Secrets of a 19th-Century Brothel Privy

the mid-19th century, brothels were just one among many businesses in Boston’s North End. / Bostonian Society via Wikimedia Commons By Anna Goldfield / 03.06.2018 PhD Candidate in Archaeology Boston University For Jade Luiz, a graduate student in archaeology at Boston University, historical archaeology is all about detective work. Through piecing together historical documents and[…]

The Roman Empire in West Africa

This mosaic from the Antakya Archaeological Museum, Hatay Province, Turkey dates to the 2nd Century CE and depicts a black African fisherman. By Arienne King / 03.07.2018 Historian Introduction At its fullest extent, the Roman Empire stretched from around modern-day Aswan, Egypt at its southernmost point to Great Britain in the north but the influence of the RomanEmpire went far beyond even the borders of its[…]

7,000-Year-Old Prehistoric Native American Burial Site Found Underwater in Gulf of Mexico

Photo by Ivor Molleema, Florida Department of State In an unprecedented discovery, archaeologists identify a site where prehistoric people once buried their dead—now submerged beneath the waves. By Megan Gannon / 02.28.2018 Venice is Florida’s unofficial capital of fossil hunting. Divers and beachcombers flock to this city on the Gulf Coast, mostly seeking palm-sized teeth[…]

Why This Paleolithic Burial Site is So Strange (And So Important)

Ivory beads and ochre—affixed to the pelvic bones of a child—likely decorated the burial clothing of this 10-year-old interred at Sunghir some 34,000 years ago. / E. Trinkaus/Trinkaus and Buzhilova/Antiquity An ancient interment site in Russia challenges us to rethink how Paleolithic humans in Europe treated their dead and organized their societies. By Lea Surugue /[…]

Can the Hunt for Skeletons Help Heal a Nation’s Wounds?

David Williams/SAPIENS Anthropologists in Cyprus are quietly working to unite the intensely divided island country—by finding and identifying human remains. By Megan Gannon / 01.31.2018 The abandoned Nicosia airport in Cyprus is a strange place for an anthropology lab. But there I was—at the end of a humid spring day in 2017—looking at about 30[…]

Traces of Indigenous “Taíno” Found in Present-Day Caribbean Populations

A thousand-year-old tooth has provided genetic evidence that the so-called “Taíno”, the first indigenous Americans to feel the full impact of European colonisation after Columbus arrived in the New World, still have living descendants in the Caribbean today. 02.19.2018 Researchers were able to use the tooth of a woman found in a cave on the[…]

How We Discovered that Neanderthals Could Make Art

Neanderthal art. P. Saura    By Dr. Chris Standish (left) and Dr. Alistair Pike (right) / 02.22.2018 Standish: Postdoctoral Fellow of Archaeology Pike: Professor of Archaeological Sciences University of Southampton What makes us human? A lot of people would argue it is the ability of our species to engage in complex behaviour such as using language,[…]

Ritual Landscapes in Pagan and Early Christian England

   By Dr. Austin Mason and Dr. Tom Williamson Mason: Assistant Professor of History, Carleton College Williamson: Professor of Landscape History, University of East Anglia Abstract This article explores some of the complex relationships which existed between topographic patterns and social organization in early medieval England. It argues that group identities were not entirely elective[…]

Trumpington Cross Goes on Display for the First Time

The skeleton of the teenage girl, and the remnants of her burial, as discovered by Cambridge University archaeologists in 2011 Extremely rare, early Christian gold cross, gifted to Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology By Stuart Roberts / 02.01.2018 Deputy Head of Research Communications University of Cambridge She was buried in her bed on the outskirts[…]

Hurtling Back through Time – Harvard Wintersession Course and the Atlatl (Spear Thrower)

During Wintersession, students learn to make and use the technology that revolutionized human life. The atlatl, or spear-thrower, is a 10,000-year-old tool developed independently across the globe by cultures from the Arctic to New Zealand. The workshop takes place in the Peabody Museum at Harvard University. Andrew Majewski (pictured), the workshop instructor, demonstrates how to[…]

Frozen in Time: Glacial Archaeology on the Roof of Norway

Artefacts revealed by melting ice patches in the high mountains of Oppland shed new light on ancient high-altitude hunting.  Climate change is one of the most important issues facing people today and year on year the melting of glacial ice patches in Scandinavia, the Alps and North America reveals and then destroys vital archaeological records of past human activity.[…]

The Transformation of Rome’s Forum Boarium Over the Centuries

Forum Boarium in the Imperial Age, Lanciani FUR, tab. XXVIII, detail “A very popular area exists that borders the bridges and the Circus Maximus, named for an ox located there”. – Ovid, Fasti (VI, 477-8) With the Forum Boarium the ancients defined a level zone that included the eighth and eleventh Augustan districts, located between[…]

