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Thursday, November 15

New tests of the teeth of three Australopithecus bahrelghazali individuals ranging in age from 3 million to 3.5 million years old show that these early human ancestors ate a diet rich in grasses and sedges. This kind of food grows in more open terrain, and is thought to represent a shift from the diet of fruit, seeds, and woodland plants customarily eaten by apes and chimps. “It was surprising because these guys were alive pretty early (in human evolution),” said Julia Lee-Thorp of the University of Oxford.

A 3,000-year-old cemetery  has been discovered by Italian archaeologists working in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. Pottery, bronze earrings, ivory spindles, and copper hairpins have been recovered from the 23 graves that have been excavated. “In some graves, we found two skeletons, one in a primary position and one in a secondary position. The structures of the graves are also unique. Some have small walls, some have been dug in clay, while others are made up of clay benches,” said Robert Micheli of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage.

Archaeologists have uncovered one of the first Mormon baptisteries  to have been constructed in Utah at the site of a nineteenth-century meeting house in Provo. Its walls and plumbing are largely intact. Fragments of plaster indicate that the ceremonial room was painted brown and blue. The baptistery was built in the mid 1870s, and was discovered during the construction of a modern temple.

The Herculaneum Conservation Project, which is made up of public and private organizations, has managed the ancient city destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius for more than a decade. While walls have collapsed at nearby Pompeii during heavy rains, at Herculaneum, protective roofing has been installed, and rainwater drains into reactivated Roman sewers. Yet Herculaneum was once in a state of decay as well. Private funding and new management practices have turned situation around. “It was a total disaster but with very complex reasons that took time to understand,” said spokeswoman Sarah Court.

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