Things were looking up for Earth about 12,800 years ago. The last Ice Age was coming to an end, mammoths and other large mammals romped around North America, and humans were beginning to settle down and cultivate wild plants. Then, suddenly, the planet plunged into a deep freeze, returning to near-glacial temperatures for more than a millennium before getting warm again.
The mammoths disappeared at about the same time, as did a major Native American culture that thrived on hunting them. A persistent band of researchers has blamed this apparent disaster on the impact of a comet or asteroid, but a new study concludes that the real explanation for the chill, at least, may lie strictly with Earth-bound events. Read more.
VERO BEACH — Officials from Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa., finalized Monday their plans for an archaeological dig at the Old Vero Man site that will begin in January.
Dr. Thomas Gamble, Mercyhurst president, said the dig will involve at least a dozen scientists from the Archaeological Institute and will include volunteers from the community interested in learning more about the site.
“We’re very excited,” said Randy Old of the Old Vero Ice Age Sites Committee. “This is something we’ve been working on for a long time now, and we’re glad it is finally moving forward.”
Old said the site, near the Vero Beach Municipal Airport along the Main Relief Canal, could be one of the most important ice age historical sites in the world: In 1915, a fossilized skeleton was found there, possibly the oldest human remains ever found in North America. Read more.
CAIRNS, Australia — The last ice age required Aboriginal Australians to concentrate in areas with good food and water supplies, abandoning most of the continent, researchers said.
Research recently published in the Journal of Archaeological Science offers new information on the ways Aboriginal Australians met the challenges of extreme climate change during the Last Glacial Maximum, which peaked 20,000 years ago, the James Cook University said Sunday in a release.
"We are trying to understand how people responded to these extreme conditions," Sean Ulm, an associate professor at James Cook University, said. Read more.
Researchers from the University of Tübingen have successfully re-attached the newly discovered head of a prehistoric mammoth-ivory figurine discovered in 1931. The head was found during renewed excavations at Vogelherd Cave, site of the original dig in 1931. The recent excavations, between 2005 and 2012, have yielded a number of important finds. The discovery of this ivory head helps to complete a figurine which now can be recognized as a lion — and demonstrates that it is possible to reassemble often fragmentary figurines from the earlier excavation.
The new discovery is presented in the 2013 edition of the journal Archäologische Ausgrabungen in Baden-Württemberg. Read more.
Anyone who stood on a rock ledge a few hundred feet above an ocean-swept river delta could have watched for walruses or whales among the icebergs and searched for woolly mammoths tracking across the barren savannah behind.
And those people might well have left traces — thousands of years ago, about 60 miles from Charleston, offshore.
Bulls Scarp could be the most fascinating and important archaeological site waiting to be surveyed in the region. There’s just one little problem: That Ice Age rock ledge is under about 140 feet of seawater. Read more.
An exhibition will be held to showcase the rare archaeological discoveries made in a Berkshire quarry and the stories behind them.
Among the finds at Kingsmead Quarry, Horton, were four Neolithic houses thought to make up one of the oldest settlements ever found in England.
Other finds at the site suggest people have used the area since the end of the last Ice Age, about 12,000 years ago.
The free exhibition will be at Wraysbury Village Hall on 27 April.
Archaeologists, who have been excavating on the site for 10 years, said the discovery of the 5,700-year-old Neolithic house foundations was “unprecedented”.
Dr Alistair Barclay, of Wessex Archaeology, said it was the first time more than one house from this time had been found on a single site in England. Read more.
Scientists have unearthed six fishhooks, the oldest of which was made from a 19,000-year-old mammoth tusk.
Hunters of ice age reindeer around 12,300 years ago likely left the fishhooks, along with mammal and fish bones, in an open field in what is now Wustermark, Germany. The fishhooks, which are the oldest found in Europe, suggests humans developed fishing tools earlier than previously thought, probably to catch fast-moving fish that appeared in lakes as the climate warmed.
"These people had strong ideas to use the new resources of this changing environment," said Robert Sommer, a paleoecologist at the University of Kiel in Germany. The eel, perch and pike that entered lakes are too fast to snag with a harpoon or a spear, Sommer added. Read more.
LONDON—About 35,000 years ago, prehistoric artists across Europe suddenly discovered the female form—and the art world has never been the same. The explosion of voluptuous female figurines sculpted out of limestone, ivory, and clay directly inspired Picasso and Matisse. Researchers have debated the figurines’ meaning for decades. Now, two scientists think they have the answer. Presenting their work here last week at the European Palaeolithic Conference, they claimed that the objects started off as celebrations of the female form, then later became symbols that tied together a growing human society.
The talk, part of a special exhibition on Ice Age art at London’s British Museum, surveyed the more than 20,000 year-history of female figurines, which are found at dozens of archaeological sites from Russia to France. Read more.