The evolution of comfort food

An archaeologist considers the history and biology of what defines a taste of home.

Photo by Zera Li on Unsplash
The winter holiday season will feel different this year for many: Extended families may not be able to gather, leaving holiday meals shared with smaller groups, or digitally, across different time zones.
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How young is the oldest building in your state?

Map shows oldest buildings for each U.S. state – but also hints at what's missing.

Credit: Malcolm Tunnell, reproduced with kind permission
  • How old is the oldest building in your state? This map will tell you.
  • While the East Coast has some pretty ancient stuff, the oldest buildings elsewhere are many centuries older.
  • The Pueblo dwellings in the Four Corners states go back to 750 CE.
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California cave art linked to early use of hallucinogens

The Chumash people poked bits of psychoactive plants into cave ceilings next to their paintings.

Credit: Rick Bury (art)/Melissa Dabulamanzi (Datura)/PNAS
  • Mysterious pinwheel paintings in a California cave are probably representations of the hallucinogen Datura wrightii.
  • The paintings were made by the Chumash people 400 years ago.
  • This is the first definitive connection between cave painting and hallucinogens.
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Is Christianity rooted in psychedelic rituals?

In "The Immortality Key," Brian Muraresku speculates that the Eucharist could have once been more colorful.

Credit: Mads Schmidt Rasmussen / Unsplash
  • In his new book, Brian Muraresku speculates that the Christian Eucharist could be rooted in the Eleusinian Mysteries.
  • The wine and wafer of the modern ritual might have started off with a far more potent beverage.
  • In this interview with Big Think, Muraresku discusses "dying before dying" and the demonization of women by the Church.
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    Researchers use CT scans to digitally peek at ancient Egyptian mummies

    All the fun of opening up a mummy, without the fear of unleashing a plague.

    Zesch et al., PLOS One, 2020
    • Three long dead Egyptians recently had their CT images taken.
    • The scans revealed what was, and was not, done during their mummification.
    • The finds shed more light on how the Egyptians were inspired by the Greeks and Romans.
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