Archaeology: Most Popular Articles
Learn more about the most important Aztec gods and and the religion of the Aztec people
The discovery of fire was one of the earliest discoveries of humans. Fire's purposes are multiple, some of which are to add light and heat, to cook plants and animals, to clear forests for planting, to heat-treat stone for making stone tools, to burn clay for ceramic objects.
A quick photo tour of the new seven wonders of the world--plus some extras that readers say should be in there, too.
The initials A.D. (used with or without periods) is an abbreviation for the Latin
The Aryan Invasion Myth was developed in the late 19th century to explain the blossoming of the Indus River Civilization; but it stems from a flawed argument and old fashioned racist supremacism.
The archaeological site of Babylon was the capital of a small city state of Mesopotamia, named Babylonia, located in what is now Iraq, near the modern town of Hilla.
Chankillo (also spelled Chanquillo) is a ceremonial center and solar observatory located within an area of rock outcrops and sand ramps in the Casma-Sechin river valley of arid coastal Peru.
The suite of physical and behavioral changes that domestic mammals share and untamed beasts do not is a puzzling one, but scientists think they know why.
Although evidence for hunting wild forms of cattle exists at archaeological sites dated to our earliest days on the planet, herding cattle was first accomplished in Western Asia by about 6000 BC, and in perhaps the eastern Sahara desert about 1000 years earlier.
Cro-Magnons are what scholars now call Anatomically Modern Humans or Early Modern Humans, mostly because Cro-Magnon refers to to a specific archaeological site which isn't really typical of the rest
Have you always dreamed of being an archaeologist, but don't know how to become one? To become an archaeologist takes education, reading, training, and persistence. Here's how you can get started exploring that dream job
This collection of quotes from historians--some professional, some decidedly not--trying their hand at defining the dark art of history.
When and where the partnership of dog and humans first occurred is currently under considerable debate.
A definition and chronology of the Stone Age (more commonly known to scholars as the Paleolithic era), which in human prehistory is the name given to the period between about 2.5 million and 20,000 years ago.
The modern day cat was permanently domesticated about 4000 years ago, in Egypt; but archaeologists say it may have been closer to 10,000 years ago.
The study of social organization in anthropology looks at the way people organize themselves, in order to live together in some sort of reasonable manner.
The Bering Land Bridge allowed human population into the Americas some 15,000 years ago: and scholars suggest it may partly regulate global climates.
Archaeologists use the term 'BP' to mean 'years before humans began to screw up the atmosphere by testing nuclear devices'.
What kind of real-life career choices do I have with a degree in archaeology?
The history of chickens and when they were domesticated is something of a puzzle, but most likely it was about 8,000 years ago in Thailand.
What kind of job can I get in archaeology? Does it pay well? Do you have to work when it's hot? These are the questions that everyone who is thinking about being an archaeologist wants to know.
The Mesolithic period in European history includes the history of the complex hunter-gatherers who developed the technology to cultivate crops.
Domestication is the process of genetically adapting an animal or plant to better suit the needs of human beings; this page includes a definition of domestication and a table of domestication dates for animals in the world.
The residential palace of the Inca king Pachacuti has drawn tourists from all over the world because of its lovely impossible location at the edge of the world. Gina Carey was at Machu Picchu during the Summer of 2004, and shares her photographs with us.
Learn more about the Homininae subfamily, including Hominini (humans and their ancestors), Panini (chimps), and Gorillini (gorillas).
The Iceman is the name of a 5,300-year-old human body discovered high in the Swiss/Italian Alps in 1991.
Arrowheads are often the subject of a number of myths, legends and misconceptions; here is a description of the top myths and the top unknown facts.
Ancient farming methods used by farmers throughout the world varied quite a bit. Farmers developed many ways to maintain soils, ward off frost and freeze cycles and protect their crops from animals. On this page you'll find core concept definitions, articles on examples of archaeological research into ancient farming, detailed examination of some special farming techniques and bibliographies of related topics.
Bitumen is a naturally-occurring organic byproduct of decomposed organic materials used by humans for many very useful things for the past 40,000 years.
Short list of the main facts and aspects of Aztec culture
The were-jaguar is an important iconographic symbol of the Olmec civilization, and many later civilizations in Central and North America.
A collection of plant histories, when and where humans domesticated them, with a table of dates and places and links to the stories themselves.
Viking society is traditionally described as highly stratified, with three classes as written into mythology, slaves (thrall), farmers (karl), and aristocracy (jarl or earl)V
The TIGHAR project searching for traces of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan was begun in the 1980s, and the earliest archaeological investigations were focused on Nikumaroro island. Page 2.
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.
Megalithic structures are immense collections of stone, earth and wood, some of which were built during the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods of Europe.
