ARCHAEOLOGY March - April 2015

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 Issues

in this issue

3 min.
aia awards recognize outstanding individuals and groups

EXCEPTIONAL WORK IN archaeology and archaeological education is highlighted each year at the AIA Awards Ceremony. The individuals and groups invited to the ceremony are recognized for their efforts to further the discipline of archaeology, educate both professionals and laypeople, and safeguard cultural heritage. These award winners inspire their peers, students, and the public, and demonstrate best practices in the field. The 2015 winners included C. Brian Rose, University of Pennsylvania, Gold Medal Award for Distinguished Archaeological Achievement for his work in the field at Troy, the Granicus River Valley Survey Project, and Gordion; his visionary and energetic efforts to provide cultural heritage training to the members of the U.S. military serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; and his highly influential role as an educator, formerly at the University of Cincinnati, and…

1 min.

Soon after it came to Europe from the Arab world in the twelfth century, chess became immensely popular among the upper classes. Kings, queens, nobles, and monks would pass their leisure time playing the game using finely carved pieces of elephant or walrus ivory that depicted characters from medieval court life. Game pieces used by the less well-of, including these two found recently in Northampton, were fashioned of less lavish materials, such as antler and bone, and were less ornate. “These simple chess pieces followed the basic Arabic forms, where anthropomorphic figures were prohibited,” says archaeologist Andy Chapman of Museum of London Archaeology Northampton, who is studying the artifacts. According to Chapman, single stylized chess pieces, 70 of which have been found in Britain, are usually located in domestic contexts. But…

9 min.
the vikings in ireland

WHEN IRISH ARCHAEOLOGISTS working under Dublin’s South Great George’s Street just over a decade ago excavated the remains of four young men buried with fragments of Viking shields, daggers, and personal ornaments, the discovery appeared to be simply more evidence of the Viking presence in Ireland. At least 77 Viking burials have been discovered across Dublin since the late 1700s, some accidentally by ditch diggers, others by archaeologists working on building sites. All have been dated to the ninth or tenth centuries on the basis of artifacts that accompanied them, and the South Great George’s Street burials seemed to be four more examples. Yet when excavation leader Linzi Simpson of Dublin’s Trinity College sent the remains for carbon dating to determine their age, the results were “quite surprising,” she says. The…

11 min.
city of the moon

ONCE IN A GENERATION—EVERY 18.6 years to be exact—a rare full moon rises above Illinois’ Looking Glass Prairie and casts its pale glow across a carefully arrayed ancient tableau, one that has been there for a thousand years. As the moon, having arrived at the most northerly position of its multiyear cycle, rises above a distant hill, it lines up almost perfectly with a fat-topped earthen pyramid, three parallel rows of small circular mounds, and—beneath the soil—the spot where a young woman was ritually buried sometime around A.D. 1100. Recent excavations suggest that these earthworks, located near present-day Lebanon, Illinois, and known today as Emerald Mound, are one of several sites on the fringes of the ancient city of Cahokia that have a distinctly lunar orientation. It’s a discovery that suggests…

1 min.
tomb of the jealous dog

Archaeologists have uncovered a Liao Dynasty (A.D. 907–1125) brick tomb in Datong City in northern China’s Shanxi Province. The tomb had been looted, but only valuable, portable artifacts were taken, which left its remarkable wall paintings intact. The murals cover more than 160 square feet and depict constellations, wooden architecture, travel, and daily life. One panel shows servants standing around an empty bed while a cat plays with a silk ball and a dog, to the right, looks on, perhaps a bit jealously.…

4 min.
world roundup

NEW JERSEY: While building a wall to protect coastline hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, workers encountered the remains of what appears to be a 19th-century shipwreck. Authorities have decided not to disturb the site further, but a telling artifact suggests that it might be the remains of Ayrshire, a Scottish brig full of Irish and English immigrants that went down in a storm in 1850. The artifact could be part of a locally invented pulley system—like an old-fashioned clothesline—that was used to rescue almost all the passengers. ENGLAND: In 1981, archaeologists excavating the remains of Mary Rose, the early-16thcentury warship that sank near the Isle of Wight in 1545, found the remains of the ship’s dog, which they nicknamed “Hatch.” Because a penis bone was never found, it was assumed that…