Invasion of the farmers

Wheat field

Related to some of our recent discussions, Scientific American has an interesting article on the spread of farming during the neolithic.  From the article: Roughly 9,000 years ago farmers from the Middle East headed toward Europe, seeking new land to cultivate. The farmers traveled either along the Mediterranean coast or the Danube River, encountering hunter-gatherers who lived … Continue reading Invasion of the farmers

Was the agricultural revolution a mistake?

Associations of wild cereals and other wild grasses in northern Israel

I'm continuing to work my way through Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, and have just finished his section on the agricultural revolution.  This is the transition from a hunter-gatherer foraging lifestyle, which humanity had followed for hundreds of thousands of years, to a settled farming one about 12,000 years ago. Harari describes … Continue reading Was the agricultural revolution a mistake?

The ecological disaster of Homo sapiens

I'm finally heeding all the recommendations and reading Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.  Harari is an excellent writer, and though at times he seems to present some unproven hypotheses as proven fact, and nine years after initial publication some of the information feels a bit dated, he makes up for it … Continue reading The ecological disaster of Homo sapiens

Maybe we wiped Neanderthals out after all

Or at least, that's the conclusion of a paper which models the population changes and other factors involved. New model to study hominin interactions in time-varying climate environment. Neanderthals experienced rapid population decline due to competitive exclusion. Interbreeding only minor contributor to Neanderthal extinction. Abrupt Climate Change not major cause for demise of Neanderthals. Of … Continue reading Maybe we wiped Neanderthals out after all

Neanderthals and the beginnings of us

The Smithsonian has an interesting article up on what we currently know about Neanderthals.  The article details some of the internecine battles that always seems to be a part of the paleoanthropology field, in this case focusing on the capabilities of Neanderthals, whether they had art, religion, and other qualities of modern humans. Our view … Continue reading Neanderthals and the beginnings of us

First Peoples documentary series to air on PBS starting Wednesday

I've posted before on prehistorical societies, and the fact that, for virtually all of human history, including the history of our particular sub-species: Homo sapiens, we lived in nomadic hunter gatherer tribes.  The evidence points to anatomically modern humans first appearing in Africa over 200,000 years ago, and that much of what we consider normal human society: … Continue reading First Peoples documentary series to air on PBS starting Wednesday

World’s Oldest Art Identified in Half-Million-Year-Old Zigzag

I've noted before that I think capabilities like human language didn't pop into being 50-75 thousand years ago, but developed over hundreds of thousands of years (if not millions).  Well, it looks like another piece of behavioral modernity may predate anatomically modern humans: World's Oldest Art Identified in Half-Million-Year-Old Zigzag. A zigzag engraving on a … Continue reading World’s Oldest Art Identified in Half-Million-Year-Old Zigzag

How Farming Almost Destroyed Ancient Human Civilization

Annalee Newitz has a fascinating article at IO9 on early neolithic societies: How Farming Almost Destroyed Ancient Human Civilization. Roughly 9,000 years ago, humans had mastered farming to the point where food was plentiful. Populations boomed, and people began moving into large settlements full of thousands of people. And then, abruptly, these proto-cities were abandoned for … Continue reading How Farming Almost Destroyed Ancient Human Civilization

Maybe we’ve found Neanderthals, and they are us.

The intermixing of modern humans and Neanderthals is back in the news: BBC News - DNA yields secrets of human pioneer. DNA analysis of a 45,000-year-old human has helped scientists pinpoint when our ancestors interbred with Neanderthals. The genome sequence from a thigh bone found in Siberia shows the first episode of mixing occurred between 50,000 … Continue reading Maybe we’ve found Neanderthals, and they are us.