Hunter gatherers is the name anthropologists have given to people who rely on a combined living of hunting game and gathering root vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Hunting and gathering was the lifestyle of all human beings until the invention of agriculture about 8000 years ago; and, to state it simply, hunter-gatherers hunt game and collect plant foods.
The Kingdom of Aksum (first through sixth centuries AD) was one of the most powerful kingdoms in sub-Saharan Africa, connecting the Roman empire and the rest of the world in the region of the Red Sea.
A short course on the various dating methods used in archaeological science over the centuries. Part 1: Relative Dating
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.
The Aztecs had a complex set of beliefs, ceremonies and gods, each one overlooking an aspect of human life...
The common bean comes in a multitude of colors shapes and sizes, and as you've no doubt been told, they're really good for you. They are an American domesticate, and their domestication history is an interesting one...
The Indus is one of the oldest societies we know of, including over 2600 known archaeological sites located along the Indus and Sarasvati rivers.
The Aztec culture site called Tenochtitlan was located in a very peculiar place today, in a marsh in the middle of a lake surrounded by mountains--a place now called Mexico City.
Clovis refers to mobile big game hunters who roamed the Americas hunting elephants and bison for a very brief time 12,000 years ago.
The continents of North and South America were 'discovered' by the European civilizations in the late 15th century AD, but their civilizations were vast and complex long before the first European landed. The following are a taste of the complexity of the civilizations of ancient America.
The history of farming begins some 12,000 years ago, in the hilly flanks of the Zagros Mountains of southwest Asia
The Mesopotamian city of Ur, known as Tell al-Muqayyar, was an important Sumerian city state between about 2025-1738 BC.
Wheat was one of the very first crops domesticated by our ancestors, some 10,000 years ago in southeastern Turkey.
Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war and sacrifice, learn more about Aztec mythology and religion
Archaeology has traced the history of rice to nearly 12,000 years ago.
The Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent, is one of the most famous pre-Columbian deity and his cult was widespread in many Mesoamerican cultures.
Lucy is the name of the nearly complete skeleton of an Australopithecus afarensis, found in 1974 at AL 288, a site in the Hadar archaeological region on the Afar Triangle of Ethiopia.
The Lower Paleolithic period (2.7 million to 200,000 years ago) is the first archaeology, that is to say, that period when the first evidence of what scientists consider human behaviors occurred.
What is Archaeology? The study of archaeology has been defined in a number of silly and serious ways. Here's a collection of pithy quotes from archaeologists and non-archaeologists.
The emperor Shi Huangdi [246-210 BC] was the Tiger of Qin, the first emperor of China, who unified the warring states into one group; his tomb includes the fabulous terra cotta army.
The natural yellow-red-brown pigment known as ochre was humankind's first paint pot, used by our hominid ancestors nearly 300,000 years ago.
Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from grapes; and depending on your definition of
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Gomphotheres were ancient elephants, who lived in the Americas but were dying off by the time that the first humans arrived there, some 20,000 years ago.
Refer to this page to learn more about the origin of cotton domestication and cultivation
Angkor Wat was left out of the new Seven Wonders, something reader Jan S. cannot understand. Page 9.
Heinrich Schliemann, that quintessential archaeologist of the 19th century, claimed to have discovered the real site of Troy. But did he?
The Out of Africa or African Replacement Hypothesis argues that every living human being is descended from a small group in Africa.
Hatshepsut's Deir el-Bahri (also spelled Deir el-Bahari) is one of the most beautiful temples in Egypt, built by the architects of Queen Hatshepsut, a pharaoh of the New Kingdom.
Guinea pigs are small rodents domesticated about seven thousand years ago in South American Andes mountains primarily for food, and brought to Europe as pets in the 16th century.
Hisarlik is the modern name for the ancient site of Troy, located in what is now Turkey.
Mongooses are native to Africa and Asia, but a small group of them are to be found in the southwestern Iberian peninsula. This article discusses how they got there and who brought them.
A few important facts about Neandertals, part of an intensive study guide about these human ancestors. Page 2.
A 4500 year old statuette of a dancing girl from the ancient Harappan town of Mohenjo-Daro dances across space and time into our imaginations.
When, how and from whence came the original inhabitants of both South and North America has been a hot topic of debate among scholars for over 200 years. DNA, linguistics, oral history and archaeology combined together are finally coming up with answers.
The Popol Vuh, often dubbed the Bible of the Maya, is a colonial document which narrates the creation myth of the Maya Quiché of Guatemala and the Story of the Hero Twins...
Radiocarbon dating is a method used by archaeologist to date organic materials by comparing the amount of Carbon 14 (C14) available in living creatures as a measuring stick.
El Fin del Mundo is an important Clovis site in the Sonora desert, both for its early date and for its associated kill site of two gomphotheres.
Harappa is a large city of the Indus Civilization, and one of the best known sites in Pakistan, located on the bank of the Ravi River in Punjab Province.
