In 1533, the Bom Jesus - a Portuguese trading vessel carrying 40 tons of cargo including gold, silver, copper and more than 100 elephant tusks - sank off the coast of Africa near present-day Namibia. The wreck was found in 2008, and scientists say they now have determined the source of much of the ivory recovered from the ship.
An international collaboration of researchers in Namibia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States reporting in the journal Current Biology on December 17 have found that the cargo of a 16th century shipwreck known as the Bom Jesu included more than 100 elephant tusks, which paleogenomic and isotopic analyses trace to many distinct herds that once roamed West Africa.
Ancient Egyptian mummies have many tales to tell, but unlocking their secrets without destroying delicate remains is challenging. Now, researchers reporting in ACS' Analytical Chemistry have found a non-destructive way to analyze bitumen -- the compound that gives mummies their dark color -- in Ancient Egyptian embalming materials. The method provides clues to the bitumen's geographic origin and, in one experiment, revealed that a mummy in a French museum could have been partially restored, likely by collectors.
Earlier this year Douglas J. Kennett, a UC Santa Barbara professor of anthropology, demonstrated that maize, or corn, became a staple crop in the Americas 4,700 years ago. It turns out he was just beginning to tell the story of the world's biggest grain crop.
While Genghis Khan and Mongol invasion is often blamed for the fall of Central Asia's medieval river civilisations, new research shows it may have been down to climate change. Researchers from the University of Lincoln conducted analysis on the region and found that falling water levels may have led to the fall of civilisations around the Aral Sea Basin, as they depended on the water for irrigation-based farming.
Ancient Punt was a major trading partner of Egyptians for at least 1,100 years. It was an important source of luxury goods, including incense, gold, and living baboons. Located somewhere in the southern Red Sea region in either Africa or Arabia, scholars have debated its geographic location for more than 150 years. A new Dartmouth-led study tracing the geographic origins of Egyptian mummified baboons provides new insight into Punt's location, demonstrating the tremendous nautical range of early Egyptian seafarers.