News 2021

New study presents a novel device for sampling giant trees in remote tropical forest regions. more
With nearly 800 unique wounds, the victim’s cause of death had eluded researchers for decades more
New research led by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, shows that disruptions to Indigenous land management following Iberian colonization did not always result in widespread forest regrowth in the Americas and Asia-Pacific, as has been recently argued. more
A scientific consortium led by Dr Stefanie Kaboth-Bahr of the University of Potsdam has found that ancient El Niño-like weather patterns were the primary drivers of environmental change in sub-Saharan Africa over the last 620 thousand years – the critical timeframe for the evolution of our species. The group found that these ancient weather patterns had more profound impacts in sub-Saharan Africa than glacial-interglacial cycles more commonly linked to human evolution. more
Dr. von Baeyer has been awarded a fellowship to continue her ongoing research into human impacts on the environment along the ancient Silk Road. She is also studying the origins of arboriculture and the maintenance of forests in ancient Central Asia. more
Researchers use fossil data to reveal the primary drivers and extent of colonial era extinctions more
A new article in PLOS ONE offers a novel method for illustrating stone tools, developed to allow researchers, students and educators to produce high quality, publishable illustrations more
Dating to 78,000 years ago, the burial was found by archaeologists in Panga ya Saidi, a cave site on the Kenyan coast more
New research led by scientists from Griffith University and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History reveals that the arrival of Pleistocene humans and their hominin ancestors to uninhabited islands didn’t always lead to widespread extinctions, as is often thought. more
Researchers compare changes in the size and shape of ancient barley grains from Europe and Central Asia to understand and highlight the plausible drivers for population-scale change through time more
In a world in which biodiversity is increasingly under threat, and nature itself under siege, the role of human activities in driving ecosystem change has never more been apparent. But is all human activity bad for ecosystems?  An international team of researchers suggests not. more
The Department of Archaeology (DA) welcomes Dr. Makarius Itambu to Jena. more
A new study reveals that ratios of magnesium and calcium derived from the limpet Patella depressa using LIBS, a cutting-edge methodological approach, serve as a high-resolution seawater thermometer, with significant implications for palaeoclimate and archaeological studies.  more
A new study published in the journal Climatic Change examines the cultural impacts of climate change in Italy during the first millennium AD more
Of the vast diversity of plants on Earth, only a few evolved to become prominent agricultural crops. Scholars now suggest they originally evolved to secure mutualistic relationships with now-extinct megafauna. more
Scholars of archaeology, geography, history and paleoclimatology lay out a new framework for uncovering climate-society interactions more
New study reveals that the Scythians, previously considered one group, were likely a set of diverse cultures and periods more
Dr. Patrick Roberts of the Department of Archaeology at the Max Planck Institute for Human History is one of 10 researchers to receive Germany's most important prize for young researchers in 2021. The DFG and BMBF will award Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prizes of 2021 at a virtual award ceremony on May 4th. more
Conservation approaches to rainforests in the Wet Tropics of Queensland must celebrate and protect both natural ‘Gondwanan’ heritage and the stewardship and cultural heritage of Aboriginal peoples. more
A new grant to the Department of Archaeology will support the documentation of thousands of threatened sites and construct an open access database in English, Mongolian and Russian. more
New analysis of a fossil tooth and stone tools from Shukbah Cave reveals Neanderthals used stone tool technologies thought to have been unique to modern humans more

On the Origin of Our Species

February 10, 2021
New research suggests that genetic and fossil records will not reveal a single point where modern humans originated more
In a new study, a researcher from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History led a team that re-discovered how ancient people made beads from giant land snails, and found that the origin of this practice is thousands of years older than previously believed. more
New research shows milk consumption in eastern Africa began before the evolution of lactase persistence more
Scantily clad tomb raiders and cloistered scholars piecing together old pots - these are the kinds of stereotypes of archaeology that dominate public perception. Yet archaeology in the new millennium is a world away from these images. In a major new report, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History probe a thoroughly modern and scientific discipline to understand how it is helping to address the considerable challenges of the Anthropocene. more
How records of past human-primate interactions can inform conservation efforts more
The discovery of 120,000-year-old human, elephant and horse footprints near an ancient lakebed on the Arabian Peninsula changed what we know about what the world was like, and where our ancestors were, deep in prehistory more
Some 11 thousand years ago, Africa’s furthest west harboured the last populations to preserve tool-making traditions first established by the earliest members of our species more
~2.0 to 1.8 million year-old archaeological site demonstrates that early humans had the skills and tools to cope with ecological change more
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