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ARCHAEOLOGY

ARCHAEOLOGY July - August 2016

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

in this issue

2 min.
this mortal coil

Rites of the Scythians” (page 26), by contributing editor Andrew Curry, covers the extraordinary discovery, at a site in the Caucasus Mountains called Sengileevskoe-2, of a stunning set of skillfully and artfully embossed gold bowls, and valuable jewelry. The artifacts were likely commissioned some 2,400 years ago from Greek master goldsmiths by members of the nomadic tribes whom Herodotus had dubbed “Scythians,” who ranged broadly across the steppes and grasslands of Eurasia. The vessels are believed to have had ritual, and possibly historical, significance. On Egypt’s Giza Plateau, just a short distance from the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx, archaeologists working at a cemetery are discovering that people of modest means took special care with the burial of their children during the 26th Dynasty and again during the early Roman period.…

2 min.
museum discoveries

All great international museums have their most iconic objects on display where visitors, pressed for time, and perhaps on a first visit, can discover and admire them. Often, however, rich examples of the human record of activity and achievement sit waiting to be discovered in galleries somewhat off the beaten path in these same museums. A recent visit with an AIA tour to the great Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, illustrates this point. The Hermitage is housed in the superbly restored Winter Palace of the czars, built in the 1700s, and in several adjacent buildings. Its collections, acquired over centuries, represent one of the most comprehensive overviews of world art and culture to be seen anywhere. The tour taken by many visitors proceeds through sumptuous galleries that illustrate the glories…

3 min.
letters

The Best Defense We received a number of letters suggesting alternative interpretations of the Band of Holes (“An Overlooked Inca Wonder,” May/June 2016). Below is one example and a reply from the archaeologists. Several online sources discuss the holes in Peru’s Pisco Valley. These references describe the remains of a nearby “settlement.”Given the amount of effort it would take to create them, it seems improbable that the holes were used for storage of any kind. One thing is certain—it would have been difficult to walk across them. In fact, much as moats, ditches, tank traps, and cattle crossing guards have been used to restrict passage, these depressions could have been a protection measure for the settlement. I wonder if ancient armaments might be present at the ends of the band or on…

3 min.
is it esmeralda?

In 1498, Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama created shock waves in Europe when he reached and returned from the Indian coast—and its valuable spices—by sailing all the way around Africa, a 24,000-mile journey. Da Gama found both success and hostility in the Indian Ocean, so when Portuguese king Manuel I dispatched him to the Indies again, in 1502, he went equipped with an armada of 20 ships and instructions not only to acquire spices, but also to harass and destroy the Muslim shipping industry that had monopolized the spice trade. One of these ships, Esmeralda, was captained by da Gama’s uncle, Vicente Sodré. Though the infamously brutal Sodré was directed by da Gama to patrol the Indian coast and protect Portuguese interests, he opted to sail toward the Arabian Peninsula…

2 min.
off the grid

The installation of a new heating system in the 1970s revealed a rich, millennia-old archaeological site under the famous Saint Pierre Cathedral in the Old Town of Geneva, Switzerland. After 30 years of excavation by the Cantonal Department of Archaeology, the site was opened to the public, revealing what Michel Etter, president of Thematis, which created the visitor experience, says is one of the most remarkable places in Europe. It was a place of worship well before the birth of Christianity, and Geneva was so central to the development of the religion—John Calvin preached from Saint Pierre in the sixteenth century—that it is often called the “Protestant Rome.” The site Completely covered and protected by the cathedral, the site encompasses more than 30,000 square feet. Modern tunnels and galleries extend below the…

1 min.
new dates for the oldest cave paintings

The World Heritage site of Chauvet Cave in southern France is famous—and a source of both wonder and controversy—for having the world’s oldest cave paintings. When the cave was discovered in 1994, many scholars initially assumed that they must have been made around the same time as those at Lascaux, around 21,000 years ago. But the first radiocarbon dates showed that Chauvet Cave had been occupied twice starting about 35,000 years ago. The Aurignacian people, among the first Homo sapiens to live in Europe, brought to the cave a fully formed artistic tradition that used a variety of techniques involving charcoal and a type of red pigment. Now, a new batch of 88 radiocarbon dates has further refined the cave’s chronology. Humans used the cave from 37,000 to 33,500 years…