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36 votes
Accepted

When was the 50 billionth human born?

Data published by the demographer Carl Haub and Dr. Toshiko Kaneda in How Many People Have Ever Lived on Earth? on the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) website suggests that the 50 billionth person ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
34 votes
Accepted

Did early northern Europeans drink alcohol?

Yes. Residue analysis has found chemical signatures consistent with the presence of honey, and organic compounds associated with fermentation suggesting that mead was being drunk by the late ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k
27 votes
Accepted

Have there been any plausible reports of killing polar bears with a bone spring?

Yes. Looking for 19th century sources this comes up in the Bulletin of the United States National Museum, Volume 27, 1884: 21 SPRING TRAPS- ANIMAL TRAPS BEAR TRAPS Made of whalebone strips bent and ...
justCal's user avatar
  • 40.1k
20 votes
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What is the primary source evidence for the theory that the African Ancient Egyptians are not black Africans whose origin is sub-Saharan Africa?

The origins of the Ancient Egyptians remains very much an open question. The latest DNA study that I'm aware of suggests that Ancient Egyptian populations may have more common ancestry with ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k
17 votes

What do we currently know about the ethnic origins of Jews?

Being awfully broad as it is, it is nevertheless an issue that might be addressable. But the terminology needs to be clearer. "Jews", in our modern sense, sprang into existence only after 70 ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
  • 80.8k
13 votes

Why is the Harappa (Indus Valley) civilization considered one of the six independent cradles of civilization?

Its actually a pretty astute observation that independent river-valley "cradles of civilization" tend to have their own crops associated with them. I've personally had a lot of luck researching plant ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
12 votes
Accepted

What is the historical reason for 18 years being the most commonly accepted age of adulthood?

Age of consent laws could, in part, explain why we've settled on 18 or ages near to it. Age of consent statutes can be dated as far back as 1275 in England and were adopted in a number of other ...
otteheng's user avatar
  • 953
11 votes

Were/are the Gaels, Picts and Britons physically distinct?

This area has evolved much in the past few decades of research. You are asking 'ethnicity' not race (there are only 3, possibly 4, 'races' of humans on the world. I should include as an edit that ...
Twelfth's user avatar
  • 2,712
10 votes
Accepted

What attributes did Yahweh have before becoming a monotheistic deity?

Early Israelite religion was not monotheistic, and it remained in that classification for at least several hundred years. YHWH was developed very slowly in a syncretistic process were he was ascribed ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
  • 80.8k
10 votes

Did early northern Europeans drink alcohol?

Mead was the alcoholic drink of northern Europe, particularly "Celtic" northern Europe, e.g. the British Isles and northern France. It also figures prominently in the literature of the Scandinavians. ...
Tom Au's user avatar
  • 104k
9 votes
Accepted

What surface area per person is required for hunter-gatherers?

I found this quote: “Based on the preceding calculations, a family of five would require an estimated 200 ha of habitat from which to gather animal and plant food. This estimate is based on an ...
Pippo Ramos's user avatar
9 votes
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Why are only Homo Sapiens left?

You have answered your question here: DNA evidence shows that all of these groups interbreed with the other groups. Thus it is not that these other hominin groups became extinct - their DNA lives ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
8 votes

Were/are the Gaels, Picts and Britons physically distinct?

Note: I read the question this morning, then wrote my answer tonight. Somehow I came to think it included language and culture. It's now a bit of TMI, but I'm going to let it hang out there for a ...
John Dee's user avatar
  • 3,368
8 votes

Roughly how many people were in a Magdalenian group? (And Gravettian?)

Actually, the truth is that - in absolute terms - we don't know the size of the groups. All that we are able to say is that the material culture of a particular group - as revealed by archaeology - ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.3k
8 votes

How objective are books like "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind"? How are they "proven"?

Start with whether or not the book gets the basic facts correct. Not the most obvious ones, but the more subtler ones. If those are correct, then one can start to presume a basic competence, and ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
8 votes

Why are only Homo Sapiens left?

