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Anthropology

72 articles
  • King_HERO2

    Gender Is What You Make of It

    Margaret Mead, Ruth Benedict, and the relationship that changed social science.

  • How We Learned to Love Neanderthals…and a Lot of Other Hominids, Too

    Genetic analysis reveals a complex tale of migrations and cross-species trysts in our human past

  • Paulson_HERO

    Why Doesn’t Everybody Have Dark Skin Today?

    Questions and answers about the science of skin color.

  • Wright_HERO

    Galactic Settlement and the Fermi Paradox

    The results of galactic colonization models are a mixed bag for SETI optimists.

  • The Modern Mind May Be 100,000 Years Old

    New fossil evidence shows sophisticated thought began earlier than we thought.

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    The Problem with the Frozen Poop Knife Study

    In an experiment designed to test whether a tool forged by the cold from human waste could be used to kill a dog, surely the frozen implements created in the lab ought to have been tested on the skin of a dog.Photograph by K.H.Trudeau / Shutterstock When, some weeks ago, I was first contacted by […]

  • Hodgkins_HERO

    Why Symbols Aren’t Forever

    The removal of cultural emblems is not the erasure of history but part of it.

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    Why Did Witch Hunts Go Viral?

    If it is in fact accurate to think of witch trial beliefs as viruses, maybe it would be helpful to study their spread the way scientists study the spread of viruses: using an epidemiological model.“The Witch, No. 1” (1892) by Joseph E. Baker / Wikicommons It’s hard to make sense of witch hunts. Many people […]

  • So I Told These Nomads About the Big Bang…

    Anna Badkhen tells us about the experiences that led to her Nautilus feature.

  • Paulson_HERO

    The Ancient Rites That Gave Birth to Religion

    Sacred beliefs likely arose out of prehistoric bonding and rituals.

  • Gallagher_HERO

    The Worth of an Angry God

    How supernatural beliefs allowed societies to bond and spread.

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    The Biggest Misapprehension About Human Origins

    Archaeologist Ticia Verveer recently posted a thread on Twitter showing that customer complaints go way back. And I mean way back. Verveer referred to a letter inscribed on a 3,700-year-old Babylonian clay tablet. In the letter, Verveer writes, “The copper merchant Nanni details at length his anger at a sour deal, and his dissatisfaction with […]

  •  Gallagher_HERO-

    Are Suicide Bombings Really Driven by Ideology?

    The surprising anthropology of group identity.

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    The Point of Men’s Cults

    Does their pervasiveness tell us something important about evolution and human behavior?

  • Fagan_HERO

    The City at the Center of the Cosmos

    Robots and lasers are uncovering an ancient, sacred geography.

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    Which Comes First, Big Cities or Big Gods?

    Warriors among the Kwara’ae, a collection of tribal communities indigenous to the Solomon Islands, sacrificed pigs before battle. The tradition granted the combatants, so the belief went, aid from heroic ancestral spirits—like the mighty A’orama, a fierce fighter in Kwara’ae folklore. For every man who prepared to shed blood, a hog met its end.1 Any […]

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    Why Nuclear Power Professionals Are Serious About Joking Around

      In August 2013, Finland’s young nuclear professionals, under 35 years old, met up for the Summer Games in Mikkeli municipality, put on by the Finnish Nuclear Society’s Young Generation Group. Launched in 1998, the organization helps people interested in nuclear fields network. As usual, the plan was to escape office life, eat, drink, use […]

  • Amir_HERO

    Love, Death, and Other Forgotten Traditions

    What we don’t tell our children.

  • Boyd_HERO

    Gold Mining for Profit and Paleontology

    How the Gold Rush and Fossil Rush came together.

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    The Caveman Guide to Parenting

    Just as Paleo dieters assume a mismatch between human biology and the food culture of the postindustrial West, Paleo parents believe that modern parenting habits don’t support healthy child development.Photograph by H. Armstrong Roberts / ClassicStock Every evening as the sun sets, Robb Wolf begins his nightly ritual: While his two daughters play, he slowly […]

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    The Rituals That Ward Off Bad Luck Aren’t Arbitrary

    Launch Ritual: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a tradition of eating peanuts during big, risky spacecraft events, such as Mars rover landings. Photograph by Kevin Baird / Flickr For the last two years of his baseball career, George Gmelch didn’t eat pancakes. Playing in the Detroit Tigers minor league system in the 1960s, two disappointing […]

  • What Military Theory Tells Us About Future Space Warfare

    What is it good for?

