British scientists did DNA tests on the 9,000-year-old “Cheddar Man” skeleton in 1997 and found his descendant lived a half-mile from the burial site and taught history. (William D. Montalbano, Los Angeles Times)
Centuries ago, Europeans first visited isolated Easter Island and found more than 800 enormous stone statues. Europeans assumed that the island was once home to an advanced civilization called the Rapa Nui, which destroyed itself through war. More recently, Jared Diamond’s bestselling book “Collapsed” stated that the Easter Island civilization destroyed itself by consuming all the natural resources of the island, even cutting down all the trees so they couldn’t build canoes to get off the island, and imploded in an orgy of violence and cannibalism.
But new research shows that the statues could have been built by the existing population of the island, that there’s no evidence the population of the island was ever much larger than it is now, and that there’s no evidence of a massive population collapse caused by ecological exhaustion or brutal war.
The research shows that “systematic violence” between groups is not inevitable, even “in cases where resources are scarce (such as Easter Island),” archaeologist Carl Lipo tells Annalee Newitz at Ars Technica. “But when we look more broadly at human history, we find generally that we are pretty good at living in social groups and getting along with one another,” Lipo says.
Citing the evolutionary biologist Peter Turchin, famous for developing a theory of history called “cliodynamics,” Lipo believes that the common thread in human history is cooperation rather than war. The fate of the Rapa Nui on Easter Island is often used to illustrate how humans destroy their communities with environmental destruction and warfare. But it might actually provide a good model for sustainable civilizations of the future.
Not impressed. We have older leftovers in the refrigerator.
[Travis M. Andrews/The Washington Post]
He wrote to a merchant who sold him crappy copper ingots. The tablet survives today.
Interesting discussion on Reddit. Two answers:
Bone needles and scraped skins found in archeological digs suggest we started wearing clothes 100,000 to 500,000 years ago.
Body lice suggest a date of 100,000 years ago. Unlike other primates, human beings have different, but related, kinds of lice: One for the head, and one for the body. Head lice live in hair, and body lice live in clothes. The lice diverged about 100,000 years ago.
A hundred thousand years of evolution — and now people can’t wait to get home from work so they can take off their pants.
At the time, lake levels were 250 feet lower, exposing a narrow bridge of land running from one side of Lake Huron to another. Scuba-diving researchers discovered an elaborate network of hunting blinds and animal-herding structures.