We currently don't know what erased the other hominid species and many of the original theories are starting to be proven false. We assumed that Neanderthals were made extinct due to climate change, ...
Tyler Mc's user avatar
  • 791
8 votes

Given that there were there larger, more organised civilisations in South America compared to NA, why did they not colonise North America themselves?

It wasn't worth the effort This comes close to the question why the Roman Empire didn't take over Ireland or Germany: there was nothing there that warranted the effort; the costs would be prohibitive. ...
Jos's user avatar
  • 21.9k
7 votes

What attributes did Yahweh have before becoming a monotheistic deity?

Nobody really knows for sure. El/Elohim (which by the time of the writing of most of the Hebrew scriptures had become synonymous) has ancient Semitic roots, but Yahweh appears to be (nearly) unique to ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
7 votes

What is the historical reason for 18 years being the most commonly accepted age of adulthood?

For a long time, 21 was the "age of adulthood". From Encyclopedia of Adult Development: As early as the thirteenth century, age 21 was an important marker in Britain, at least for men. This was the ...
terminex9's user avatar
  • 1,374
7 votes

Historical examples of advanced societies that abruptly abandoned or changed religions?

Iceland converted to Christianity in 1000 AD. This was the result of mediation, to avoid a civil war between heathens and Christians, and to maintain good relations with Norway. Public heathen ...
Arlie Stephens's user avatar
6 votes

Historical examples of advanced societies that abruptly abandoned or changed religions?

What causes a society to abandon it's own religion (for another religion or for secularism)? Open warfare and subjugation springs to mind. The Saxon Wars were not only forcing the Saxons under ...
DevSolar's user avatar
  • 14k
6 votes
Accepted

Are there cultures without knowledge of how babies are made?

I can't think of any group that doesn't make the connection between sex and reproduction but there are/were cultures that don't understand it in its entirety. In particular, there used to be many ...
lsusr's user avatar
  • 292
5 votes
Accepted

Did ancient and/or medieval cultures that emphasized the danger of religious pollution also exert more control over women?

The anthropologist Mary Douglas's Purity and Danger (1966) is a foundational text on pollution and taboos which won't lay your question to rest—and neither will this answer—but does present a model of ...
ichorallemande's user avatar
5 votes

What do we currently know about the ethnic origins of Jews?

Jew is harder to trace than Hebrew or Israelite. Hebrew is a distinct language in the Northwest Semitic group. It split off of the Canaanite language in the second half of the 2nd Millennium B.C. ...
John Dee's user avatar
  • 3,368
5 votes
Accepted

Differences among foraging, cultivation, domestication

There was definitely a transitional phase in areas that developed agriculture independently. For example, in the mid-east they started out grinding useful grasses. Mortar and pestle and sickle finds ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
5 votes
Accepted

Historical examples of advanced societies that abruptly abandoned or changed religions?

The Aten religion in Ancient Egypt 14th Century BC. It virtually came and went with one King, Akhenaten, which may indicate how centralised power must have been in that society. The king's power to ...
Timothy's user avatar
  • 5,621
5 votes

How young of a child could do significant labor?

An important concept here is "alienated wage labour." That is labour that is performed for someone else for a wage. A wage can be money, or goods, or food. But the wage relationship is focused on "...
Samuel Russell's user avatar
5 votes

Given that there were there larger, more organised civilisations in South America compared to NA, why did they not colonise North America themselves?

'Why didn't X happen?' questions are inherently speculative, so in that spirit, here's my wild, uninformed speculations... Logistics For Central American states, invading North America would mean ...
JayFor's user avatar
  • 919
4 votes

Are there cultures without knowledge of how babies are made?

From Robert Graves' The Greek Myths : Once the relevance of coition to child-bearing had been admitted - an account of this tuning-point in religion appears in the Hittite myth of Appu (H.G. ...
nwr's user avatar
  • 141
4 votes

Does any culture have a native food that is objectively bad?

You will not find an objectively non-nutritious cuisine, as people would die. But I have an answer valid at least for part of the year. The Iroquois / Huron in Canada did not have a comfortable way ...
Luiz's user avatar
  • 4,438

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