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4,000-year-old shaman's stones discovered near Boquete, Panama

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These are stones found in precolombian shaman’s cache, Boquete, Panama. (Credit: Composite photo by Ruth Dickau)

Archaeologists working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama have discovered a cluster of 12 unusual stones in the back of a small, prehistoric rock-shelter near the town of Boquete. The cache represents the earliest material evidence of shamanistic practice in lower Central America.

Ruth Dickau, Leverhulme Post-doctoral Fellow at the University of Exeter in England, unearthed the cache of stones in the Casita de Piedra rock-shelter in 2007. A piece of charcoal found directly underneath the cache was radiocarbon dated to 4,800 years ago. A second fragment of charcoal in a level above the cache...

The Teotihuacans exhumed their dead and dignified them with make-up

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This shows the Avenue of the Dead City of Teotihuacan. (Credit: Hector García)

In collaboration with the National University of Mexico, a team of Spanish researchers has analysed for the first time remains of cosmetics in the graves of prehispanic civilisations on the American continent. In the case of the Teotihuacans, these cosmetics were used as part of the after-death ritual to honour their city's most important people.

A research team from the Polytechnic University of...

Terrace farming unearthed at ancient desert city of Petra

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A wall supporting a hillside terrace used for farming outside Petra. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Cincinnati)

 A team of international archaeologists including Christian Cloke of the University of Cincinnati is providing new insights into successful and extensive water management and agricultural production in and around the ancient desert city of Petra, located in present-day Jordan. Ongoing investigations, of which Cloke is a part, are led by Professor Susan Alcock...

Human history preserved in tree rings of prehistoric wooden wells

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This image shows Neolithic wooden water wells. (Credit: Willy Tegel, Rengert Elburg, Dietrich Hakelberg, Harald Stäuble, Ulf Büntgen. Early Neolithic Water Wells Reveal the World's Oldest Wood Architecture. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (12): e51374 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051374)

Prehistoric farming communities in Europe constructed water wells out of oak timbers, revealing that these first farmers were skilled carpenters long before metal was discovered or used for tools.

The research...

Study of pipestone artifacts overturns a century-old assumption

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In the early 1900s, an archaeologist, William Mills, dug up a treasure-trove of carved stone pipes that had been buried almost 2,000 years earlier. Mills was the first to dig the Native American site, called Tremper Mound, in southern Ohio. And when he inspected the pipes, he made a reasonable -- but untested -- assumption. The pipes looked as if they had been carved from local stone, and so he said they were. That assumption, first published in 1916, has been repeated in scientific...

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Book review

Dinosaurs Encyclopedia

Book Review

Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages ... WRITTEN BY A PROFESSIONAL paleontologist specifically for young readers, this guide to the Dinosauria is packed...