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Around the World

January/February 2021

  • ATW Canada REDOCANADA: Domesticated dogs have played an integral role in Indigenous life for thousands of years, used for transportation, hunting, and protection. First Nations archaeological sites throughout the Pacific Northwest in particular contain plentiful remains of a special type of woolly dog. These small canines were prized for their coats, which were sheared like sheep pelts. The wool was then used to create blankets, garments, and belts. The dogs are believed to have gone extinct after European-made textiles became widely available.

  • ATW GuatemalaGUATEMALA: Some 2,000 years ago, the Maya inhabitants of Tikal struggled to consistently access clean drinking water. To solve this problem, they created an ingenious water purification system using the minerals quartz and zeolite. It is the oldest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. The minerals were obtained from a source 18 miles away and brought to the Corriental Reservoir outside the city, where they were used to filter out harmful microbes, heavy metals, and other toxins.

  • ATW CarribbeanCARIBBEAN: For decades it was believed that the Caribbean islands were settled in a stepping-stone fashion by Amerindians migrating from South America. After reviewing 2,500 radiocarbon dates from 55 islands, researchers are now telling a different story. While Trinidad, the closest island to South America, was the first to be settled, 7,000 years ago, humans didn’t simply jump to the next island. Instead, they rode currents north across open sea to Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Hispaniola, before journeying back southward thousands of years later via a chain of smaller islands.

  • ATW SpainSPAIN: For the past 800 years, millions of pilgrims have journeyed to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Very few, if any, have noticed a quirky feature on a column tucked away in a dark corner 40 feet above the cathedral’s floor. It appears that an anonymous medieval stonemason cheekily carved a small self-portrait into the building. Probably intended as an inside joke to be seen by his fellow artisans alone, the 11-inch-tall figure was only recently observed.

  • ATW NorwayNORWAY: Prior to the construction of a housing development near Ørsta, archaeologists uncovered traces of a Viking-era temple dating to the 8th century. This “god house,” where deities such as Odin, Thor, and Freya were worshipped, is the first of its kind ever found in Norway, although examples are known from Sweden and Denmark. The building, which originally measured 45 feet long and 40 feet tall including its central tower, would have been the focus of rituals and sacrifices, particularly during the winter and summer solstices.

  • ATW IsraelISRAEL: The abrupt end of the Bronze Age site of Tel Kabri has long puzzled archaeologists. The Canaanite settlement was one of the most prosperous in the region between 1900 and 1700 B.C., before it was suddenly abandoned. New clues as to what might have happened were recently found during investigation of a 100-foot-long trench that traverses the site. The ditch was originally thought to have been a modern intrusion, but new analysis indicates that it is actually a rupture formed during a massive ancient earthquake that probably left the city irreparably damaged.

  • ATW IraqIRAQ: A stone pillar bearing an ancient Greek inscription was unearthed in the hills of Iraqi Kurdistan west of the city of Duhok. This territory became part of the Hellenistic world after Alexander the Great defeated the Persian army of Darius III at the nearby Battle of Gaugamela in 331 B.C. The 4-line inscription makes reference to Demetrius I, who reigned over the Seleucid Empire, which ruled the area from 161 to 150 B.C.

  • ATW India REDOINDIA: One of the keys to sustaining the flourishing civilizations of the Indus Valley may have been the development of dairy production. Isotope analysis of lipid residues from ceramic vessels found at the site of Kotada Bhadli indicates that around 2500 B.C., dairy products were common there. This is the earliest such evidence known in India. Milk and cheese from domesticated cattle and water buffalo would have been a major component of the local diet, and any surplus could have been traded with other settlements.

  • ATW RussiaRUSSIA: The 2,500-year-old tomb of a Scythian warrior couple was uncovered in Siberia’s Khakassia region. The man and woman, who were members of the Tagar culture, were both buried with bronze weapons, including daggers and axes. While long-range arms such as bows and arrows are common in female Tagarian graves, this woman’s assemblage of hand-to-hand combat weapons is unusual and may attest to her fighting prowess. The couple was interred with an elderly woman—perhaps a servant—and an infant.

  • ATW Japan REDOJAPAN: Infrared cameras have captured hidden Buddhist paintings obscured beneath centuries of soot on columns at the Saimyoji Temple, 40 miles northeast of Kyoto. The images of 8 religious icons, which are impossible to see with the naked eye, can be viewed in detail using the imaging technology. Based on the compositions’ style, researchers believe they may date to the later Asuka period (A.D. 492–710).



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