Archaeological Institute of America

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ARCHAEOLOGYARCHAEOLOGY

ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 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
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6 Issues

IN THIS ISSUE

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a world of surprises

We often ask archaeologists whether they were surprised by anything they uncovered during their excavations. They usually say yes, not because they hadn’t done everything possible to prepare before putting their trowels in the ground or their samples under the microscope, but because archaeology is about discovery, and thus often about the unexpected. Archaeologists are sometimes surprised because a site is so much larger or an artifact is so much older than they expected, or because no one has ever found anything quite like it before. We don’t want to give them all away, but in the latest version of our always-popular annual feature, “Top 10 Discoveries,” you’ll read about many such finds, including the oldest recipe for a favorite food, instructions on how to make a mummy, and one…

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did jesus eat quiche?

Globular cooking potAs a ceramics specialist, I have devoted my career to understanding what pottery tells us about the people who manufactured and used it. In the process, I have learned many interesting things. Potsherds are, by far, the most common find at excavations around the Mediterranean—they are recovered literally by the ton. Because pottery is so common, archaeologists rely on it to date what we dig up by tracking changes in vessel types and shapes over time.Pottery can also be a valuable source of information about ancient trade. For example, my current excavations at Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee indicate that in the fifth and sixth centuries, villagers there acquired fine tableware imported from North Africa, Cyprus, and Asia Minor. In this same period, amphoras containing wine from Palestine were…

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from our readers

A TRUE DELICACYI was delighted to read the short article “Eat More Spore.” People still eat this delicious fungus that is called huitlacoche in Mexico. I first had the opportunity to try this on my family’s first trip to Mexico many years ago. The huitlacoche was served in a crepe with corn. It was as black as ink and had a wonderful, earthy flavor. It’s too bad that more Americans do not know more about this edible fungus.Scott BumbaughHuntsville, TXIt might interest readers to know that corn smut was part of the diet of Native Americans in the Southwest, and was also included in the cuisine of the Aztecs.Kim FrasseSacramento, CAWhile detasseling corn back at Clyde Black & Sons popcorn farm outside Ames, Iowa, in the 1960s, we always encountered…

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the case of the stolen sumerian antiquities

Gypsum mace-headOn May 2, 2003, shortly after the invasion of Iraq, London’s Metropolitan Police raided an antiquities dealer and seized eight artifacts they believed had been obtained through illicit channels. It’s typically impossible to trace looted antiquities back to their original context. But in this instance, through a combination of good fortune and canny sleuthing, experts were able to close the case.The artifacts—three ceramic cones bearing cuneiform inscriptions, one marble and one chalcedony stamp seal, a gypsum mace-head, a marble amulet pendant, and an inscribed river pebble—remained in police possession until late 2017, when they were brought to the British Museum and examined by St. John Simpson, a curator in the Middle East department. They appeared to him to have come from ancient Mesopotamia, and to have been produced by…

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off the grid

Draped in Spanish moss and overrun by the wild descendants of hogs introduced in the sixteenth century, Georgia’s Ossabaw Island is both a time capsule and rural oasis. Just 20 miles south of Savannah by water, Ossabaw spans 26,000 acres. Among its hundreds of archaeological features, representing at least 4,000 years of human habitation, are shell rings and burial mounds left by the earliest inhabitants, remains of precontact Native American villages, and eighteenth-century indigo plantations. According to archaeologist Victor Thompson of the University of Georgia, Ossabaw may have been abandoned at some time before the Spanish arrived on the Georgia coast in the 1540s. Archaeologists hope to determine when and why the island’s indigenous people, the Guale, left. Ossabaw was in private hands until 1978, when its owner, the now…

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ancient amazonian chocolatiers

Cacao seeds, the raw material used to make chocolate, were being consumed in southeastern Ecuador much earlier than archaeologists have thought. The evidence comes from chemical analysis of bottles found at an ancient village now called Santa Ana-La Florida. “We were surprised at how clear the evidence of cacao use is 5,300 years ago and that it continues throughout the 3,000-year history of the site,” says archaeologist Michael Blake of the University of British Columbia.Santa Ana-La Florida, EcuadorAncient Ecuadorean cacao was, in all likelihood, not made into candy bars or anything else resembling modern chocolate. The people at Santa Ana-La Florida probably fermented the seeds and then dried and ground them to make a beverage. Modern indigenous people in Ecuador use cacao as a medicine and a stimulant, as well…

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