Category: Prehistory

An excavation team has found evidence of an 11,800-year-old sewer system at the ancient settlement of Boncuklu Tarla East in southeastern Turkey. It has been confirmed to be in a public use area, making this the oldest known sewer system in the world.

It was surrounded by buildings thought to have stood about 23 feet tall and reached up to 8 stories. With that much space comes plenty of people – and their waste.

The Ability to Adapt Gave Homo Sapiens an Edge:

Humans are pretty adaptable compared to other hominin species, and other apes, which may have been key to the survival of our species. Most animals stick to particular habitats, or are wide-ranging, and based on that scientists classify species on a continuum between generalist and specialist.

But homo sapiens are unique in that they can specialize, and they can generalize. We are specialist-generalists. Some humans have adapted intensively to one ecological niche, most famously high-altitude zones, while other wander across ecological zones. Yet we are still all one species, able to intermarry, or switch regions and adapt. That makes homo sapiens unique across species.

New Study Pinpoints The Ancestral Homeland of All Humans Alive Today:

A group of researchers say they have pinpointed the ancestral homeland of all humans alive today: modern-day Botswana. Based on analyses of mitochondrial DNA, the researchers concluded that every person alive today descended from a woman who lived in modern-day Botswana about 200,000 years ago.

In about 250 BCE, a Celtic tribe known as the Parisii first settled Paris
on the Île de la Cité. In 52 BCE, the Parisii settlement was conquered
by the Romans and their general, Julius Caesar.

The Romans named the city
Lutetia, from an earlier Greek name
Lukotokía, whose origin is unknown. But the renaming did not stick. So the city of lights is known today as Paris, the name of its first founders, from over 2,200 years ago.

The coin is a Parisii gold coin, by the way. It dates to the 200s BCE.

Thirty-one objects thought to have belonged to one warrior have been found in a cache in northeastern Germany’s Tollense Valley, where an intense battle was fought by as many as 2,000 warriors around 1,300 BCE. The warrior’s kit included a bronze awl with a birch handle, a knife, a chisel, a decorated belt box, three dress pins, arrowheads, and fragments of bronze that may have been used as currency. Three thin bronze metal cylinders pierced with bronze nails found with the kit may have been fittings for a cloth bag or wooden storage box which degraded, leaving only its metal fittings.

The bronze items in the warrior’s kit are similar to those found in southern Germany and the Czech Republic, and combined with the chemical analyses of multiple warriors’ bones suggesting they did not grow up locally, it is thought that perhaps warriors from multiple regions came together in this valley to fight over trade routes along the Tollense River.

This may be a female shaman.
This fragment of an earthenware vessel inscribed with a possible drawing of
a woman shaman wearing a bird costume was uncovered in western Japan at
Shimizukaze, a site dating to the middle of the Yayoi Period, around
100 BCE.

Nineteen other earthen vessels inscribed with human figures with
outstretched arms have been unearthed across Japan, but this is the
first to appear to have breasts.
Her eyes, nose, mouth, and one arm with five fingers are also visible on
the fragment, which measures just 5 inches by 6.5 inches.


Obscure engravings on animal bones from the site of Lingjing in Henan Province suggest that early hominins who lived there 125,000 years ago may have had more advanced cognitive abilities than once believed. The mysterious markings proved to have been etched into the bone. The bone was then rubbed with red ochre powder to make the markings more visible. It is unknown why they made these marks, or what they represent.

A child-sized cup with a nipple-like spout was included in the burial of a small child, about 2,500 years ago in southern Germany. It is one of many miniature cups, many with nipple-like spouts, that have been found interred with young children’s remains across Europe. The oldest are almost 5,500 years old! They look like sippy cups, but what were these Bronze and Iron age babies drinking?

Analysis of the residue inside the containers strongly suggest that they were used to feed the babies animal’s milk. Perhaps it was part of weaning from their mothers, and transitioning to solid food. There was also evidence that the milk was fresh when it was put in sippy cup to be buried.

A fossil of an unusual piranha-like fish from the Late Jurassic period has been unearthed by scientists in southern Germany. It belonged to an extinct order of bony fish, and had serrated sharp teeth, perfect for tearing bites off its prey. That’s very unusual since most species in its order were shellfish eaters with flat, crushing teeth.

Even more amazing – some of the fossil’s victims were in the limestone with it! Fish with chunks missing from their fins were found nearby, confirming that the new find was indeed a flesh-eating bony fish, the first one on record.

The fossil has been named Piranhamesodon pinnatomus. The genus name is “Piranha” (you can guess why) plus “mesodon,"a common suffix for bony fish of this order, and the species name is Latin for "fin-cutter.”

Crete started to become a trading power around 3000 BCE. By the middle of the 2000s BCE, it was the heart of a large trading network, with connections to Syria, Egypt, the many Aegean islands, and mainland Greece.

The Minoan people followed their ships, and established settlements throughout the Mediterranean world. When the Greeks did the same in the 700s and 500s BCE, their settlements were called “colonies.” And just like the later Greek colonies, these Minoan settlements spread Minoan language, arts, and textiles. Even urban planning: far-flung Minoan settlements were laid out just like Minoan towns back home.