This Thursday, Americans will gather around groaning tables to consume massive amounts of turkey, gravy, potatoes and stuffing. It’s a tradition the country associates with a Pilgrim feast in the 1600s, but actually, 2013 marks only the 150th anniversary of official Thanksgiving.
The “First Thanksgiving” taught to schoolchildren around the country dates back to 1621, when the Calvinist settlers of Plymouth Colony, better known as the Pilgrims, got together with the Wampanoag tribe for a fall harvest festival.
In fact, harvest festivals date back further than that. Spanish explorer Pedro Menendez de Aviles got together with Native Americans in St. Augustine, Fla., on Sept. 8, 1565, for a Catholic mass and a feast of thanksgiving, giving Florida a claim to the “first Thanksgiving” title. Read more.
The DNA gleaned from two ancient Siberian skeletons is related to that of modern-day Native Americans and western Eurasians, new research suggests.
The genetic material from the ancient Siberians provides additional evidence that the ancestors of Native Americans made the arduous trek from Siberia across the Bering Strait into the Americas.
But it also reveals there were multiple waves of migrations in Asia around this time, said Mark Hubbe, a biological anthropologist at The Ohio State University who was not involved in the study.
"This brings a new level of complexity to what we think happened in Asia," Hubbe told LiveScience. Read more.
ASHEVILLE — Clues to ages gone by are scattered in forested coves across Western North Carolina.
Often they are stone tools, shards of pottery and other remnants of the lives of Native Americans buried in spots where they gathered.
Some thousands of years old, the items are important to archaeologists who work to piece together the region’s history.
“They tell us about who used to live here and how they lived,” said Rodney Snedeker, forest archaeologist and tribal liaison with the National Forests in North Carolina. “That tells us about human behavior. They also contain a lot of data about environmental changes over time.” Read more.
To an outsider, the Wind River Range of Wyoming does not seem a hospitable place. Glaciers dot the peaks, and snow can fall even in August. But in the thin air above 10,000 feet, archaeologists have discovered a host of sky-high prehistoric villages, including one that may be the oldest mountain settlement in North America.
Researchers will report 13 new Wind River villages in an upcoming issue of The Journal of Archaeological Science, bringing the total number to 19. Such high-altitude settlements are extremely rare in North America, and scientists plan to study plant remains from the villages that may help them understand the prehistoric peoples who moved to the roof of the world. Read more.
The recent discovery of a marijuana growing operation that disturbed an archaeological site has some wondering if this might be more common than anyone wants to think.
”I figured we’d find something like this, eventually,” said Scott Bauer, the California Fish and Wildlife coho recovery coordinator who discovered the artifacts at a grow scene near Bridgeville.
To hear Bauer tell it, the find makes perfect sense: Growers want locations with southern exposure, warm weather, and nearby water sources. American Indians looked for the same things when locating villages and camps, he said.
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has identified 4,100 marijuana cultivation sites throughout the county this year alone, and those sites are sprinkled over an area with a very rich and populous American Indian history. Read more.
GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — People have been camping near Keyhole Reservoir for thousands of years.
Long before pop-up campers and pontoon boats descended upon the reservoir on Labor Day, Native Americans, European traders and homesteaders looking for a new life set up camp near the Belle Fourche River along what would in 1952 become the shoreline of Keyhole.
Fast forward to August 2013. A team of archaeologists sets up camp at the Bureau of Reclamation’s Keyhole Unit with a mission to preserve the history of those people recorded in the artifacts and features near the shoreline before they disappear.
"It’s our shared cultural heritage, and those resources belong to the people of the United States," said Kristin Hare, one of the archaeologists. Read more.
Ancient people who lived in in Northern America about 5,000 years ago have living descendants today, new research suggests.
Researchers reached that conclusion after comparing DNA from both fossil remains found on the northern coast of British Columbia, Canada, and from living people who belong to several First Nations tribes in the area.
The new results, published today (July 3) in the journal PLOS ONE, are consistent with nearby archaeological evidence suggesting a fairly continuous occupation of the region for the last 5,000 years.
"We’re finding links that tie maternal lineages from as far back as the mid-Holocene 5,000 years ago to living descendants living today in Native American communities," said study co-author Ripan Malhi, a molecular anthropologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Read more.
The oldest and most widespread collection of prehistoric cave and rock art in the United States has been found in and around Tennessee, according to a new paper in the journal Antiquity that documents the art. It provides intriguing clues about what life was like for Native American societies more than 6,000 years ago. That is the age of the newly discovered cave art, one of which is seen here, showing what appears to be a human hunting. Other images are of a more direct spiritual/mythological nature.
Lead author Jan Simek, president emeritus and a distinguished professor of science at the University of Tennessee’s Department of Anthropology, told Discovery News, “The discoveries tell us that prehistoric peoples in the Cumberland Plateau used this rather distinctive upland environment for a variety of purposes and that religion was part of that broader sense of place. Read more.