Our beginnings are a mystery and archaeology is part science, part sweat and part art. What came first, the domesticated chicken or the baked egg? Could it be that baking bread predated the very concept of agriculture? (Yes.) Did ancient Romans have a sense of humor, or just supremely literal minds? (Depends who you ask.) Why exactly would ancient Egyptians mummify not only their pharaohs but beetles? Just when was "Baby's got blue eyes" written? And just what were Taurus the Bull doing on the Aegean seafloor and Uri Geller in the Old City of Jaffa? Find out from the editor's choice picks from 2018 in the Haaretz archaeology section.
Making bread from opportunistically collected wild grains had to have been really difficult. But maybe the smell of fresh bread was that good. In fact, maybe it was so good that it (not beer...) was the impetus behind the development of subsistence agriculture around 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, in this very area.
With their light skin and blue eyes, these exotic proto-Iranians were embraced by the local pre-Canaanites, based on the sudden advent of extraordinary pottery (and blue eyes all over the place). Certainly, a unique form of ceramic styling would suddenly appear, featuring among other things ossuaries for secondary burial featuring animals, from cats to owls, it seems like, as well as human forms.
So much for ancestor cults and making masks that looked like Grandpa and the shaman next door. Why exactly were Mesolithic hunter-gatherers expending the precious sharp edges of their stone tools to carve eyeholes into the crania of deceased deer?
It's the right size and shape, and although it could be something completely different, the world's ancient computer is known to be missing bits and this looks very much like the bit that had been used by the ancient Greeks, around than 2,200 years ago, to track the constellation of Taurus the Bull.
Bam! Pow! Take that, Homo Vespertilio: 'Alas! I am dead'
When bending spoons just isn't enough.
Jewish tradition says human remains should be reburied immediately with due ritual. Archaeologists say they should be studied in the lab. And yes, a clash ensued
The pharaoh. Check. His wives. Check. Kill and bury servants with him. Check (sometimes). His beetles. Check check check check check check check check check check check check
The thing about decapitating the enemy and hanging his head from the city gates is it is all so tragically fleeting. Now, if the head is preserved first…
Human evolution: Little did we know ourselves. Homo sapiens seems to be a lot older than we thought -
and baby australopithecines had cute little feet that kept their cute little selves safe in trees while mama went walkabout -
which doesn't mean that we were otherwise that discriminate -
It has become clear that Homo sapiens did not cavil at sex with strangers. Based on the discovery of a half-Neanderthal half-Denisovan hybrid, in that Siberian cave, archaeologists are starting to suspect that we were about as discriminating as bonobos.