Subscribe to Archaeology

Around the World

September/October 2020

  • ATW IllinoisILLINOIS: The catalyst behind the pre-Columbian city of Cahokia’s rapid rise may have been the arrival of maize cultivation technology. Isotope analysis of human and dog teeth found there provided insight into the local diet, and dating of corn kernels from the Mississippi River site reveal that maize was abruptly introduced to the area between A.D. 950 and 1000. This development likely helped fuel Cahokia’s population explosion over the next century, at the end of which it had as many as 20,000 inhabitants, making it the largest settlement in North America.

  • ATW New YorkNEW YORK: New York City authorities have raised sections of a once-famous yet long-forgotten boat from the bottom of North Cove along the Harlem River. They believe the salvaged pieces belong to PT-59, which John F. Kennedy captained in World War II after his previous boat, PT-109, was rammed by a Japanese destroyer. In 1943, both Kennedy and PT-59 helped rescue several endangered Marines from Choiseul Island in the Solomon Islands. The boat was transferred to private ownership after the war and eventually sank in the 1970s.

  • ATW MexicoMEXICO: For nearly 2 decades, experts were puzzled by ancient human remains found in the now-submerged Sagitario cave system on the eastern Yucatan Peninsula. They now think these remains may belong to Paleolithic miners who exploited the oldest ochre mines found in the Americas. Underwater archaeologists located digging tools, navigational markers, and other signs of human activity dating back more than 10,000 years, indicating that Paleoindians ventured deep underground to extract the valuable red pigment.

  • ATW IrelandIRELAND: The enormous 5,500-year-old tomb of Newgrange in County Meath is one of Ireland’s best-known Neolithic monuments, yet many questions remain about the people responsible for its construction. New analysis of the DNA of one of those interred within the tomb indicates he was a product of incest, either between siblings or parent and child. This implies that Newgrange may have been built by a hereditary dynasty that broke social taboos, much like some Egyptian pharaohs, to keep power within the family.

  • ATW NorwayNORWAY: A very surprised Norwegian family encountered a Viking grave while renovating their house in Bodo. The building’s floorboards were removed, revealing a series of stones, an ax head, iron implements, and a shiny round object that appeared at first to be the wheel of a toy car. When archaeologists were summoned, they determined that the small artifact was actually a glass bead and that the items were all likely part of a Viking burial dating to the 9th century A.D.

  • ATW ItalyITALY: A sinkhole that opened up near the Pantheon in Rome’s Piazza della Rotonda exposed a section of Roman paving dating back 2,000 years. Seven travertine stone slabs were revealed lying 8 feet below the modern cobblestone street surface. The slabs were part of the original Pantheon building project, carried out between 27 and 25 B.C. by the emperor Augustus’ right-hand man Marcus Agrippa. Only the facade of Agrippa’s temple remains visible today, as the structure was later rebuilt by the emperor Hadrian, who commissioned its famous dome.

  • ATW Saudi ArabiaSAUDI ARABIA: Nomadic pastoralists roaming northern Saudi Arabia 7,500 years ago built an unusual stone platform near the oasis site of Dumat al-Jandal. The trapezoidal monument was first constructed in the middle of the 6th millennium B.C., but was modified several times, eventually reaching a length of 115 feet. In and around the structure, archaeologists discovered several burials that suggest the stone monument was an important place of commemoration that was used for funerary and social rituals for thousands of years.

  • ATW Kazakhstan 2KAZAKHSTAN: The remains of a tomcat found in the ruins of Dzhankent represent the oldest known case of feline domestication along the Silk Road. The find dates to around the 8th century A.D., several hundred years before it was thought that local Oghuz tribes first kept cats as pets. Skeletal analysis shows that the animal suffered tooth loss as a result of a soft, protein-rich diet provided by its human owners. The feline had also suffered multiple injuries during its lifetime, limiting its chances for survival without human assistance.

  • ATW MongoliaMONGOLIA: During his life, Genghis Khan was often on the move, launching invasions and conquering territory across Eurasia. In the 13th century, he founded the Mongol Empire, which eventually stretched from the Pacific Ocean to Eastern Europe. However, between campaigns, Genghis and his army would return to his winter camp, or ordu, whose location has been debated for decades. New research at the site of Avraga in eastern Mongolia now links it with the khan’s lifetime, suggesting it was likely the site of his off-season headquarters.

  • ATW AustraliaAUSTRALIA:  When humans began to settle in Australia during the Last Glacial Period, 65,000 years ago, sea levels were at least 260 feet lower than they are today. Coastal sites occupied at that time were gradually flooded beneath rising waters. For the first time, scientists have identified 2 underwater Aboriginal sites within the Dampier Archipelago. One site that dates back at least 7,000 years yielded more than 250 stone tools lying along the seabed while the other showed signs of human presence near a now-submerged freshwater spring.



Recent Issues