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Medieval gamblers turned their back on fate and made dice fair

Posted on 19 Jan 2018 in Archaeology, Featured, Journalism

The dice used by gamers and gamblers in northern Europe became much more fair about 600 years ago. What’s more, the pattern on the faces changed, and these trends together might reflect people’s growing awareness that bets were decided by chance, not by the gods – even though probability theory was centuries away. Image: Steve A Johnson

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Mount Etna may not really be a ‘proper’ volcano at all

Posted on 15 Jan 2018 in Earth Science, Journalism

Mount Etna, one of the world’s most famous volcanoes, may be misunderstood. According to one geologist, the material feeding the cone is mostly water, so Etna is effectively a giant hot spring. But other geologists are unconvinced. Image: Alessandro Rossi ©

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Odd fossils hint first complex life hung on long after its time

Posted on 22 Dec 2017 in Earth Science, Journalism, Palaeontology

A strange 380-million-year-old fossil that was initially identified as a worm might actually be the last known survivor of an early form of life that no one fully understands. So claims one palaeontologist – but others are sceptical. Image: Ryan Somma

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2018 preview: Get ready to meet your newest long-lost ancestor

Posted on 19 Dec 2017 in Human Origins, Journalism

The 21st century has so far been a golden age of hominin discovery. New species like the 7-million-year-old Sahelanthropus tchadensis and the 300,000-year-old Homo naledi have added to our understanding of humanity’s past. And the finds will keep coming. Image: James St. John

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Hoax or not? Three ancient texts with controversial origins

Posted on 15 Dec 2017 in Archaeology, Journalism

The Beyköy text, published this month by Eberhard Zangger and Fred Woudhuizen, is far from the first archaeological text to have been disputed. Here are three others that show it can be surprisingly hard to tell a hoax from the genuine article. Image: Zangger/Woudhuizen

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Venice may be almost 200 years older than anyone thought

Posted on 14 Dec 2017 in Archaeology, Featured, Journalism

Deep beneath the elaborate mosaic floor of Venice’s Saint Mark’s Basilica, archaeologists have discovered two 1300-year-old peach stones. The find may add 180 years to the history of the iconic floating city. Image: Sergey Galyonkin

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