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July/August 2009 www.archaeology.

org A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America September/October 2011

The Persian Empires
Forgotten Frontier
Escape to the Great
Dismal Swamp
Blackbeards Anchor,
Ref Dooms Gladiator,
Pyramid Robo-Cam
Pirates of the
South China Sea
Pompeiis Dead Reimagined
of the
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the profound mysteries of the Maya, just in time for 2012. Join in the year-long celebration
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20 Pirates of the
Marine Silk Road
A shipwreck in the South China Sea
advances Chinas emerging field of
underwater archaeology
26 Hidden Scenes
of a Royal Court
Thirty years after they were first
glimpsed, murals reveal a vibrant
life in ancient Peru
30 Te Edible Seascape
A reevaluation of evidence along
North Americas western coast
shows how its earliest inhabitants
managed the seas resources
34 Defending a
Jungle Kingdom
Newly uncovered fortifications
reveal how ancient Maya rulers
struggled for wealth and territory
39 Pompeiis Dead
An artist interprets the ancient
citys most evocative artifacts
42 Edge of an Empire
An ancient Afghan fortress offers
rare evidence of Persias forgotten
eastern territories
34 A member of the Sierra
Lacandon Regional Archaeology
Project surveys the site of
Tecolote, a small settlement
outside the Maya city of Yaxchilan.
Cover: Relief of King Bird Jaguar IV
of Yaxchilan, a Maya city in Mexico,
standing over a conquered enemy lord
ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 2
Interactive Digs Read about the latest discoveries
at the Minoan site of Zominthos in central Crete.
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4 Editors Letter
6 From the President
8 Letters
Debating European settlers right to characterize
Australia as wilderness and recreating past
technologies when the specs have been lost
9 From the Trenches
Archaeologists prompt a redesign of George
Washingtons garden, the recovery of Blackbeards
anchor, why Bronze Age Greek islanders buried
broken gurines, and a Maya 2012 spoiler
16 World Roundup
Artifacts track the birth of the African-American
middle class, how llama dung sustained the Incas,
a fungus in Tuts tomb, and did the Neanderthals
meet their end in the Arctic Circle?
49 Letter from Virginia
Thousands of escaped slaves made a new life in
one of the worlds most unwelcoming places
the Great Dismal Swampfor a chance at self-
68 Artifact
A tombstone tells the 1,800-year-old story of
a Roman gladiator felled by a refs bad call
Unique and unrepeatable frst editions, strictly limited to 987 numbered and authenticated copies
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Archaeology VIII. 11
An impressive codex painted for Isabella of Castile, the queen who sponsored Columbus
discovery of the Americas and defeated Islam conquering Granada.
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ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 4
Issues of Scale
his issue of Archaeology makes one thing clear: Anything at all can be
regarded as an artifact. Investigation of the past can feature undertakings as
outsized as lifting an entire ship from the bottom of the seawith even the silt
surrounding it intactas in Pirates of the Marine Silk Road (page 20). Here, author
Lauren Hilgers gives us a lead on just how quickly marine archaeology and preservation
are proceeding in China, and discusses the latest evidence of Ming Dynasty trade.
In Te Edible Seascape (page 30), science writer Jude Isabella reports that what once
seemed to be random rock formations along the northwest coast of North America are
now being understood as technologies engineered by ancient peoples to manage their
supply of sh and other seafood. Te most signicant artifacts? Fish bones no larger
than your ngernail.
Much of the evidence gathered in Virginia and
North Carolinas Great Dismal Swamp is even
more miniscule, but nonetheless poignant testa-
ment to the determination of the escaped slaves
who built self-su cient communities in some of
the most inhospitable territory imaginable. In Let-
ter From Virginia: American Refugees (page 49),
journalist Marion Blackburn tells their story.
Defending a Jungle Kingdom (page 34), by
senior editor Zach Zorich, provides new, land-
scape-wide evidence from the border zone between
Mexico and Guatemala of the intensely competitive
relationship between the ancient Maya cities of
Yaxchilan and Piedras Negras.
Of course, theres much more. Fragile murals
oer a new point of view on the ancient Peru-
vian elite. Te Persian Empires eastern extent is
explored. And there are new clues about a long-
standing mystery centering on hundreds of broken Bronze Age gurines.
Finally, through the considered work of artist Gary Staab, detailed in Pompeiis Dead
Reimagined (page 39) by executive editor Jarrett A. Lobell, we are invited to reect on
the meaning of the word artifact.
I also would like to say a word about a colleague who has been extremely important
to us. Tis is the 65th issue of Archaeology that design director Ken Feisel has helped
us produce. Ken was originally brought on board in 1999 to design dig, our former
archaeology publication for children, and quickly took on responsibilities here at the
grown up magazine. He has created countless maps and vivid layoutsall providing
the essential visual side of the archaeology story. Ken will be leaving us as we send this
issue to press, and I know we will all miss waiting for him to say, as he sorts through
images of far-ung sites, exotic landscapes, and artifacts of all shapes and sizes, Oh
now thats cool.
Editor in Chief
Claudia Valentino
Executive Editor Deputy Editor
Jarrett A. Lobell Samir S. Patel
Senior Editors
Nikhil Swaminathan
Zach Zorich
Design Director Editorial Assistant
Ken Feisel Malin Grunberg Banyasz
Contributing Editors
Roger Atwood, Paul Bahn, Bob Brier,
Andrew Curry, Blake Edgar, Brian Fagan,
David Freidel, Tom Gidwitz,
Stephen H. Lekson, Jerald T. Milanich,
Jennifer Pinkowski, Heather Pringle,
Angela M. H. Schuster, Neil Asher Silberman
Athens: Yannis N. Stavrakakis
Bangkok: Karen Coates
Islamabad: Massoud Ansari
Israel: Mati Milstein
Naples: Marco Merola
Paris: Bernadette Arnaud
Rome: Roberto Bartoloni,
Giovanni Lattanzi
Washington, D.C.: Sandra Scham
Peter Herdrich
Associate Publisher
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Subscription questions and address
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A recently conserved mural painting
from the Peruvian site of cupe
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or many archaeologists and archaeology lovers, the recent news of the
Smithsonians postponement of a planned exhibit on what is called the Belitung
Shipwreck came as a relief. Belitung, an island off Indonesia, is the site of a major
underwater archaeological discovery made in 1998. A ship carrying a huge cargo of fine
porcelain, glazed pottery, and vessels cast in precious metalsall apparently Chinese
productions of the ninth-century Tang Dynastywas accidentally discovered by fish-
ermen. Looting followed and the Indonesian government hired a commercial salvage
company to retrieve the remaining artifacts. Ultimately, some 63,000 objects were raised
from the seabed, a cache that was sold to the government of Singapore for tens of millions
of dollars. An exhibit of a number of these artifacts has been mounted and, for some
months now, some of the materials from the find have been touring in a show that was
to open later this year at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (part of
the constellation of museums that constitute the Smithsonian) as Shipwrecked: Tang
Treasures and Monsoon Winds.
Although one might initially applaud Indonesias quick action, the selection of Seabed
Explorations, a salvage company, instead of professional archaeologists, to bring up the
shipwrecks artifacts, has raised an outcry because people believe it indicates that the
motive was extraction of artifacts for commercial gain rather than scientic excavation.
Few records were kept of the nd and we have no proper documentation of the ship, its
crew, or its cargo. Tis may be some of the rst archaeological evidence that maritime
trade existed between China and southwest Asia during the Tang Dynasty. Proper
archaeological excavation could have told us much more.
In matters such as this, the Archaeological Institute of Americas position has been,
and remains, clear. Te AIA is opposed to the exhibition of artifacts that have been
obtained from commercially exploited sites. We support the Smithsonians ongoing
consideration of the complex issues, both archaeological and museological, that the
exhibit raises. We urge its planners to recognize that the display of artifacts obtained in
this manner encourages looting.
Seabeds around the globe are the resting places of shipwrecks from every age, all
of which form a vital part of the worlds cultural heritage. Headlines from around the
world continually place monetary value on shipwrecks. Tis underscores the uphill battle
that both museums and archaeologists face in educating the public about this precious
resource. Te value of a wreck and its artifacts is not monetary. It is, instead, of incalcu-
lable value because it is the irreplaceable repository of a part of our human story.
ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 6
Elizabeth Bartman
President, Archaeological Institute of America
Institute of America
Located at Boston University
Elizabeth Bartman
First Vice President
Andrew Moore
Vice President for Education and Outreach
Mat Saunders
Vice President for Professional Responsibilities
Sebastian Heath
Vice President for Publications
John Younger
Vice President for Societies
Thomas Morton
Brian J. Heidtke
Chief Executive Officer
Peter Herdrich
Chief Operating Officer
Kevin Quinlan
Susan Alcock
Michael Ambler
Carla Antonaccio
Cathleen Asch
Barbara Barletta
David Boochever
Laura Childs
Lawrence Coben
Julie Herzig Desnick
Mitchell Eitel
Harrison Ford
Greg Goggin
John Hale
Sebastian Heath
Lillian Joyce
Jeffrey Lamia
Lynne Lancaster
Robert Littman
Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis
Peter Magee
Shilpi Mehta
Naomi Norman, ex officio
Eleanor Powers
Paul Rissman
Ann Santen
William Saturno
Glenn Schwartz
Chen Shen
Douglas Tilden
Claudia Valentino, ex officio
Shelley Wachsmann
Ashley White
John J. Yarmick
Past President
C. Brian Rose
Trustees Emeriti
Norma Kershaw
Charles S. LaFollette
General Counsel
Mitchell Eitel, Esq,
Sullivan & Cromwell, LLP
Archaeological Institute of America
656 Beacon Street Boston, MA 02215-2006
Te Belitung Shipwreck
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7. Roman Houses as Greek Palaces
8. Pompeian Houses and Greek Myth
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10. Sanctuaries, Temples, and Religious Ritual
11. Roman Elite Funerals
12. Forum RomanumThe Core of the City
13. Death on Display IAmphitheaters
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31. Roman ColoniesSmall Romes
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33. Roman HarborsLiminal Monuments
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ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 8
Australias Occupied
Samir S. Patels fascinating article
Australias Shackled Pioneers ( July/
August 2011) refers to Australia at
the time of rst European settle-
ment as an alien wilderness. On one
hand, the arriving British prisoners
quite likely viewed their new home in
some such terms. On the other hand,
calling a place an untenanted wilder-
ness gave legal justication to seizing
land without regard for indigenous
peoples. Te British Empire applied
this theory in North America as well
as in Australia. In no case did native
peoples see their homeland as wilder-
ness, and from no point of view was
Australias status as wilderness sim-
ple fact, as Patels phrasing implies.
James Turner
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN
Deputy Editor Samir S. Patel
responds: Dr. Turners point is well
taken. Indeed, Australias native people
had occupied and managed the conti-
nents landscape for tens of thousands
of years before the arrival of Europeans.
Tere is also a substantial body of litera-
ture on their interaction with convicts
(including the extermination of natives
from Tasmania, a little-known horror
of the British Empire), and how they
became a signicant part of the penal
population in Australia following the
end of convict transportation. For the
purposes of this story, I focused on the
English side of the period, as that is
where the archaeology leads. As a result,
the use of a phrase such as alien wilder-
ness was indeed intended to be repre-
sentative of the arriving English perspec-
tive, and not to diminish the Aborigines
or suggest that the land was unoccupied.
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 letters@arch a
The editors reserve the right to edit
submitted material. Vol ume precludes
our acknowledging individual letters.
Digital Digging
Having put up a university display on
the History of Computing Devices,
having used devices based on both
the 6800 series and 6502 chips, and
having done some photolithography
(one of the prime techniques used
in constructing these chips), I found
Nikhil Swaminathans article Dig-
ging Into Technologys Past ( July/
August 2011) fascinating. I was not
surprised that the original sche-
matics for the chip are lostmany
documents from the immediately
pre-digital era are likely to disappear
if we are not careful. I know, myself,
of archives where the papers saved
are either masters or prints from old
blue ditto machines, both of which
degrade over time and with repeated
copying. Tanks for the byte into the
recent past.
Paul Dolan
Northeastern Illinois University
Chicago, IL
I was very happy to read the article
on the 6502 computer chip. I used
all the devices you mentioned in your
article, especially the Commodore
64. In the late 1980s, a friend and I
ran two of the most popular Bulletin
Board Systems in Portland on our
Commodore. I had no idea that
information about an electronic
device could be so obscure. I
would have thought that all of the
companies involved, including the
manufacturer, would have the specs.
As a lover of science and science
ction I am glad to see this crossover
of disciplines.
Stephen P. Suelzle
Portland, OR
In Digging Into Technologys Past,
we incorrectly identied Moores
Law as stating that the number of
transistors on a chip would double
every year. In fact, Moores Law states
the number of transistors would
double every two years.


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or at least the past
century and a half,
those strolling the
grounds of George Washing-
tons Mount Vernon Estate
and Gardens have gazed
upon historical inaccuracy.
Until recently, the propertys
one-acre-large, Gothic arch
shaped Upper Garden did
not appear as it was in 1799,
when the first U.S. president
passed away at his home. It
had become a maze of nar-
row paths and, especially
in recent years, its design
aesthetic was hostage to
overgrown, aging boxwoods.
While its caretakers have
tried to ensure that every-
thing displayed at the estate
is as it was when Washington
died, when it was discovered
that the boxwoods were first
planted in the 1800s, Dean
Norton, Mount Vernons
director of horticulture, recalls, We suspected we had
gotten many features in the garden wrong.
Six years ago, Norton began work to return the garden
to the layout it had when Washington was on his death-
bed. Te team who helped solve that puzzle was made
up of archaeologists led by Mount Vernons director of
archaeology, Esther White. By excavating a corner of the
garden and investigating soil as she went down, White
uncovered the 1799 conguration of the planting beds
and pathways.
White carried out digs starting in 2005, eventually
excavating roughly 15 percent of the plot. Six inches
down, she and her team found traces of the garden
George Washington might have tended. (Like many
founding fathers, including Tomas Jeerson and James
Madison, Washington was an avid gardener.) Two and
a half feet below that were disturbances in the soil that
indicated there had once been rows of two-foot-wide
Mount Vernons New Old Garden
squares dug into the earththe remains of the mid-
eighteenth-century fruit tree nursery that Washington
planted over. By mapping soil quality, layers, and trenches
over time and inputting them into geographical informa-
tion systems (GIS) technology, White accurately tracked
the evolution of the gardens layout over two centuries.
GIS allowed us to see the framework of the paths,
says White. Prior to the archaeological work, the garden
had crescent-shaped patches of plantings at the top of the
arch. From Whites analysis, it turned out the crescents
were not an original part of the garden. Tey had super-
seded long, linear rows in the nineteenth century. Te
1799 beds were large and rectangular, says White. So,
theyve returned.
Todays conguration is the seventh of the gardens life-
time. Te GIS work also directed them to trim back the
boxwood fringe that overwhelmed the area and narrowed
footpaths to three feet wide. Today visitors can stroll

ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 10
three 10-foot-wide paths through
the garden and around its perimeter.
White also wanted to know what
plant species Washington had culti-
vated, but she hit a snag. Analysis of
pollen and phytoliths (microscopic
silica crystals left behind by certain
plants) indicated that the soil was
marred by an overabundance of clay,
so White couldnt tell which plants
should be there. We are still in the
process of analyzing soil chemistry
data, but the high clay content can
present problems, White says. Clay
has an acidic pH which eats away at
microscopic pollen grains. So this is
something for future study.
Norton replanted three beds
largely with sweet william, snap-
dragons, violas, and other owers
surrounding rows of vegetables
cabbage, onions, beans, and more.
Until White is able to get more
information from the soil, the crew
at Mount Vernon wont know if they
are right. Washingtons diaries and
writings, visitors accounts, garden-
ers weekly reports, and eighteenth-
century gardening books began to
give us a picture of how the garden
looked, he explains. Ten archae-
ology provided us with the ability
to adjust the focus and to say, Aha!
George Washingtons Upper Garden
as it was in 1799.
Margaret Shakespeare
The Tchefuncte (pronounced
cha-FUNK-tuh) River
Lighthouse is a historic structure
that sits on Lake Pontchartrain
near the mouth of the Tchefuncte
River in Madisonville, Louisiana,
45 miles north of New Orleans.
Built in 1837 to help guide boat
traffic into the river, it has
survived the Civil War (though it
was rebuilt), hurricanes, age, and
a movement to automation. This
key piece of Louisianas nautical
history is still in operation, but
the land it sits on is also of great
interest. Andrea White of the
Greater New Orleans Archaeology
Program at the University of New
Orleans recently conducted the first
archaeological testing at the site.
The site and archaeology The
building site itself, though popular
with lighthouse enthusiasts, is closed
to visitors because of concerns
about vandalism. But it is easily
seen by boat and from some of the
surrounding landand in the hit 2008
lm, The Curious Case of Benjamin
Button. In summer 2009, White
and Jay Martin, former director
of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin
Maritime Museum, along with
dozens of volunteers and students,
surveyed the area. The area around
the lighthouse has been poorly
understood archaeologically until
very recently, says White. Though
the landscape has been heavily
disturbed by water and weather,
the team found archaeological
evidence spanning more than
2,000 years of occupationfrom
the early twentieth century,
when the site included a keepers
cottage, back into prehistory,
when Native Americans used it
as a seasonal camp to harvest
shellsh and other aquatic species.
The nds included bone buttons,
pottery, and stone tools and points.
Among them was a hand-painted
sherd with a Dutch maritime motif,
which may have belonged to Harry
Brouwer, lighthouse keeper from
1918 to 1920, who was born in the
While you are there The last
keepers cottage on the site was
moved to the Lake Pontchartrain
Basin Maritime Museum in
Madisonville, which features
information and artifacts from
centuries of nautical history in the
area. There are plenty of hotels in
town and restaurants along the
riverbe sure to sample the lake
crabs and poboys. And in mid-
October, the town hosts a colorful
Wooden Boat Festival. That is
also Louisianas Archaeology
Monththis years theme is the Civil
Warwith a variety of activities and
lectures across the state.