  • Von_Petzinger-HERO-2

    The Modern Mind May Be 100,000 Years Old

    New fossil evidence shows sophisticated thought began earlier than we thought.

  • Guttman_HERO-1

    Why Sports Die

    Sports don’t survive their cultures of origin if they resist modern measurement.

  • Leornard_HERO

    Why Revolutionaries Love Spicy Food

    How the chili pepper got to China.

  • Neilson_HERO2

    Through Fortitude or Stupidity, Lee Berger Is Rewriting Human History

    The paleoanthropologist makes no apologies for going his own way.

  • Neilson_HERO2

    The Man Who Used Facebook to Find an Extinct Human Species

    Lee Berger has a knack for finding fossils his own way.

  • Gelfand_HERO-tat

    Drums, Lies, and Audiotape

    When I was invited to drum in Ghana, I gladly accepted. Then something went wrong.

  • Gelfand_HERO-tat

    Drums, Lies, and Audiotape

    When I was invited to drum in Ghana, I gladly accepted. Then something went wrong.

  • warrior

    Which Comes First, Big Cities or Big Gods?

    Warriors among the Kwara’ae, a collection of tribal communities indigenous to the Solomon Islands, sacrificed pigs before battle. The tradition granted the combatants, so the belief went, aid from heroic ancestral spirits—like the mighty A’orama, a fierce fighter in Kwara’ae folklore. For every man who prepared to shed blood, a hog met its end.1 Any […]

  • FSR_081115_BR-1

    The Caveman Guide to Parenting

    Every evening as the sun sets, Robb Wolf begins his nightly ritual: While his two daughters play, he slowly dims the lights, just a few lumens every 20 to 30 minutes, until the house, in Reno, Nevada, is dark. The family is asleep before 8 p.m. and awake before dawn, as Wolf imagines our ancestors […]

  • Paulson_HERO

    About Your Skin

    What you should know about your body’s biggest organ.

  • French_HERO

    The Curious Case of the Bog Bodies

    Why do so many corpses found in Europe’s peat bogs show signs of violent death?

  • monkeys

    Our Ancestors Were Babysitters

    When anthropologist Alyssa Crittenden began studying the Hadza people of Tanzania 10 years ago, she was surprised to see an 8-year-old girl head out to forage for golden kongolobe berries with her 1-year-old niece swaddled snugly on her back. The behavior starkly contrasted Crittenden’s own experience growing up in the United States, where mothers often […]

  • disposal canister

    Can Remnants of Ancient Life Show Us How to Live Wisely Into the Future?

    At long-term nuclear repositories in Finland and Sweden, waste will be ensconced in cast-iron inserts (right), which are then placed in copper canisters (left).Posiva Oy This is part 2 of Vincent Ialenti’s report on how how to think about nuclear waste in the environment over the very long term. Also see part 1, which ran […]

  • nuclear repository 2020

    Looking Into the Far Future of Earth’s First Long-Term Nuclear-Waste Vault

    On June 1, 1676 the Battle of Öland was raging, as the Swedish navy grappled with a Danish-Dutch fleet for control of the southern rim of the Baltic Sea. Amid bad weather, Kronan—Sweden’s naval flagship in the region and one of the largest warships of its kind at the time—made a sudden left turn. Its […]

  • Wilson_HERO

    How ISIS Broke My Questionnaire

    I felt the impact of an attack by the terrorist group. So why didn’t my research data?

  • Wilson_HERO

    How ISIS Broke My Questionnaire

    I felt the impact of an attack by the terrorist group. So why didn’t my research data?

