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Christopher Columbus' Failed Outpost
The first European town in the New World was settled by explorer Christopher Columbus in 1494; but it wasn't what you might call a success. Recent studies show that the practice of metallurgy at La Isabela gives clues to the problems faced by the Spanish settlers.
Tree Rings and Cultural Heritage
The study of tree rings can provide far more cultural information than simply the date a tree was cut down, as this study of the medieval German town of Lubeck demonstrates.
Google Earth and Archaeology
Google Earth, software that uses high resolution satellite images of the entire planet to allow the user to get an incredible moving aerial view of our world, has stimulated some serious applications in archaeology--and seriously good fun for fans of archaeology.
The Lapita Face and its Cultural Context
The Lapita face is an often-found motif on the pottery made by people who settled Oceania between 3400 and 2900 years ago. Researchers believe that at least in some cases, the Lapita face may be a representation of a green sea turtle.
The Role of the Plaza in Maya Ritual
Like many pre-modern societies, the Classic period Maya (AD 250-900 AD) used public rituals, theatrical performances and dances played in public arenas--plazas--to unite communities and express political power relationships.
Damascus Steel - Ancient Sword Making Techniques
Damascus steel, the legendary steel blade scimitar of the Islamic side in the Crusades, was a formidable piece of weaponry for the middle ages. Modern science has given us new insights into how this iron metal was forged, and why this useful technology became lost.
Neolithic Dentistry at Mehrgarh, Pakistan
Evidence of early dentistry has been identified at a cemetery in the Neolithic site of Mehrgarh, Pakistan, on eleven individuals between 7500 and 9000 years ago.
The Cascajal Block
The Cascajal Block is a large serpentine block discovered in a gravel quarry in the state of Veracruz, Mexico, which is carved with 62 glyphic signs and appears to be the oldest form of a written language discovered yet in the Americas.
Cemetery Records and Public Archaeology
The Evergreen Cemetery Recording Project is the work of students from the University of Arkansas and the residents of Fayetteville. The website combines archaeology method and theory with usable information for the community. Project director Gregory Vogel discusses the project with About.com
Domestication of Rice
When and where was rice first domesticated? Findings suggest it was first cultivated in Asia, before about 10,000 bp.
Fig Trees and Archaeology: The Earliest Domestication
Fig trees are a Mediterranean cultigen, and are long known to have been an important subsistence element of diets in the region. Recent evidence at the Gilgal archaeological site and six other Neolithic sites in the region indicate that fig trees were purposefully propagated approximately 11,000 years ago.
Pioneer Housing in 19th Century Minnesota
Archaeological investigations were conducted in 2002 at the ruins of a Scandinavian dugout house. With a staff made up largely of descendants of the home owner, archaeologist Donald W. Linebaugh used documentary evidence, oral history and archaeological excavation to examine how early European settlers adapted to the cold and treeless plains of the upper midwest.
Death and Commemoration
In the Industrial Archaeology Review (volume 27) late last year was an interesting paper by Sarah Tarlow called "Death and Commemoration" discussing graveyards of the post-medieval period, and argues that they are under-exploited resources, in terms of historical studies of socio-cultural behaviors.
American Antiquities Act: An Act of Vision
The online version of Archaeology magazine has a special feature on the 100th anniversary of the American Antiquities Act, including a book review of the new book out called A Century of Debate, a website review of the National Park Service's rich website dedicated to the Act, and an article describing the birth and importance of this most important and least understood act.
The Irritable Heart
Psychologists working with the federally-funded database of Civil War records called the Early Indicators of Later Work Levels, Disease, and Death Project, have discovered evidence of health and mental problems among veterans of the American Civil War, what physicians of the day characterized as "Irritable Heart" and similar to what we today call post traumatic stress syndrome.
Geoglyphic Art of Chile's Atacama Desert
There are over 5,000 prehistoric geoglyphs in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile, and like the Nazca lines of Peru, they are mysterious, beautiful and awe-inspiring.
Inuit Wayfinding and GPS Technologies
An ethnographic study reported in Current Anthropology describes an amalgam of past and present technologies and discusses what is lost and gained when traditional methods of mapping become affected by the adoption of new technologies.
Pace of the Original American Colonization
In the June 2005 issue of the open source journal Public Library of Science Biology (PLoS Biology), Rutgers geneticist Jody Hey reports that the founding population of the New World may have been no larger than 70 individuals. A popular science treatment.
Neanderthal and Humans at Ortvale Klde Rockshelter
About 35,000 years ago, our distant cousins the Neanderthals died out. What advantage did Homo sapiens have that allowed us to survive this early Darwinian conflict? Researchers working in a rockshelter in the republic of Georgia believe they have part of the answer.
Early Africans in the New World
Stable isotope analysis has assisted in identifying what may be among the earliest Africans born in the New World, and perhaps indications of slave trade in the early 16th century between West Africa and the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. Results of these investigations will be published in an upcoming article in the American Journal of Physical...
United States Cultural Resources Laws in Jeopardy
In April 2005, members of the United States House Resources Subcommittee on National Parks proposed a language change to long-standing legislation protecting archaeological resources that may well seriously alter the way cultural resource management is handled in the United States.
Olmec Civilization and Bitumen Sourcing
Geoarchaeological research by Carl Wendt and Shan-Tan Lu has identified origin sources of bitumen used by the great Olmec civilization of the tropical lowlands of central America, 3000 years ago.
The Battle for Hamoukar
The on-going joint excavations at the Mesopotamian site of Hamoukar in Syria by the Oriental Institute and the Syrian Department of Antiquities have discovered evidence of a large organized battle at the site which took place about 3500 BC.
Homo Erectus Colonization in Europe
Geoarchaeologists working on the coast of the North Sea of Britain near the town of Pakefield in Suffolk, England have discovered artifacts suggesting that Homo erectus arrived in what is now the UK over 200,000 years earlier than previously thought.
Mummies of Bronze Age Scotland
Mummies, that rarified form of ancestor worship, have been found in a Bronze Age site in Scotland. In the September 2005 issue of the journal Antiquity, researchers describe how they found evidence of mummification far from the previously known cultures which practiced it in Egypt and South America.
Emperor Qin's Terracotta Army
The exquisite terracotta army of the first Qin Dynasty ruler Shihuangdi represents the emperor’s ability to control the resources of the newly unified China, and his attempt to recreate and maintain that empire in the afterlife.
Maya Site Q Found
A newly discovered stone panel at the Classic Period Maya (AD 250-900) capital city called La Corona in Guatemala has given researchers at Yale University enough evidence to confidently identify it as the long-sought city called Site Q.
Missing New Orleans: The Cultural Cost of Katrina
An essay on the cultural costs of Hurricane Katrina, from a historical viewpoint about the importance of New Orleans to the country.
American Megafaunal Extinctions Reconsidered
A popular science article on the ramifications of a news story from researchers at the University of Florida, suggesting megafaunal extinctions may have been the result of human predation, rather than climate change.