those of other hominin species to add support to the argument that our species is ecologically unique. [more]
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New book ‘Tropical Forests in Prehistory, History, and Modernity’ reveals long-term human use and habitation of critically endangered habitats

January 17, 2019
This new text is the first to bring together evidence for the nature of human interactions with tropical forests on a global scale, from the emergence of hominins in the tropical forests of Africa to modern conservation issues. [more]
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Illuminating women’s role in the creation of medieval manuscripts

January 09, 2019
Analysis of the fossilized dental plaque of a medieval woman reveals lapis lazuli, suggesting she was an accomplished painter of illuminated manuscripts. [more]
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