ARCHAEOLOGY magazine offers readers incisive reporting, vivid storytelling, compelling photography – and the latest news from around the globe – all devoted to exploring the world’s ancient past. Whether reporting from a dive on an Arctic shipwreck, trekking through Afghanistan, or digging just beneath Beirut, ARCHAEOLOGY’s editors and writers bring readers the science, and the magic, of archaeological discovery.

United States
Archaeological Institute of America
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6 Numéros

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2 min
putting the ancient world on the map

When we started planning our special feature “Mapping the Past,” we knew we wanted to bring you a wide range of maps from diverse cultures and time periods. We also wanted to broaden the concept of what constitutes a map by taking into account whatever people might wish to locate, including the stars, their stories, or a path through the afterlife. As we researched our choices, we wondered: How many maps have survived from antiquity? Were the materials used to create them too perishable to last? Would universal themes appear? Or would people from different cultures, places, and time periods map their worlds in unique ways? When we started to make our selections, we found that maps made of all sorts of materials—bronze, clay, papyrus, silk, marble, cotton, paper, and…

2 min
plumbing, past and present

Shortly after a 1793 epidemic of yellow fever ravaged Philadelphia, the nation’s capital at the time, the architect and engineer Benjamin Henry Latrobe described the city thus: “The backyards of most of the houses are also depositories of filth to a degree which is surprising.…The houses being much crowded, and the situation flat, without subterraneous sewers to carry off the filth, every house has its privy and its drains which lodge their supplies in one boghole sunk into the ground at different depths.” Latrobe hypothesized that deeply dug cesspits had contaminated the underground aquifers that supplied most of the drinking water, causing the disastrous outbreak. As a native of Philadelphia whose family had a plumbing supply business, I am particularly interested in the story of sanitation. As an archaeologist, I am…

3 min
from our readers

ARTISTIC VISION As an artist who also works with horses, I was captivated by the carved horse image on the stone tablet from Rocher de l’Imperatrice (“Art at the End of the Ice Age,” March/April 2019). The carving appears to be a careful study done from a dead animal. The artist has realistically rendered the challenging angles of the hoof, fetlock, and pastern, but the horse’s feet are not in contact with the ground. The limbs are not posed to support the animal’s weight—even the limp nature of the tail suggests the horse is placed on its side. The loss of volume shown beneath the chin suggests a fairly recent death, before the onset of rigor mortis or bloating. Jessica Madole St. Paul, MN SECRET SOCK SOCIETY As an anthropology student at The Evergreen State…

3 min
epic proportions

More than a decade ago, archaeologists Andrew Chamberlain of the University of Manchester and Mike Parker Pearson of University College London began taking measurements at Stonehenge as part of their research at the site. They determined that the Neolithic monument’s earthwork elements—including a ditch, a bank, and a ring of chalk pits—which form concentric circles around the iconic standing stones, all feature diameters evenly divisible by a single standard measurement, that is to say, with no fractions remaining. They termed this measurement the “long foot,” because it is equal to 1.056 modern feet. Chamberlain and Parker Pearson found that the distances between some of Stonehenge’s megaliths could also be expressed as whole numbers of long feet. This led them to question how Stonehenge’s builders had made the calculations necessary to…

2 min
off the grid

Kakadu National Park in Australia’s Northern Territory, a roughly three-hour drive southeast from the territory’s capital, Darwin, is one of the greatest rock-art landscapes in the world. Recent archaeological excavations have pushed back the earliest dates of human presence in the region to around 65,000 years ago. More than 5,000 sites with petroglyphs have been recorded within the park’s 8,000 square miles. Pinning down the precise date of some of Kakadu’s rock art is challenging, as many of the mineral pigments used in the area are not datable using radiocarbon methods. Therefore, says Samantha McLean of Kakadu’s research and permits office, archaeologists and art historians have constructed timelines for the art using a combination of thermoluminescence dating, which can determine when mineral elements of paint or ceramics were first heated…

1 min
stabbed in the back

The skeleton of an eleventh-century man who appears to have been executed has been unearthed in central Sicily. When archaeologists led by Roberto Miccichè of the University of Palermo found the remains in a shallow grave, they immediately realized they had an unusual case on their hands. The man had been buried facedown, in a manner that did not follow any of the religious practices common in Sicily at the time. This suggests that he was an outlaw. As Miccichè studied the bones using CT scans and a 3-D reconstruction, he recognized that the victim had been stabbed in the back at least six times, most likely while kneeling with his feet bound together. This is evidence of “someone very familiar with human anatomy carrying out a kind of ‘surgical operation’…