Archaeologists May Be Close to Finding the Tomb of Ankhesenamun, King Tut’s Wife

Ankhesenamun hands Tut an arrow / Creative Commons By Jason Daley / 01.19.2018 King Tut became a household name because the teenage pharaoh’s tomb escaped the notice of looters for millennia until Egyptologist Howard Carter popped it open in 1922, revealing incredible treasures, including his golden funerary mask—imagery that has become synonymous with ancient Egypt. Now, archaeologists are[…]

Unusually Sophisticated Prehistoric Monuments and Technology Revealed in the Heart of the Aegean

New excavations on the remote island of Keros reveal monumental architecture and technological sophistication at the dawn of the Cycladic Bronze Age. 01.18.2018 New work at the settlement of Dhaskalio, the site adjoining the prehistoric sanctuary on the Cycladic island of Keros, has shown this to be a more imposing and densely occupied series of[…]

Byzantine Amphora with Christian Inscription Discovered in Roman Trimammium Fortress

The six-line inscription in Ancient Greek found on the fragment of a 6th century AD Byzantine amphora in the Trimammium Fortress in Northeast Bulgaria. Photo: Ruse Regional Museum of History By Ivan Dikov / 01.09.2018 Part of an Early Byzantine amphora with a fully preserved inscription in Ancient Greek dedicated to Jesus Christ and Virgin Mary[…]

Israeli Archaeologists Find 2,700-year-old ‘Governor of Jerusalem’ Seal Impression

A conservator shows a 2,700-year-old clay seal impression which archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority say belonged to a biblical governor of Jerusalem and was unearthed in excavations in the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem’s Old City January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Nir Elias Reuters / 01.01.2018 The artifact, inscribed in an ancient Hebrew script as “belonging[…]

Two Million Years of Human Stories

Every object in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology tells not just one but many stories. The Museum’s collections chronicle two million years of human history, revealing the diversity of human life over millennia and the ongoing dynamism of world cultures in the present. Many individual artefacts reflect histories and cultures that are contested. 10.12.2017[…]

Anthropology’s Top Findings of 2017

“Fossil scout” Pedro Boshoff inside the Rising Star cave system in South Africa, where Homo naledi fossils were found. / Wits University For the field that studies everything human, the past year has been one of great upheaval and radical revelations. 12.21.2017 This year’s anthropological findings brought us fascinating insights from across the globe, upending long-held assumptions[…]

Ancient Faeces Reveal Parasites Described in Earliest Greek Medical Texts

Earliest archaeological evidence of intestinal parasitic worms infecting the ancient inhabitants of Greece confirms descriptions found in writings associated with Hippocrates, the early physician and ‘father of Western medicine’. 12.15.2017 Ancient faeces from prehistoric burials on the Greek island of Kea have provided the first archaeological evidence for the parasitic worms described 2,500 years ago[…]

Rising Seas Threaten Archaeological and Historic Sites

“We will lose much of the record of the last several thousand years of human occupation in coastal areas.” By Marlene Cimons / 11.29.2017 Extreme weather events powered by climate change already have shown how rising seas threaten coastal communities: flooding and destruction of homes followed by widespread migration and resettlement. That’s horrible enough. But sobering new[…]

Archaeologists Discover Early Iron Age, Late Roman Settlement with Bi-Ritual Necropolis

A large Late Roman settlement near Bulgaria’s Moshtanets, which was also inhabited earlier, ca. 1,000 BC, has been excavated for several months. Photo: Blagoevgrad Regional Museum of History By Ivan Dikov / 11.23.2017 Archaeology in Bulgaria A large settlement which was inhabited during the Early Iron Age (ca. 1,000 BC), possibly by Ancient Thracians, and then[…]

Our Earliest Technology?

Handaxe, lower paleolithic, about 1.8 million years old, hard green volcanic lava (phonolite), 23.8 x 10 cm, found at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania, Africa © The Trustees of the British Museum By the British Museum / 06.25.2016 Made nearly two million years ago, stone tools such as this are the first known technological invention. This chopping tool and others[…]

Archaeologists Find Statue of Egyptian Goddess Isis and Satyr’s Head at Roman Villa

A statue of Isis, the Ancient Egyptian goddess, and a head from a human-sized statue of a satyr, a companion of Dionysus, have been discovered at the Roman villa estate and nymphaeum near Bulgaria’s Kasnakovo. Photo: TV grab from bTV By Ivan Dikov / 11.17.2017 Archaeology in Bulgaria A 2nd century AD marble statue of the Ancient[…]

Archaeologists Uncover Rare 2,000-Year-Old Sundial during Roman Theatre Excavation

A 2,000-year-old intact and inscribed sundial – one of only a handful known to have survived – has been recovered during the excavation of a roofed theatre in the Roman town of Interamna Lirenas, near Monte Cassino, in Italy. 11.08.2017 Not only has the sundial survived largely undamaged for more than two millennia, but the presence of two Latin[…]