Archaeology

The discovery of an ancient city buried beneath the sands of modern-day Syria has provided evidence for a Hellenistic settlement that existed for more than six centuries extending into the time of the Roman Empire. The site provides a unique insight into the structures of a pre-Roman Hellenistic settlement. The project, funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, sheds new light on city life in the Hellenistic period.

The Syrian deserts have long kept an important secret hidden deep beneath their sands ­ the remains of the pre-Roman Hellenistic settlement of Palmyra. Until now, the only evidence for the existence of such a settlement was to be found in historical writing. As part of an FWF-funded joint project, the Institute of Classical Archaeology at the University of Vienna, the German Archaeological Institute and the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums in Syria have been the first to track down the location of this early city.


Researchers from University of Leicester Archaeological Services have recently completed work on the results of three closely related Bronze Age round barrows excavated at Cossington, Leicestershire and show how the ancient cemetery was reused by successive communities.

Their excavations revealed a variety of burial practices from Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman and Anglo Saxon times. They offer the first definite example of an Anglo Saxon cemetery sited on an earlier monument to be found in Leicestershire.

One of the barrows included the crouched burial of a child of around eight years, who lay with grave offerings including two pots, a stone bowl and three flint knives. One of the knives had been made from a much earlier object, perhaps making a physical link to past ‘ancestors.’

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.