Finds at the Tchefuncte River
Lighthouse include this hand-
painted sherd with a Dutch
maritime motif.

ccording to Mayanist
David Stuart, calendars
are ways of organizing
our experience relative to the
perceived mechanisms of the
world and the cosmos as a whole.
It is a perspective that makes
it easier to appreciate how the
ancient Maya used cycles of
time to explain the workings of
the cosmos, and also why some
adherents of New Age religion
believe a world-ending cataclysm
is coming on December 21, 2012,
when the thirteenth baktun, a
400-year long period in the Maya
calendar, comes to an end.
Stuarts book, The Order of Days:
The Maya World and the Truth
About 2012 ($24.00, Harmony),
is not a direct refutation of the
various and growing number of
claims about this latest possible
apocalypse. It is instead an excellent
introduction to the archaeological
record and worldview of the
ancient Maya, something that
Stuart has studied closely since his
childhood when he accompanied
his archaeologist father, George, to
the sites he excavated. Stuart uses
the broad popular interest in 2012
as an opportunity to introduce
lay audiences to intricacies
of Maya calendars. He also
provides a thorough accounting
of the archaeological evidence
underpinning his work.
There is no actual Maya
prophecy that the world will end
in 2012, according to Stuart. But
he avoids taking to task the New
Age prophets who claim they know
better, at least until the last chapter,
where his exasperation starts to
show. Whether you believe, as
some of the more outrageous
predictions contend, that on
12/21/12 Earth will attain some
sort of galactic alignment, or that
the human race will reach a new
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level of evolution, or that the deity
Quetzalcoatl (never mind that he
was Aztec) will come to Earth, it is
safe to predict that Stuarts book will
not be the last word on the end of
the world. However, his engaging
explanations of ancient and modern
Maya cultural beliefs will make
this a valuable book into 2013 and
beyond. Zach Zorich
2012: Spoiling the Ending

ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 12
iniature cameras are pro-
viding archaeologists with
a new way to explore the
inaccessible parts of the tombs of two
ancient kings, one in Egypts Great
Pyramid of Khufu and another at the
Maya city of Palenque in southern
In Egypt, a robot carrying a flex-
ible camera made the 213-foot jour-
ney through an eight-inch-square
shaft that leads from the northern
end of the Queens Chamber. The
robot progressed until it was blocked
by a limestone door. The pyramid
has a total of four shafts. The ongo-
ing research project is supposed
to help scientists figure out what
purpose they served, but so far it
has only raised new questions. The
robots camera was able to peer
through a hole in the door and take
photographs revealing two copper
pins with curved heads and some
hieroglyphic numbers painted about
4,500 years ago in the space between
the door and a second piece of lime-
because the temple is unstable. Now,
the photographs have revealed that
the tomb contains jade and shell
artifacts as well as black-on-red wall
paintings depicting at least nine
figures. The tomb probably belonged
to one of the early rulers of the site
and dates to roughly 1,500 years ago.
Zach Zorich
A Peek Inside Two Secret Chambers
ou need a big anchor to stop a big
boat. This oneat more than 11
feet from ring to crown, more than
7.5 feet from fluke to fluke, and some 2,000
poundswas recently lifted off the ship-
wreck now confirmed to have been Queen
Annes Revenge, flagship of the notorious
pirate Blackbeard (Blackbeard Surfaces,
March/April 2008). Its the latest of more
than a quarter million artifacts to come up
from the site so far (two more, even larger,
anchors remain below), which was discov-
ered in 1996 in 20 feet of water a few miles
from the North Carolina coast. The concre-
tion of sand and limestone encasing the
iron anchor is likely to hold even more
finds, but it will take four or five years of
conservation treatment to bring them out.
Samir S. Patel
stone that also blocks the shaft. The
purpose of the pins and the numbers
is still unknown.
In Mexico, beneath a pyramid
named Temple 20, a camera was
lowered into a tomb through a six-
inch-wide hole that was made by
archaeologists in 1999. They had not
been able to tunnel into the tomb
The Djedi Project robot, shown below, was
specifically designed to explore the 8-inch-
square shafts in the Great Pyramid of Khufu. 13
irect evidence that reveals the
behavior of the human races
earliest ancestors has been all
but impossible for paleoanthropolo-
gists to find. Now, however, studies of
chemical isotopes in tooth enamel are
providing new lines of evidence con-
cerning the lives of early hominins. As
tooth enamel forms during the first
eight years of life, it absorbs chemicals
from the food and water that people
consume and, indirectly, from the
bedrock in the area where they reside.
That chemical signature provides an
important record of an individuals
life, which scholars are now learning
to read. Two recent isotope studies are
changing paleoanthropologists under-
standing of hominins who lived
roughly 2.2 to 1.4 million years ago.
A study published in Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences
examined the amounts of carbon
isotopes in two Paranthropus boisei
teeth from eastern Africa. Carbon
isotopes reveal details about diet,
and the research showed that these
individuals dined on grasses and
sedges. Previously, P. boisei had been
nicknamed Nutcracker Man because
paleoanthropologists believed the
species large teeth and powerful jaws
were an evolutionary adaptation to
eating hard foods.
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A second study, published in the
journal Nature, measured strontium
isotopes in the teeth of Australo-
pithecus africanus and Paranthropus
robustus from southern Africa.
Strontium isotopes offer evidence
of the bedrock in an individuals
early home area because plants and
water absorb strontium from the
bedrock, which is then absorbed by
tooth enamel. This study showed
that females of both species tended
to grow up in areas with a differ-
ent type of bedrock than the places
where their teeth were ultimately
found. The finding could indicate
that females left the social groups
they were born into and moved
away to live with their mates.
The major impact of this
research has less to do with the
results of the two studies and more
to do with providing paleoanthro-
pologists with a new research tool,
according to the University of Colo-
rados Matthew Sponheimer, who
took part in both projects. If we can
be clever enough, we might be able
to design ways to get at interesting
behaviors that had seemed forever
lost, he says. Zach Zorich
Toothsome Evidence
Compared to the teeth in the
modern human skull, right,
Paranthropus boisei had massive
teeth that scientists now believe
were used for chewing grasses.
When the Japanese invaded the Philippine
Islands during World War II, thousands of
U.S. Territorial Silver Dollars were hidden
away in a secret cache to prevent them from
falling into the hands of the enemy.
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As he opened the bag, one by one, he found
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new interpretation of
evidence for a previously
enigmatic Bronze Age ritual
dating from 2800 to 2300 b.c. has
emerged. Colin Renfrew of the
University of Cambridge rst visited
the Greek island of Keros in the
Cyclades in 1963 and found, among
other artifacts at a heavily looted
site, fragments of marble gurines.
In the 1970s, a large quantity of
broken Cycladic gurinespart of
the so-called Keros Hoardcame
onto the antiquities market,
deepening the mystery of when and
why they were broken. Either many
of the gurines taken from the
island and those left in place were
broken by looters or something
entirely dierent had gone on.
In 1987, Renfrew began
excavating and discovered that the
figurine breakages were ancient
and deliberate. Previously, intact
versions of these figurines had
generally been found in early Bronze
Age graves. Since there was no
evidence of burials or marble chips
on Keros, this suggests the figurines
had been broken elsewhere and
then transported to the island.
Renfrew and his team returned
to Keros in 2006. By excavating
an unlooted site 450 feet south of
the original, they discovered that
among the hundreds of fragments
found, only a small number matched
any others. Further, the number
of figurine fragments found on
Keros far exceeds the number of
whole figurines found on all other
Cycladic islands. This told Renfrew
that the fragments must have been
imported for a special purpose.
He concluded that Keros, with its
central location, was a ritual site. It
seems the islanders were breaking
their figurines after their use-life was
over and bringing fragments with
them to Keros.
On Dhaskalio, a small, rocky islet
separated from Keros by a narrow
channel, excavators found the
remains of a settlement with a long
hall, possibly used as a guesthouse,
where visitors might have stayed.
Te islanders then traveled to Keros
for the ceremony of burying the
fragments. Although ritual centers of
this kind have been found on other
Cycladic islands, this one predates
all others by 2,000 years. Keros
functioned as a symbolic attractor,
with visitors making periodic
pilgrimages to deposit these special
fragmentary artifacts, says Renfrew.
Tis was a social activity as well
as a ritual activity. He adds, Since
similar gurines functioned as grave
goods in the Cycladic cemeteries, we
may infer that these rituals on Keros
had a signicance relating to their
beliefs about life, death, and perhaps
the hereafter.
Jessica Woodard
Pieces of a Bronze Age Puzzle
ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 16
MARYLAND: Ongoing digs in historic
Annapolis are revealing the birth of
the African-American middle class in
the 19th century. Tableware from the
home of James Holliday, a freed
slave who worked at the U.S. Naval
Academy, shows that his family was
relatively well-off. Like white fami-
lies, they purchased porcelain, but,
perhaps because of financial limita-
tions, in small quantities. Bottles
suggest they
were self-
a common
then, who
access to
care in the
gated city.
