Friday March 7, 2014
Some of the greatest architecture in the world, by which I mean attractive and sturdy both, came out of the need to control water. Among my favorites are Roman aqueducts.
The Roman aqueduct (UNESCO World Heritage Site) of Segovia illuminated at night, Autonomous Community of Castilla Leon, Spain, March 2012. Cristina Arias/Cover/Getty Images
These piped conduits sluiced water across many miles (the longest 155 miles) to bring water to the Roman citizenry. Of course, if you weren't a Roman, you'd have to pay for the privilege...
Wednesday March 5, 2014
As everybody knows from the movies, gladiators were reality TV for the Roman Empire, trained in schools to battle each other and the occasional animal for the entertainment of a crowd of spectators. Go Maximus!
Virtual Reconstruction of the Gladiator School at Carnuntum. M. Klein/7reasons
Schools to teach gladiators were called ludi, and intact archaeological remains of them are rare indeed. A recent report in Antiquity describes the gladiator school at Carnuntum, a 1st century Roman city southeast of Vienna, Austria, along with the virtual reconstruction shown above.
Neubauer W, Gugl C, Scholz M, Verhoeven G, Trinks I, Löcker K, Doneus M, Saey T, and Van Meirvenne M. 2014. The discovery of the school of gladiators at Carnuntum, Austria. Antiquity 88:173-190.
Monday March 3, 2014
The snap and bite of a chili pepper is one of the true pleasures in life, and it turns out we have to thank the first Americans for that.
Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum
There are over 35 different species of pepper in the world today, and they all began from a handful of species domesticated in the American continents. One of the likely progenitors is the wild bird pepper, illustrated here.
Thursday February 27, 2014
According to a new report published in Science today, the ancestors of the people who populated the American continents were stranded for up to 20,000 years on a land mass now sunk beneath the Bering Sea. And no, it was not named Atlantis.
This map shows the outlines of modern Siberia (left) and Alaska (right) with dashed lines. The broader area in darker green (now covered by ocean) represents the Bering land bridge near the end of the last glacial maximum.
William Manley, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado.
The colonization of the Americas has been a topic of great archaeological study and debate for well over a century, and the answers to how, when and from where did the first Americans get to their new home have changed as the science has improved.
The latest set of fine-tuned answers are the results of pollen cores and mitochondrial DNA evidence, drawn into a theory known as the Beringian Standstill Hypothesis, or the Beringian Incubation Model, winningly abbreviated BIM.
Hoffecker JF, Elias SA, and O'Rourke DH. 2014. Out of Beringia? Science 343:979-980. doi: 10.1126/science.1250768