  • Nebra Sky Disk

    The Amazing Sky Calendar That Ancients Used to Track Seasons

    The Nebra Sky Disk photographed in Basel, Switzerland, in 2006Dbachmann via Wikipedia   Henry Westphal is tired. It’s July 4, 1999, a Sunday. He and a friend are climbing the Mittelberg or “Central Hill,” a small mountain near Nebra, in central Germany. Both men know of ancient ruins located here. Equipped with two metal detectors, […]

  • Berger_HERO

    So I Told These Nomads About the Big Bang…

    Anna Badkhen tells us about the experiences that led to her Nautilus feature.

  • Eveleth_HERO.png

    The Curse of the Unlucky Mummy

    When science and fear collide, a supernatural story thrives.

  • Pyne_HERO.jpg

    Our Neanderthal Complex

    What if our ancient relatives did “human” better?

  • Pyne_HERO.jpg

    Our Neanderthal Complex

    What if our ancient relatives did “human” better?

  • Mt Hagen Cultural Show hero

    Mutation Helps Create the Most Durable Religions

    Traditional performers at the 2007 Mt. Hagen Cultural Show in Papua New GuineaIan @ ThePaperboy When people think of religions, they tend to turn to of the big five: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Although these are the most popular religions in the world, they are a minuscule sample of the thousands of religions […]

  • Grinspoon_HERO-03B2

    An Astrobiologist Asks a Sci-fi Novelist How to Survive the Anthropocene

    Kim Stanley Robinson imagines our future.

  • Eveleth_HERO.png

    The Curse of the Unlucky Mummy

    When science and fear collide, a supernatural story thrives.

  • Handerson.HERO-01

    Why Light Inspires Ritual

    For Aboriginal cultures, light is a physical and spiritual guide.

  • Zorich_HERO

    Early Humans Made Animated Art

    How Paleolithic artists used fire to set the world’s oldest art in motion.

  • Alexander_HERO-05

    How We Make Gods

    Taking lessons from the rise and fall of divinity in online games.

  • Billings_HERO

    Brave New Epoch

    A search for humankind’s mark on the Earth.

  • Isabella_HERO

    Best of 2013: The Caveman’s Home Was Not a Cave

    Our picture of man’s early home has been skewed by modern preconceptions.

  • Dawson_HERO

    Beer Domesticated Man

    Early man chose pints over pastry. Wouldn’t you?

  • Tattersall_HERO

    In Search of the First Human Home

    When did the savanna give way to the crash pad?

  • Isabella_HERO

    The Caveman’s Home Was Not a Cave

    Our picture of man’s early home has been skewed by modern preconceptions.

  • Isabella_HERO

    The Caveman’s Home Was Not a Cave

    Our picture of man’s early home has been skewed by modern preconceptions.

  • Dodds_HERO2

    Homo Narrativus and the Trouble with Fame

    We think that fame is deserved. We are wrong.

  • Dodds_HERO2

    Homo Narrativus and the Trouble with Fame

    We think that fame is deserved. We are wrong.

  • Diamond_QA_HERO

    What I’ve Learned About the Past 13,000 Years

    A look back at a career spent looking back.

  • fsr_060613_hendrix-HERO

    The End of Human Uniqueness, and a New Beginning

    Today Nautilus launched its second issue, “Uncertainty: A new look at an indeterminate world.” For now we’ve just opened up the first chapter, “Uncertainty in Nature,” with looks at how uncertainty is embedded in math, particles of matter, our genomes, and possibly space-time itself. The rest of the issue will emerge over the course of […]

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    Graphing Human Uniqueness

    Nautilus readers vote on what they think makes humans special.

  • FSR_Charlemange

    We Are All Princes, Paupers, and Part of the Human Family

    I recently discovered that my 10-times-great-grandfather bought a good chunk of Brooklyn from the Lenape Indians. He was one of the first Dutch landowners on this continent, a man who had run a laundry bleaching business in Holland but had traveled under the auspices of the Dutch West India Company to become a farmer in […]

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    We Built These Bodies

    Changing the human body, one invention at a time.

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    Cooperation Is What Makes Us Human

    Where we part ways with our ape cousins.

  • The_Cosmopolitan_Ape_1280x376.jpg

    The Cosmopolitan Ape

    Empathy, morality, community, culture—apes can have it all!