ENGLAND: Archaeologists digging in
the garden of Edward Jennerthe
legendary scientist credited with
creating the smallpox vaccinehave
discovered a Roman or sub-Roman
burial. They had previously uncov-
ered the remains of an 8th-century
Anglo-Saxon monastery and a dis-
sected dog on the site, where Jenner
made many key observations about
the natural world. The new find
pushes the history of the garden,
considered the birthplace of immu-
nology and public health, back by
hundreds of years.
PERU: In Lake Marcacocha,
scientists have discovered a
key to the rise of Inca civili-
zation: llama dung. In lake
sediments, maize pollen
appears around 2,700 years
ago, along with a rise in
mites that feed on animal
dungcoinciding with the
earliest stages of Andean
chiefdoms. The fertilizer
would have been important for the cultivation of
maize at high altitude, which led to food surplus-
es that helped fuel complex societies.
SUDAN: Study of more than 200
Nubian mummies shows that these
ancient people struggled with schis-
tosomiasis, a water-borne disease
caused by parasitic worms that still
infects millions of people today. The
study looked at mummies from two
populations between 1,000 and
1,500 years oldone that practiced
irrigation agriculture and one that
did not. Those who practiced irriga-
tion were almost three times as like-
ly to be infected, which shows how
human alteration of the environment
has helped spread the disease.
EGYPT: Spots on the painted walls of Tutankhamuns
tomb, long a mystery to archaeologists, might be evi-
dence of a hasty burial. The spots were probably
caused by fungus, but they apparently have not
changed since the tomb was opened in 1922.
Therefore, they likely date to the last time there was
moisture in the tombwhen the boy king was first bur-
ied in 1323 B.C. It is possible that the paint on the wall
was not yet dry when the tomb was sealedsupport-
ing the theory that he died unexpectedly.
ITALY: In a 2nd-centu-
ry A.D. Roman wreck
containing ampho-
rae full of pro-
cessed fish, divers
have discovered
evidence of a live
well to keep fish
fresh during trans-
port. Researchers
believe a flanged
lead pipe found
near the ships keel
was connected to a
pump to bring seawa-
ter aboard. Historical
texts suggest the
ancient Romans trad-
ed in live fish, but this
is the first physical
evidence of
the practice.
plan to
the device.
to a
s trad-
but this
By Samir S. Patel
RUSSIA: Was the last redoubt
of Neanderthals near the
Arctic Circle? In the northern
Ural Mountains, archaeolo-
gists have discovered
Mousterian stone tools
and butchered mam-
moth bones, which are
associated with
Neanderthals in Europe
(though modern humans
in southwest Asia used
similar technology). The
artifacts are dated to
28,500 years ago,
8,000 years after
Neanderthals are thought
to have disappeared, sug-
gesting that some mas-
tered living in cold environ-
ments and held on long after
modern humans had usurped
the rest of their range.
JORDAN: At Wadi Faynan,
excavations of a site belonging to
the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A culture
suggest that the first buildings
werent necessarily homes or ritual
spacesbut rather community
centers for shared work. An oval-
shaped mud building at the site,
which dates to over 11,000 years
ago, had mortars set into the floor,
perhaps to process cultivated wild
plants. Archaeologists believe there
was little distinction between
domestic and ritual spaces. Such
divisions would come later,
alongside the advent of agriculture.
INDIA: Digs near the ancient port of
Muciri are enriching the picture of
brisk early trade between the state
of Kerala and Roman and Near
Eastern cultures. Dating to around
2,000 years ago, the finds include
Roman pottery (including what
appears to be a toilet) and glass, as
well as iron and copper nails, and
terracotta lamps, spindles, and toys.
They are evidence of one of the first
attempts at organized trade
between Europe, Africa, and Asia.
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NEW ZEALAND: Nineteenth-century
Maori history is written in the DNA
of long-dead kiwi birds. Prized
cloaks of kiwi feathers
were worn into battle.
The genetic material
preserved in more than
100 cloaks in museum collections,
alongside DNA from modern birds,
has identified the small area where
the cloak tradition may have arisen,
and suggests that a previously
undocumented trade in feathers
grew after internecine wars broke
up traditional groups in the early
part of the century.
ust off the coast of the southern Chinese island
of Nanao, on a boat called the Nan Tianshun, Chinese
archaeologist Cui Yong is the only still thing on deck.
He sits near the front of the repurposed barge, leaning
into a radio receiver while everyone else on the boat
bustles around him. Researchers in wetsuits and ns
splash into the water. Workers shout back and forth, pulling
on taut ropes that disappear into the ocean. Someone hoses
down a row of oxygen tanks. Loud as they are, these on-deck
activities barely seem to register with the archaeologist. His
attention is 90 feet down, on the bottom of the South China
Sea. Te radio crackles with reports from his divers on the
wreck of a Ming Dynasty pirate ship.
Named the Nanao Number One, the wreck that Cui is
excavating lies along a stretch of ocean that Chinese histo-
rians regard as the countrys Marine Silk Road. During
Chinas heyday as a maritime power during and shortly
after the Song Dynasty (a.d. 9601279), the route was
popular with traders but prone to dangerous storms, result-
ing in a trail of sunken ships. Te Nanao wreck is part of an
abundant record that has helped speed the development of
Chinese underwater archaeology, a discipline with barely 20
years of history in the country, and encouraged a frenzy of
new underwater excavations.
In this litter of wrecks the Nanao Number One is unique.
It is the only known wreck from the late Ming Dynasty.
Archaeologists estimate the ship sailed between 1573 and
1620, a period when China had turned inward, banned
maritime commerce, and begun to dismantle its once-great
eets. In another time, the vessel would have been a merchant
ship, following a busy trade route. But when China closed
its shores and docks, maritime trade and commerce became
piracy and smuggling. O cially, the Nanao ship never should
have been in the waterit was likely moving along the coast
ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 20
A shipwreck in the South China Sea advances
Chinas emerging eld of underwater archaeology by Lauren Hilgers 21
illegally. Its cannons, now half-buried in the mud at the bottom of the South China
Sea, would have been necessary for defense.
Te Nanao ship is a rare nd, but its fate is a familiar one in this part of the
ocean. Tis is a dangerous passage, says Cui. As the boat snuck along the coast,
something, whether bad weather or hidden rocks, caused it to sink and deposit its
load of contrabandceramics, copper coins, and ironwareonto the sea oor. Te
weather can be bad, Cui says as the wind picks up around his own boat. And, over
there, there are rocks you cant see.
Te excavation of the Nanao and tales of a Ming Dynasty pirate ship have lured
a rotating cast of journalists to the excavation site. Cui has grown accustomed to
the attention. At 49, he is one of Chinas rst generation of underwater archaeolo-
gists and, with a run of high-prole wreck discoveries, he is the most recognizable
face in an ascendant discipline. On the deck of the Nan Tianshun, however, Cui is
The Nan Tianshun, Chinas
primary underwater
excavation vessel, is being
used to explore the remains
of a Ming Dynasty pirate ship
that defied the countrys ban
on maritime commerce in the
16th and 17th centuries.
ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 22
On excavation maps, archaeologists have lled in where they
speculate the sides of the boat continue, and they estimate
the Nanao runs around 90 feet from bow to stern.
Te Nanao sank at the mouth of a particularly dangerous
stretch of water. It sits at the northern edge of present-day
Guangdong Province, near the entrance to the strait between
the coasts of China and Taiwan. Typhoons frequent this
passage and could blow shipsMing Dynasty pirate vessels
and excavation barges alikeinto hidden rocks or smash
them along the coast.
Excavations at the site move painstakingly slowly. Because
of the depth of the site, around 90 feet down, a diver is only
allowed 25 minutes at the bottom and only one dive a day. If
a storm hits, or if the wind is simply too high, no one dives.
Tis, says Cui, generally rules out eldwork nine months
of the year. And even on good days, he is concerned for the
safety of his divers. Tey descend in pairs and keep close tabs
on bottom time. Cui is quick to point out one of the Nan
Tianshuns key featuresa decompression chamber.
Despite the challenges, Cuis team is making progress.
Last year was a good year, Cui says. We had a full 100 days
to excavate. During that time, he says, the archaeologists
retrieved more than 10,000 pieces of porcelain from the sea
oor. Tis year he hopes to retrieve all the remaining pieces
from the ships stores.
he fact that the Nanao wreck has any artifacts
at all is testament to the determination of Ming
Dynasty businessmen. Boats caught defying the ban
on maritime trade could be scuttled and their crews thrown
in jail. Tese deterrents did not keep the Nanao merchants
soft-spoken and at home in ip-ops. Only the ecks of gray
in his hair betray his age and, perhaps, the stress of his job,
he says. Wrecks like the Nanao, he adds, help attract media
and increase government funding. But the increased expo-
sure also attracts looters and adds pressure. It is a delicate
balancing act that is visible in the commotion on the Nan
Tianshun. Journalists in deck shoes pick their way carefully
through stacked oxygen tanks, while border patrol o cers
in fatigues and orange life jackets stand at attention at the
corners of the boat. Te government is giving us money to
do the excavations, so we should be able to show people the
progress we are making, Cui explains. Archaeologists have
to learn how to juggle these things.
ith few experienced underwater archaeolo-
gists at work in China today, Cui has become
an excellent juggler. He was still working on a
previous nd when he rst heard reports from Nanao Island
in 2007. Some local shermen were pulling Ming Dynasty
porcelain out of the ocean. I knew it was a wreck, Cui says.
