The ancient Maya were an innovative people. They constructed intricate cities throughout the tropical lowlands of the Yucatán Peninsula, communicated using one of the world's first written languages, and created two calendar systems by studying the stars. But despite their achievements, the thriving Mayan civilisation mysteriously collapsed sometime between the eighth and ninth centuries. We still don't know exactly why.
Tagged With ancient history
Archaeologists have uncovered the earliest evidence of bread-making at a site in northeastern Jordan. Dating back some 14,400 years, the discovery shows that ancient hunter-gatherers were making and eating bread 4000 years before the Neolithic era and the introduction of agriculture. So much for the “Palaeo Diet” actually being a thing.
Last month, archaeologists in Italy found the skeletal remains of a Pompeii resident who apparently had his head crushed by a giant rock while fleeing the eruption some 2000 years ago. The victim's skull has now been recovered, and its surprisingly pristine condition suggests an alternative cause of death.
For the past 150 years, the cedar coffin of an ancient Egyptian priestess has been on display at a museum in Australia. Records suggested the 2500-year-old sarcophagus was empty, so no one bothered to look inside. Last year, museum curators finally opened the lid, and to their shock, the coffin contained an actual mummy - bandages and all.
Australian scientists have discovered the purpose of a famous 3700-year old Babylonian clay tablet, revealing it is the world's oldest and most accurate trigonometric table, possibly used by ancient mathematical scribes to calculate how to construct palaces and temples and build canals.
The new research shows the Babylonians, not the Greeks, were the first to study trigonometry – the study of triangles – by more than 1000 years, and reveals an ancient mathematical sophistication that had been hidden until now.