ARCHAEOLOGY March/April 2021

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

dans ce numéro

2 min
aiming high

There are several photographs in this issue that might make even those without the slightest fear of heights a bit uneasy. On page 28, there is an image of a vertiginous rock-cut staircase ascending a mountain in the Saudi Arabian desert. On page 36, we see bioarchaeologist Marla Toyne casually taking notes while suspended on a cliff at the site of La Petaca in northern Peru. And look closely at the photo on page 57—those half-moon-shaped areas high in a canyon in Mexico’s Sierra Madre are filled with sturdy buildings. In their time, the ancient people who created these sites conquered heights that modern researchers often struggle to merely visit, leaving behind an enduring record of their values and accomplishments. For the prehistoric inhabitants of the Mexican state of Chihuahua, the…

2 min
community and change

Every January, the AIA gathers as a community for its annual conference featuring panels on archaeological research and events honoring the dedication of the lay enthusiasts who run many of the Institute’s 106 local societies in the United States and Canada. This year brought a number of changes. The conference was completely virtual for the first time. We also included a new preconference program, Society Sunday, to engage and thank those society officers and members who support the Institute’s many activities, such as its extensive lecture program; its cultural heritage efforts, both in North America and abroad; and the immensely popular International Archaeology Day. Highlights included an exciting public lecture, “Discoveries in the Desert,” by eminent Egyptologist Salima Ikram. With more than 600 people attending virtually, Ikram traced continuity and change…

3 min
from our readers

A NIGHT AT THE THEATER As a student of the Elizabethan theater, I found “First English Playhouse” (January/February 2021) to be a welcome surprise. The uncovering of what is believed to be the remains of the Red Lion playhouse recalls the fascinating subject of early theaters and their architecture. The assumption by archaeologist Stephen White that the Red Lion might have been rectangular brings to mind the Fortune theater, which was also rectangular. It is logical that it would have been far more difficult to build a round structure of wood as opposed to a square or polygonal one, which is why depictions of Shakespeare’s Globe and other theaters of the time are usually represented as octagonal. Michael Landau Rome, NY DRAGON ENCOUNTER Thank you so much for a wonderful issue (January/February 2021). I read…

3 min
an enduring design

After a helmet crafted from thin metal plates was discovered during a 1950s sewer installation project in the town of Yarm in northeastern England, it was initially put on display in the town hall and labeled as a Norman artifact. The object was moved more than 20 years later to the Dorman Museum in nearby Middlesbrough, where it was eventually relegated to storage as experts began to doubt whether it had any real historical significance. After all, the helmet didn’t look much like other medieval helmets known at the time, and scholars questioned how sheets of metal measuring just one to two millimeters thick could have survived for nearly 1,000 years in the wild. “There was this tradition in Britain in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century of pageants…

1 min
the mummies return

In the fall of 2020, archaeologists unearthed 59 wooden mummy coffins from burial shafts at Egypt’s Saqqara necropolis (“Top 10 Discoveries of 2020,” January/February 2021). Since then, continued investigations at the site have added to the still-growing tally. A total of more than 100 painted coffins, most dating to between 712 and 30 B.C., have emerged from the shafts—so far. Among the objects interred alongside the deceased were 40 statues of Saqqara’s patron deity, Ptah-Sokar, 20 wooden boxes decorated with images of the god Horus, and a variety of gilded death masks, amulets, and ushabti figurines.…

1 min
a dutiful roman soldier

A chunk of a high-quality marble gravestone unearthed in an ancient dump at the Roman settlement of Almus in northwestern Bulgaria tells the unusual and sad story of a high-ranking Roman legionary. According to the surviving five lines of a Latin inscription on the gravestone, which dates to the first century A.D., the soldier served 44 years in the Roman army, much longer than the usual 25-year term of service. The inscription records that the tombstone was created by the soldier’s freed slave, most likely in gratitude for having been granted his freedom along with the inheritance of his former owner’s property. Valeri Stoichkov, an archaeologist at the Historical Museum of Lom, says the fragment contains the earliest inscription in the region to have been discovered in situ. Judging from other…