Archaeology

As Indiana Jones races against time to find an ancient crystal skull in his new movie adventure, he should perhaps take a moment to check its authenticity.

New research suggests that two well-known crystal skulls, in the British Museum and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, did not, after all, come from ancient Mexico. Academics now believe the British skull was made in 19th century Europe and the American one even more recently.

The British Museum bought its skull, a life-size carving from a single block of rock crystal from Tiffany and Company, New York in 1897. Its origins were unknown but there were suggestions it was of ancient Mexican origin. Human skulls worn as ornaments and displayed on racks were known to have featured in Aztec art. The skull attracted a lot of public attention and speculation it was once thought to have healing powers. Crystal skulls have since featured in many books, articles and films, most recently in the new Steven Spielberg movie Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.


Corn has long been a primary food crop in prehistoric North and Central America but, according to a new study, it was also an important part of the South American diet for much longer than previously thought.

PhD student Sonia Zarrillo and archaeology professor Dr. Scott Raymond report that a new technique for examining ancient cooking pots has produced the earliest directly dated examples of domesticated corn (maize) being consumed on the South American continent.

In the west, we call valuable ceramic place settings 'china' because high-quality ceramic wares were imported from the east. They were the best and had the highest value.

Not really so, at least in Israel, according to research at the University of Haifa.

According to Dr. Edna Stern, in contrast to the notion that ceramic wares were imported to Acre and surrounding ports as luxury items, the findings of her study revealed exactly the opposite.

Have you watched salmon leaping and jumping seemingly impossible hurtles to return to the place of their birth? Many times I've watched the ritual with wonder.

While we think of this migration as having gone on "forever" from sea to river to stream. It seems it is a relatively recent phenomenon.

Salmon have permeated First Nations mythology and have been prized as an important food source for thousands of years.

Although still relatively unknown to the general public, an archaeological method called a regional settlement pattern survey is being practiced at several locations around the world.

Rather than focusing on city centers and their easilt serviceable sites, it involves walking systematically over a large landscape to find traces of archaeological sites on the surface of the ground. This field procedure can yield a holistic, integrated view of how settlement has shifted in a region over the course of history.

For the past 13 years, archaeologists from The Field Museum and Shandong University have used this method to develop a multifarious overview of an important but understudied region along the northeastern coast of The People’s Republic of China.

Museum archaeologists, conservation scientists, archivists and university researchers gathered at a one-day workshop at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory to discuss preservation of art and artefacts as well as immovable objects such as buildings and ships.

From how STFC is currently using its world leading light source facilities to help preserve the historic timbers of the Mary Rose, to why a bronze-age wooden shovel has survived so perfectly for over 4000 years in unfavourable soil conditions - delegates took part in discussions with STFC scientists involved to discover how cutting edge techniques can take heritage research into new and productive directions.

A Purdue University archaeologist discovered an intact ancient iron ore mine in South America that shows how civilizations before the Inca Empire were mining this valuable ore.

"Archaeologists know people in the Old and New worlds have mined minerals for thousands and thousands of years," said Kevin J. Vaughn, an assistant professor of anthropology who studies the Nasca civilization, which existed from A.D. 1 to A.D. 750. "Iron mining in the Old World, specifically in Africa, goes back 40,000 years. And we know the ancient people in Mexico, Central America and North America were mining for various materials. There isn't much evidence for these types of mines.

"What we found is the only hematite mine, a type of iron also known as ochre, recorded in South America prior to the Spanish conquest. This discovery demonstrates that iron ores were important to ancient Andean civilizations."

Researchers of the Group of Recent Prehistory Studies (GEPRAN) of the University of Granada, from the department of Prehistory and Archaeology, have taken an important step to determine how life was in the Iberian Peninsula in the Bronze Age.

Since 1974, archaeologists from Granada, directed by professors Trinidad Nájera Colino and Fernando Molina González, have been working on the site of the Motilla del Azuer, in the municipal area of Daimiel (province of Ciudad Real), in search of the necessary information to reconstruct the day by day in this thrilling and unknown historical period.

The sites, known as “motillas”, represent one of the most peculiar types of prehistoric settlements in the Iberian Peninsula.

The Syrian Archeological Team discovered parts of an architecture that included several tombs and funeral findings at Tal Shair site in the northeastern area of Hasaka dating back to the Middle Bronze Age in the 3rd millennium B.C.

Member of the Executive Bureau and in Charge of Tourism, Archeology and Arts Department Mohammad Shamsuddin in Hasaka Governorate said the team also discovered parts of another architecture made of stones and traditional ancient building blocks dating back to the Islamic period and part of a building dating back to the second half of the 3rd millennium B.C.

He added that the French archeological team also unearthed parts of another building as well as clay jars and spinning tools at Tal al-Faras site dating back to the 4th millennium B.C.

Excavation works carried out by national and foreign archeological teams in the central Syrian Governorate of Hama has yielded several important findings in Tal al-Homsi, Apamea, al-Rawda, Ba'arin Cemetery, Tal al-Qarqour.

The teams also executed many restoration works in the ancient Shaizar Castle.

Head of Hama Department of Ruins Jamal Ramadan said significant parts of Apamea ancient city were unearthed, particularly in the northeastern corners, as well as discovering some findings including a stone statue with intact face.

Mr. Ramadan added that the Syrian-German crew discovered a stone statue of a lioness which was the Symbol of Mamlouki state.