Why Do We Rebury Ancient Sites after Archaeological Digs and Study?

There are many scenarios where reburial is the best option for an excavated heritage site. Introduction When we bury something, it’s usually because it’s dead or we want to hide it. But what if burying something actually extended its life? It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes burying excavated ancient art and architecture is the best[…]

A 3,000-Year-Old ‘Lost Golden City’ Discovered in Egypt

It has been called the most important discovery since tomb of Tutankhamun and a window into the ancient world. Archaeologists hailed the discovery of “the largest” ancient city found in Egypt, buried under sand for millennia, which experts said was one of the most important finds since unearthing Tutankhamun’s tomb. Famed Egyptologist Zahi Hawass announced[…]

The Ancient Peruvian Moche Royal Tombs of Sipán

The tombs were found almost completely undisturbed. A Golden Discovery In 1987, Peruvian archaeologist Walter Alva received a tip from the police that local villagers had discovered gold in one of the huacas (a term for ancient sacred sites used widely in Peru) and were looting artifacts at the site of Huaca Rajada in the town of Sipán, near[…]

How Do Archaeologists Know Where to Dig?

Archaeologists used to dig primarily at sites that were easy to find from obvious visual clues. Technology plays a much bigger role now. Introduction National Geographic magazines and Indiana Jones movies might have you picturing archaeologists excavating near Egyptian pyramids, Stonehenge and Machu Picchu. And some of us do work at these famous places. But[…]

Egyptologists’ Notebooks: An Interview with Chris Naunton

How European scholars, archaeologists, and Egyptologists explored an ancient culture. Dr. Chris NauntonHistorian and Egyptologist Introduction “The idea of a kind of intact tomb, at a certain moment where the archaeologist breaks through the door and lifts up a lamp to reveal the glint of gold everywhere. That’s become the defining moment for archaeology.” What[…]

Analyzing Bones: What Skeletons Can Tell Us about Ancient People

Analyzing the bones and teeth of individuals can give us insights into the details of their lives. Introduction Imagine you are an archaeologist excavating at a new building site in East London, the location of an ancient cemetery. Deep down you uncover bones that look old. You recover a full skull with teeth, and most[…]

Step-by-Step Path Taken by First People to Settle the Caribbean Islands

Did people settle these islands by traveling north from South America, or in the other direction? Artifacts provide a definitive answer. Introduction For the millions of people around the world who live on islands today, a plane or boat can easily enough carry them to the mainland or other islands. But how did people in[…]

Classical Archaeology and Ancient Greek Mythology

Despite the scientific rigor of archaeology today, archaeological exploration is still an art and an adventure of the human mind. Introduction to Classical Archaeology Classical Archaeology is the study of past societies in the Mediterranean region on the basis of surviving material evidence. What this means, for all practical purposes, is that classical archaeologists –[…]

Analyzing an Ancient Indus Seal from Mohenjo-daro

Seals numbering in the thousands have been discovered in excavations of Indus cities as well as in sites in the Persian Gulf in southwest Asia. By Dr. Arathi MenonArt Historian Introduction Incised on this small stone (less than two inches across), we see a large figure seated on a dais surrounded by a horned buffalo,[…]

Ancient Diseases: Traces of Suffering in the Bones

Diseases have often influenced historical events, but they are neglected in the documentation of these events. Human remains used to be considered a nuisance in archaeological excavations. Today they are considered a valuable source of information to understand the ways of life of prehistoric populations and their conditions. A short distance from what is now[…]

The Medieval Materiality of Magic: The Ritual Lives of People and Things

Examining objects and material culture in ritual performances intended to heal, protect and transform the living and the dead. Introduction This explores the relationship between medieval magic and religion, with particular emphasis on the use of objects and material culture in rites of healing, protection and transformation. It extends the practice-based approach to consider ritual[…]

Seizure of Looted Antiquities Illuminates What Museums Want Hidden

Middlemen often photographed their wares after receiving them from the tombaroli (grave-robbers). Introduction Over 20,000 precious art objects were seized in a raid at dawn — what can this tell us about beauty, theft, and the museum? On July 4, 2018, Europol and the Italian Carabinieri’s Division for the Protection of Cultural Heritage announced the[…]

What Archaeology Can Tell Us about Medieval Medical Care

They had sophisticated medical treatments at their fingertips – from preventative hygiene to prosthetics. Introduction The conventional view of medical historians is that curative treatment in medieval infirmaries was based primarily around prayer and a nourishing diet. But a new archaeological study reveals that more active therapeutic technologies were used in medieval monastic healing. In[…]

The Archaeological Record and Epidemics Since the Prehistoric World

People have lived with infectious disease throughout the millennia, with culture and biology influencing each other. Introduction The previous pandemics to which people often compare COVID-19 – the influenza pandemic of 1918, the Black Death bubonic plague (1342-1353), the Justinian plague (541-542) – don’t seem that long ago to archaeologists. We’re used to thinking about[…]

