Press Releases 2018

Teaser 1543487271

Stone tools linked to ancient human ancestors found in Arabia with a surprisingly recent date

November 29, 2018
Stone handaxes, similar to those made by early humans as much as 1.5 million years ago, have been dated for the first time in the Arabian Peninsula, to less than 190,000 years old, where their production may have endured until the arrival of Homo sapiens. [more]
Original 1543309751

First ancient DNA ever analyzed from mainland Finland reveals origin of Siberian ancestry in Saami and Finnish populations

November 27, 2018
New study shows that the genetic makeup of northern Europe traces back to migrations from Siberia that began at least 3,500 years ago and that, as recently as the Iron Age, ancestors of the Saami lived in a larger area of Finland than today. [more]
Original 1542628591

Dogs know when they don’t know

November 12, 2018
When they don’t have enough information to make an accurate decision, dogs will search for more – similarly to chimpanzees and humans. [more]
Original 1541686939

History of early settlement and survival in the Andean highlands revealed by ancient genomes

November 08, 2018
Analysis of seven ancient whole genomes reveals adaptations to the high-altitude environment and agrarian lifestyle of the Andes. [more]
Teaser 1541670663

Ancient DNA evidence for two previously unknown genetic exchanges between North and South America

November 08, 2018
An international team of researchers has revealed unexpected details about the peopling of Central and South America in an ancient DNA study. [more]
Teaser 1541602091

On the trail of human history

November 07, 2018
New doctoral program started by Friedrich Schiller University and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History [more]
Teaser 1541411727

Oldest evidence of dairying on the East Asian Steppe

November 05, 2018
Dairying of cattle, sheep, and goats was established in northern Mongolia by 1300 BC – despite limited genetic interactions with Western Steppe herders. [more]
Original 1540910638

Major corridor of Silk Road already home to high-mountain herders over 4000 years ago

October 31, 2018
Long before the formal creation of the Silk Road, pastoral herders living in the mountains of Central Asia helped form new cultural and biological links across the region. [more]
Teaser 1540814645

Earliest hominin migrations into the Arabian Peninsula required no novel adaptations

October 29, 2018
New study provides earliest evidence for hominins in ‘Green Arabia’ between 500,000 and 300,000 years ago alongside direct environmental data indicating productive, relatively humid grasslands [more]
Original 1539597331

Guidelines for a standardized data format for use in cross-linguistic studies

October 16, 2018
The Cross-Linguistic Data Formats Initiative proposes new standards for linguistic data formats to facilitate sharing and data comparisons. [more]
Original 1538479789

Cuisine of early farmers revealed by the analysis of proteins preserved in prehistoric pottery from Çatalhöyük

October 03, 2018
Analysis of proteins preserved in bowls and jars from this prehistoric site in central Anatolia shows the foodstuffs inside its inhabitants’ pottery vessels in unprecedented spectrum and resolution. [more]
Original 1537347870

Wild African monkeys are infected with the same bacterium that causes yaws in humans

September 19, 2018
Previously it was thought that this bacterium mainly infected humans – this new research reveals the possibility of a disease reservoir in wild primates and offers insights into the evolution of the bacterium. [more]
Original 1536658327

Cross-Disciplinary Analysis of Ancient Cemeteries Sheds Light on Social Organization and Migration of 6th-Century Barbarians

September 11, 2018
Researchers find that individuals with more northern and central European genetic ancestry were buried with more elaborate grave goods than those with more southern, local ancestry. [more]
Teaser 1536146885

DNA of early medieval Alemannic warriors and their entourage decoded

September 05, 2018
Researchers from Eurac Research and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History have analysed human remains dated between 590 and 630 CE [more]
Teaser 1536141004

One million artists can’t be wrong about cultural evolution

September 05, 2018
Collaborative art project on the popular web platform Reddit reveals the structure of cultural change. [more]
Original 1535544058

Ancient livestock dung heaps are now African wildlife hotspots

August 29, 2018
Nomadic herders enriched savannah landscapes over three millennia, study finds. [more]
Original 1535509072

Disentangling the relationships between cultural traits and other variables

August 29, 2018
Researchers provide guidelines for differentiating between causation and mere correlation in cross-cultural studies. [more]
Original 1534762813

Massive Monumental Cemetery Built by Eastern Africa’s Earliest Herders Discovered Near Lake Turkana, Kenya

August 20, 2018
The 5,000-year-old cemetery is the earliest and largest monumental cemetery in eastern Africa and was built by an egalitarian society of mobile pastoralists. [more]
Teaser 1534252646

