Did Stone Age people build a large labyrinth in Denmark?

From Science Nordic: Did Stone Age people build a large labyrinth in Denmark?

A series of Stone Age palisade enclosures have been discovered in Denmark in recent years and archaeologists are still wondering what they were used for.

One of the latest additions is a huge construction, discovered by archaeologists from the Museum Southeast Denmark. The fence dates from the Neolithic period and seems to frame an oval area of nearly 18,000 square meters.

“It was actually somewhat overwhelming to experience that it is possible to reveal the traces of such a huge building from the Neolithic period. There are many suggestions for what they could’ve been used for, but to put it simply, we just don’t know,” says archaeologist Pernille Rohde Sloth who leads the excavation.

One of the most remarkable things about the fencing at Stevns is the way the entrances have been constructed. The fence is in fact built in five rows that extend outwards, and the opening in each row appears to be offset from the others. [continue]

Simply red: why one colour became so powerful

From Spike Bucklow’s article in The Conversation: Simply red: why one colour became so powerful.

Red is simply sensational and its dominant place in today’s world of colour owes much to events that took place many thousands of years ago. One of humankind’s earliest observable activities was their decorative use of colour – in fact, it is one of the things that makes us human. And we can track down red’s hold over us by tracing the way artists got their colour over time – from animals, vegetables and minerals.

Most animal reds are hidden within creatures – like blood – and are not on open display. The excavation of Neolithic burial sites has turned up jars filled with dull-coloured dried insects, kermes, which have a brilliant hidden red that was used as textile dye. It was also a Neolithic food colouring and the colour red is still associated with health today.

Another insect, cochineal, was also harvested for its red and, when Europeans colonised the New World, cochineal, or “grain”, was one of their most cherished prizes. Thousands of tons of insects were shipped across the Atlantic, in a trade second only to silver. Cochineal was also used as a food colouring and, after being unfashionable for some decades, it is now coming back thanks to the unfortunate side-effects of artificial food-colourings. [continue]

Articles like this please me no end. Thank you, Spike Bucklow.

Agriculture, declining mobility drove humans’ shift to lighter bones

From Science Daily: Agriculture, declining mobility drove humans’ shift to lighter bones.

Modern lifestyles have famously made humans heavier, but, in one particular way, noticeably lighter weight than our hunter-gatherer ancestors: in the bones. Now a new study of the bones of hundreds of humans who lived during the past 33,000 years in Europe finds the rise of agriculture and a corresponding fall in mobility drove the change, rather than urbanization, nutrition or other factors. [continue].

Excuse me while I go off to become ridiculously active.

‘Iceman’ Oetzi’s clothes suggest shepherd life

From discovery.com: ‘Iceman’ Oetzi’s Clothes Suggest Shepherd Life.

Oetzi the Iceman walked his last steps on Earth wearing moccasins made from cattle leather, according to German researchers who have disclosed the 5,300-year-old dress code of the world’s oldest intact human mummy.

The research, based on a hi-tech method of analyzing proteins, established that the famous Neolithic man did not dress like a hunter, but like a herdsman — in clothes made from sheep and cattle hair. [continue, see photo]