Tere were so many artifacts from the same period being
taken from the same spot in the ocean. When he arrived
at the island and made his rst dive, the Nanao site proved
better than he had imagined. Te wreck was unusually well
preserved and the conditions were good for excavating. It was
deep, but the water was clear and the mud at the bottom of
the ocean soft and manageable. I got lucky, he says.
Cuis excavation team was given permission to begin
digging two years ago, and since then he has spent as much
time as weather permits oating above Nanao Number
One. After one excavation season, nearly half the wreck is
exposed. Te top decks have been worn away, but its belly lies
undisturbed, oriented along a northsouth line. Two curves
of wood are exposed toward the stern, hemming in rows of
porcelain bowls, platters, and cups, many still stacked neatly.
The wreck known as Nanao Number One contained more
than 10,000 pieces of Ming Dynasty porcelain, much of it still
stacked for transport. 23
downthey simply became smugglers. Te ban was regu-
larly ignored in southern China, says Wu Chongming, a
colleague of Cuis who teaches at the Maritime Archaeol-
ogy Research Center at Xiamen University in Fujian. Some
historians theorize that the ban on international trade was
originally intended to starve increasingly bold Japanese
pirates. Rather than give up the business, Chinese merchants
turned to piracy themselvesboth smuggling and raiding.
Te Chinese still called smugglers and raiders wokou, a
derogatory term for Japanese pirates, but just a few years into
the ban, Chinese pirates had taken over the South China Sea.
Tere is a saying in Chinese, says Wu. When the market
closes, all the businessmen become smugglers.
Te pieces Cuis team are bringing up were likely not
the most valuable items onboard, explains Cui. Tey were
probably, in fact, an afterthought for the Ming Dynasty
smugglers. It was probably ballast, says Cui. Other cargo,
such as tea or the strings of copper coins that have been
found on the wreck, would have been the ships real treasure.
Te archaeologists have uncovered some organic material,
Cui says, but havent subjected it to testing yet. Tough they
didnt hold much monetary value then, today the porcelain
pieces are priceless for determining the origin and probable
destination of the ship.
As soon as Chen Huasha, a researcher from the Beijing
Palace Museum, arrives for the eld season, the crew of the
Nan Tianshun pulls out crates of porcelain for her to sort
through. She sifts carefully through the blue-and-white
pieces, each covered with glazed owers, animals, and human
gures. Chen, who has spent time on the Nan Tianshun for
two years running, believes the bulk of the porcelain uncov-
ered comes from kilns that were operating in Chinas Fujian
and Jiangxi provinces. When asked how she can tell, Chen
says, Tere are characteristics.
Chen selects a large dish that shows a woman plucking a
ower. Te round dish, she explains, represents the moon,
and the woman standing at its center is Change, the moon
goddess in Chinese folklore. Te ower, she says, could have
to do with success at an imperial examination, a process that
was called picking owers at the time. Later, Chen pulls out
a dish decorated with the gure of a woman with a bouf-
fant hairdo. Her hair looks like a ower, Chen says. Tis
was fashionable among royal women during the late Ming
Dynasty. Te subjects on the porcelain are so characteristi-
cally Chinese that Chen suspects they were intended for
other Asian markets, such as Japan or the Philippines.
In addition to its porcelain, Nanao Number One stands
out for its weaponry. Xiamen Universitys Wu stops by the
Nan Tianshun to visit Cui and see for himself the Nanaos
bronze cannons, which still wait on the ocean oor. Tis is
the rst boat found with cannons on board, he says. Tey
Nanao Island border patrol guards help retrieve and clean
pieces of porcelain as they come up from the wreck. They
remain on guard even beyond the excavation season because
the risk of looting by local fishermen is high.
ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 24
Te rst decade of underwater archaeology went slowly,
but the last two boats on which Cui has worked have sped
that development up considerably. In 2001, Cui was sent to
head excavations at Nanhai Number One, the wreck of a
Song Dynasty boat that sailed well before the dismantling of
Chinas eet during the Ming Dynasty. [Te Song Dynasty]
was a time when Chinas sailing eet was well developed, Cui
says. Chinese boats were making it all the way to India and
Africa. Te boat was discovered by accident in 1987 by a
team of English and Chinese researchers who were searching
for an English boat thought to have gone down in the area.
Te Chinese archaeologists, however, werent prepared to
take on the large and complicated excavation.
Te Nanhai was in shallower water than the Nanao, but
the visibility was terrible, Cui says. We would have had to
conduct excavations by feeling our way along the bottom of
the sea oor. In 2001, archaeologists revisited the wreck with
a bigger budget$20.3 millionwhich was used to build
a custom saltwater tank on Hailing Island in Guangdong,
part of a new Maritime Silk Road Museum, which opened
could have been used to protect the smugglers from imperial
forces. Tey would conscate your goods, put you in jail, and
sink your shipthe stakes were high. Te cannons could
also have served to protect the boat against other pirates
or raiders. Te sailors might also have feared becoming
entangled in the intermittent battles that occurred between
the Dutch and Portuguese through the end of the sixteenth
century and the beginning of the seventeenth.
hile the Nanao ship stands out for having
sailed outside the law, underwater archaeology
in China has its own set of pirates and law-
breakers. Cui and Wu are both at the forefront of a young
professionbefore they started their studies in 1988, China
had no trained underwater archaeologists and wrecks like
the Nanao were the exclusive territory of treasure hunters.
Fortunes may have been made among shermen.
One treasure hunter in particular caught the attention
of Chinas government and was instrumental in forcing the
country to consider its own underwater excavations. Cui
is a bit chagrined by it, but he explains that the
development of underwater archaeology in China
owes much to English treasure hunter Michael
Hatcher. Hatchers biggest nd, which came to be
known as the Nanking Cargo, came in the 1980s.
All the archaeologists on the Nan Tianshun know
the story well. It was the wreck of a Dutch ship that
had run afoul of a coral reef near Indonesia in 1752,
dropping a load of tea, gold, and more than 150,000
pieces of Ming Dynasty porcelain. Te porcelain
was all from Jingdezhen, near Nanjing, says Wu.
Tat boat wasnt Chinese, but all that porcelain
originated from China. Chinas government did its
best to stop the sale of what it saw as national cul-
tural heritage, but Hatcher was still able to auction
o the bulk of his nd in 1986, reportedly earning
more than $20 million. Two years later, Cui was
enrolled in an underwater archaeology program at
Qinghua University. Hatcher got Chinese archae-
ologists to start studying underwater excavation
techniques, he says.
Cui and Wu often refer to their rst experience
with underwater archaeology as the Australian
Program. Qinghua partnered with Adelaide Uni-
versity in Australia, and the rst class of underwater
archaeologists was selected on the basis of physical
tness as much as anything else. Tey needed
young archaeologists, and I was in good health,
Cui says. And, of course, the other point was that
I could swim.
The wreck called Nanhai Number One, a Song Dynasty
ship, was lifted intact from the sea floor in 2007 (in
large freight container in photo at top right). The ship
and its surrounding silt were placed in a custom-built
tank at a new museum in Guangdong (right). 25
We didnt do this for glory, Zhu says. We
didnt know what was down there at that
point. We dont dive, we cant see under
the water, but we know it is important
to protect our national heritage. Zhu
dedicated himself to guarding a wreck
he couldnt see.
Tis isnt just a Chinese problem,
Zhu says carefully. But thieves and
treasure hunters are tireless. At the
Nanao wreck, Zhu set up 24-hour
surveillance. Tey will come at night
or in bad weather, thinking you wont
chase them. Some of them are very
professional. Some haul in diving gear
and lights. Others are shermen and expe-
rienced enough in the water to free dive 90
feet to the bottom. One boat must have studied
our habits and came in through an area we werent
patrolling. When we came with our boats they ed,
but we saw, with complete clarity, where they were
headed. Zhus team called ahead to another
guard base and caught the thieves.
Over the years, Zhus reputation has
spread. Patrol o cers say they are see-
ing fewer attempts every year. Still,
says Zhu, you have to be vigilant. You
cant sleep if you want to protect our
heritage, he says. When Cui sees him
on the deck of the Nan Tianshun, he
gives him an aectionate pat on the
shoulder and says, Every wreck needs
its own Chief Zhu.
Cui considers himself lucky to have
such a dedicated protector. In many areas of
the South China Sea, archaeologists hesitate to
explore new wrecks for fear that even a preliminary dive
will attract the attention of looters. Despite Zhus vigilance,
the persistence of thieves and vulnerability of the wreck add
to the pressure on the archaeologists on the Nan Tianshun.
We are hoping to nish bringing up artifacts this year and
look more closely at the structure of the boat, Cui says.
Archaeologists have identied the bow, stern, masts, cargo
cabin, and possibly anchor. Maybe well be able to bring the
whole thing up; were not sure yet.
