Archaeologists Investigate Mounds in Burkina Faso

Archaeology News - January 6, 2017

KRAKÓW, POLAND—Science & Scholarship in Poland reports that a team of Polish researchers has been investigating archaeological sites in northern Burkina Faso, an area inhabited by the Kurumba people for the past several hundred years. The researchers found flint tools on the surface of the ground that could range in age from 15,000 to 50,000 years old. “This is one of the oldest known traces of human presence in this country,” said Krzysztof Rak of Jagiellonian University. The team also examined the remains of a settlement known as Damfelenga Dangomde, which was abandoned in the late nineteenth century, when the Kurumba people moved to their current capital of Pobé-Mengao. The site is likely to have been inhabited before the arrival of the Kurumba. The team also identified a necropolis near the Damfelenga Dangomde tell that had been thought to be the remains of an ancient village. “The mounds of stone and earth that we have studied are approximately 1,300 years old,” Rak said. To read about another recent discovery in Burkina Faso, go to “World Roundup.”

Categories: Blog

Study Fails to Find Link in Brain and Tooth Size

Archaeology News - January 6, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C.—According to a report in The International Business Times, a recent study suggests that the sizes of human ancestor brains and teeth did not evolve together. Modern humans differ from other hominins in that they have large brains and small posterior teeth. It had been previously thought that as brain size increased, and hominins began making stone tools to process food, the size of their teeth decreased. Aida Gómez-Robles of George Washington University and her colleagues analyzed eight different hominin species, and found a relatively constant rate of change for tooth evolution, but different rates of brain evolution. “The fastest rate in the evolution of the brain occurred in the branch of the evolutionary tree predating the divergence of Homo erectus from the lineage leading to Neanderthals and modern humans,” she said. The study did not investigate the possible behavioral and ecological factors that may have influenced tooth and brain sizes. For more on hominin brain evolution, go to “Hungry Minds.”

Categories: Blog

Neolithic “Calendar Rock” Discovered in Sicily

Archaeology News - January 6, 2017

GELA, SICILY—Seeker reports that a research team conducting a survey on the southern coast of Sicily discovered a large hole carved in a 23-foot-tall rock. Archaeologist Giuseppe La Spina explained that the team set out to see if the hole could have been used to mark the seasons. At the winter solstice, La Spina and his colleagues found that the rising sun aligned precisely with the hole. They also found a 16.4-foot-tall stone on the ground to the east of the “calendar rock.” A pit at its base suggests that at one time, the stone, or menhir, had been placed upright in front of the hole in the calendar rock. The composition of the menhir is different from the calendar rock, which indicates that it was brought to the site from another place. “This obviously reinforces the sacrality of the site,” said La Spina. Two other similar holed stones have been found in Sicily—one marks the rising sun at the winter solstice, the other the rising sun at the summer solstice. “For this reason, I believe that another holed calendar stone, marking the summer solstice, may be found near Gela,” explained archaeoastronomer Alberto Scuderi of Italian Archaeologist Groups. For more, go to “The Maya Sense of Time.”

Categories: Blog

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