martes, 30 de diciembre de 2014

The year 2014 in archaeology - BBC News


Prehistory:



Archaeologists were discussing a serious shift in climate that happened 2,500 years ago. 

Population collapse at the end of the European Bronze Age is thought to have been caused by rapid climate change. However, new research shows that the decline in population began over a century before climate change set in. Researchers now think that it was the increasing demand for iron towards the start of the Iron Age that was to blame, which undermined local economies and disrupted trade.

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A new study of 325,000-year-old artefacts has forced archaeologists to re-think the development of very early technologies. A revolutionary stone tool technology called Levallois was thought to have been invented only in Africa, spreading through Europe and Asia as populations expanded. However, archaeologists looking at stone tools from a site in Armenia think that the specialised technology also developed independently there, highlighting the creativity of these early groups.

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In September, researchers in Siberia reported finding a suit of armour made from animal bones which they believe could date to between 3,500 and 3,900 years ago. The experts believe the armour may have been manufactured for an elite warrior.

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Two men whose remains were excavated from graves in western China were buried with the earliest known examples of trousers. With straight-fitting legs and a wide crotch, the Bronze Age slacks resemble those worn today for horse riding.

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Closer to home, it's been a fantastic year for understanding one of the UK's most enigmatic monuments. As well as the chance appearance of parch-marks that located some of Stonehenge's missing stones, 2014 saw the completion of an impressive survey to map the hidden landscape of the Salisbury plain. Stonehenge has long been known to be part of a wider complex of monuments, but the area still holds surprises, and this research provides a glimpse into just how intensively that landscape was used over a period of about 11,000 years.

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The origins of the relationship between us and our most faithful friend have also been in the spotlight this year, as archaeologists pushed back the earliest evidence for dog domestication.

Previously thought to have occurred 14,000 years ago, some now suggest - somewhat controversially - that the domestication process began much earlier, around 36,000 years ago. This might be the key to understanding the vast kill sites where hundreds of mammoths were slaughtered. The sudden success of hunting methods to kill such large numbers of megafauna could be linked to our emerging relationship with semi-domesticated wolves.

A separate study found that people were feeding these animals meat that they themselves didn't like. Whereas humans were mostly eating mammoth, the "dogs" were fed reindeer. The fact that they consumed no mammoth at all suggests that they were kept tied up, making them unable to scavenge for scraps.

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The benefits of the "palaeodiet" were also called into question, with the revelation that hunter-gatherers also suffered tooth decay. Rotting teeth were thought to have only become a problem with the advent of agriculture, but new research exposed the cavity-filled teeth of hunter-gatherers from around 14,000 years ago.
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Source: bbc.com