Archaeology: Most Popular Articles
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.
Drop in on a collection of quotes from historians--some professional, some decidedly not--trying their hand at defining the dark art of history.
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.
Learn more about the most important Aztec gods and and the religion of the Aztec people
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.
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 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.
Huitzilopochtli, the Aztec god of war and sacrifice, learn more about Aztec mythology and religion
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.
Short list of the main facts and aspects of Aztec culture
The history of the relationship between humans and cattle is a long and varied one, with at least two and perhaps three domestication events.
When and where the partnership of dog and humans first occurred is currently under considerable debate.
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
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.
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.
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
Some of the world's oldest art is also the loveliest - cave paintings throughout the world. Here you'll find several of the best examples.
The Inca were the largest pre-hispanic empire of South America when it was 'discovered' by the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century AD.
The turkey (Meleagris gallapavo) was definitely domesticated in the New World, but the history of turkey domestication is somewhat problematic.
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.
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.
The quipu (also spelled khipu or quipo) is the only known precolumbian information system in South America.
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.
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.
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.
Archaeologists use the term 'BP' to mean 'years before humans began to screw up the atmosphere by testing nuclear devices'.
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.
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 Inca road system included some 25,000 miles of roads, bridges, tunnels and causeways: it was an essential part of the success of the Inca Empire.
A collection of plant histories, when and where humans domesticated them, with a table of dates and places and links to the stories themselves.
Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from grapes; and may have been invented nearly 9,000 years ago in China....
The Mesolithic period in European history includes the history of the complex hunter-gatherers who developed the technology to cultivate crops.
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.
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.
Facts about the economics, politics, warfare, rituals, architecture, and other interesting things to know about the Maya Civilization. Page 3.
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 Out of Africa or African Replacement Hypothesis argues that every living human being is descended from a small group in Africa.
The history of farming begins some 12,000 years ago, in the hilly flanks of the Zagros Mountains of southwest Asia
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.
This page describes the mythical and archaeological origins of the Aztec people, and the founding of their capital city of TenochtitlÃ¡n
The Mesoamerican ball game was an exciting, dangerous game played by most cultures in central America.
What kind of real-life career choices do I have with a degree in archaeology?
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
Wheat was one of the very first crops domesticated by our ancestors, some 10,000 years ago in southeastern Turkey.
The Mississippian culture is what archaeologists call the precolumbian horticulturalists and mound builders, who were spread across the American midwest and southeast, between about AD 1000-1550.
Tlaloc, the rain god, was one of the most important gods in Aztec religion
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.
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.
The Mesopotamian city of Ur, known as Tell al-Muqayyar, was an important Sumerian city state between about 2025-1738 BC.
The Islamic Civilization is in reality a mosaic of wide variety of cultures, from North Africa to the western periphery of the Pacific Ocean, and from Central Asia to sub-Saharan Africa.
The Moche culture was a South American society, whose sites were located along the arid coast of what is now Peru between 100 and 800 AD.
A military and political pact formed by the Aztec of Tenochtitlan and other two cities of the Valley of Mexico. This is when the Aztec Empire began.
Glass is a transparent hard substance created by the application of enormous amounts of heat to sand or quartz. Nature's glass is made by volcanic action, superheating and creating the substance called obsidian.
A few important facts about Neandertals, part of an intensive study guide about these human ancestors. Page 2.
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.
Monumental architecture refers to large man-made structures of stone or earth.
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.
The Mayan civilization had an extensive economic system based on trade and agriculture. Here are some details of that system.
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 ancient Vikings were undoubtedly raiders: in that the History Channel series is correct. But they were so much more interesting than television tells us...
Wheeled vehicles were invented pretty much simultaneously in Southwest Asia and Northern Europe, about 5500 years ago. Their inventionproved altogether too useful, allowing imperialists to run amok, and markets to flourish.
Archaeological investigations at Dzudzuana Cave in the Republic of Georgia have recovered flax (Linum usitatissimum) fibers from four Upper Paleolithic occupations, the oldest some 32,000 years old.
The Mural of the Battle, from room 2 at Bonampak, is probably the most famous example of Maya painting. The scene portrays in detail images of one-to-one combat, captive taking, and weaponry...
The Aztecs, or more properly the Mexica, practiced several different types of ritual sacrifice to secure the benevolence of the gods.
Dugouts were a kind of housing used by European pioneers as first homes as they established their farmsteads in the northern middle west of the United States.
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 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...
Bloodletting rituals and sacrifices were a widespread practice among the ancient people of Mesoamerica.
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.
Cultural evolution is the theory that culture changes over time as an adaptive response to stimulus.
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.
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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
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 Kennewick Man controversy began with a couple of guys sneaking into a boat race; but the saga includes all of what modern archaeology is about, including science, religion, and indigenous people's rights. This series discusses the Kennewick findings, the issues at stake and the progress of the court case.
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.
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 ancient Inca empire ruled much of South America when the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 16th century AD, and they did it all without a written language. But did they?
Malta and Gozo are two islands in the Mediterranean sea, on which were built some of the oldest temples in the world. Their geography is a piece of the path to learning about the Malta Temples.
11,500 year old child burials at the Upward Sun River site in central Alaska exhibit complex burial practices of Siberian migrants into the Americas.
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 Inca trail system was an essential part of the success of the Inca Empire, which included an estimated 40,000 kilometers of road way
Facts about the Olmec concerning their colossal heads of stone, their written language, their rituals, their artwork. Page 3.
Beginning about 10,500 years ago, Neolithic people started keeping goats, for their milk, meat, dung, wool... but maybe not their sweet natures.
