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Extensive social networks between different hunter–gatherer groups in the Congo Basin existed long before agriculture arrived in the region. This continent-wide exchange preserved a cultural diversity that evolved thousands of years ago, as researchers from the University of Zurich have shown based on musical instruments, specialized vocabulary and genetic information.

Central Africa has been occupied by hunter–gatherer populations for hundreds of thousands of years, according to recent research based on genetic, archaeological and paleoenvironmental data. However, contemporary hunter–gatherers living in the Congo Basin speak languages that they have acquired from their agricultural neighbors, the Bantu, in recent times.

This raises the question as to which elements of ancient cultural diversity in Central Africa stem from long-term evolution and regional cultural exchange predating agriculture, and which aspects are influenced by interactions with farming communities.

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The last pandemic was bad, but COVID-19 is only one of many infectious diseases that emerged since the turn of this century.

Since 2000, the world has experienced 15 novel Ebola epidemics, the global spread of a 1918-like influenza strain and major outbreaks of three new and unusually deadly coronavirus infections: SARS, MERS and, of course, COVID-19. Every year, researchers discover two or three entirely new pathogens: the viruses, bacteria and microparasites that sicken and kill people.

While some of these discoveries reflect better detection methods, genetic studies confirm that most of these pathogens are indeed new to the human species. Even more troubling, these diseases are appearing at an increasing rate.

Despite the novelty of these particular infections, the primary factors that led to their emergence are quite ancient. Working in the field of anthropology, I have found that these are primarily human factors: the ways we feed ourselves, the ways we live together, and the ways we treat one another. In a forthcoming book, “Emerging Infections: Three Epidemiological Transitions from Prehistory to the Present,” my colleagues and I examine how these same elements have influenced disease dynamics for thousands of years. Twenty-first century technologies have served only to magnify ancient challenges.

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Indigenous people entered North America at least four times between 12,000 and 24,000 years ago, bringing their languages with them, a new linguistic model indicates. The model correlates with archaeological, climatological and genetic data, supporting the idea that populations in early North America were dynamic and diverse.

Nearly half of the world's language families are found in the Americas. Although many of them are now thought extinct, historical linguistics analysis can survey and compare living languages and trace them back in time to better understand the groups that first populated the continent.

In a study published March 30 in the American Journal of Biological Anthropology, Johanna Nichols, a historical linguist at the University of California Berkeley, analyzed structural features of 60 languages from across the U.S. and Canada, which revealed they come from two main language groups that entered North America in at least four distinct waves.

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Frequent disturbances to human societies boost the ability of populations to resist and recover from subsequent downturns, a Nature paper indicates. The study, which analyzes 30,000 years of human history, has implications for future population growth and resilience and for contemporary resilience-building initiatives.

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Competition between species played a major role in the rise and fall of #hominins – and produced a “bizarre” evolutionary pattern for the #Homo lineage – according to a new University of Cambridge study that revises the start and end dates for many of our early ancestors.

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A pair of archaeologists, one with Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, the other with the University of Warsaw, both in Poland, has found evidence suggesting that rock carvings found in a southern part of Peru may have been inspired by people singing while consuming hallucinogenic plants. In their study, published in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal, Andrzej Rozwadowski and Janusz Wołoszyn analyzed rock carvings found in Toro Muerto.

Toro Muerto, ("dead bull" in Spanish) is a rock art complex in South America situated in a desert gorge near the Majes River Valley, spanning 10 km2. It hosts approximately 2,600 volcanic boulders, each adorned with ancient petroglyphs, ranging from small stones with single motifs to massive boulders with multiple images.

The researchers note that despite its notoriety, little study of the petroglyphs has been done. So for their new study, they conducted an analysis of the danzantes—dancing human figures—that appear on most of the boulders.

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Why did humans take over the world while our closest relatives, the Neanderthals, became extinct? It's possible we were just smarter, but there's surprisingly little evidence that's true.

Neanderthals had big brains, language and sophisticated tools. They made art and jewelry. They were smart, suggesting a curious possibility. Maybe the crucial differences weren't at the individual level, but in our societies.

Two hundred and fifty thousand years ago, Europe and western Asia were Neanderthal lands. Homo sapiens inhabited southern Africa. Estimates vary but perhaps 100,000 years ago, modern humans migrated out of Africa.

Forty thousand years ago Neanderthals disappeared from Asia and Europe, replaced by humans. Their slow, inevitable replacement suggests humans had some advantage, but not what it was.

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cross-posted from: https://lemmy.world/post/12700881 because I don't think lemmy is alive enough yet to have a separate questions community. if mods object to my posting a question instead of content here, pls feel free to remove.

All right so I'm not super well-read in this area but I did a scattershot self-guided reading trying to understand early ancient Mesopotamia in my undergrad. Of the dozens (and dozens and dozens...) of sources I consulted the most interesting was a short article by a woman (I think in the handbook of ancient near eastern history or something like that, I'm not sure) basically very cantankerously pointing out tha the footprint of pastoralism is seriously faint in the archaeological record and we probably seriously underestimate the extent to which civilisations like ancient Mesopotamia were also underscored by and based on pastoralism. I'm aware of famous ethnographies of pastoralist communities (the Nuer etc) but what are/are there important works theorising pastoralism per se and what it can tell us about human history and human ecology?

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As synthetic prayer flags and scarves pollute the Himalayan region, a team of scholars and activists work to spread sustainable materials drawn from Indigenous knowledge.

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In Ecuador, Shuar people, an Indigenous group in the region, face increasing threats to their ways of life from industrial mining. But some find strength and courage to resist through knowledge gained by using hallucinogenic plants.

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Anthropology

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