Mehrgarh is a Neolithic (7000-3200 BC) site on the Kachi plain of Baluchistan, Pakistan, and one of the earliest sites with evidence of farming (wheat and barley) and herding (cattle, sheep and goats) in south Asia.
Feudalism is a system of political organization, in which an elite individual called a lord controls several common people (vassals).
Everyone knows of some ancient civilizations, either from World History classes in school, from books or films, or from television specials on the Discovery Channel, the BBC or Public Broadcasting. Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, all of these are covered again and again in our books, magazines, and television shows. But there are so many interesting, less well-known civilizations! Here's an admittedly biased selection of some of them and why they are not to be forgotten.
After classical Egypt, the first civilization in Africa was called Kush or Kushite, located on the third cataract of the Nile River in what is now the Sudan.
Tlaloc, the rain god, was one of the most important gods in Aztec religion
The modern domesticated horse (Equus caballus) is spread throughout the world and is among the most diverse creatures on the planet.
The Pacific Coast Migration Model is a theory concerning the original colonization of the Americas that proposes that people entering the continents followed the Pacific coastline
The end of the Khmer Empire (or Angkor civilization) came about as a direct result of the civilization's inability to adapt to an extended drought brought about by climate change.
Since at least the 1930s, the Ice Free Corridor hypothesis was the accepted human colonization route for the American continents; but the hypothesis has since been called into question.
Pre-Clovis is the name archaeologists have given to the oldest and now fairly well-established human occupations of the Americas.
The quipu (also spelled khipu or quipo) is the only known precolumbian information system in South America.
The capacocha ceremony is the name of an Incan ritual, which involved the sacrifice of children, as reported in historical chronicles and evidenced archaeologically.
: The term "material culture" is often used by archaeologists as a non-specific way to refer to the artifacts
The Solutrean-Clovis connection suggests that at least some of the Clovis people from the North American continent were direct descendants of Solutreans from Europe.
Beginning about 10,500-10,800 years ago, Neolithic farmers in the Near East began keeping small herds of goats for their milk, meat, dung, as well as for materials for clothing and building: hair, bone, and sinew.
Jericho (also called Tell es-Sultan) is the name of tell situated on an ancient lake bed plain in what is known as the West Bank, in the territory belonging to Palestine.
The Angkor Civilization (or Khmer Civilization) is the name given to an important civilization of southeast Asia, including all of Cambodia and southeastern Thailand and northern Vietnam
The Palace of Minos, excavated by Arthur Evans, is a standard Minoan palace of extraordinary size, begun during the prepalatial period of the Minoan civilization.
Agave Americana (also called maguey) is an plant used throughout Mesoamerica as fiber for clothing and textiles and to produce alcoholic beverages.
The Vikings were a farming culture, who originated in Scandinavia about the 4th century AD, and began to spread out and conquer the Europe in the 9th century AD. They were mostly defeated or subsumed into other cultures by the 13th century AD.
The New Seven Wonders: Machu Picchu (Peru). Page 4.
The New Seven Wonders: Taj Mahal (India). Page 3.
In Africa, unlike the Europe and Asia, the Iron Age is not prefaced by a Bronze or Copper Age, but rather all the metals came at once.
Great Zimbabwe is an important African Iron Age site, one of hundreds of such sites in Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa dated between the 10th and 15th centuries AD.
This page describes the mythical and archaeological origins of the Aztec people, and the founding of their capital city of TenochtitlÃ¡n
Bloodletting rituals and sacrifices were a widespread practice among the ancient people of Mesoamerica.
The hardest thing a student does is pick a research paper topic. Archaeology, the study of a million years of human behavior, is an excellent starting place.
The Upper Paleolithic period saw great changes in the world as Homo sapiens became the only hominid running around on our planet.
Tipi rings are rings of boulders, remnants of Plains Indian tipis in North America, their stories told by oral history, ethnography, and archaeology.
Taj Mahal. Archaeology.
Arrowheads are the most identifiable archaeological artifact in the world. Whether they've personally collected them from nearby farmlands, seen them in museum displays or just watched them being shot into people in John Wayne movies, most people know the triangular tips of arrow shafts are the remnants of a hunting trip.
A collection of timelines for the world history of ancient cultures
At its height about 500 BC, the Persian empire had conquered Asia as far as the Indus River, Greece, and North Africa including what is now Egypt and Libya.
The earliest cities that belong to the Islamic civilization were built in the Year One AH, or AD 622.
The Bones of the Buddha is an hour long video describing the archaeological and historical search for one of Buddha's burial places.
Background research refers to accessing the collection of previously published and unpublished information about a site, region, or particular topic of interest and it is the first step of all good archaeological investigations, as well as that of all writers of any kind of research paper.