The history of the domesticated horse (Equus caballus) is complex, the results of the spread of this marvelous creature throughout the world.
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.
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.
Tezcatlipoca was the Aztec god of night, north direction and patron deity of Aztec kings
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.
Refer to this page to learn more about the origin of cotton domestication and cultivation
A guide to the Olmec civilization, including timelines, important sites, important facts, subsistence and settlement, burning issues, and a bibliography
Arguably the best known archaeological site in the world--and one of the best documented on the web, Pompeii has seen over 250 years of excavations.
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.
Tonatiuh (pronounced Toh-nah-tee-uh) was the Aztec sun god. This deity had both a positive and negative aspect.
The Upper Paleolithic period saw great changes in the world as Homo sapiens became the only hominid running around on our planet.
In this step, we use Microsoft Excel to draw us a bar graph of the data from Step 1.
The dust veil of AD 536 was a period of a year to 18 months when the world experienced some kind of calamity, and historic records and dendrochronological records from around the world hold the evidence.
The Aztecs had a complex set of beliefs, ceremonies and gods, each one overlooking an aspect of human life...
During the Classic period (~AD 250-900 AD) , the Maya rulers practiced rituals to appease the gods, repeat historical events, and prepare for the future. But not all ceremonies were secret rituals; in fact, many were public rituals, theatrical performances and dances played in public arenas to unite communities and express political power relationships.
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.
Archaeology has traced the history of rice to nearly 12,000 years ago.
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.
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 people known as Anasazi, or more properly Ancestral Puebloan, were the people who built Chaco Canyon and the Great Houses that were connected to it.
Poverty Point is a large, C-shaped, 3500-year-old earthwork located on the Maçon Ridge in the Mississippi River trench in northeast Louisiana.
Chinampa systems are a type of American traditional agriculture that has been practiced for at least 1,000 years
Oracle bones are a type of artifact found in archaeological sites from the Shang Dynasty in China.
Marilyn Johnson's 2014 book, Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble is a perceptive look at the practitioners of the dark art.
There are two broad types of coconuts, called dwarf and tall, and the types are part of the history of the origins of domestication. Page 2.
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 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.
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.
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.
Anthropology is the study of human beings; their culture, their behavior, their beliefs, their ways of surviving; but that's just my opinion. Here is a collection of other definitions.
Chaac, was the Mayan god of rain, water and lightning. His origins are very ancient and he was worshiped all over the Maya area...
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 House of the Vestals is the name of a deluxe residence in the northwestern part of the doomed city of Pompeii, Italy.
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.
Chichen Itza - Temple of the Warriors - A Walking Tour of Chichen Itza - Ancient Maya Ruins of Mexico. Page 7.
The floor plan of the House of the Faun is comparable in size and shape to eastern Hellenistic palaces of the same era such as Delos.
The capacocha ceremony is the name of an Incan ritual, which involved the sacrifice of children, as reported in historical chronicles and evidenced archaeologically.
Lascaux Cave is a rockshelter in the Dordogne Valley of France with fabulous cave paintings, dated to between 15,000 and 17,000 years ago. Sadly, it is no longer open to the public.
The Rosetta stone is a block of dark granite found in Egypt in 1799, that literally transformed modern understanding of 3,000 years of Egyptian history.
Most plants fall into three groups, based on their chemical makeup: C4, C3, and CAM; archaeologists are particularly interested in C3 and C4 plants. Here's why.
Aztlan is the mythical homeland from which the Aztec/Mexica migrated to the Valley of Mexico in the 13th century.
: The term "material culture" is often used by archaeologists as a non-specific way to refer to the artifacts
Pre-Clovis is the name archaeologists have given to the oldest and now fairly well-established human occupations of the Americas.
The streets of Pompeii are fascinating examples of Roman construction.
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 story of how the Aztecs believe world originated, passed down by oral tradition, incorporating gods and myths adopted and modified from other tribes.
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 Predynastic period in Egypt is the name archaeologists have given to the three millennia before the emergence of the first unified Egyptian state society.
Heinrich Schliemann, that quintessential archaeologist of the 19th century, claimed to have discovered the real site of Troy. But did he?
In archaeology, the term Site Formation Processes refers to the events that created an archaeological site.
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.
The name Aztec is an incorrect term to define the ancient inhabitants of the city of Tenochitlan or the inhabitants of the Valley of Mexico. This term originated in the 19th century, whereas the Aztecs called themselves Mexica..
The Royal Road was a major intercontinental thoroughfare built by the Achaemenid king Darius the Great (521-485 BC), to allow access to their conquered cities. It is also the road that Alexander the Great used to conquer the Achaemenid dynasty.
The sheep (Ovis aries) is one of the earliest animals ever domesticated, from the mouflon and more than 10,000 years ago.
Chichen Itza - Wall of Skulls (Tzompantli) - A Walking Tour of Chichen Itza - Ancient Maya Ruins of Mexico. Page 6.
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.
A quote collection from archaeologists and others about the science of archaeology, the mysteries of history, and the truly strange study of the past.
The honey bee (Apis mellifera) was first managed--although not by any means domesticated--perhaps 7,000 years ago.
The Bering Land Bridge allowed human population into the Americas some 15,000 years ago: and scholars suggest it may partly regulate global climates.
Aztecs are the collective name given to seven Chichimec tribes of northern Mexico
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
Itzamna is one of the most important ancient Maya gods. He was considered the god of creation and the inventor of writing, and divination...
Llamas and alpacas are two different species of camel in South America, both domesticated in about the same location and time in the Andean highlands.
Feudalism is a system of political organization, in which an elite individual called a lord controls several common people (vassals).