Second Century Roman Watermill Not What Researchers Have Thought

Analyzing carbonate deposits from a second century AD Roman watermill site – thought to be one of the first industrial complexes in human history – has revealed characteristics of the mill, including its nonuse for several months of the year. These findings suggest that the Barbegal mill site was not the Roman city of Arelate’s main flour supplier as hypothesized, but rather it was likely used to produce non-perishable “ship’s bread” for the many ancient ships that visited the major ports of Arles during certain times of the year. Read more.

Revealed: Genetic Secrets of High-Ranked Warriors at a Medieval German Burial Site

Researchers studying human remains of high-ranked warriors recovered from an Early Medieval Germanic cemetery have finally gleaned insight into these individuals’ sex and kinship relationships. These findings offer a unique understanding of the Alemanni, a group of Germanic tribes that occupied a region spanning parts of present-day Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria. Read more.

Critically endangered South American forests were man made

Critically endangered South American forests thought to be the result of climate change were actually spread by ancient communities, archaeologists have found.

Huge swathes of land in Chile, Brazil and Argentina are covered with millions of Araucaria, or monkey puzzle trees, thanks to people planting or cultivating them more than a thousand years ago, a new study shows. Recent logging means the landscape is now one of the world’s most at-risk environments. Read more.

Unusual climate during Roman times plunged Eurasia into hunger and disease

A recent study indicates that volcanic eruptions in the mid 500s resulted in an unusually gloomy and cold period. A joint research project of the Chronology Laboratory of the Finnish Museum of Natural History and Natural Resources Institute Finland suggests that the years 536 and 541-544 CE were very difficult for many people.

An extended period of little light may make it difficult for humans to survive. The level of production of plants is dependent on the amount of available sunlight. Food production, i.e, farming and animal husbandry, rely on the same solar energy. Humans, meanwhile, become more prone to disease if they are not exposed to enough sunlight to produce vitamin D. Read more.