ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 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 Números

en aquest número

2 min.
our favorite things

We know we aren’t supposed to pick favorites, whether among children, pets, or articles in the magazine, but we have to admit that it would be hard for a team of editors not to love “Formatting Bronze Age Tablets,” which appears in this issue’s Digs & Discoveries section. The image of ancient Greek scribes toiling away at their tablets more than 3,000 years ago and devising ways to make their work clear and comprehensible definitely struck a chord with us. Thankfully, we don’t have to edit lists of bushels of grain or flocks of sheep like those scribes did, and instead can bring you our annual Top 10 Discoveries. There were so many wonderful finds from which to choose, including nearly five dozen mummies in their painted sarcophagi from the…

2 min.
protecting heritage

I write to you in this issue as an advocate for the protection of archaeological sites from theft and desecration. I know you as ARCHAEOLOGY readers share my interest and passion for the preservation of the world’s heritage. The year 2020 marked the 50th anniversary of the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. This treaty is the primary international mechanism to halt the illicit trade of antiquities. The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA) has been a strong supporter of the 1970 Convention from the beginning. Archaeologists deplore the looting of sites because it harms our ability to learn from the past, deprives communities of opportunities for public education and tourism at ancient sites, and contributes to…

1 min.
create your legacy

You’re not too young to plan your legacy! We would be delighted to include you in this special group of benefactors. For more information, please call (857) 305-9357 or visit Archaeological Institute of America The Charles Eliot Norton Society honors friends of archaeology who have named the AIA as a beneficiary of their retirement plan, insurance policy, will, or other estate gift. “My life has been so enriched by archaeology and historic sites. It’s important to me to do everything I can to support the next generations of students and to help preserve the places and artifacts that have so inspired me. Joining the Norton Society is an easy way to help the AIA continue this mission.”…

4 min.
from our readers

OUR STORY The Editor’s Letter about the telling of stories throughout our lives in the September/October 2020 issue made me realize that is why I enjoy your magazine so much. ArchAeology does tell a story—it tells many stories—and I read it front page to last page just to get those stories. My mind pictures everything I read that the pictures don’t always show. Connie L. Jansen Seattle, WA AN AMAZING BEING I enjoy every issue of the magazine that comes, cover to cover. ArchAeology entertains and enlightens. I read with fascination “Weaving for Their Ancestors” (November/December 2020) by Roger Atwood, in which he describes the Oculate Being as having a snake-like tongue and cat’s whiskers. It also has a monkey’s head, which makes it one of the more interesting zoomorphic gods in the pantheon. Keep…

3 min.
reading, writing, and algorithms

Scholars have long debated how widespread literacy was among the Israelites of the seventh century b.c., during the last decades before the ancient kingdom of Judah fell to the Babylonians and its people went into exile. If this were known, it could help determine whether certain books in the Hebrew Bible, such as Deuteronomy, Judges, and Kings, which narrate the kingdom’s rise, were composed—and possibly read by the broader populace—during this period. Now, a team of researchers at Tel Aviv University, including a mathematician and a police investigator, studying 2,700-year-old Hebrew inscriptions have found evidence of a surprisingly high rate of literacy at the time. Convinced that modern technology can be used to decipher the past, the team developed algorithms designed to estimate how many different people contributed to a set…

1 min.
face off

The Tashtyk culture, which existed between the first and seventh centuries a.d. in southern Siberia, is known for its elaborate burial customs, including applying layers of gypsum onto the deceased’s face to create lifelike death masks. A stunning example of this practice—the mummified remains of a man buried some 1,700 years ago wearing a painted red death mask—was discovered in the late 1960s in the Khakassia region. More than half a century later, researchers from Russia’s Hermitage Museum have finally managed to glimpse the man’s face. Since removing the mask would damage the mummy, the researchers instead conducted a CT scan to peer beneath the facial covering. The scan revealed that the man had a nasty gash across the left side of his face, running from his eye to his ear,…