Originally published 06/28/2013
It was a stunning discovery: the first unlooted imperial tomb of the Wari, the ancient civilization that built South America's earliest empire between 700 and 1000 A.D. Yet it wasn't happiness that Milosz Giersz felt when he first glimpsed gold in the dim recesses of the burial chamber in northern Peru.Giersz, an archaeologist at the University of Warsaw in Poland, realized at once that if word leaked out that his Polish-Peruvian team had discovered a 1,200-year-old "temple of the dead" filled with precious gold and silver artifacts, looters would descend on the site in droves. "I had a nightmare about the possibility," says Giersz.
Originally published 06/11/2013
A benign bone tumor that afflicts modern-day humans has now been found in one of our ancestors: a Neanderthal more than 120,000 years old.The discovery of a fibrous dysplasia in a Neanderthal rib is the earliest known bone tumor on record, predating other tumors by more than 100,000 years. The rib, recovered from a site in Krapina, Croatia, indicates that Neanderthals were susceptible to the same types of tumors modern-day humans get, despite living in a remarkably different environment."They didn't have pesticides, but they probably were sleeping in caves with burning fires," says David Frayer, an anthropologist at the University of Kansas and the co-author of a new paper about the discovery. "They were probably inhaling a lot of smoke from the caves. So the air was not completely free of pollutants—but certainly, these Neanderthals weren't smoking cigarettes."...
Originally published 03/14/2013
Carvings on the walls of the ancient Egyptian city of Amarna depict a world of plenty. Oxen are fattened in a cattle yard. Storehouses bulge with grain and fish. Musicians serenade the pharaoh as he feasts on meat at a banquet.But new research hints that life in Amarna was a combination of grinding toil and want—at least for the ordinary people who would have hauled the city's water, unloaded the boats on the Nile, and built Amarna's grand stone temples, which were erected in a rush on the orders of a ruler named Akhenaten, sometimes called the "Heretic Pharaoh."Researchers examining skeletons in the commoners' cemetery in Amarna have discovered that many of the city's children were malnourished and stunted. Adults show signs of backbreaking work, including high levels of injuries associated with accidents....
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