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Archaeology is the study of the artefacts and other physical evidence left by past societies of humans and closely related species. It uses scientific analysis of field samples to inform historical understanding.
The advent of Acheulian stone-tool technologies 1.75 million years ago is likely to have coincided with changes in early human cognition. Using functional near-infrared spectroscopy neuroimaging, modern Acheulian toolmakers are shown to use the same brain network as is involved in playing the piano.
Evidence of mastodon bone modifications for marrow extraction and/or tool production, found in the presence of hammerstones and anvils that showed use-wear and impact marks, suggest the presence of Homo in North America around 130 thousand years ago.
Analysis of Aboriginal Australian mitochondrial genomes shows geographic patterns and deep splits across the major haplogroups that indicate a single, rapid migration along the coasts around 49–45 ka, followed by longstanding persistence in discrete geographic areas.
A revised timeline for the arrival of settlers on Mangaia island in Polynesia reveals the resilience of this population, which overcame an environmental crisis through bold measures to support a sustainable society.