Busting the Easter Island myth: there was no civilization collapse

For decades, researchers have proposed that climate change and human-caused environmental destruction led to demographic collapse on Easter Island. That's probably false, according to new research.

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  • Easter Island, whose native name is Rapa Nui, is a remote island in the Pacific Ocean about 2,300 miles west of Chile.
  • Researchers have proposed that deforestation and climatic changes led to societal collapse on the island, prior to European contact.
  • The results of a new study suggest that, despite these factors, the Rapa Nui people managed to adapt and sustain a stable society.
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Discovered: 78,000 years ago, the oldest known burial ritual in Africa

How do archaeologists know if someone was buried intentionally tens of thousands of years ago?

Photo by Francesco Derrico & Alain Queffelec / AFP via Getty Images
  • The oldest known burial ritual in Africa has been discovered on the coast of Kenya.
  • A small child appears to have been buried intentionally in a cave 78,000 years ago.
  • This new research offers insights into ancient funerary practices.
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Mysterious "Plain of Jars" in Laos has been dated

After years of speculation a team of researchers has pinpointed the age of this ancient mystery.

Credit: Louise Shewan, et al.
  • The Plain of Jars consists of over 90 sites containing thousands of jars scattered across Laos.
  • According to new research, these jars were constructed sometime between 1240 and 660 BCE.
  • In 2019, UNESCO named a cluster of 11 regions as a World Heritage Site.
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An 'indiscriminate' massacre: Study examines why 41 people were killed 6,200 years ago

"Large-scale indiscriminate killing is a horror that is not just a feature of the modern and historic periods, but was also a significant process in pre-state societies," the researchers wrote.

Credit: Novak et al.
  • In 2007, a mass grave containing the ancient remains of 41 men, women, and children was discovered in Croatia.
  • Initially, some researchers proposed the victims might have been killed due to xenophobia.
  • However, a new genetic analysis suggests that the victims weren't newcomers to the area, leading researchers to note that climatic changes might have played a role in the killings.
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Turns out those aren't the apostle St James’s bones after all

Research shows that bone fragments of Jesus's (possible) brother belong to someone else.

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  • New research in Rome has found that bones purported to be from St. James the Less are impossible.
  • The femoral bone fragments date to somewhere between 214 and 340 CE—a few centuries off the mark.
  • The analysis was conducted on bone fragments, oil, and mummy remains in the Basilica dei Santa Apostoli.
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