Press Releases 2020

The Aroma of Distant Worlds

December 21, 2020

Exotic Asian spices such as turmeric and fruits like the banana had already reached the Mediterranean more than 3000 years ago, much earlier than previously thought. A team of international researchers in Germany and the US has shown that even in the Bronze Age, long-distance trade in food was already connecting distant societies. (Press release of Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich) more

A new interdisciplinary study indicates agricultural market integration centuries before Roman conquest, suggesting the mechanisms that led to the Anthropocene began much earlier than assumed more

Excavations at Tiémassas, Senegal, indicate roughly 40,000 years of behavioural continuity, in contrast to other African regions over this period more

The Rise of Altai Mountain Pastoralism Project (RAMPP) will investigate the enigmatic Afanasievo culture in the Altai region and the spread of dairying and herding practices more

In a new study published in Cell, researchers seek to understand the genetic, sociopolitical and cultural changes surrounding the formation of the eastern Eurasian Steppe’s historic empires. The study analyzes genome-wide data for 214 ancient individuals spanning 6,000 years and discusses the genetic and cultural changes that preceded the rise of the Xiongnu and Mongol nomadic pastoralist empires. more

The QUANTA project is the first concerted effort to address the ambitious questions of when, why, and how tools for quantification emerged and evolved more

A recent study combines newly available analyses and methods from linguistics and genetics to tackle a long-standing topic in archaeological research, confirming the demographic and cultural elements of a north-south divide in the Central Andes. more

Using luminescence dating of ancient river sediments, a new study published in Quaternary Science Reviews presents evidence for river activity at Nal Quarry in the central Thar Desert starting from approx. 173 thousand years ago. These findings represent the oldest directly dated phase of river activity in the region and indicate Stone Age populations lived in a distinctly different Thar Desert landscape than we encounter today. more

New biochemical research shows significant turnovers in Southeast Asian environments and animals during the Pleistocene more

New research proves the feasibility of retrieving bacterial DNA from ancient latrines more

The award for outstanding research contributions and achievements concerning human origins and evolution will be presented on September 25, 2020 by the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei more

New archaeological research presents the oldest securely dated evidence for humans in Arabia more

In a recent paper published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, a group of multidisciplinary authors discuss the future of field-based sciences in a COVID-19 world more

By analyzing the tool forms that frequently occur together, researchers have developed a neural network that reliably distinguishes between Middle and Later Stone Age assemblages more

Dr. Patrick Roberts of the Department of Archaeology, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History has received a National Geographic Explorer grant to further his work investigating the formation and collapse of urban societies in tropical Sri Lanka more

New archaeological research in Saudi Arabia documents hundreds of stone structures interpreted as monumental sites where early pastoralists carried out rituals. In a new study published in The Holocene, researchers from the Max Planck Society in Jena together with Saudi and international collaborators, present the first detailed study of ‘mustatil’ stone structures in the Arabian Desert. These are vast structures made of stone piled into rectangles, which are some of the oldest large-scale structures in the world. They give insights into how early pastoralists survived in the challenging landscapes of semi-arid Arabia. more

Bishop Peder Winstrup of Lund, Sweden passed away in the winter of 1679 at the age of 74 and was interred in a crypt at Lund Cathedral. Three centuries later, his astonishingly well-preserved remains provide insights to the origins of tuberculosis. more

Press release University of Zurich more

The recovery of distinctive fluted points from both America and Arabia provides one of the best examples of ‘independent invention’ across continents more

Reviewing 40 years of research, a new paper challenges hypotheses and calls for a more biocentric understanding of cognitive evolution more

Communication history and the principle of least effort guide human communications, but the factors guiding dog communications are highly influenced by their owners more

MPI-EVA in Leipzig and MPI-SHH in Jena enter into a major reorganization – Leipzig to be retained as hub for ancient genetics, Jena to create novel research profile more

New archaeological research demonstrates earliest projectile technology in the tropical rainforests of Sri Lanka more