Once nished at the Nanao, Cui says he might take
a break from excavation. His colleague Wu, however, is
enthusiastic about future excavations on the coastline north
of the Nanao in Fujian Province. Here, says Wu, will be the
cradle of Chinese marine archaeology. Te Nanao Number
One and the Nanhai Number One are just two examples
from a sea rich with history and prone to sinkings. Tere
are thousands of wrecks, he says. Teyve barely broken
the surface.
Lauren Hilgers is a freelance writer based in Shanghai.
in 2009. Archaeologists actually lifted
the boatalong with the silt in
which it was buriedout of the
ocean and into the tank for study.
Te spectacle of a 3,000-ton steel
cage being pulled out of the water
earned shipwrecks a place in Chinas
popular consciousness.
These boatstwo very different
boatshave attracted a lot of popular
interest for marine archaeology, says Cui.
Without them, I dont think it would be grow-
ing so quickly [in China].
he frenetic activity on the Nan Tian-
shun is a sign of how far underwater
archaeology has come since Cui
took his rst diving class. Te Chinese
government continues to invest in digs
and soon the Nan Tianshun will be
replaced with an updated excavation
vessel. But the interest in the Nanao
wreck has also put all of Chinas wrecks
in greater danger. Te biggest threat to
underwater archaeology, Cui says, is the
popularity of the artifacts such sites carry.
Unblemished, authentic Ming Dynasty
porcelain can command high prices from
collectors, and thieves have learned to target
sunken ships to nd it.
According to the archaeologists at Nanao, keeping
the wreck well protected has been the key to their success.
However, they are on-site only a few months a year. Te rest
of the time, Nanao Number One is under the watch of one
determined local law enforcement o cer. If we had no Zhu
Zhixiong, we would have no Nanao, Cui says.
Zhu, or Chief Zhu, as everyone on the boat calls him, is
the head of Nanao Islands maritime border control. He is
perpetually in uniform and has a tendency to stare, earnest
and unblinking, when speaking about the Nanao. When the
shermen uncovered the porcelain they wanted to keep it, he
says. Tey discovered the Nanaos treasures while diving o
the coast of the island in 2007 and set about building their
collection in secret, hoping to attract the attention of a buyer.
Instead, tales of the stash reached Zhu. We run a program
where we reach out to the local people and they feel comfort-
able talking to us, Zhu explains. Somebody came to us and
told us about the artifacts. Te border patrol conscated the
porcelain and Zhu did his best to explain to other shermen
that retrieving and selling the artifacts is against the law.
but we saw, w
its o
such a d
the South C
l k
Nan Tian-
N k i
This pot and plate were both retrieved from the
Nanao Number One wreck. Such items are
popular with collectors, putting many of
Chinas wrecks at risk from looting.
We didnt
didnt k
the w
to p
and lig
feet to the b
our habits and
patrolling. When
ays Cui.
d be grow-
ved from the
h items are
ny of
n 1983, husband and wife archaeology team Walter Alva and Susana
Meneses led a research team to a small town in northern Peru called
cupe. Tere they excavated an ancient mound that contained the
remains of a building that may have been an elite residence or a cer-
emonial center. Sealed within the buildings crumbling adobe brick
walls were partially exposed murals that seemed to be made by the
Lambeyeque culture, which lasted from the ninth to the eleventh century a.d.
ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 26
Hidden Scenes of
a Royal Court
Thirty years after they
were rst glimpsed,
murals reveal a vibrant
life in ancient Peru
by Roger Atwood 27
With their eld season ending, Alva and Meneses reburied the paintings to protect
them from the weather and potential looters. Te archaeologists intended to return
and nish the excavations, but severe El Nios, the discovery of the now-famous
royal tombs of Sipn, and Meneses unfortunate death in 2002 delayed eldwork until
this year. A team led by Alva and the couples son Bruno has now exposed about 400
square feet of murals. Te paintings vibrant colors suggest that they were covered by
the adobe brick wall shortly after they were completed around a.d. 900.
Paintings of the semi-mythical
ruler Naymlap emerge from
behind an adobe brick wall at
the site of cupe in northern
Peru. Other paintings show
scenes from a celebration. The
murals are providing surprising
insights about royal life in
northern Peru 1,100 years ago.
The depictions of elaborately
costumed nobles, musicians,
and acrobats are a wild
departure from the usually staid
artwork of the Lambayeque
As stunning as the murals preservation is, what they depict was
more surprising to the archaeologistsa royal court throwing a party.
It is a sharp departure from the rigid, standardized forms in most
Lambayeque murals and pottery paintings. It may have been to com-
memorate a visit by some distinguished person, says Alva. Tere is a
sense of a special occasion, with acrobats and musicians, and yet you
see the hierarchy associated with a royal court. Some gures are larger
and more central, and hence more important, than others.
Te murals show one man banging a drum, while others blow utes
and shake maracas. Someone else holds a live parrot, and others carry
pots that probably contain chicha, a corn liquor imbibed by Peruvians
today at weddings and christenings. Acrobats with tattoos all over
their bodies provide the entertainment; one stands on the shoulders of
another, waving ags. Everyone wears gaudy headdresses. Te murals
are full of life and activity, says Alva.
In places, an elaborately dressed, rather sti gure stands apart
from the merrymakers. Tat gure appears often in Lambayeque art
and is believed to represent Naymlap (sometimes spelled Naylamp),
a semi-mythical man who, according to legend, traveled by raft to the
Peruvian coast with 40 attendants and created a dynasty that lasted
through 11 rulers. Whoever he was, when the Spaniards arrived in
Peru in the 1500s, local people were still talking about him.
Why the murals were covered with bricks remains a mystery. Alva
believes that whoever had the paintings made probably passed away
shortly after they were completed. Ancient Peruvians were known to
bury or destroy buildings following the death of the ruler who built
them, to prevent them from being appropriated by his successors. Even
the most lavish parties are followed by a hangover, it seems.
Roger Atwood is a contributing editor at Archaeology.
A person wearing a matching headpiece and dress
holds a vessel similar to ones used for drinking
chicha, a type of corn liquor.
ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 28
Murals adorn the entrance
to an adobe brick
building that may have
been an elite residence or
ceremonial center. 29
(Above) Hand prints and squiggles
on the adobe bricks used to cover
the murals of cupe are similar to
markings on bricks in the ancient
compounds walls, possibly meaning
both projects were completed
around the same time. (Above right)
The artwork of the Lambayeque
culture is typically very restrained,
so archaeologists were surprised to
find scenes of performing musicians
and acrobats in the murals. (Right)
Archaeologists excavate the ancient
building complex at cupe and
construct a roof over the murals.
The Rush To Conserve
inding and excavating 1,100-year-old paintings
was just the beginning of the work that needed to
be done at cupe. Now that the murals are being
exposed to the elements, Alva and his team are rushing to
conserve them. A roof has been built over the site to protect
it from rain oreven more damagingsun, which could
cause the delicate pigments to fade almost immediately.
Teams of conservators have worked to stabilize the walls
by injecting just enough distilled water into the adobe
bricks to prevent them from crumbling. Next, they coated
the bricks with a polymer substance, which consolidates
them further. Last, conservators applied a thin layer of ethyl
silicate, a colorless chemical, to the murals themselves to
protect the pigments. As soon as you excavate, you have to
start the conservation process, or you lose the paintings,
says Alva. Some of the murals may be too faded to preserve,
but he thinks enough can be maintained to open the site to
visitors within a year or so.
When the tide is out, the table is set.
Tlingit proverb
he tide is going out at Gibsons Beach,
in the Strait of Georgia on Canadas west
coast. When the tide is low, its easy to spot
rock walls in the intertidal zone, the area of
shore land thats exposed during low tide
and hidden when the tide is in. A person
can look at this beach for years and never understand that
apparently random scatterings of piled rocks were actu-
ally carefully constructed to catch food from the sea. One
formation, a circular shape almost 100 feet in diameter, is a
clam garden, a attened area that pools water and creates a
habitat for clams to grow. Nearby, also in the intertidal zone,
is a chevron-shaped collection of stones that opens into the
sea and funnels sh toward the shore, a sh trap.
Dana Lepofsky, an archaeologist at Simon Fraser Univer-
sity in Vancouver, British Columbia, believes these gardens
and traps, found up and down the coast, could be up to 2,000
years old. Tey were used by the indigenous population
and serve as artifacts that dispute what the archaeologi-
cal record has to this point claimed was the areas primary
staple: salmon.
Closer inspection of middens, or trash heaps, where the
natives in long-gone settlements close to the shore once
dumped food waste, suggests that while the red, fatty sh
might have been prized, salmon was only available during
seasonal runs. Tough the early North Americans dried and
stored the salmon they caught, it would have taken more than
just the seasonal catch to feed these ancient communities.
Lepofsky believes that the native British Columbians
deliberately and consciously managed their marine and other
food resources. By combining archaeology with local oral
history, she and others are concluding that these societies
oversaw an entire oceanfront ecosystem that oered a diverse
bounty of marine life, including little sh (such as anchovies),
roe, clams, cockles, sea urchins, and eelgrass.
n British Columbia, the oldest known archaeologi-
cal sites point to continuous human occupation on the
coast for at least 11,000 years. Since the coast is rugged
ford land at the mercy of shifting tectonic plates and rising
sea levels, countless sites likely remain either underwater or
are only revealed when the tide is out.
