Archaeology News for the Week of September 22nd, 2013

September 23rd, 2013

Warfare the Key to Evolution of Complex Society?

Who would have predicted that conflict and destruction would beget the flowering of large scale ancient complex societies? Intuitively, for most people at least, they don’t seem to mix. But the recent development and testing of a mathematical model seems to support that otherwise unlikely paradigm. The model was developed by an international team from the University of Connecticut, the University of Exeter in England, and the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS). By focusing on the interaction of ecology and geography as well as the spread of military innovations, the cultural evolutionary model predicts that selection for social organizations that facilitate cooperation in large groups of genetically unrelated individuals, leading to large-scale complex states, is greater where warfare is more intense.  (Popular Archaeology)

Skeleton of Ancient Prince Reveals Etruscan Life

The skeletonized body of an Etruscan prince, possibly a relative to Tarquinius Priscus, the legendary fifth king of Rome from 616 to 579 B.C., has been brought to light in an extraordinary finding that promises to reveal new insights on one of the ancient world’s most fascinating cultures. PLAY VIDEO An Etruscan house emerges from a hillside in Italy. ROSSELLA LORENZI Found in Tarquinia, a hill town about 50 miles northwest of Rome, famous for its Etruscan art treasures, the 2,600 year old intact burial site came complete with a full array of precious grave goods. (Discovery News)

Egyptian Dog Mummy Infested with Bloodsucking Parasites

A dog mummy has revealed the first archaeological evidence of bloodsucking parasites plaguing Fido’s ancestors in Egypt during the classical era of Roman rule. The preserved parasites discovered in the mummified young dog’s right ear and coat include the common brown tick and louse fly — tiny nuisances that may have carried diseases leading to the puppy’s early demise. French archaeologists found the infested dog mummy while studying hundreds of mummified dogs at the excavation site of El Deir in Egypt, during expeditions in 2010 and 2011. (Live Science)

Officials begin restoration of Oregon Trail

Federal officials along with a southern Idaho Boy Scout troop have started restoration efforts on a section of the Oregon Trail plundered by artifact hunters this summer. Last week, scouts working with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management began restoration work on stretches of the historic trail near Burley. (

Did your ancestors eat shrew? Consult the poo

Eating a parboiled rodent whole for the sake of science is dedication. It won scientists Brian D. Crandall and Peter W. Stahl the Ig Nobel prize for Archaeology. ‘Tis the season of red leaves in the north, spring in the south and of the Ig Nobel prizes everywhere. Intrepid member of one group of scientists ate a shrew, thereby teaching mankind a lesson in dedication to the job and winning an award for it, too. (Haaretz)

Climate change nothing new in Oz

While we grapple with the impact of climate change, archaeologists suggest we spare a thought for Aboriginal Australians who had to cope with the last ice age. “The period scientists call the Last Glacial Maximum, or LGM for short, is the most significant climatic event ever faced by humans on this continent,” Associate Professor Sean Ulm from James Cook University in Cairns said. (EurekAlert!)

Giant Prehistoric Elephant Slaughtered by Early Humans

Research by a University of Southampton archaeologist suggests that early humans, who lived thousands of years before Neanderthals, were able to work together in groups to hunt and slaughter animals as large as the prehistoric elephant. (Science Daily)

Bone dates ‘earliest northerner’, say archaeologists in Liverpool

Archaeologists have dated bones found in the 1990s as the earliest known human remains from northern Britain. Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Nottingham analysed a leg bone found in Cumbria and found it to be more than 10,000 years old. (BBC News)