‘Mind blowing’ ancient settlements uncovered in the Amazon

The urban centres are the first to be discovered in the region, challenging archaeological dogma.

Freda Kreier

Nature | May 25, 2022

Researchers uncovered ancient urban centres on forested mounds in the Bolivian Amazon Basin.Credit: Roland Seitre/Nature Picture Library

Mysterious mounds in the southwest corner of the Amazon Basin were once the site of ancient urban settlements, scientists have discovered. Using a remote-sensing technology to map the terrain from the air, they found that, starting about 1,500 years ago, ancient Amazonians built and lived in densely populated centres, featuring 22-metre-tall earthen pyramids, that were encircled by kilometres of elevated roadways.

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England’s Stonehenge was Erected in Wales First

Andrew Curry

Science | February 11, 2021

A few toppled bluestones are visible at the prehistoric stone circle of Waun Mawn in Wales. A. STANFORD/M. P. PEARSON ET. AL., ANTIQUITY, 95, 379: 85-103 (2021)

Around 3200 B.C.E., Stone Age farmers in Wales’s Preseli Hills built a great monument: They carved columns of unspotted dolerite, or bluestone, from a nearby quarry, then thrust them upright in a great circle aligned with the Sun. Exactly what the circle meant to them remains a mystery. But new research reveals that several centuries later, their descendants took down many of the giant stones and hauled them 200 kilometers to the Salisbury Plain, where they created what is still the world’s most iconic prehistoric stone monument: Stonehenge.Read More »


Woman the Hunter: Ancient Andean Remains Challenge Old Ideas of Who Speared Big Game

Ann Gibbons

Science | November 04, 2020

An artist’s depiction of a female hunter 9000 years ago in the Andean highlands of Peru | MATTHEW VERDOLIVO/UC DAVIS IET ACADEMIC TECHNOLOGY SERVICES

When archaeologists discovered the bones of a 9000-year-old human in a burial pit high in the Andes, they were impressed by a tool kit of 20 stone projectile points and blades stacked neatly by the person’s side. All signs pointed to the discovery of a high-status hunter. “Everybody was talking about how this was a great chief, a big man,” says archaeologist Randy Haas of the University of California (UC), Davis.

Then, bioarchaeologist Jim Watson of the University of Arizona noted that the bones were slender and light. “I think your hunter might be female,” he told Haas.Read More »


What Archaeology Tells Us about the Music and Sounds Made by Africa’s Ancestors

Joshua Kumbani

The Conversation | August 24, 2020

A flat disc shaped like a mollusc with a hole through its thin end.

Bullroarer found at Matjes River. Joshua Kumbani

Music has been part and parcel of humanity for a long time. Not every sound is musical, but sound has meaning and sometimes the meaning of sound is specific to its context.

But when it comes to archaeology there is scant evidence of music or sound producing artefacts from southern Africa. This is because of poor preservation of the mostly organic materials that were used to manufacture musical instruments. Rock art offers depictions of musical instruments as well as scenes of dancing that can be linked with music performance, but here only music-related artefacts will be discussed.Read More »