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, ...
46 votes
Accepted

Why did Native Americans originally migrate to the Americas?

However, considering there was little to no knowledge of the new world I wonder why would the tribes risk to travel to far . . . it seems unreasonable [humans would] risk it to migrate towards the ...
  • 96.4k
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 ...
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
21 votes

Did Egyptian civilization start from North to South or vice versa?

The direct answer is that in modern Egyptian geographical terms, they came from central Egypt. In ancient historical terms, from "Upper Egypt". First off, I need to address a misconception in the ...
  • 112k
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 ...
  • 112k
18 votes

What is the significance of 4200 BCE in context of farming replacing foraging in Europe?

Farming societies typically support 60 to 100 times the population of hunter-gatherer societies. Given that kind of population difference, what that one person wants/needs vs. the 100 simply doesn't ...
  • 112k
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 ...
16 votes
Accepted

Is there an accepted explanation for multiple independent "cradles of civilization"?

I also believe the answer is "no". It sure is tempting to put forth one's own theories here, but I'm unaware of any one that is generally accepted. I will point out one thing though: That chart you ...
  • 112k
16 votes
Accepted

What was the staple food of the natives of South East Asia before rice?

From Pakistan to Japan is indeed a big region and "before rice" a long and varied time frame. But this question seems to imply that it is concerned with the early neolithic centers of agriculture in ...
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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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15 votes

What is the significance of 4200 BCE in context of farming replacing foraging in Europe?

The time period from roughly 7500 BP (years Before Present) to 4000 BP (5500 BCE to 2000 BCE), known as the Holocene Maximum (or Optimum) saw global temperatures: rapidly increase from slightly (~0.5°...
14 votes
Accepted

What is the oldest verifiably correctly translated written work?

Writing emerged from indecipherable protowriting in the 4th millennium BC. Here's a really cool graph of the earliest dates we can ascribe to writing systems, from a long analysis of the question: ...
  • 2,326
14 votes

Could homo erectus have migrated to North America?

Its exceedingly unlikely. There's no feasible route to the Americas at their level of technology that doesn't go through the Beringa (NE Sibera/Alaska) area. The period in question covers an ...
  • 112k
13 votes
Accepted

Did Native-Americans Have Horses?

Not exactly. Equus, the genus that contains modern horses and Zebras, most likely originated in the Americas. Fossil records shows all species from that genus dying out in the Americas about 12,000 ...
  • 112k
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 ...
  • 96.4k
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
11 votes

Did humans hunt with dogs before planting crops for food?

Yes, current archaeological evidence does suggest that humans were hunting with dogs in the Palaeolithic period, well before they developed agriculture. There is now good evidence from both ...
  • 76.7k
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 ...
  • 2,702
11 votes

Did migrating people ever maintain contact across the Bering Strait?

On a cultural level, yes. The Yupik peoples have inhabited both sides of Bering Straight for at least a couple of millennia, though there are distinctions between the Siberian and various Alaskan ...
11 votes
Accepted

What happened when the Çatalhöyük burial holes were full and the houses had no more room?

The question here may be based on some assumptions, relating the culture of the distant past to that of today. the simple-seeming question What happened when the burial holes where full and no more ...
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10 votes
Accepted

Did the deity "Horus" pre-date "Horus-Aha"?

The short answer is that we don't know for certain. Our understanding of the early evolution of the Egyptian pantheon is limited by the paucity of early texts. What we can say is neatly summarised ...
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9 votes

Early reasons to bury the dead

The earliest undisputed purposeful burial we have found was from about 100,000 years ago. There's some more controversial evidence that Neanderthal man was performing burials far earlier than that. ...
  • 112k
9 votes

Did Egyptian civilization start from North to South or vice versa?

I understand why these statements may appear to be contradictory, but - as with many things - much of the confusion probably stems from the terminology being used. So, firstly, let's be clear about ...
  • 76.7k
9 votes
Accepted

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 ...
9 votes

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

The evidence for equal male/female participation seems to be 'hand stencils'. I'm sure the conclusions that have been reached about the sex of each hand are correct. And yes, in a narrow sense, it ...
  • 525
8 votes

What are early archeological clues of humans boiling food?

I can't speak to boiling in particular, but if it's just evidence you're asking about, there's evidence of Homo Erectus (a human ancestor) using controlled fires about a million years ago. ...
  • 112k
8 votes

Did Native-Americans Have Horses?

The horses of the Great Plains Indians escaped from New Mexico during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, in New Mexico.. The "native" horses of North America became extinct shortly after the paleo-Indians ...
  • 6,759
8 votes

What did early humans do with their long hair?

In addition to Schwern's answer, it should be pointed out that not all humans grow beards and long straight hair. The Khoisan peoples in Africa instead grow sparse curly short hair (often termed "...
  • 112k
8 votes

What did early humans do with their long hair?

Our ancestors started using tools well before there were humans. They have had cutting tools for about 2 million years produced by various means and sharp enough to cut hair. Whether they used them to ...
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