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Descent of Man
In this lecture, beginners can familiarize themselves with basic information and terms used to describe the evolution of humanity beginning with the origin of primates through the comings and goings of Genus Homo.
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February 2001

DNA clues to malaria in ancient Rome
Posted: Tuesday, February 20, 2001
(BBC) Signs of malaria have been found in the skeleton of a child buried in a Roman cemetery.

British researchers say it is the earliest genetic evidence that the disease plagued the classical civilisations of Rome and Greece. The child was buried at a site north of Rome more than 1,500 years ago.

Analysis of DNA extracted from the infant's bones reveals signs of infection with the parasite that causes human malaria.

The DNA evidence provides support for the theory that a lethal outbreak of malaria in AD 5 contributed to the downfall of the Roman Empire.

"We can be fairly sure that the child died of malaria," said Dr Robert Sallares, of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (Umist), UK, who led the research.

"Ancient DNA research is a new way of investigating the history of disease," he told BBC News Online. "If we can do the same sort of work on material from older sites, we can determine when malaria entered Europe." [More]

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Egyptian Tomb Yields "World's Oldest Love Song"
Posted: Tuesday, February 13, 2001
The words of the song have not been completely translated, but seem to consist of a tribute to a woman's beauty, says Bratislav Vachala, director of the Czech Institute of Egyptology.

The inscription, which is just a fragment found in the partially excavated tomb, reads "I love and admire your beauty. I am under it," he says.

Inti lived in the reign of Pepi, a pharaoh of Egypt's Sixth Dynasty.

This time period is interesting, says Vachala, because it came near the end of the Old Kingdom, which was followed by a period of instability. Evidence recovered from Abu Sir and other Old Kingdom sites is suggesting that the age of pyramid building may have come to close even before the instability began.

It is a mastaba tomb, typical of a tomb for nobility of the time. It consists of a one-story stone structure above ground and chambers dug below ground. Pyramids were built only for pharaohs and were constucted over many decades.

Music was an important aspect of life to ancient Egyptians, says Terry Wilford, associate curator of the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology at the University of Michigan.

"Music was a part of daily life, " says Wilford. "It was used primarily for worship, and in work situations, by laborers in the field. Music was also played at parties and festivals."

Music lyrics at Abu Sir date to 2,300 B.C. [More]

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