Adamgarh and Nagori: Rock Art History of Madhya Pradesh

Rock art is the primary source to study the culture, rituals, traditions, and lives of prehistoric societies. By Zenab Khan Introduction Rock art, that is paintings and carvings on natural rock formations, is one of the earliest forms of creative expression and a universal phenomenon among prehistoric societies. An instrument of communication rather than simply[…]

Prehistoric Italian Rock Drawings of Valcamonica

The first appearance of these drawings can be dated back to the age of Epipaleolithic (20000-1000 BP). Introduction The rock drawings of Valcamonica are prehistoric petroglyphs carved in the glacier-polished, grey-purple Permian sandstone of the Camonica valley that extends for 90 km in the Italian provinces of Brescia and Bergamo in Lombardy. The name of[…]

The Sanctuary at Ancient Keros: Materiality and Monumentality

A place for the perform­ance of rituals of congregation. Abstract The discovery of the early bronze age sanctuary on the Cycladic island of Keros is briefly described. Why islanders in the Aegean should establish the world’s first maritime sanctuary around 2500 bc is then considered, and other instances of early centres of congregation are briefly[…]

Tales from a Medieval Plague Pit

We can now catch tiny pieces of DNA from ancient diseases and look for clues about how their genes have changed over time. Introduction The Black Death is without a doubt one of the most famous infectious diseases in history. Sweeping across Asia and Europe during the mid-fourteenth century, it reduced European populations by as[…]

Genetics and the Archaeology of Ancient Israel

Modern DNA analyses give an indication of what might be learned from ancient studies. By Dr. Roy J. KingAssociate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, EmeritusStanford University Who were the ancient Israelites? This question has been endlessly debated but almost no attention has been paid to their biology. That is now about to change, and[…]

From Ancient Scotland to Online Auctions: A Tale of Roman Nails

Ancient iron nails would hardly be considered Art, but they could offer insights on Roman metalworking. Introduction In 1977, just three years after the newly built Getty Villa opened its doors to the public, Chicago resident Norman J. Cowan and his family visited the museum during a trip to California. The museum must have made[…]

Native American Archaeology in the Nation’s Capital

At the time Europeans first began exploring the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River region, three Native confederacies had come to power. By Cecily Hilleary During his time in the White House, Former President Gerald Ford decided to build an outdoor swimming pool. National Park Service archaeologists examined the site of the dig, which is standard[…]

What Are the Pros and Cons of Buying a Metal Detector?

We have all seen metal detectors being used in cartoons as children and then in movies. The allure and attraction that has become synonymous with these electromagnetic instruments are also attached to connotations of great wealth, especially after seeing our little animal cartoon friends find mountains of treasure using this device. Though, its uses extend[…]

Medieval Castles, Caves, and Rock Shelters

A medieval world where caves and underground shelters provided refuge from raiders, allowing a threatened civilization to flourish. Introduction Southwest Georgia, close to the borders with Turkey and Armenia, is dotted with the remains of ancient defences. Many of these structures – great and small, highly visible or hidden away – reflect the near-constant conflicts[…]

Ancient ‘Gum’ Reveals 5,000-Year-Old DNA

Researchers have extracted a complete ancient human genome from birch pitch, a 5,700-year-old type of ancient “chewing gum”. By Cecelie Krabbe Introduction The researchers believe it marks the first time that anyone has extracted an entire ancient human genome from anything other than human bones. “It is amazing to have gotten a complete ancient human[…]

Recent Archaeological Discoveries Are Helping to Refine the Human Story

20 years ago, who could predict how much more researchers would know today about the human past? Introduction In 1924, a 3-year-old child’s skull found in South Africa forever changed how people think about human origins. The Taung Child, our first encounter with an ancient group of proto-humans or hominins called australopithecines, was a turning[…]

Ancient China’s Terracotta Army Bronze Weapon Preservation

The good metal preservation probably results from the moderately alkaline pH, a very small particle size of the burial soil, and bronze composition. By Dr. Marcos Martinón-Torres, et.al.Pitt-Rivers Professor of Archaeological ScienceUniversity of Cambridge Abstract For forty years, there has been a widely held belief that over 2,000 years ago the Chinese Qin developed an[…]

Prehistoric Bones of Women in Russian Cave Links to Modern Indigenous People

The bones show interbreeding Neanderthal and Denosivan humans. This article reprinted from RFE/RL. A piece of bone from a cave in Russia has yielded what may be the biggest archaeological find of the year, media reported on August 30. The bone belonged to an ancient human who had a Neanderthal mother and a Denisovan father.[…]