Earliest church in the tropics unearthed in former heart of Atlantic slave trade

06 Nov 2015

Remains of a church on Cabo Verde’s Santiago Island, off the West African coast, dates back to late 15th century – when Portugal first colonised the islands that played a central role in the global African slave trade. Archaeological excavations are helping Cabo Verdeans gain new insight into their remarkable and long-obscured history.

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Spatula to poison darts, Malaysia

Poisons, plants and Palaeolithic hunters

21 Mar 2015

Dozens of common plants are toxic. Archaeologists have long suspected that our Palaeolithic ancestors used plant poisons to make their hunting weapons more lethal.  Now Dr Valentina Borgia has teamed up with a forensic chemist to develop a technique for detecting residues of deadly substances on archaeological objects.

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Study finds increased DNA mutations in children of teenage fathers

18 Feb 2015

New research reveals that the sperm cells of adolescent boys have more than six times the rate of DNA mutations as the equivalent egg cells in adolescent girls, resulting in higher rates of DNA mutation being passed down to children of teenage fathers. The findings suggest that the risk of birth defects is higher in the children of teenage fathers as a consequence.

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Prehistoric ‘book keeping’ continued long after invention of writing

14 Jul 2014

An ancient token-based recording system from before the dawn of history was rendered obsolete by the birth of writing, according to popular wisdom. But now, latest excavations show that, in fact, these clay tokens were integral to administrative functions right across the Assyrian empire – millennia after this system was believed to have vanished.

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The “wonderful rubbish” of the Gilf Kebir desert

17 Jun 2014

A chance find in a site known as the Cave of Swimmers adds a colourful twist to an exhibition in Paris celebrating the work of ethnographer Leo Frobenius in raising awareness of the rock art of Africa. The discovery by Italian archaeologist Dr Giulio Lucarini, currently at Cambridge University, underlines the vital importance of safeguarding the heritage of the Gilf Kebir. 

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