72 votes
Accepted

How do we know the gender distribution of cave art painters?

A significant portion of cave paintings are so called "hand stencils": People pressed one hand onto the wall and applied color around the hand. Image: Cueva de las Manos, Perito Moreno, ...
40 votes

Earliest evidence of objects intended for future archaeologists?

Coins, dedications, and other 'ritual' objects have been buried in the foundations of buildings since prehistory. The function of these artefacts is unclear, but they do not appear to have been ...
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33 votes

Was the Earth's sea-level significantly lower in ancient times?

The beginnings of human Civilization by-and-large are coincident with the start of our current interglacial period, known as the Holocene at roughly 10,000BC. At the start of it, worldwide sea levels ...
  • 111k
27 votes
Accepted

When did nonporous ceramic become widespread?

Porcelain originates in China. They were able to reach the 1,200C needed to vitrify pottery as far back as the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 CE) and there was much earlier proto-porcelain (it had been ...
27 votes

How do we know that prehistoric hunter-gatherer societies were egalitarian?

The claim that prehistoric hunter gatherers were egalitarian is mostly supported by: analogy to some modern or historic hunter-gatherer societies lack of monumental buildings in the archeological ...
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25 votes
Accepted

Are there pyramids at Sternenfels?

There are certainly no 'pyramids' at Sternenfels. There are some man-made alterations to the landscape, but while they are claimed sometimes to be pre-historical, most available reliable info ...
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23 votes

Why were there no agricultural, city-state forming civilizations in the Ice Age?

(Most of what I'm writing is a summary of "After the Ice: A global human history 20,000-5,000 BC" by Steven Mithen - published 2003 so it's pretty up to date as an overview of what is known)....
  • 3,155
20 votes

What caused women to lose their access to resources and become a part of men's possessions with the start of the agriculture era?

Most likely because they never had it to start with. There are two big problems with this portion of the book's thesis: I see no evidence whatsoever put forth in the above text supporting the ...
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20 votes
Accepted

What is known about the Ubaid lizard-people figurines?

There are many theories & interpretations, but relatively little evidence to support most of them. Of course, there are no written sources from the Ubaid period to support them. You are ...
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19 votes

Earliest evidence of objects intended for future archaeologists?

The ancient Sumerians and Babylonians, from about 3000 BC on, used to bury clay tablets in the foundations of their temples and other major buildings giving the name of the king who founded the temple ...
  • 9,483
18 votes

Where can I find reliable primary sources written by Ancient Egyptian laborers?

We actually have a lot of good evidence written by workers from that period. The bulk of that evidence comes from the workers' village of Deir el-Medina which housed the men who built the tombs in the ...
  • 76.5k
18 votes

Are there any underground cities known except those found in Cappadocia?

There are a few underground cities that I can think of, some may fit your requirements better than others. If you consider tunneling into rocks, then Petra would be a very large city that was built ...
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18 votes
Accepted

How do archaeologists date cave paintings?

Short Answer The dating of cave art, while still a far from exact science, has come a long way in the last 25 years and includes: comparisons to known pieces of art and animals known to have existed ...
17 votes

What is the historical basis for the Exodus?

I'll summarize what the Jewish Study Bible, 2nd edition says about the subject. This material is from the introduction to Exodus and two essays: "The Religion of the Bible" and "Archeology and the ...
17 votes
Accepted

Are there any hypotheses on how the Dorset people disappeared?

There are several theories of disappearance of the Dorset people. Two are discussed in the article "Disappearance of Dorset Culture" published on the webpage of the Canadian Museum of History: ...
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15 votes
Accepted

Did iron age Britons still use the "ritual" sites built by their neolithic predecessors?

That is a really good question. The truth is that evidence for any sort of "cultural continuity" is scant. One word of caution though. I generally hesitate to use the word "ritual" in an ...
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13 votes
Accepted

What were the insignia of the Western Roman Empire and what happened to them?

The imperial regalia of Rome were not a single thing but a collection of various objects carried in tow during processions of the emperor. The main items were various lances and spears along with a ...
  • 37.4k
12 votes

What is the historical basis for the Exodus?

UCSD held a fascinating conference on the topic of the Exodus a couple of years back, which I highly recommend viewing - It contains a variety of views on the subject, along with both archeological ...
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12 votes
Accepted

Why does the Ħaġar Qim seem to have drilled holes / pitted dots on its stoneworks?

Such stippling is a common feature at prehistoric Maltese sites. They are often considered a primitive decorative pattern - somewhat of a forerunner of a modern art form. It is the best preserved ...
  • 96.3k
12 votes

Why were there no agricultural, city-state forming civilizations in the Ice Age?

Blame the weather. Larger version The reason it took so long for agriculture to develop can be summed up in this chart which shows variation in global temperature against time. The analysis in the ...
  • 579
12 votes

When did nonporous ceramic become widespread?

Ceramic glaze became "prevalent" in Islamic art about the 8th century CE. It also became popular in China and Japan through the introduction of "colored" glazes in the 6th to 8th centuries CE. So I ...
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12 votes

Are there any underground cities known except those found in Cappadocia?

Dating in its origins from the 2 millenium BCE and still inhabited by up to 40 million people today: The first type of yaodong were underground dwellings that date back to the 2nd millennium BC, ...
  • 78.8k
12 votes

Have any artifacts or archaeological remains from the White Ship disaster of 1120 ever been recovered?

According to the chronicler Orderic Vitalis (1075 – c. 1142), most of the royal treasure was recovered: The dwellers on the coast, as soon as they ascertained that the reports of the disaster was ...
12 votes

What does BPE/PE in some archaeology journals stand for?

"BPE" stands for "Before Present Era", and is equivalent to the more familiar BP (Before Present = 1950). It is a new "standard" abbreviation that I have seen appearing over the last decade or so (...
  • 76.5k
11 votes

What is the historical basis for the Exodus?

As a complement to other answers, and especially to nbubis' answer. Based to a large extent on the work of the Israeli archeologist Israel Finkelstein (a youtube video with him talking on this topic ...
  • 1,747
11 votes
Accepted

DNA results of Amarna dead?

That article seems to be about the North Tombs cemetery, which was excavated as part of the Amarna Project in 2015. Like you, I'm really looking forward to the publication of the DNA data. However, ...
  • 76.5k
11 votes
Accepted

How can we make claims of ancient alcohol consumption based on chemical analysis of remains?

There are real challenges involved in identifying the organic residues that suggest the processing of alcoholic beverages. As you observed, fermentation is a natural process and would be expected to ...
  • 76.5k
11 votes
Accepted

Could there be frozen animals under Antarctica's ice sheets?

Possibly - but neither dinosaurs nor woolly mammoths. Antarctica froze over about 34 million years ago, which is long after extinction of the dinosaurs (other than their avian descendants) some 60 ...
10 votes

Authenticity of the Russian birch bark manuscripts

Yes a buried piece of wood, or other biological tissue, could survive for thousands of years without decomposing with appropriate environmental conditions. While the conditions for this are rather ...
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