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Forbidden City builders chose ice sledge over wheels

Posted on 4 Nov 2013 in Archaeology, Featured, Journalism, Physics, Technology

Fifteenth-century Chinese engineers didn’t so much reinvent the wheel as dispense with it altogether. They opted instead to drag heavy stones for building the Forbidden City along a slippery artificial ice road instead of wheeling them, according to a new translation of an ancient Chinese text. Image: namealus

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Human brain boiled in its skull lasted 4000 years

Posted on 3 Oct 2013 in Archaeology, Featured, Journalism

It may look like nothing more than a bit of burnt log, but this is one of the oldest brains ever found. Its discovery, and the story now being pieced together of its owner’s last hours, offers the tantalising prospect that archaeological remains could harbour more ancient brain specimens than thought. Image: Halic University Istanbul

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Spicy food on the menu 6000 years ago

Posted on 21 Aug 2013 in Archaeology, Featured, Journalism

Even in prehistoric Denmark, some liked it hot. Residues scraped from the inside of 6000-year-old pots found in the Baltic show they were used to cook meat and fish that was seasoned with a peppery, mustard-like spice. The find is the oldest known evidence of spiced food in Europe, and perhaps anywhere in the world. Image: Peter aka anemoneprojectors

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Ancient pawns: pieces from 5000-year-old board games?

Posted on 16 Aug 2013 in Archaeology, Journalism

Even in the Bronze Age there was more to life than work. Excavations at a burial site in south-east Turkey have revealed a set of 49 sculpted pieces that may once have been used in board games. They are among the oldest evidence of such games ever found. Image: shri_ram_r

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Farming has deep roots in Chinese ice age

Posted on 18 Mar 2013 in Archaeology, Featured, Journalism

Some ideas need time to take root: a new analysis suggests it took up to 12,000 years for people in what is now China to go from eating wild plants to farming them. Chinese grinding stones from 23,000 to 19,500 years ago show residues of plants like millet which were not domesticated in the region until 11,000 years ago. Image: aivo2010

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