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Unusual 2,400-Year-Old Burial Unearthed in Mexico City

February 3, 2018

 

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO—According to a Live Science report, archaeologists associated with Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History unearthed a 2,400-year-old burial while investigating the ancient settlement of Tlalpan, which is located in southern Mexico City. The circular burial is unusual because it contains the remains of men, women, and children, whose bodies had been interlocked in a spiral shape. The grave also held stones and ceramic jars and bowls. The condition of the skeletons suggests the skulls of two of the individuals had been modified by binding during childhood, and the teeth of some of the others had been filed into different shapes. Jimena Rivera, head of the excavation, suggests the tableau and the age range of the deceased could have been intended to symbolize the stages of life. For more, go to “Aztec Warrior Wolf.”

Categories: Blog

Lidar Survey Reveals Thousands of Maya Structures

February 3, 2018

EL PETÉN, GUATEMALA—Some 60,000 Maya structures have been discovered in the dense forests of northern Guatemala by a consortium of scholars led by the PACUNAM LiDAR Initiative, according to a Live Science report. Lidar, or “light detection and ranging” technology, beams laser pulses at the ground from airplanes and measures the wavelengths of light that bounce back, creating an accurate 3-D map of the topography. Archaeologist Tom Garrison of Ithaca College said most of the structures detected during the survey are probably stone platforms that supported pole-and-thatch dwellings. Some of those architectural mounds could be pyramids and defensive structures, however. The scientists also detected roads that may have served as causeways during the rainy season, or as platforms for processions. David Stuart of the University of Texas at Austin commented that knowing where the Maya chose not to build and live could also offer information about how they farmed and used water. “It’s going to change our views of population and just on how the Maya lived on that landscape,” he said. For more, go to “Letter From Guatemala: Maya Metropolis.”

Categories: Blog

New Dates Obtained for Possible Viking Mass Grave in England

February 3, 2018

BRISTOL, ENGLAND—The International Business Times reports that new radiocarbon dates have been obtained for the human remains discovered some 40 years ago in a mass grave at a seventh-century church in Repton. Historic records indicate that a Viking army invaded England’s four Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in A.D. 865, and spent the 873–874 winter in Repton. The remains of hundreds of dead, mostly males between the ages of 18 and 45 who had suffered violent injuries, had initially been thought to be members of this Great Viking Army, but radiocarbon dating had indicated some of the bones were too old for that to be the case. Cat Jarman of the University of Bristol says the Vikings’ seafood-rich diet could have thrown off the first radiocarbon tests. The new dates, which adjust for the older carbon ingested with marine foods, place all of the remains in the ninth century A.D. Jarman said the new dates don’t prove the bones belonged to the Vikings, but they do make it far more likely. For more, go to “Hoards of the Vikings.”

Categories: Blog

Prehistoric Enclosure Found Near Stonehenge

February 3, 2018

LARKHILL, ENGLAND—According to a report in The Guardian, a team led by Si Cleggett of Wessex Archaeology has uncovered a series of nine post holes in a causewayed enclosure they say matches the orientation of the circle at Stonehenge. The site is located a short walk from Stonehenge, and dates to between 3750 and 3650 B.C., or about 600 years before a circular ditch and timber posts were first installed at the Stonehenge site. Cleggett suggests the people who built the enclosure at Larkhill may have been the architects of the Stonehenge landscape. “That nine-post alignment could be an early blueprint for the laying out of the stones at Stonehenge,” he said. For more, go to “The Square Inside Avebury’s Circles.”

Categories: Blog

Three Burial Shafts Found at Egypt’s Abusir Necropolis

February 2, 2018

CAIRO, EGYPT—Ahram Online reports that three rock-hewn burial shafts at the Abusir necropolis were uncovered during emergency excavations after a report of illegal digging. Mostafa Waziri of the Supreme Council of Antiquities said the shafts contained four poorly preserved wooden coffins. One of the coffins bears the cartouche of King Ptolemy IV, who reigned from 221 to 204 B.C. The coffins held the mummified remains of what are thought to be birds, and three round linen bundles thought to contain the animals’ stomachs. A collection of 38 faience pots was also recovered. To read about another recent discovery in Egypt, go to “Queen of the Old Kingdom.”

Categories: Blog

When Did Modern Humans Arrive in India?

February 2, 2018

CHENNAI, INDIA—According to a Washington Post report, thousands of stone tools spanning a period of one million years have been unearthed at Attirampakkam, a site in southern India. No hominin remains were found at the site, so researchers led by archaeologist Shanti Pappu of the Sharma Center for Heritage Education do not know who crafted the tools. The oldest implements are blunt Acheulean hand axes, which are thought to have been made by the first hominins to leave Africa. Stone points that may have been affixed to projectiles have also been recovered, and are thought to belong to the Levallois culture. These tools, dated to between 385,000 and 172,000 years ago, are associated with the ability to think abstractly and plan ahead. It had previously been thought that Levallois tools were first made in India by modern humans some 100,000 years ago. “We hope this will be a jumping-off point for a new look at regions like India,” Pappu said. For more, go to “Letter from India: Living Heritage at Risk.”

Categories: Blog

Range of Artifacts Found in Jerusalem Hills

February 1, 2018

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL—The Times of Israel reports that excavations at Ein Hanya, which is located at the site of a spring in the Judean Hills, have uncovered a system of Byzantine-era pools, a column capital dating to the First Temple era, and a Greek coin dating to the fourth century B.C. Irina Zilberbod of the Israel Antiquities Authority said a pool surrounded by roofed colonnades had been placed at the foot of a church in the center of a complex of buildings. It may have been used for irrigation, washing, landscaping, or even Christian baptismal ceremonies, she explained. Coins, pottery, glass, roof tiles, and multicolored mosaic pieces dating to the Byzantine era were also recovered. Water from the pool drained through a network of channels into a fountain, or nymphaeum. The 2,400-year-old column discovered at the site suggests it may have once been home to a royal estate. The rare coin, a silver drachma, is one of the oldest found in the region. To read about another recent discovery in Israel, go to “Reading Invisible Messages.”

Categories: Blog

1,000-Year-Old Hunting Weapon Found in Melting Yukon Ice

February 1, 2018

CARCROSS, CANADA—CBC News reports that a barbed antler arrow point with a copper end blade discovered in melting ice last summer has been radiocarbon dated to 936 years ago. Yukon archaeologist Greg Hare discovered the hunting artifact in an area frequented by caribou during the summers on the traditional territory of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation. The blade had been pointed into the earth, with the arrow half buried in ice, as if it had just been shot from a bow. “This is one of the oldest copper elements that we [have] ever found in the Yukon,” Hare said. The copper used to make the weapon was locally sourced, probably from a creek in southwest Yukon. Hare explained that in addition to representing the development of metallurgy in the Yukon, the arrow also marks the period when First Nations hunters were changing from atlatl (throwing dart) technology to bows and arrows. He thinks it may have taken two weeks to make the artifact, and that it would have been a significant loss for the hunter. For more, go to “Where the Ice Age Caribou Ranged.”

Categories: Blog

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