🧐 Ancient Beat #84: The mystery of Punt, 396 new Roman forts, and post-supervolcano Europeans
Hello, friends! Welcome to this very spooky issue of Ancient Beat. 🎃
Kidding, this is just a normal, non-spooky issue. But I am eating candy. Happy Halloween!
Here’s the latest ancient news. 👇
🗞 Ancient News: Top 5
Europe's 1st Permanent Residents Settled in Crimea 37,000 Years Ago, DNA Reveals — We know Homo sapiens were in Europe at least 60,000 years ago, but a supervolcano in Italy wiped most of them out 40,000 years ago. Until now, it wasn’t known exactly when the ancestors of today’s Europeans came onto the scene, but a new study did DNA sequencing on skeletons dating to 35,800-37,500 years ago from the Buran-Kaya III site on the Crimean Peninsula. The researchers found that the genomes were more closely related to more recent European genomes than to the older ones. This means that these people likely came after the eruption. And notably, the Burna-Kaya III people had Gravettian-style tools that were common 7,000 years later and 1,800 miles away. So, if the researchers are right, folks from Buran Kaya III are the ancestors of the Gravettian culture, as well as western Europeans in general. According to Eva-Maria Geigl, “Our results show that there must have been some survivors of this climate crisis who mated with the newcomers arriving in eastern Europe around 38,000 years ago. Hence, there was no complete population turnover.”
Cold War Satellite Images Reveal Hundreds of Unknown Roman Forts — Declassified images taken from Cold War spy satellites have revealed 396 unknown Roman forts in the Middle East. Until now, it’s been thought that a previously-discovered line of 116 forts was a large line of defense for the frontier, protecting the empire from the constant threat of violent incursions. But these new forts indicate that the frontier borders were more fluid than that, as they are widely distributed on either side of the line. Because of this distribution, it makes more sense that the line of forts was a road; not a wall. The forts would have supported a system of caravan-based cross-border trade, communication, and military transport.
Archaeologists Find the First Red Paint Made From Plants — 15,000-year-old Natufian beads that were discovered decades ago in Kebara Cave on Israel’s Mount Carmel have recently been analyzed due to their bright red color. Turns out the pigment is not ochre (a mineral commonly used for red pigments). It’s plant-based, making it the earliest plant-based red pigment ever found — by about 9,000 years! It’s worth noting that the number of beads found at Natufian sites is far greater than that of previous sites, and according to Laurent Davin, “Probably it means that their need to express their identity is really different from previous periods. Probably they wanted to add something more, another message, another meaning, and probably the use [of] the organic red pigment is part of that.”
Study Suggests Climate Change Likely Impacted Human Populations in the Neolithic and Bronze Age — Researchers looked at 3,400 published radiocarbon dates taken from archaeological sites in the Circumharz region of Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic and compared them with climate data. The dates ranged from 3550-1550 BCE. The study found a correlation between climate and human populations, with population increasing during warm and wet times, and decreasing during cold and dry times. Major cultural shifts and increasing social inequality also increased during the cold and dry times.
Origin of Ancient Mummified Baboons Found in Egypt — A new study looked into the origin of baboons, which are not native to Egypt, that were mummified as votive offerings. Their findings were the same as a previous study, showing that the baboons came from the ancient city of Adulis in the Horn of Africa. But here’s the interesting part. The remains that were analyzed in the new study were older — from between 800 and 500 BCE, which is before Adulis was a city. The researchers combined these findings with historical context and found that, while their findings fit Adulis geographically, they fit a region known as “Punt” historically and chronologically. Punt has been a bit of a mystery for a while now. It is mentioned in ancient Egyptian texts, but we never knew where it was. This study may have solved that. According to Gisela Kopp, “Egyptologists have long puzzled over Punt, since some scholars have seen it as a location in early global maritime trade networks, and thus the starting point for economic globalization.”
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