Category: Anthropology


SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The ancient skeleton known as Kennewick Man is related to modern Native American tribes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Wednesday, opening the process for returning to tribes for burial one of the oldest and most complete set of bones ever found in North America.

The Northwestern Division of the corps said its decision was based on a review of new information, particularly recently published DNA and skeletal analyses.

The corps, which has custody of the remains, said the skeleton is now covered by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

The 8,500-year-old remains were discovered in 1996 in southeastern Washington near the Columbia River in Kennewick, triggering a lengthy legal fight between tribes and scientists over whether the bones should be buried immediately or studied.

The bones will remain at the Burke Museum in Seattle until the corps determines which tribe or tribes will receive them.

Source: Corps determines Kennewick Man is Native American – The Santa Fe New Mexican: Tech

The possible discovery of a 1,000-year-old Viking site on a Canadian island could rewrite the story of the exploration of North America by Europeans before Christopher Columbus.

The unearthing of a stone used in iron working on Newfoundland, hundreds of miles south from the only known Viking site in North America, suggests the Vikings may have traveled much further into the continent than previously thought.

A group of archeologists has been excavating the newly discovered site at the Point Rosee, a narrow, windswept peninsula on the most western point of the island.

To date, the only confirmed Viking site on the American continent is L’Anse aux Meadows, a 1,000-year-old way station discovered in 1960 on the northern tip of Newfoundland.

Source: Discovery of 1,000-year-old Viking site in Canada could rewrite history | World History | News | The Independent

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA—A light rail construction project near Sydney has unearthed some 20,000 indigenous artifacts at what archaeologists say may have been a ceremonial meeting place. “I would suggest quite strongly that this site is of state significance,” archaeologist Jakub Czastka told The Sydney Morning Herald. Some of the artifacts, including spear heads and cutting tools, are made of materials from the Lower Hunter Valley, located more than 75 miles away. “You have material that’s not from Sydney. It demonstrates a trading route, or that the mobs out of the Hunter Valley were working with the mobs in Sydney,” explained Scott Franks, an indigenous heritage consultant. He has requested that the construction of the light rail stable yard in Randwick be stopped. “Transport for New South Wales and ALTRAC Light Rail [the public-private partnership consortium] are investigating, in conjunction with the Aboriginal representatives, opportunities to recognize the items found on site, for example in displays or education programs,” responded a Transport for New South Wales spokesperson. For more on archaeology in Australia, go to “Alone, but Closely Watched.”

Source: Thousands of Aboriginal Artifacts Uncovered in Australia – Archaeology Magazine

OXFORD, ENGLAND—Scientists from the University of Oxford and the University of Manchester have used a new technique, “Zooarchaeology by Mass Spectrometry,” or ZooMS, to identify more than 2,000 bone fragments recovered from Russia’s Denisova Cave.

ZooMS analyzes the collagen peptide sequences in bone, which can then be used to identify its species. Among the remains of mammoths, woolly rhino, wolf, and reindeer, the researchers found one Neanderthal bone.

“When the ZooMS results showed that there was a human fingerprint among the bones I was extremely excited. …The bone itself is not exceptional in any way and would otherwise be missed by anyone looking for possible human bones amongst the dozens of fragments we have from the site,” Sam Brown of the University of Oxford said in a press release.

Svante Pääbo and his team at the Max Planck Institute then examined the mitochondrial genome of the bone to identify it as Neanderthal. Radiocarbon dating of the bone revealed it is more than 50,000 years old.

Acid etching on its surface suggests that it passed through the stomach of a hyena before landing in the cave’s sediments. For more on our extinct cousins, go to “Should We Clone Neanderthals?”

Source: Neanderthal Bone Fragment Identified in Denisova Cave – Archaeology Magazine

Scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles, and Harvard University compared genomic data for more than 250 modern human populations with DNA obtained from Denisovan fossils, a hominid group that diverged from the human family tree some 500,000 years ago.

The data suggests that people living today in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, and other parts of South Asia carry more Denisovan DNA than had been previously thought. Previous studies have shown that the highest concentrations of Denisovan DNA—as much as five percent—are found in people who are native to Australia, Papua New Guinea, and other parts of Oceana.

The study also found that Denisovans and modern humans interbred as recently as 44,000 to 54,000 years ago. “We did not even know about this important group until just a few years ago, and our study yields some insights on where Denisovans fit into this story. This also shows some new paths of interest that computational biology can explore,” Sriram Sankararaman of UCLA said in a press release. To read more, go to “Denisovan DNA.”

Source: Denisovan DNA Detected in Modern Populations in South Asia – Archaeology Magazine

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