Despite the fact that humans sometimes fight fiercely among themselves, one of our most distinctive human traits is our willingness to cooperate with others. Why we are like that is one of the really big questions confronting evolutionary psychologists.
"The fact that people cooperate is quite mysterious," says Robert Kurzban, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. "People are constantly talking about how organisms are competing, but one thing that humans do that's distinctive is they cooperate in groups."
Of course, we wonder what precise relevance a bunch of college students might have to Homo habili.
Okay, maybe a LOT. But that's not important right now. . . .
Neanderthal update For Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens, Was It De-Lovely? (Free reg required)
he scientists did not get around to the nitty-gritty question until the fourth hour of a two-and-a-half-day symposium on Neanderthals, held recently at New York University.
A strong consensus was emerging, they agreed, that the now-extinct Neanderthals were a distinct evolutionary entity from modern humans, presumably a different species. They were archaic members of the human family, robust with heavy brow ridges and forward-projecting faces, who lived in Europe and western Asia from at least 250,000 years ago until they vanished from the fossil record about 28,000 years ago.
Neanderthals may have seen their first modern Homo sapiens some 100,000 years ago in what is now Israel. The two people almost certainly came in contact in Europe in the last centuries before the dwindling Neanderthal population was replaced forever by the intruding modern humans.
Good review article on the state of Neanderthal/Homo relations.
Convert back to grayscale, please Color Restored to Ancient Sculptures
Spurting red blood and flowing black dreadlocks are just a few of the details revealed on ancient sculptures at a Web site devoted to virtual color restoration, a growing trend that has resulted in a recent Vatican Museum exhibit on colored statues, as well as actual restoration of the world's best-preserved painted sculpture.
Before these projects, most all Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek, Roman and other early sculptures only were seen in the monotone colors of the sculpture's primary material, such as clay or marble, even though many of the objects originally were covered with gilt and bright paints.
Probably the reaction they wanted, however.
Gold! Digs at Archontiko, Pella uncover more gold-clad warriors
The gold of the ancient Macedonians still gleams on the soldiers’ uniforms being unearthed by excavations in the ancient necropolis of Archontiko in Pella.
Fully armed Macedonian aristocrats, gold-bedecked women in elaborate jewelry, faience idols and clay vases of exceptional beauty had lain concealed for centuries in 141 simple rectangular trench graves that were discovered recently in the ancient settlement.
In their tombs, Macedonian officers wore armor and — in the late Classical and early Hellenistic periods — were equipped for the journey after death with coins for Charon, copper utensils made by local metalworkers, and rare incense or oil containers with the war of the giants depicted in relief.
We'd never thought of that Panda skeleton found in ancient tomb
The skeleton of a giant panda has been found in a 4,000-year-old tomb in central China.
Wu Xianzhu from the Hubei Provincial Archaeology Research Institute says the giant panda was most likely part of a burial ritual.
Wu says pigs and dogs have been used in burials as funerary objects since the early New Stone Age, dating back about 8,000 years.
We probably should have assumed pandas -- cute little buggers that they are -- would have been in tombs, but we are distressed to learn they may have been hunted.
Mohr from Mehr Archaeologists save 2500-year-old shards of Tang-e Bolaghi
A team of Iranian and Italian archaeologists collected 4000 shards, some dating back to about 2500 years ago, from Tang-e Bolaghi, which will be flooded by the waters of the Sivand Dam, the director of the Iranian archaeological group said on Wednesday.
Situated in Fars Province, Tang-e Bolaghi is located only four kilometers away from Pasargadae, the first capital of the Achaemenid dynasty (about 550-331 B.C.) and the residence of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire. Pasargadae was registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List last July.
That's the great thing about pottery sherds, you can get a good sample of 'em in a couple of hours, since there's so many of the durn things lying around. Good to see they're getting the attention usually reserved for gold, silver, and inscribed tablets.
A Place to Rest for German Kings
Usually the western city of Aachen gets all the press -- at least when it comes to Charlemagne. It was the favorite residence of the emperor and served as the principal coronation site of Holy Roman emperors and German kings from the Middle Ages to the Reformation.
But now Aachen's been upstaged somewhat since an archeologist at the Roman-Germanic Museum in Mainz has uncovered part of an armrest that supported Charlemagne's royal left arm when he was visiting the city of Mainz.