Although the archaeological record of this early period
is sketchy, these wet sites potentially hold
some of the richest information about the
ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 30
rst people who arrived on North Americas west coast, prob-
ably hailing from northeastern Asia. It is believed that ancient
people moved in as the glaciers moved out and the landscape
became more hospitable to them and other animals.
Digs at sites like the one at Glenrose Cannery on the
Fraser River, which dates to over 8,000 years ago and was
rst excavated in the 1970s, suggest that people lived in small
groups that ranged across the landscape. Tey were seasonal
locavores, eating what was available and moving around to
nd it. Twelve miles from the sea, the Glenrose riverbank
is littered with re-cracked rocks that once lined hearths;
evidence of lithic artifacts such as hammerstones, scrapers,
and leaf-shaped knives; and bone and antler tools. Tese
were likely used to catch a menu heavy on bay mussels and
other shellsh, salmon, and smaller sh, as well as deer and
elk. Remains of all these animals were found at the site.
At some pointthe date varies from site to sitethese
foragers settled down. In southeastern Alaska, evidence
points to settlement at least 4,000 years ago, whereas on Brit-
ish Columbias central coast, the archaeological record points
to settlement at a minimum of 7,000 years ago. On the lower
Fraser River, settling is noted about 5,000 years ago, roughly
when sea levels receded to closer to what they are today.
From the various settlements emerged distinct cultures
that formed the beginnings of an ecologically
diverse coastal landscape occupied by com-
The Edible Seascape
A reevaluation of evidence along North Americas western coast shows
how its earliest inhabitants managed the seas resources
by Jude Isabella 31
plex communities that had strong ties to the marine world.
Salmon runs were important to all, yet each group responded
to the unique challenges of their own environments, from
storm-lled expanses of rough ocean up north to the open
waters on Vancouver Islands west coast. Te most hospitable
of these environments is the Mediterranean-like climate
with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters found in
the traditional territory of the Coast Salish, a group of First
Nations (non-Inuit aboriginal Canadians) who occupied
land from the northern end of the Strait of Georgia to the
southern end of Puget Sound in Washington state, along
Vancouver Islands eastern shores, the mainland coast of
British Columbia, and along the Fraser River.
ana Lepofsky has made the Coast Salish terri-
tory one of her primary areas of study. She is part
of a coterie of scientists having a second, more
nuanced, look at the west coasts archaeological record.
Until recently salmon has tended to overwhelm the
record. A mid-1950s archaeological dig by a group from
the University of Oregon turned up salmon bones along
the Columbia River in northwestern Oregon. Tese bones
showed evidence of human consumption and dated to as
early as 9,300 years ago. Te nding prompted further
eldwork in the region to focus on salmon when searching
for faunal remains. According to anthropologists at Port-
land State University and Western Washington University,
the archaeological work dovetailed with anthropologists
descriptions of Pacic Northwestern livelihood as being
largely dependent on salmon. Further, R.G. Matson, pro-
fessor emeritus of archaeology at the University of British
Columbia, wrote in 1992 that salmon harvesting and storage
were long believed to be the economic underpinning of the
Northwest Coast.
At Gibsons Beach stone walls forming circles and other shapes
serve as evidence that early peoples cultivated the intertidal
zones to build clam gardens and fish traps.
But evidence is piling up that smaller shherring, smelt,
and anchoviesin addition to clams, waterfowl, and sh
roe, were part of a diverse bounty that fed entire villages. For
instance, archaeological work done over 10 years on Califor-
nias Channel Islands uncovered evidence that Paleoindians
were likely manipulating the coastline to spur measurable
changes in local shellsh populations. Its hard to believe that
Native Americans, who were keen observers of the natural
world, didnt gure out management techniques, says Jon
Erlandson, an archaeologist at the University of Oregon. He
and his team collected reams of data from a large range of
sites and species and concluded that, for example, a noticeable
jump in the size of mussel shells didnt appear to be simply the
result of natural uctuations in local environments. Native
peoples were generally in it for the long haul and developed
more sustainable practices over time, he explains.
For her research on the Coast Salish, Lepofsky uses a local
integrated-community approach. First Nations elders who
still occupy the land have a vast store of traditional knowl-
edge about their ancestors relationship with the local ecology.
By listening to their oral histories and using the information
gleaned to guide her investigation, the archaeologist, along
with her crew and members of the Tlaamin Nation, a Coast
Salish community about 90 miles north of Vancouver, are
creating what amounts to a series of photo albums of meals
eaten over the course of thousands of years by one village.
On day one of eldwork in Tlaamin-land, the commu-
nity started talking about herring, its importance, and now
its absence, Lepofsky says, noting that the last signicant
herring run in the area was in 1984.
room she sorts the sieved material at a table strewn with what
looks like piles of bagged lunches with names written in black
marker. Tey contain faunal remains and other artifacts shes
extracted from the dirt. It smells like a musty, old garage.
To sift midden material its common practice to use six-
millimeter mesh screens. Te holes in such screens, however,
are too big to catch the bones of herring, anchovy, and smelt.
Even half that size misses these smallest remains. Couple
that error with invasive species and recent local extinctions
and the prevailing view of the ancient and historical environ-
ment has been incorrect.
Caldwells job is painstaking. Shes using screens with a
smaller mesh size, so she can bring the archaeological record
into a ner resolution. It takes hours to sift dirt through
her two-millimeter screen, picking out herring and other
sh bones from the debris, which includes the much larger
remains of clam shells, cockles, and sea urchins. But the
time spent now salvages what would have been lost in the
record. To distinguish the cockles from the clams its help-
ful to think of Ru es potato chipsthe former has ridges.
Show a tiny sh bone to Caldwell and she says, Cleithrum,
probably from a herring. Its part of the pectoral girdle; it sits
behind the gills.
Its an elegant solution to a previous aw in archaeological
inquiry. Something as simple as changing mesh sizes and
using nested screensone-millimeter and two-millimeter
to compare recovered sh bones reveals a completely new
layer of the record. About eight to 10 years ago we excavated
on the North Shore of Vancouver and we found anchovy,
Lepofsky says. At the time, I thought it was a one-o. Today,
one of Lepofskys students, Nova Pierson, is studying a site
in the same general area where anchovy is constant.
Pierson used the small screens to sift through midden
material that dates as far back as 3,000 years from Burrard
Inlet, a narrow band of water between Vancouver and North
Vancouver. A traditional use area of several Coast Salish
communities, the inlet is 30 miles long. By searching the mid-
den, Pierson picked out species no longer found in the eco-
system, such as native oysters and sea urchin. She also found
widespread abundance of salmon, herring, and anchovy in
similar proportions to one another over the time period and
noticed that when the remains of one sh decreased, salmon
for instance, one of the other two species increased.
Sure enough, an analysis of faunal remains from Comox
Harbora wet site that was a traditional land of the Kmoks,
a Coast Salish peopleshows herring in fact overwhelms
salmon in the record. Megan Caldwell, a doctoral student now
at the University of Alberta in Edmonton made the discovery
during work on her 2008 masters thesis at the University of
Manitoba. At the site, archaeologists are currently mapping
the layout of more than 13,000 wooden stakes found in a
three-square-mile area that protrude up to three feet out of
the water at low tide and date to 1,220 years ago. Te stakes
form chevron- and heart-shaped traps that funneled sh into
woven baskets at their pinched ends. One heart-shaped trap
measures 138 feet in diameter.
Te traps at Comox Harbor likely caught salmon, her-
ring, and many other types of sh. Caldwells reading of
the archaeological evidence came via remains found in the
contents of a midden. Shells that speckle the bottoms of
uprooted trees and cling to creek faces are the giveaway that
one has found a midden in the forests of British Columbia,
sometimes far from shore. By closely examining midden
contents, Lepofsky and her colleagues can see whats been
missing in the archaeological record to date.
ags and bags of dirt line metal racks in the cold
university storage room where Caldwell spends way
too much time. Shes screening samples taken last year
from a midden at Gibsons Beach, a 10- or 15-minute paddle
across the Strait from the main Tlaamin reserve. It would
have been close enough for daily use by the ancestors of the
present-day Tlaamin people. Remains from Gibsons date as
far back as 500 years ago, although other sites on Tlaamin
territory date beyond 7,500 years.
Caldwell sits on a chair as she sieves the gallon and a half
of dirt from a bag into a bucket, leaving behind sh bones and
shells. It sounds like the shake of a babys rattle. In another
Aerial photographs, like this one of the Tlaamin territory,
provide clues for archaeologists looking for evidence of
human manipulation of the seascape.
The supremacy of salmon as the primary staple of ancient
British Columbians is challenged by the remains of herring
and other small fish found in midden samples. 33
increased production in either size or number. If theres a
transition, if there is some change in productivity, hopefully
[the evidence] will mirror the results of the hypotheses being
generated by the ecology, says Lepofsky.
he picture emerging is of a culture that avoided
relying on one plentiful species, as if people hedged
their bets when it came to food. While salmon is
abundant in the archaeological record, the boom/bust cycle
thats a hallmark of overexploitation is not.
