How the geometry of ancient habitats may have influenced human brain evolution | Ars Technica

There's a pivotal scene in the 2012 film The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey when Gandalf, Bilbo Baggins, and a company of dwarves are chased by orcs through a classic New Zealand landscape. For Northwestern University neuroscientist and engineer Malcolm MacIver, the scene is an excellent example of the kind of patchy landscape—dotted with trees, bushes, [...]

Millennia-Old Rock Art in Israel Offers Window Into Lost Culture | Smart News | Smithsonian Magazine

Archaeologists in northern Israel have discovered 4,000-year-old rock art engraved on the walls of three stone burial monuments, or dolmens, reports Ruth Schuster for Haaretz. An analysis of the rock carvings, which depict animals, geometric shapes and what may be a human face, was published last month in the journal Asian Archaeology. — Read on [...]

On Crazyism, Jerkitude, Garden Snails and Other Philosophical Puzzles – Scientific American

Horgan: Why do you write fiction? Doesn't that mean philosophy isn't really that fulfilling for you? Schwitzgebel: Wait, writing fiction can’t be a way of doing philosophy? Sartre, Rousseau, Zhuangzi, Voltaire, Nietzsche and Borges might disagree! Is anyone currently doing better work on the ethics of technology than the TV series Black Mirror? For instance, [...]

Native Americans and Polynesians Met in 1200 AD | Science | Smithsonian Magazine

The Pacific Ocean covers almost one-third of the Earth's surface, yet centuries ago, Polynesian navigators were skilled enough to find and populate most of the habitable islands scattered between Oceana and the Americas. Now a new genetic analysis is revealing more about their incredible journeys—and the people they met along the way. A provocative new [...]

Archaeologists Discover Enormous Ring of Ancient Pits Near Stonehenge | Smart News | Smithsonian Magazine

Stonehenge is arguably the most well-known megalith in the United Kingdom. But the structures surrounding this roughly 5,000-year-old monument boast equally fascinating histories. Take, for instance, Durrington Walls, a large Neolithic hedge located just under two miles northeast of its more famous neighbor. Though prehistoric humans likely used Stonehenge as a sacred place for ceremonies [...]

Genetic origins of the Minoans and Mycenaeans | Nature

The origins of the Bronze Age Minoan and Mycenaean cultures have puzzled archaeologists for more than a century. We have assembled genome-wide data from 19 ancient individuals, including Minoans from Crete, Mycenaeans from mainland Greece, and their eastern neighbours from southwestern Anatolia. Here we show that Minoans and Mycenaeans were genetically similar, having at least [...]