Origins and spread of Eurasian fruits traced to the ancient Silk Road

August 14, 2018
New research reveals that many of the most familiar fruits in our kitchens today were cultivated in Central Asia over a millennium ago. These arboreal crops appear to have been an important part of the diet, and likely the commerce, along the Eurasian trade routes. [more]
Teaser 1532950868

Homo sapiens developed a new ecological niche that separated it from other hominins

July 30, 2018
New study argues that the greatest defining feature of our species is not ‘symbolism’ or dramatic cognitive change but rather its unique ecological position as a global ‘general specialist’. [more]
Original 1532681584

Kirsten Bos and Christina Warinner awarded ERC Starting Grants

July 27, 2018
The highly competitive grants will allow the recipients to fund research groups on their projects, “Communicable Disease Exchange in the Age of Seafaring” and “Cultures of dairying: gene-culture-microbiome evolution and the ancient invention of dairy foods”. [more]
Teaser 1532343192

How do religious ideologies spread?

July 23, 2018
Over the last 2000 years Christianity has grown from a tiny religious sect to the largest family of religions in the world. How did Christianity become so successful? Did Christianity spread through grass-roots movements or political elites? And what can the spread of Christianity tell us about how widespread social change happens? [more]
Teaser 1532342142

Pre-industrial Anthropocene in tropical forests

July 18, 2018
Researchers from the Department of Archaeology, MPI-SHH argue that archaeology and the study of past environments are crucial for defining the point at which our species began to dominate Earth systems. [more]
Teaser 1532073935

Potential of protein analysis to retrieve dietary information from ancient dental calculus revealed by new study

July 18, 2018
A systematic study of dental calculus from the Iron Age to the present proves the potential of proteomic analysis to reveal information about individual diets, including plants, animals and dairy products consumption. [more]
Teaser 1531301649

Our fractured African roots

July 11, 2018
Humans did not stem from a single ancestral population in one region of Africa, as is often claimed. Instead, our African ancestors were diverse in form and culture, and scattered across the entire continent. [more]
Original 1530276833

Oldest evidence of horse veterinary care discovered in Mongolia

July 02, 2018
New research reveals that the practice of veterinary dentistry was innovated on the open steppes of Mongolia and eastern Eurasia – and dates back more than 3000 years. [more]
Teaser 1530782778

Researchers from Germany and the United Kingdom join forces to study the impacts of climate change and resource stress on Arctic ecosystems

July 02, 2018
The UK’s Natural Environment Research Council and Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research have  invested almost £8 million in 12 new projects to carry out crucial research in one of the most inhospitable regions on the planet. [more]
Original 1529566254

First ancient syphilis genomes decoded

June 21, 2018
Researchers recovered three genomes of the bacterium Treponema pallidum from skeletal remains from colonial-era Mexico, and were able to distinguish the subspecies that causes syphilis from the subspecies that causes yaws. [more]
Teaser 1528447120

Oldest bubonic plague genome decoded

June 08, 2018
A pair of 3,800-year-old skeletons buried together in Russia test positive for a strain of the plague-causing bacterium Yersinia pestis that is ancestral to the strain that caused the Black Death. [more]
Original 1528105191

Pacific rats trace 2000 years of human impact on island ecosystems

June 04, 2018
Rats were carried on ships as humans settled the remote islands of the Pacific - analysis of the rats’ remains reveals changes humans made to the island ecosystems. [more]
Original 1528106255

New clues to the origins of agriculture

June 04, 2018
The invention of agriculture changed humans and the environment forever. The practice originated independently in a least a dozen different places over several thousand years. But why did agriculture begin in those places and at those particular times in human history? [more]
Original 1526370480

The evolution of language? There’s an app for that

May 15, 2018
A smartphone game designed by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History aims to study how languages evolve [more]
Teaser 1525930788

A European origin for leprosy?

May 10, 2018
The largest study to date on ancient leprosy DNA reveals previously unknown diversity of strains in Medieval Europe. [more]
Original 1525929526

Stone age hepatitis B virus decoded

May 10, 2018
Study recovers oldest viral genomes, and shows the hepatitis B virus has been circulating in Europe for at least 7000 years [more]
Original 1525852200

78,000 year cave record from East Africa shows early cultural innovations

May 09, 2018
The first substantial cave record from coastal Kenya ranges from the Middle Stone Age to the Iron Age, showing gradual changes in cultural, technological and symbolic innovations beginning at 67,000 years ago. [more]
Original 1525263216