Cassava (Manihot esculenta), also known as manioc, tapioca, yuca and mandioca, is a domesticated species of tuber, originally domesticated on the southwestern border of the Amazon Basin.
What to visit in Mexico, archaeological sites in Mexico
Maadi (sometimes spelled Ma'adi) is the name of one of the first fully excavated predynastic sites in Egypt
BCE (or B.C.E.) and CE (or C.E.) definitions and proper usage examples.
Archaeologists recognize that in some cases, in some places, at some times, simple societies for one reason and another morph into more and more complex societies, and some become civilizations.
The Aztecs, or more properly the Mexica, practiced several different types of ritual sacrifice to secure the benevolence of the gods.
Monumental architecture refers to large man-made structures of stone or earth.
At the end of the last ice age (ca 15,000-10,000 years ago), 85 percent of the large mammals (called megafauna) went extinct.
El Sidron is an archaeological site in the Asturias region of northern Spain where the remains of at least 12 Neanderthals have been recovered.
Pigs (Sus scrofa) were domesticated in the Fertile Crescent about 11,000 years ago, but that's not the only place humans changed wild animals into a nicely behaved, edible food crop.
The eggplant domestication history is a mysterious one, that scholars have yet to figure out.
The story of how the Aztecs believe world originated, passed down by oral tradition, incorporating gods and myths adopted and modified from other tribes.
A letter of intent addressed to each graduate school you apply to is your opportunity to show your strengths and that you recognize your weaknesses.
Megafauna is a term used by archaeologists and paleontologist to refer to large-bodied mammals, that is, any mammal weighing more than 100 pounds (45 kilograms)
Recent archaeological evidence shows that the oldest ceramics in the world so far were discovered in mainland China, and dated to 20,000 years ago.
The Black Death, the Justinian Plague and the modern bubonic plague were all caused by some version of the Y. pestis bacteria.
Mixed cropping, also known as inter-cropping or co-cultivation, is a type of agriculture that involves planting two or more of plants simultaneously in the same field.
A collection of sites in the Supe Valley of Peru are proving to be the ancestral source of the Inca and other later civilizations of South and Central America. Caral and the other Supe Valley sites promise to teach us why people choose to become urban dwellers.
New Seven Wonders: The Roman Colosseum (Italy). Page 2.
We don't really know what the Minoans called themselves--the ancient early Bronze Age culture in Greece was named for the legendary King Minos.
The Multiregional Hypothesis argues that our earliest hominid ancestors radiated out from Africa and Homo sapiens evolved from several different groups of Homo erectus in several places throughout the world.
The use of the silk worm species Bombyx to produce cloth was invented at least as early as the Longshan period (3500-2000 BC), and perhaps earlier.
The color known as Chinese or Han Purple was a manufactured pigment used in China between about 500 BC and 220 AD, most famously on the terracotta soldiers of the Qin emperor.
The Denisovans are a recently discovered human species, who lived (at least) in what is today Siberia and colonized the southeast Asian islands and China.
The Middle Paleolithic period (ca 200,000 to 45,000 years ago or so) is the period during which Archaic humans including Homo sapiens neanderthalensis appeared and flourished all over the world.
A guide to the Olmec civilization, including timelines, important sites, important facts, subsistence and settlement, burning issues, and a bibliography
The Piprahwa Stupa is a religious structure, first built in the 5th century BC to hold the cremated remains of the fifth and most famous of Buddhas, Guatema Siddhartha
In archaeology, the study of stratigraphy involves looking at the geological and archaeological layers that make up an archaeological deposit to better understand the processes that created the site.
The Chalcolithic is the name given to the period in the Near East and Europe after the Neolithic and before the Bronze Age, between about 4500 and 3500 BC.
The term textiles includes cloth, baskets, sandals, nets, string, cords--anything made of natural fibers. Textiles are very old indeed!
Cultural evolution is the theory that culture changes over time as an adaptive response to stimulus.
Tezcatlipoca was the Aztec god of night, north direction and patron deity of Aztec kings
A pit house (also spelled pithouse) is a type of dwelling that was excavated partly into the earth, from a few inches to more than three feet.
New Seven Wonders: Pyramids at Giza
The Vikings had an extensive trade network throughout Europe, based on cod and exotic goods and maintained by a group of tradesmen.
New Seven Wonders: Petra (Jordan). Page 5.
Melissa Massat, a former Peace Corps volunteer and student of the world, expresses her dismay at the destruction of one of Peru's national treasures, resulting from the conflicting demands of development and preservation.
Dmanisi is a very old archaeological site, located in the Caucausus region of the Republic of Georgia, where very well-preserved ancient hominid remains have been found.
Mesopotamia is an ancient civilization that took up pretty much everything that today is modern Iraq, a triangular patch wedged between the Tigris River, the Zagros Mountains, and the Lesser Zab River.