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archaeology

  1. Science

    Rats May Be off the Hook for that Whole “Spreading the Plague” Thing Thanks to New Research

    Rats have a bad reputation despite being adorable, intelligent, and proficient in the secret art of ninja. That might have something to do with the fact that rats and their fleas took the blame for the spread of the Black Plague in the 14th century, but new research may exhonorate them. Forensic scientists now say the plague infection was airborne.

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  2. Science

    World’s Oldest Board Game Found in Turkey

    Archeologists have the coolest job pretty much ever. It's not all accidentally bringing mummies back to life, fighting Nazis, or stopping evil cults, but even the real-life ones make really cool discoveries. Recently, a team of archaeologists found what they believe to be the world's oldest game in a 5,000 year old Bronze Age burial site in Turkey.

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  3. Science

    Iron Age Medicine Tablets Among Treasures From Ancient Shipwreck

    Researchers sifting through the artifacts of a 2,000-year-old shipwreck have uncovered an unexpected treasure --  one not of gold or silver, but simple, unassuming zinc. A tin full of zinc tablets contained within the wreck may be one of the earliest examples of a modern, prepared medicinal compound, say researchers in a story published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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  4. Weird

    North Korea Finds Ancient Unicorn Lair, Because Sure, Why Not

    Continuing their proud nation's great tradition of being simultaneously wackier and sadder than all other nations, North Korean archaeologists have announced the discovery of what they claim is the lair of a unicorn. What, you may ask, could lead them to believe they had stumbled on such an incredible find? According to the country's state run news service "A rectangular rock carved with words "Unicorn Lair" stands in front of the lair." I think you'll agree -- pretty hard to argue with evidence like that.

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  5. Weird

    Skeleton Army Dug Out of Danish Bog, Undead Catastrophe Probably Imminent

    A team from Denmark's Aarhus University is excavating a Danish bog at Alken Enge that is turning out to be a practically never-ending source of ancient human remains. The most recent discovery at this bog is a boon to archaeologists and necromancers alike -- the skeletal remains of a 200 strong army whose lives ended at the bog. But wait, it gets magnitudes of order more grim, because those lives appear to have ended not in battle, but as human sacrifices.With so many remains on hand, the Alken Enge promises to provide researchers with valuable insights on how human sacrifice -- not an uncommon practice in Iron Age Europe -- was carried out in the region. It also promises to be the starting point for an undead army that will almost certainly rise up and wipe Copenhagen from the map, but hey, you can't do science without disturbing the eternal rest of a few hundred angry warrior spirits.

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  6. Science

    50-Million-Year-Old Turtle Fossils Found Doing the Nasty

    It's pretty awkward when you walk in on your parents; imagine how the archaeologists felt when they walked in on these turtle fossils dating back to the Eocene epoch. Nine pairs of these copulating long-extinct reptiles were found in the Messel Pit in Germany. This must have been some party!

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  7. Science

    Researchers Find Evidence That Humans Used Fire 1 Million Years Ago

    After performing an analysis on materials found in Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa -- a site that past excavations have shown were occupied by humans -- scientists found evidence of charred bone fragments and plant ash, which in turn is evidence for the use of fire. One might suggest that the fire could have been accidental, but scientists found the plant and bone evidence next to tools in a layer that dates to one million years old, which the scientists feel is evidence that fire was used by the humans who used the tools, one million years ago. This would push the earliest thought use of fire by humans back by around 300,000 years.

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  8. Science

    Ice Age Brits Used Skulls for Cups

    Though it sounds like something out of Conan The Barbarian, researchers have announced that ice age bones in Gough's Cave seem to indicate ancient Britons used skulls as cups. Other bones in the site were also apparently cleaned of flesh and marrow, raising the grim possibility that a cannibalistic meal accompanied whatever was in the skull cups. The report concludes that the skull cups were some 14,700 years old, making them the oldest found and the only skull cups in the British Isles. But the use and purpose of the skulls is a matter of pure speculation, as is the fate of the cleaned bones' previous owners. From Reuters:
    They may have been killed, butchered and eaten -- with the skull-cups just the end of this event -- or may have been part of the group who died and were eaten in a crisis situation, with the skull-cups created as a tribute to the dead. "We simply do not know," [the researchers] said in a joint emailed response to questions.
    Perhaps some might see this as embarrassing, with their ancestors displaying rather distasteful behavior. However, I find it best to take history in stride, and congratulate the British as confirming, archeologically, that their ancestors were totally badass. (via Reuters, image via Wired)

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  9. Science

    Ötzi the Iceman Might Not Have Died Alone

    Researchers have been taking a new look into the evidence surrounding the death of Ötzi the Iceman, discovered by hikers in 1991 and still the oldest natural mummy to have been found in Europe. General consensus has it that, judging by the inhospitable location of his body and the stone arrowhead embedded in his shoulder, Ötzi was murdered and his body left to the elements. A new interpretation, posed by Alessandro Vanzetti and his colleagues, states that Ötzi was actually up on the mountain because he was taken there for his funeral.

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  10. Science

    This Ancient Extinct Pacific Turtle Looks Familiar…

    Meiolania damelipi belongs to a genus of turtles who were thought to have died out 50,000 years ago, but recent discoveries have shown as existing alongside humankind. M. damelipi bones were found during an archeological dig in the ancient village site of a seafaring Pacific island culture. From Wired:
    The bottom layer of the garbage pile, dated to 3,000 years ago, had many meiolaniid bones. The top layer, dated to 2,800 years ago, had none.
    Truly, it is a sobering reminder of the affect that the human race has had on the planet even before we developed nuclear bombs, plastic, and carbon-based - Oh who are we kidding...

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