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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First-ever pregnant Egyptian mummy discovered

The mummy was first thought to be a male priest. But a recent radiological analysis revealed a surprising anomaly.

  • The woman was likely from a noble background, buried around 100 BC in the royal tombs of Thebes, Upper Egypt.
  • The researchers said it's curious that she was buried with the fetus inside her, considering organs were typically removed and embalmed before burial.
  • The peculiar burial may suggest that ancient Egyptians believed unborn babies possessed spirits.
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From 1.8 million years ago, earliest evidence of human activity found

Scientists discover what our human ancestors were making inside the Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa 1.8 million years ago.

Credit: Michael Chazan / Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Researchers find evidence of early tool-making and fire use inside the Wonderwerk Cave in Africa.
  • The scientists date the human activity in the cave to 1.8 million years ago.
  • The evidence is the earliest found yet and advances our understanding of human evolution.
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A historian identifies the worst year in human history

A Harvard professor's study discovers the worst year to be alive.

Credit: Pieter Bruegel the Elder. (Museo del Prado).
  • Harvard professor Michael McCormick argues the worst year to be alive was 536 AD.
  • The year was terrible due to cataclysmic eruptions that blocked out the sun and the spread of the plague.
  • 536 ushered in the coldest decade in thousands of years and started a century of economic devastation.
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Ancient cave artists were getting high on hypoxia

A new study says the reason cave paintings are in such remote caverns was the artists' search for transcendence.

Credit: Petar/Adobe Stock
  • Hundreds of prehistoric paintings have been found in subterranean chambers with barely enough oxygen to breathe.
  • Low oxygen causes hypoxia that can induce exalted mental states.
  • A new study says the artists chose these hard-to-each caverns in search of an oxygen-starved high.
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