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A child whose lifeless body was carefully placed in an East African cave around 78,300 years ago has made a grand return.

Researchers who unearthed the ancient youngster’s remains say that they’ve found the oldest known intentional human burial in Africa. The investigators, who report the discovery in the May 6 Nature, have named the ancient youngster Mtoto, a Swahili word that means “child.”

“Mtoto was buried in a sheltered part of a cave that was repeatedly occupied by people over a span of nearly 80,000 years, up to about 500 years ago,” said archaeologist Michael Petraglia of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany, at a May 3 news conference. Local people still visit this spot to worship and conduct rituals.

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By shooting billions of lasers at the ground, scientists have uncovered evidence of a sophisticated civilization left by the ancient Maya who lived in the northern Yucatán Peninsula in what is now Mexico, a new study finds.

The laser survey revealed that in a region of the hilly northern Yucatán, known as the Puuc (pronounced "Pook"), the Maya built remarkable structures, including artificial reservoirs, more than 1,200 ovens, a handful of terraces for farming and nearly 8,000 platforms where houses were built. The ancient Maya also quarried the rock there, the laser scan revealed.

"It seems to have been a very prosperous area because we have all these masonry [stone] houses," study lead researcher William Ringle, a professor emeritus of anthropology at Davidson College in North Carolina, told Live Science. "It seems like people had access to what they needed."

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Archaeologists in Turkey have discovered the remains of a "magnificent" Roman-era arena, where up to 20,000 spectators likely cheered and jeered as they watched gladiator matches and wild animal fights, the excavators said.

The 1,800-year-old arena was discovered on the rolling hills of the ancient city of Mastaura, in Turkey's western Aydın Province. Its large central area, where "bloody shows" once took place, has since filled with earth and vegetation over the centuries.

"Most of the amphitheater is under the ground," and the part that is visible is largely covered by "shrubs and wild trees," Mehmet Umut Tuncer, the Aydın Culture and Tourism provincial director and project survey leader Sedat Akkurnaz, an archaeologist at Adnan Menderes University in Turkey, told Live Science in a translated email.

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The ancient Egyptians are famed for their fondness of all things feline. There's no shortage of cat-themed artifacts — from larger-than-life statues to intricate jewelry — that have survived the millennia since the pharaohs ruled the Nile. The ancient Egyptians mummified countless cats, and even created the world's first known pet cemetery, a nearly 2,000-year-old burial ground that largely holds cats wearing remarkable iron and beaded collars.

But why were cats so highly valued in ancient Egypt? Why, according to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, would the Egyptians shave their eyebrows as a mark of respect when mourning the loss of a family cat?

Much of this reverence is because the ancient Egyptians thought their gods and rulers had cat-like qualities, according to a 2018 exhibition on the importance of cats in ancient Egypt held at the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art in Washington, D.C. Specifically, cats were seen as possessing a duality of desirable temperaments — on the one hand they can be protective, loyal and nurturing, but on the other they can be pugnacious, independent and fierce.

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Scientists have long struggled to solve the puzzle of the gearing system on the front of the so-called Antikythera mechanism—a fragmentary ancient Greek astronomical calculator, perhaps the earliest example of a geared device. Now, an interdisciplinary team at University College London (UCL) has come up with a computational model that reveals a dazzling display of the ancient Greek cosmos, according to a new paper published in the journal Scientific Reports. The team is currently building a replica mechanism, moving gears and all, using modern machinery. You can watch an extensive 11-minute video about the project here (embedding currently disabled).

"Ours is the first model that conforms to all the physical evidence and matches the descriptions in the scientific inscriptions engraved on the mechanism itself," said lead author Tony Freeth, a mechanical engineer at UCL. "The Sun, Moon, and planets are displayed in an impressive tour de force of ancient Greek brilliance."

“We believe that our reconstruction fits all the evidence that scientists have gleaned from the extant remains to date,” co-author Adam Wojcik, a materials scientist at UCL, told the Guardian.

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Archaeologists have unearthed the identity tags of four children murdered by the Nazi Germans at Sobibor death camp in eastern Poland.

Each metal tag is different and was likely given to the children by their parents prior to being separated from them. The parents may have hoped the ID tags would help the children be returned home, according to Yoram Haimi, an archaeologist at the Israel Antiquities Authority, who is part of a team excavating the site.

During the Holocaust, Nazis murdered 6 million Jews, as well as people with disabilities, Roma, Poles and other Slavic people. At Sobibor alone, about 250,000 people — mostly Polish Jews — were killed between May 1942 and October 1943, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

Sobibor connected to a railway line that brought in Jews from around Europe, and it was near the camp's railway platform that Haimi and his colleagues found the first tag, which belonged to 6-year-old Lea Judith De La Penha who was killed in 1943, according to a statement released by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

Their excavations also uncovered the camp's gas chamber, which was a 3,700-square-foot (350 square meters) building with eight rooms.

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The long evolutionary journey that created modern humans began with a single step—or more accurately—with the ability to walk on two legs. One of our earliest-known ancestors, Sahelanthropus, began the slow transition from ape-like movement some six million years ago, but Homo sapiens wouldn’t show up for more than five million years. During that long interim, a menagerie of different human species lived, evolved and died out, intermingling and sometimes interbreeding along the way. As time went on, their bodies changed, as did their brains and their ability to think, as seen in their tools and technologies.

To understand how Homo sapiens eventually evolved from these older lineages of hominins, the group including modern humans and our closest extinct relatives and ancestors, scientists are unearthing ancient bones and stone tools, digging into our genes and recreating the changing environments that helped shape our ancestors’ world and guide their evolution.

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