Herodotus Returns

12,000-year-old Mexico woman’s face reconstructed

This undated photo released on July 23, 2010, ...

The  shroud over the ‘Peopling of the Americas’ is being slowly lifted and more and more it seems like people came over in multiple migrations from broad areas, rather than all at once via the Bering Strait. The latest evidence is a reconstruction of 10,000-12,000-year-old remains of a woman found on the Caribbean coast of Mexico. Hers are some of the oldest remains found anywhere in the Americas.

Anthropologists had long believed humans migrated to the Americas in a relatively short period from a limited area in northeast Asia across a temporary land corridor that opened across the Bering Strait during an ice age.

But government archaeologist Alejandro Terrazas says the picture has become more complicated, because the reconstruction more resembles people from southeastern Asian areas such as Indonesia.

“History isn’t that simple,” Terrazas said. “This indicates that the Americas were populated by several migratory movements, not just one or two waves from northern Asia across the Bering Strait.”

More on the reconstruction.


2000-year-old Mongolian tomb holds skeleton of Western man
February 9, 2010, 9:48 am
Filed under: Mongolia | Tags: , ,

Two thousand years ago, the world was a bigger place than it is today. With horses, donkeys and slow boats as primary modes of transportation, people didn’t do a lot of traveling. But two recent finds show us that the world back then wasn’t quite immune to globalization. A few weeks ago, archaeologists found the skeleton of an East-Asian man in a cemetery outside Rome. It was the first time an East Asian man – a slave, in this case – had been found buried in the Roman Empire. A few days ago, Discovery reported archaeologists finding the skeleton of a western man in an ancient tomb in Mongolia. The man, who displayed features of a speaker of Indo-European language, was found in a prominent place in the Xionogu cemetery.

The Duurlig Nars man’s genetic signature supports the idea that Indo-European migrations to northeastern Asia started before 2,000 years ago. This notion is plausible, but not confirmed, says geneticist Peter Underhill of Stanford University. Further investigations of Y chromosome mutation frequencies in modern populations will allow for a more precise tracing of the Duurlig Nars man’s geographic roots, Underhill predicts.

Here’s more on that find.

Were ancient hominids seafarers?
January 9, 2010, 6:55 am
Filed under: Pre-history | Tags: , , ,

Excavators on Crete believe they have found evidence that ancient hominids came to Europe from Africa by boat, passing through Crete 130,000 years ago.

Stone hand axes unearthed on the Mediterranean island of Crete indicate that an ancient Homospecies — perhaps Homo erectus — had used rafts or other seagoing vessels to cross from northern Africa to Europe via at least some of the larger islands in between, says archaeologist Thomas Strasser of Providence College in Rhode Island.

Several hundred double-edged cutting implements discovered at nine sites in southwestern Crete date to at least 130,000 years ago and probably much earlier, Strasser reported January 7 at the annual meeting of the American Institute of Archaeology. Many of these finds closely resemble hand axes fashioned in Africa about 800,000 years ago by H. erectus, he says. It was around that time that H. erectus spread from Africa to parts of Asia and Europe.

More on the story here.