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Monday, May 24
by Jessica E. Saraceni
May 24, 2010

Forty-five tombs, most of which contain at least one sarcophagus and a mummy, have been discovered in Egypt’s Fayum Oasis. The oldest of the burials is about 4,500 years old.

Human hunters in the Americas may have triggered the frozen period known as the Younger Dryas by killing plant-eating, methane-producing megafauna. Scientists have noted that the decline of mammoths and other large mammals 12,800 years ago corresponds with a drop in the greenhouse gas in ice core samples.  

A Swiss collector was stopped at Thessaloniki’s Macedonia airport with human bones and a silver reliquary he claims to have purchased from a church deacon. Other bones and artifacts were found in the deacon’s home.  

The remains of Nicolaus Copernicus have been reburied in a cathedral in Poland. Forensic scientists indentified his bones using DNA taken from hairs found a book the astronomer had used, and they made a virtual reconstruction of his face.  

Archaeologists are excavating a 2,000-year-old farming town in remote western China that featured tiled roofs, brick foundations, wells, toilets, roads, metal tools, and possibly even silk cultivation. “One could make the argument that this is where the Silk Road began,” said T.R. Kidder of Washington University in St. Louis.  

An Islamic settlement including a fort, a mosque, industrial and domestic buildings, pottery, and other artifacts has been uncovered in Qatar. “The best theory we can come up with at the moment is that Rubayqa was used as some sort of processing and storage facility, for nomadic tribes who’d stock up there before wandering the deserts of the Arabian hinterland,” said Andrew Petersen of the University of Wales, Lampeter.  

The University of Michigan has added two staff members to help repatriate human remains from its museum collections to American Indian tribes. “I think that they are working with transparency, they’re working very hard to attain full disclosure, and I believe they are sincerely focused on creating empowered tribal collaboration,” said Veronica Pasfield, who is a University of Michigan graduate student, co-chair of the Native Caucus, and the repatriation officer for the Bay Mills Indian Community.

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