DNA evidence shows the effects that Aztec imperialism had on Mesoamerican populations. Taking DNA samples from 25 bodies found at Xaltocan- the capital of a pre-Aztec Mexican city-state- scientists have been able to shed some light on the fate of the inhabitants of this town during its assimilation into the Aztec empire.
Many staple foods consumed around the world today are rich in starch (e.g. maize, cassava). It would seem that these foods are not only important for us humans, but apparently played a role in dog domestication as well!
Interesting new data suggests that the domestication of dogs from wolves was made easier by developing the ability to digest carbohydrate-rich foods, which were likely found in garbage dumps among farming communities.
Using herbarium specimens, scientists have found that the sweet potato was introduced three times to South Asia and the Pacific. Polynesians therefore traveled centuries earlier to South America and brought back the sweet potato; this evidence fitting well with current archaeological and linguistic data.
Mexican archaeologists are using DNA to better contextualize the Red Queen, who was found buried at Palenque in one of the most elaborate burials of that city. The Red Queen, whose burial dates between 600 and 700 AD, was found covered in cinnabar and thus got her name.
Contents within burial urns, from the site of Teotihuacan, have been identified as pigments, which the researchers suggest would have been used as cosmetics. These would have been used on the deceased as part of a ritual. Interestingly, researchers found that some of the particles and materials used as cosmetics were not local, therefore suggesting long-distance trade.
A Roman shipwreck, found off the coast of Italy, was carrying what researchers believe are ancient tablets, possibly to treat eye infections. Pine resin and vegetable fats were among the compounds identified. This is very exciting news, considering that our understanding of ancient medicine use comes mainly from written documents. Click to read more.
In my last post (and also the first one), I posted a link to Archaeology Magazine's favorite discoveries for 2012. In today's entry, I decided to upload some of my favorite stories, which include discoveries on ancient plants, hominin diets, Bronze Age trading and brewing, royal gardens, and of course, the new finds at the archaeological sites of La Corona and El Perú-Waka’. Enjoy!
-Grape seeds recovered from 1st century A.D. context are being DNA sequenced in order to understand the history of the Chianti vineyards.
-Very exciting find at the site of El Perú-Waka’, where a royal tomb of a queen was uncovered this past season.
-Bronze Age microbrewery uncovered in Cyprus. A kiln along with associated tools, and carbonized seeds give a glimpse into early beer making.
-By 3.5 million years ago, three members of the genus Australopithecus developed a taste for grass and sedges. Read on for a new view into early hominin diets.
-Orchids appear earlier than previously thought in Roman art, and fade as Christianity arrives.
-More evidence that the Vikings visited the New World earlier than Columbus! Click the link for more information on excavations at a site in Canada.
-A piece of cloth, found in Denmark’s richest burial, and made from nettle, suggests long-distance Bronze Age trading.
-One of the many mysteries of Easter Island has been uncovered! Watch this amazing video.
-Timely discovery of the second known reference to the so-called "end date" of the Maya calendar, found at the site of La Corona. And no, the world didn’t end!
-Fossilized pollen has revealed that local and exotic plants blossomed in Ramat Rahel's royal garden.
-Residue analysis from ceramic beakers from Cahokia have found evidence of Black Drink, a highly caffeinated drink known to have been consumed by Native Americans, brewed from the Ilex vomitoria shrub.
Follow the latest discoveries from the world of archaeology, plants, and people.