Humans were present in the Philippine islands as early as 700,000 years ago

May 02, 2018
An international team of researchers led by Dr Thomas Ingicco from the Museum national d’Histoire naturelle, France, and M. Clyde Shago-on from the National Museum of the Philippines discovered the oldest evidence for the peopling of the Philippines by hominins. Their findings at the archaeological site of Kalinga (Rizal Municipality, Kalinga Province, Luzon Island) were dated to 709,000 years old, as published in Nature. [more]
Original 1524736443

Evidence for persistent forest reliance by Indigenous peoples in historical Sri Lanka

April 25, 2018
A team of researchers have demonstrated that while some Indigenous hunter-gatherers in Sri Lanka made use of agricultural resources and trade connections with farmers and colonial powers, others continued to subsist primarily on tropical forest resources as late as the 19th century. [more]
Teaser 1523284040

First human migration out of Africa much more geographically widespread than previously thought  

April 09, 2018
The first Homo sapiens fossil discovery from Saudi Arabia dates to 90,000 years ago during a time when the region’s deserts were replaced by grasslands. [more]
Original 1522055566

New standards for ancient protein studies set forth by multi-national group of researchers

March 26, 2018
The new field of palaeoproteomics, harnessing cutting-edge techniques to analyze ancient proteins, is growing quickly. Researchers set out standards and precautions that aim to provide it with a firm foundation. [more]
Original 1521551857

New linguistic analysis finds that Dravidian language family is approximately 4,500 years old

March 21, 2018
The Dravidian language family, varieties of which are spoken by 220 million people across South Asia, is crucial in understanding the prehistory not only of the subcontinent but of Eurasia as a whole. [more]
Original 1521454704

Intensification of agriculture and social hierarchies evolve together, study finds

March 19, 2018
Computational analyses of the evolution of 155 Island South East Asian and Pacific societies reveal the way social and material factors combine to drive major transitions in human social organization. [more]
Teaser 1521140119

Scientists discover genomic ancestry of Stone Age North Africans from Morocco, which shows links to the Near East and sub-Saharan Africa  

March 15, 2018
Ancient nuclear DNA from 15,000-year-old modern humans from Morocco, the oldest ever recovered from Africa, shows dual genetic ancestry to ancient Near Eastern and to sub-Saharan African populations. [more]
Teaser 1520862016

Tracking the spread of early hunter-gatherers through language

March 12, 2018
Scientists have further evidence that an ancient family of languages spread over most of the Australian continent in the last 6000 years, rapidly replacing pre-existing languages. But the puzzle remains as to why. [more]
Original 1520514694

International Women's Day 2018 at the MPI-SHH

March 08, 2018
This month we will be highlighting female employees and their work, beginning with Director Nicole Boivin of the Department of Archaeology. [more]
Original 1520253176

Ball or stuffed toy - do dogs “know” what they’re smelling?

March 05, 2018
Dogs create a mental representation of objects that they perceive through smell, a new study shows – and are surprised if what they find at the end of the trail differs from what they expected to find. [more]
Teaser 1519744562

Ancient DNA reveals genetic replacement despite language continuity in the South Pacific  

February 27, 2018
New genetic research reveals the complex demographic history of Vanuatu, explaining how Austronesian languages were retained throughout its history despite near-total replacement of early Austronesian-Lapita with Papuan ancestry. [more]
Teaser 1519216171

Ancient DNA study reveals the prehistory of Southeastern Europe

February 21, 2018
Second largest ancient DNA study provides insight into the arrival of the first farmers to Europe and their interactions with hunter-gatherers. [more]
Original 1519214491

Ancient DNA reveals impact of the “Beaker Phenomenon” on prehistoric Europeans

February 21, 2018
Largest ancient DNA study ever conducted answers the long-debated question of whether the spread of “Beaker” pottery was due to population migrations or the movement of cultural ideas. [more]
Teaser 1517487504

A typical Central European - The genome of the architect of the Dresden Frauenkirche deciphered

February 01, 2018
A research team from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the University of Tübingen examines the genetic material of 18th century German architect George Bähr to learn more about his appearance and health. [more]
Teaser 1517264908

Northern European population history revealed by ancient human genomes

January 30, 2018
Analysis of ancient DNA found that Scandinavia was settled by hunter-gatherers via a southern and a northern route, and reveals that agriculture was likely introduced by migrating agriculturalists. [more]
Teaser 1516020578

Possible cause of early colonial-era Mexican epidemic identified

January 15, 2018
Salmonella enterica, the bacterium responsible for enteric fever, may be the long-debated cause of the 1545-1550 AD “cocoliztli” epidemic in Oaxaca, Mexico that heavily affected the native population. [more]
loading content
Go to Editor View