EXPLOREMY LIBRARY
Science
ARCHAEOLOGY

ARCHAEOLOGY July/August 2019

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.

Country:
United States
Language:
English
Publisher:
Archaeological Institute of America
Frequency:
Bimonthly
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6 Issues

in this issue

2 min.
the role of ritual

Everyone has rituals, some of them mundane and personal, such as brushing your teeth or getting on the same bus at the same time every day to go home from work. Some center on family, like using the pumpkin pie recipe each Thanksgiving that was handed down by your mother. Others focus on faith, such as celebrating an important religious occasion by attending services conducted in much the same way as they have been for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Some rituals celebrate your home country, like Fourth of July fireworks. If you’re a baseball fan, you’ve no doubt seen players perform very personalized rituals—tapping their feet a certain number of times in the batter’s box, adjusting their batting gloves before they step up to the plate, or pointing…

2 min.
the maltese way of life

Water not only sustains us, it also brings us together—travel by boat has always been easier and less costly than overland transit. I was reminded of the importance of maritime journeys during a recent visit to Malta. These small rocky islands to the south of Sicily lie in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, which, throughout history, has connected peoples living on and beyond its shores. For at least 7,000 years, many of these peoples passed through Malta, among them Greeks, Romans, Muslims, Sicilians, Normans, Spanish, French, and British. Acts 28 recounts that the apostle Paul, who came from the city of Tarsus in Asia Minor (modern Turkey), spent time in Malta in the first century after being shipwrecked while on his way to Rome. Of particular interest to me…

3 min.
from our readers

BUZZ BUZZ What species of native bees were kept by the Maya (“Maya Beekeepers,” May/June 2019)? Linda ValderTucson, AZ Eric A. Powell replies:The Maya kept stingless honey-producing bees of the species Melipona beecheii and Melipona yucatanica. Both are native to Central America and are now endangered. GETTING YOUR BEARINGS Thank you so much not only for the fascinating article about maps through the ages (“Mapping the Past,” May/June 2019) but for the maps now included with each article referring to specific locations. It’s often a good thing to know where you are! Cheryl M. EnglishWayne County, MI LIGHTING THE WAY I am a long-time subscriber and especially enjoy the articles about the Egyptian and Maya cultures. One of the many questions I have concerns the paintings in the tombs of the Valley of the Kings in Egypt (“Inside…

4 min.
from the trenches

YOU SAY WHAT YOU EAT Try saying “f” and “v” and pay close attention to your lower lip and upper teeth. Would it surprise you to learn that these sounds are relatively recent additions to human languages? Languages, of course, develop over time as usage, meaning, and pronunciation change. But what about the ways our bodies have changed over the millennia? Could this also contribute to changes in language? In a new study, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the University of Zurich have used evidence from paleoanthropology, speech biomechanics, ethnography, and historical linguistics to determine that, in fact, it is a combination of factors—both cultural and biological—that produces changes in language and has contributed to the diversity of languages that exist today. In the…

2 min.
off the grid

Over many centuries, a settlement on an oasis along the Silk Road grew into one of the world’s great metropolises. Ancient Merv was a nexus of commercial goods, languages, ideas, and religious beliefs connecting Europe, Africa, and the Far East. The site was first settled in the fifth century B.C. by the Achaemenids, whose empire stretched from the Caucasus to Egypt. Their settlement, Erk Kala, was succeeded by Gyaur Kala, which was built by Greek Seleucids under Antiochus I (r. 281–261 B.C.). Over the next millennium, Merv became a major economic and political center for a succession of empires. By the eighth century A.D., the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate had established Merv as their eastern capital. They called it Sultan Kala and turned it into one of the world’s largest urban…

1 min.
snake snack

Some 1,500 years ago, a hunter-gatherer in the canyon lands of the Lower Pecos region of southwest Texas made the unfathomable decision to gulp down a whole snake, fangs and all. Texas A&M University archaeologist Elanor Sonderman discovered evidence for this queasy-making culinary event while studying a human coprolite, or desiccated feces, that was excavated in the 1960s at the site of Conejo Shelter. While examining the coprolite, which contained the expected plant remains, Sonderman found a fang, as well as scales and bones, belonging to a venomous snake—either a copperhead or a rattlesnake. Other coprolites from the area show that people did, occasionally, eat snakes at the time, but only after dressing and cooking them. The bones in this case showed no signs that the reptile had been prepped. Rather,…