EXPLOREMY LIBRARY
Science
ARCHAEOLOGY

ARCHAEOLOGY November - December 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.

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

in this issue

2 min.
location, location, location

From the time the Mycenaeans built the first fortification wall atop the rock of the Acropolis in the thirteenth century B.C., the site has been synonymous with Athens and everything that that implies. Inevitably, time, the elements, and human intervention have exacted a devastating toll there. In our special section, “The Acropolis of Athens” (page 28), executive editor Jarrett A. Lobell follows the efforts of the Committee for the Conservation of the Acropolis Monuments and its hundreds of experts and staff who, over four decades, have not only sought to restore the site’s most symbolic areas and buildings, but have also set themselves the task of re-creating their original appearance. The importance of water to the success of any city is a given, and few places provide greater evidence of this…

2 min.
dating the human past

Advances in the precision of radiometric dating are radically changing our views of the timing of key events in the human timeline. These tighter chronologies are providing insights that were beyond reach a generation ago. This past spring, archaeologists discovered what are now considered the earliest known stone tools at the 3.3-million-year-old site of Lomekwi 3 in Kenya. These tools are 700,000 years older than ones likely made by Homo habilis. Researchers suspect that the Lomekwi 3 tools may actually have been made by a more ancient human ancestor, possibly one of the australopithecines. This year, as well, refinements in radiocarbon dating using accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) have helped to confirm that, around 40,000 years ago, Neanderthals and modern humans lived side by side in Europe for up to 5,000 years.…

3 min.
letters

The Meaning of Graffiti Your article “Writing on the Church Wall” (September/October 2015) was fascinating. The illustration of circular floral designs revealed motifs familiar to students of sacred geometry. Although I fully realize we don’t often give enough credit to our ancestors, despite millennia of incredible creations, the ability of many different individuals to draw, much less scratch or etch, such perfectly symmetrical and intricate images, seems unlikely to be “graffiti.” Richard E. Behymer Sonora, CA The editors respond:“Graffiti,” particularly as used in archaeology, does not have a negative connotation. It is simply a term used to classify inscriptions or drawings made on public surfaces, such as a rock or a wall. ARCHAEOLOGY welcomes mail from readers. Please address your comments to ARCHAEOLOGY, 36-36 33rd Street, Long Island City, NY 11106, fax 718-472-3051, or e-mail…

3 min.
the second americans?

Just when the story of the peopling of the Americas starts to clear up, it becomes a little more complex again. In June 2015, after nearly two decades of debate, a genetic analysis of Kennewick Man—an ancient American discovered in Washington State in 1996 and dating back roughly 8,500 years—found him to be most closely related to modern Native Americans, despite his cranial features suggesting Polynesian ancestry. The finding bolstered the hypothesis that a single founding population, of East Asian (with some Siberian) ancestry, originally settled the Americas. These people became isolated for a time in Beringia in the northern Pacific, and then began populating the Western Hemisphere a little more than 15,000 years ago. But not so fast. This summer two separate research groups reported finding faint genetic signals common to…

2 min.
off the grid

In 1940, newly installed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered the construction of gun batteries and tunnels in the chalk of the White Cliffs of Dover, just 21 miles from Nazi-occupied France, to prevent German ships from moving freely through the English Channel. The Fan Bay Deep Shelter, a series of tunnels to protect the gun battery teams from bombardment, was completed in just 100 days and could house up to 185 soldiers. The tunnels were taken out of commission in the 1950s and filled with rubble in the 1970s. The National Trust purchased the land in 2012, and the next year the shelter was rediscovered. The volunteer staff of the Fan Bay Project, alongside archaeologists, mine consultants, engineers, and geologists, moved 100 tons of debris by hand over 18 months,…

1 min.
how much water reached rome?

Rome’s 11 aqueducts, some extending for more than 50 miles, transported enough water to feed the city’s 591 public fountains, as well as countless private residences. However, experts have long been divided about how much water each aqueduct could actually convey. “Many assumptions have been made based on some pretty unreliable ancient data concerning the size of the flows of Rome’s aqueducts, giving some very inflated figures,” says archaeologist Duncan Keenan-Jones of the University of Glasgow. “We thought it was important to adopt a more scientific approach.” Keenan-Jones is part of a team of scientists who measured the amount of residual mineral deposits in the Anio Novus aqueduct to accurately gauge the depth and flow rate of water. By analyzing travertine— a type of limestone deposit—that was left on the aqueduct’s…