Four thousand years ago, the Early Bronze Age farmers of southern Germany had no Homer to chronicle their marriages, travails, and family fortunes. But a detailed picture of their social structure has now emerged. By combining evidence from DNA, artifacts, and chemical clues in teeth, an interdisciplinary team unraveled relationships and inheritance patterns in several generations of high-ranking families buried in cemeteries on their farmsteads—and discovers clues to why ancient German cemeteries are often totally missing adult daughters.
Greenland’s ice sheet holds enough water to raise seas by 7 meters—and no one knows whether, or how fast, that water will be unleashed by a warming world. A project to monitor every aspect of the fast-shrinking Helheim Glacier seeks the answers to these questions, and more.
Most researchers think that in fossils as old as a Deinonychus claw—the inspiration for Jurassic Park’s velociraptor—most of the useful sequences of organic molecules have long vanished. Now, two scientists have devised a way to extract information locked in degraded proteins, even in fossils hundreds of millions of years old.
China’s crackdown on mostly-Muslim minorities in the far western province of Xinjiang, which include the Turkic-speaking Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyz, has swept up as many as 1 million people, and is sometimes called a cultural genocide. The 2017 disappearance of a high-profile university president is drawing international attention after Amnesty International warned his execution may be imminent.
With the help of infrared imaging, researchers have finally read writing hidden on the back of charred scrolls that were damaged in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy. The discovery may help reveal the secrets of other ancient documents.