July/August 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.

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United States
Archaeological Institute of America
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6 Numéros

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2 min
looking forward

As I reflect on this past year of the pandemic and the way it has disrupted our routines and daily connections, I also see how it has brought out examples of resilience and has created space for new opportunities. At the AIA, we launched a series of new initiatives. One of these is Archaeology Abridged, short lectures including “Ötzi the Iceman’s Prehistoric Medical Kit”; “The Extraordinary Archaeological Finds from Roman Vindolanda,” which discusses the largest collection of ancient Roman shoes ever found; “A Toast to Ancient Greek Wine Drinking”; and most recently, “Discovering Sutton Hoo.” I’d like to thank the AIA’s staff; our speakers, Patrick Hunt, Elizabeth M. Greene, Kathleen Lynch, and Martin Carver, for their enthusiasm and the terrific sense of fun they brought to these topics; and the audience…

1 min
mirror, mirror

An array of 2,000-year-old bronze mirrors unearthed in a cemetery in the suburbs of Xi’an, China, has shed new light on funeral customs and daily life during the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 9). Among the 87 circular mirrors, which vary in size from three to eight inches in diameter, several can still reflect images. “They clearly show petals of flowers, or the brand name on your drink,” says lead researcher Yingpei Zhu from Shaanxi Academy of Archaeology. On the back of each mirror is a central knob surrounded by decorative images such as dragons and stars. According to Zhu, these mirrors belonged to ordinary citizens. In most cases, the mirror was placed near the head or chest of the tomb owner. In one well-preserved tomb, four mirrors were placed…

1 min
buddhist retreat

Archaeologists in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand have unearthed a small vihara, an early type of Buddhist monastery. A team from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) investigating several mounds in a hilly area found a Buddhist shrine in one of them and the vihara in another. According to Rajendra Dehuri, ASI deputy superintending archaeologist, the monastery includes six rooms that open onto a wide veranda. Also found at the site were sculptures of Gautama Buddha, as well as the Buddhist deities Avalokiteshvara and Tara. The structure appears to have been built between the eighth and eleventh centuries A.D.…

1 min
tubman’s training ground

The site of the cabin where Harriet Tubman lived with her family as a young adult in the early 1840s has been located in the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. According to the will of his former owner, Tubman’s father, Ben Ross, was to be freed from slavery and granted 10 acres in the area. The precise location of his plot, however—referred to as “Old Ben’s Place” in later land deeds—was unknown. A recent excavation led by Julie Schablitsky, project director and chief archaeologist with the Maryland Department of Transportation, has unearthed a range of evidence of the cabin. This includes a coin dating to 1808 found on an old road leading to the site, ceramic sherds imprinted with dishware patterns popular in the 1820s to 1840s, and…

1 min
anchors aweigh

Divers exploring a section of the River Wear west of Sunderland, England, retrieved an assortment of Roman artifacts and nine ship anchors that had been buried in the riverbed for 2,000 years. Weighing up to 40 pounds, the stone anchors resemble other Roman examples found elsewhere in Britain, but these are the first to be discovered in a river and not a maritime context. Archaeologist Gary Bankhead believes the anchors may indicate the location of a small harbor or unloading zone once used by the Romans. “Seagoing ships would have been unable to go any further upstream due to the shallow depth of water at low tide, so cargo would have had to be transferred to smaller boats,” says Bankhead. The River Wear was likely an important supply route used…

1 min
laws of the land

At least two families in Oxford, England, may have followed a kosher diet more than 900 years ago. Archaeologists have uncovered remnants of two adjoining houses that were owned by Jewish families in the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries, according to medieval census records. In a privy attached to the houses, researchers uncovered fragments of cookware and thousands of animal bones. A team led by University of Bristol archaeologist Julie Dunne conducted lipid-residue analysis to determine whether the families observed Jewish dietary laws. “During the period these families were living at the site, we see a total absence of pig bones and an abundance of fowl and kosher fish remains,” says Dunne. Chemical traces detected on the sherds, she adds, suggest that the vessels were used to process ruminants,…