The first study to compare ancient and living female bones shows that women from early agricultural eras had stronger arms than the rowers of Cambridge University’s famously competitive boat club. Researchers say the findings suggest a “hidden history” of gruelling manual labour performed by women that stretched across millennia.
New archaeological analysis suggests people of Western Roman Empire switched between Hunnic nomadism and settled farming over a lifetime. Findings may be evidence of tribal encroachment that undermined Roman Empire during 5th century AD, contributing to its fall.
Review of latest genetic evidence suggests infectious diseases are tens of thousands of years older than previously thought, and that they could jump between species of ‘hominin’. Researchers says that humans migrating out of Africa would have been ‘reservoirs of tropical disease’ – disease that may have sped up Neanderthal extinction.
Archaeological evidence shows that intestinal parasites such as whipworm became increasingly common across Europe during the Roman Period, despite the apparent improvements the empire brought in sanitation technologies.
Piers Mitchell (Department of Biological Anthroplogy) discusses what Roman toilets did for the health of the population.
New digital techniques have allowed researchers to predict structural evolution of the skull in the lineage of Homo sapiens and Neanderthals, in an effort to fill in blanks in the fossil record, and provide the first 3D rendering of their last common ancestor. The study suggests populations that led to the lineage split were older than previously thought.
DNA from 4,500-year-old Ethiopian skull reveals a large migratory wave of West Eurasians into the Horn of Africa around 3,000 years ago had a genetic impact on modern populations across East Africa.
Analysis of a latrine in Jerusalem that dates back over 500 years finds human parasites common in northern Europe yet very rare in Middle East at the time, suggesting long-distance trade or pilgrimage routes and shedding light on prevalent infectious diseases of the age.
Ancient DNA shows earliest European genomes weathered the ice age, and shines new light on Neanderthal interbreeding and a mystery human lineage06 Nov 2014
A genome taken from a 36,000 year old skeleton reveals an early divergence of Eurasians once they had left Africa, and allows scientists to better assess the point at which ‘admixture’ - or interbreeding - between Eurasians and Neanderthals occurred. The latest research also points to a previously unknown population lineage as old as the first population separations since humans dispersed out of Africa.
Understanding our biological past is a tricky business. It's like trying to build a jigsaw puzzle when most of the pieces are missing. However, bioarchaeologists at the University of Cambridge are doing just that through the study of human-environment interactions within a historic and prehistoric framework, often with surprising results.