EXPLOREMY LIBRARY
Science
ARCHAEOLOGY

ARCHAEOLOGY May - June 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.

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

in this issue

2 min.
a different take

Early this year, news spread quickly that a recently deciphered 2,000-year-old tablet contains calculations laying out the movements of the planet Jupiter. The artifact was embraced as evidence that Babylonian astronomers and scientists were far more sophisticated than had been previously known. Archaeology’s editors, equally taken with the tablet’s cuneiform script, immediately set to work on “The World’s Oldest Writing” (page 26). There, they offer an introduction to this robust, long-lived system of notation, and present some of the ancient world’s most impressive examples of cuneiform texts tied to the lives of kings, the rule of law, the practice of medicine, and more. “An Overlooked Inca Wonder” (page 34), by online editor Eric A. Powell, surveys the work of researchers in Peru’s Pisco Valley who are contending with a puzzling feature…

2 min.
heritage in peril

As of this writing, a humanitarian and cultural heritage disaster continues to unfold across the Middle East. Conflicts in Iraq and Syria are causing massive loss of life, the displacement of people, and the destruction of ancient sites. The Archaeological Institute of America (AIA), along with many other organizations, has frequently spoken out in order to raise awareness of the impacts these conflicts are having on the people and heritage of the region. Archaeological, historical, and cultural sites in Syria and Iraq are the patrimony of their citizens and also represent the shared heritage of us all, documenting key stages in the development of human civilization. To address this crisis, the AIA and the American Schools of Oriental Research, with grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Rust…

2 min.
letters

Hiding the Goods Many thanks for a wonderful March/April issue. I especially enjoyed “Legends of Glastonbury Abbey,” which was particularly interesting to me because my wife and I had spent two weeks in Glastonbury in September. I also hope future articles will help to dispel the mysteries of the Öland massacre (“Öland, Sweden, Spring, A.D. 480”). There is one minor point I disagree with the archaeologists about. I wonder whether householders, in preparation for the impending attack, hurriedly buried their valuables. I’d conjecture that the valuables were already stored in these small underground compartments beside the door, since there would probably not have been time when the attackers were approaching to dig a hole and bury coins and jewelry. Christopher B. Sanford Durham, NC An Alternate Interpretation I read with forensic interest the article on the…

3 min.
dressing for the ages

Over the two-plus years Alice Stevenson has been curator of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology in London, she has looked at the delicate cream-colored garment hundreds of times, wondering at both the fineness of its workmanship and its extraordinary age. Thought to date from nearly 5,000 years ago, the “Tarkhan Dress” was once part of a large pile of dirty linen cloth excavated by Sir Flinders Petrie in 1913 at the site he named Tarkhan after a nearby village 30 miles from Cairo. In 1977, researchers from the Victoria and Albert Museum, while sorting through the pile of textiles as they prepared to clean them, discovered the dress, remarkably well preserved. They conserved the fabric, sewed it onto a type of extrafine, transparent silk called Crepeline to stabilize it,…

2 min.
off the grid

In 1954, two ranchers digging a small pond in Sioux County, Nebraska, stumbled across a bonebed containing the 10,000-year-old remains of up to 600 bison. The ranchers, Bill Hudson and Albert Meng, tried for years to convince professional archaeologists to take a look. Finally, Larry Agenbroad of Chadron State College saw the potential of the site and excavated there for six years in the 1970s. Further excavations have taken place at the Hudson-Meng Bison Kill, as it is known, ever since. The site represents the largest known related to the Alberta Paleoindian culture, and has left an enduring mystery—how all those bones came to rest there—that archaeologists have been trying to solve for more than 40 years. “Hudson-Meng is a unique place where visitors can come and learn about early humans’…

1 min.
let a turtle be your psychopomp

Excavations at the site of Kavuşan Höyük in southeastern Turkey uncovered the unique burial of a woman and a child—the pair were interred with as many as 21 turtles, tortoises, and terrapins. The grave dates to around the sixth century B.C., and was discovered by a team led by Gülriz Kozbe of Batman University. Archaeologists were stunned to find the grave so littered with chelonian remains, most of which belonged to the Euphrates soft-shelled turtle. Turtles were not normally part of the local diet, but the evidence indicates that these were butchered and consumed as part of a funeral ritual before their shells were deposited in the grave. Researchers believe that shelled reptiles had symbolic roles as psychopomps, or guiding spirits, in the afterlife. “Very few examples of burials containing…