Ancient DNA documents the population changes of foragers, herders and farmers in central and eastern Africa from the Neolithic to the Iron Age more

Genomic analysis of plague victims from a mass burial in Lithuania identifies a medieval woman who was also infected with yaws – a disease today found only in the tropics more

According to a new study, an international team of researchers from the Caribbean, Europe and North America, the Caribbean was settled by several successive population dispersals that originated on the American mainland. more

Genetic analysis of 55 ancient individuals finds that genetic changes in Yellow River, West Liao River and Amur River populations correlate with the intensification of farming and the inclusion of a pastoral economy. more

A new study of corvid birds underscores how biology, environment, and social life allow young birds and humans to learn difficult skills that improve survival more

Analyzing the first archaeogenetic data from the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Western Europe, a team of French and German researchers documents levels of admixture between expanding early Neolithic farmers and local hunter-gatherers seen nowhere else in Europe. more

Archaeogenomic analysis of Anatolia, Northern Levant and the Southern Caucasus sheds light on population dynamics from the Neolithic to Bronze Age, as peoples transitioned from farming to pastoralist communities and early state-level societies. more

Newly sequenced genomes from prehistoric hunter-gatherers in the region of Lake Baikal reveal connections with First Americans and across Eurasia more

The first identifications of Boa on Martinique, Basse-Terre and La Désirade islands point to the snake’s significance for pre-Columbian Amerindians more

The Pofatu Database is the first comprehensive open-access compilation of geochemical analyses and contextual information for archaeological sources and artefacts facilitating new insights into ancient trade and long-distance voyaging. more

Investing in the future: Researchers show how cannibalism among the invasive comb jelly enables adults to survive severe conditions at the edge of their ecological range with implications for the use and evolutionary origins of cannibalism. more

An interdisciplinary study into the origins and health status of three African skeletons unearthed in Mexico shows evidence of forced migration, physical trauma, and the introduction of infectious diseases from Africa more

Direct Evidence of Late Pleistocene Human Colonization of Isolated Islands Beyond Wallace’s Line more

Genetic analysis of 96 ancient individuals traces the arrival and demographic structure of peoples with Steppe-related ancestry into late Neolithic, early Bronze Age Switzerland more

The Origin of Feces

April 17, 2020

CoproID Reliably Predicts Sources of Ancient Poop more

Social, economic and cultural responses to climate change by ancient peoples highlight vulnerabilities of modern societies and the need for sustainable new solutions more

The four-volume collection is the first of its kind to provide a comprehensive examination of violence from prehistory to the present more

Stable isotope analyses reveals dramatic diet diversification at the onset of the steppe’s earliest empires more

Recent findings push back estimates of dairying in the eastern Steppe by more than 1700 years, pointing to migration as a potential means of introduction more

In a new manuscript, Dr. Robert Spengler argues that all of the earliest traits of plant domestication are linked to a mutualistic relationship in which plants recruited humans for seed dispersal. more

New archaeological work supports the hypothesis that human populations were present in India by 80,000 years ago and that they survived one of the largest volcanic eruptions in the last two million years more

Scientists present the first ancient DNA that links the spread of farming culture in ancient Eurasia to the emergence of human-adapted pathogens more

Agricultural crops dispersed across Eurasia more than five millennia ago, causing significant cultural change in human populations across the ancient world. New discoveries in the Altai Mountains illustrate that this process occurred earlier than believed more

New international study shows the potential of novel methods to reveal past human influences on the growth of tropical trees still standing today more

Using insights from pyschology, linguistics and economics, researchers investigate the properties of coined money in 182 modern currencies for underlying principes of design more

A team of scientists from the University of Texas at Austin and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History used phylogenetic approaches to investigate the worldwide dispersal of European sign languages. more

Newest version of database sets new standards for reproducible research, providing a reliable approach to the quantitative study of linguistics more

Basic cooperation skills appear to be shared by dogs and wolves, suggesting that this ability was present in a common ancestor and was not lost during domestication more

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