Just as the tastes of these ancient peoples along the west
coast of British Columbia went beyond salmon, the tech-
nologies they developed went beyond sh traps and clam
gardens. Te Heiltsuk Nation, located nearly 400 miles
north of Vancouver, harvested herring roe on kelp forests,
another important indigenous shery. Without kelp o
their shores, the Tlaamin harvested roe from deliberately
submerged branches of Douglas r or other treesa practice
that only died out with the herring run.
Te evidence uncovered by using ner screens to examine
the dirt from middens makes for a compelling argument that
past cultures did not think of these management systems
as purely for catching one type of sh, but as a means to
manage and ration what the ocean sent their way. Further,
the archaeological work is conrming many of the stories
Michelle Washington, a Tlaamin descendant who has
worked with the archaeologists from the beginning, heard
growing up.
My Granny used to say something that I never quite
understood until I got older, she explains. She would look
at expensive homes with manicured lawns and say, in our
language, Oh those poor people, they have no medicines or
food in their yard. How are they going to feed themselves
and take care of themselves if anything happens?
Jude Isabella is a science writer and graduate student in the
anthropology department at the University of Victoria.
Because both large and small sh may have been valued,
decisions could have been made that took into account the
ecosystem as a whole, says Pierson. Te research lines up
with other zooarchaeological data from the past decade,
which shows that the proportion of salmon in relation to
other marine species was fairly constant in a time frame that
spans 7,500 years. Te fact that the ratio remains at strongly
suggests that the ancient Coast Salish were employing some
sort of ecosystem management.
n almost every estuary thats been scoured in the
region, archaeologists have turned up evidence of wooden
or stone sh traps. Teyve also uncovered clam gardens,
which were an unknown technology to archaeologists until
a geomorphologist on an aerial survey of the coast in 1995
identied the rock formations as made by humans.
On Quadra Island, the territory of the Laich-Kwil-Tach
(Kwakwakawakw) and Kmoks Nations, a team of ecolo-
gists led by Anne Salomon, a colleague of Lepofskys from
Simon Fraser, plants Pacic littlenecks in the isolated clam
gardens that ring Waiatt Bay. One site has an extensive rock
wall that rises about three feet out of the water at low tide
and forms a long, at, cleared beach, perfect clam habitat.
Over two days they seed ve clam garden beaches with 450
juvenile clams, with plans to seed another ve gardens. Dur-
ing the low tides in November, theyll go back to weigh and
measure the clams against a control group. Te ecologists
hope to answer the question: Does the clam garden stabilize
the beach and trap sediment and phytoplankton, allowing
for more clam recruitment, or does it cause the ones in the
garden to grow bigger in a shorter amount of time?
At nearby Kanish Bay, Lepofskys crew of archaeologists
canoe from beach to beach searching for clam gardens and
any associated settlements. Lepofsky is targeting a par-
ticular type of site: early villages created shortly after the
people from Asia settled down. Tese sites likely predate the
development of clam gardens as a technology for ecosystem
management, so their middens might show a transition that
marks the advent of clam gardens.
By looking at species relative abundance, age, and size
over time, shells from these sites could reveal when clam har-
vesting began to be actively managed, and if the technology
(Above left) Archaeologist Dana Lepofsky (in red)
teaches a graduate student how to excavate a site in the
Strait of Georgia. (Right) Researchers inspect a midden,
revealed by a fallen tree.
he Usumacinta River cuts a meandering
path through a mountainous rain forest and
forms part of an international border with
Mexico on its west bank and Guatemala
on its east. In the past, the land around the
Usumacinta was criss-crossed by a con-
stantly shifting web of borders as the rulers of ancient Maya
cities fought wars and made alliances to expand the size and
inuence of their kingdoms. But little evidence of where the
borders of these kingdoms actually lay had been found, until
the recent discovery of a series of stone walls standing three
to six feet high, strung out through a four-mile-long stretch
of the rain forest. Tese walls, which divided the kingdoms
of Yaxchilan and Piedras Negras, were used to defend Yax-
chilans northern border. Te walls provide important clues
about the military tactics as well as the causes of the ghting
that took place during the tumultuous period 1,300 years ago
when both cities were at the peak of their power.
When a research team made up of Charles Golden of
Brandeis University, Andrew Scherer of Brown University,
and archaeologists from Guatemalas Institute of History and
Anthropology came to the region in 2003, they were looking
to excavate and document the ruins of the ancient towns and
villages in the landscape between Piedras Negras and Yaxchi-
lan. Not a lot of people were looking for fortications, says
Scherer, and they werent easy to nd. Te walls themselves
appear to be little more than piles of stone covered with fallen
leaves and jungle vegetation. It was only over time that we
started recognizing them for what they were. Part of the
credit for that insight goes to the Guatemalan guides and
park rangers who worked with the project, many of whom
fought in this area during the Guatemalan civil war that
took place in the 1980s and 1990s. Te hilly terrain made
the area near the Usumacinta a good hiding place for the
combatants who were resisting the Guatemalan government.
ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 34
Conversations with these ghters helped the archaeologists
think in military terms about how the landscape might have
been used, which in turn helped them discover where more
walls were located.
Te rough terrain limits the routes that a person can easily
walk through the area. Once the archaeologists knew what
they were looking for, nding the walls became easy. Just
outside of Tecolote, an ancient town 10 miles north of Yax-
chilan, every path seems to lead to a stone wall between two
hills. Evidence of watchtowers on top of the hills indicates
that soldiers had a place from which to watch for approach-
Newly uncovered fortications
reveal how ancient Maya rulers
struggled for wealth and territory
by Zach Zorich 35
ing enemies. Tey are not building one super-wall. Tey are
building little walls between all these little hills that they can
control very easily, says Golden. It creates an easy funnel.
Tey can catch anyone going south or north through the
valleys. Te walls themselves would block the path of the
enemys advance. Its a natural control point. Tis is where
the Maya put their walls 1,300 years ago and this is where
the front was in the civil war, Scherer says. Te ancient Maya
warriors probably stood on the hillsides and on top of the
walls, possibly taking cover behind a wooden palisade where
they could hurl stones or spears at their enemies, who would
An archaeological survey in
the rain forest on the border
between Mexico and Guatemala
is revealing a series of stone
walls that were used to defend
the border between the warring
Maya kingdoms of Yaxchilan and
Piedras Negras.
ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 36
hile other Maya kingdoms
built defensive walls around some
of their cities, this is the rst
known case of walls being used to defend a
border. Tis innovation represented a radical
shift in the 450-year-long history of warfare
between the two kingdoms. It may indicate
that the two cities were ghting for new rea-
sons. When Yaxchilan rst became the capital
of a Maya dynasty, in a.d. 359, its population,
as well as that of its neighboring cities, was
small and centralized. People could stay close
to the city and take advantage of opportunities
for trade, attend religious rituals, and enjoy the
protection of its army. Warfare in this early
period may have been focused on controlling
trade routes on and around the Usumacinta
River. By the time the walls were built, the cit-
ies populations had grown much larger.
In the Late Classic [around a.d. 700], populations start
spreading out again, and I dont think that it is any coinci-
dence at all that that is when you start seeing these kinds of
conicts and attempts to control land, says Stephen Hous-
ton of Brown University, who spent ve eld seasons digging
at Piedras Negras. He believes that growing populations may
have forced people to spread beyond the areas near the cities
and look for new farmland and other sources of wealth.
Near the walls, the team has documented a series of
these settlements: Chicozapote, La Pasadita, Tecolote, and
El Tnel. Te warriors who defended the border probably
lived in these settlements with their families. Te settle-
ments were ruled by sajals, who were counselors to the king,
administrators, and war leaders responsible for defending the
border and leading attacks against the kingdoms enemies.
have been at a severe disadvantage, bottled up in the narrow
valley in front of the wall.
No evidence has been found of the walls being attacked,
but the archaeological investigations are still in their early
stages. Direct evidence of warfare in this region is sparse,
possibly due to the speed with which human remains decay
in the tropical environment. Its actually an interesting issue
with the Maya in general. We dont have a lot of skeletal
remains that we can denitively attribute to war, says Scher-
er. He notes, however, that there is a lot of skeletal evidence
for human sacrice, which may explain what happened to
those on the losing side of a battle.
La Mar
Piedras Negras
El Cayo
El Tnel
La Pasadita
0 5
This carved stone monument called Panel 3 from the site of
Piedras Negras shows lords paying tribute to the citys king. 37
to Yaxchilan, but it also may have provoked some powerful
enemies. Te settlements along the border appear to have
been built in a hurry, as if Shield Jaguar III were racing to
protect his kingdom from an impending attack. According
to Golden, the palaces at Tecolote and La Pasadita go up in
probably 25 years or less, all in one go. Tey are just throw-
ing them up wholesale on the landscape. Te defensive walls
were probably built around the same time.
Te lack of archaeological sites dating to the Late Clas-
sic period in the territory north of Yaxchilan indicates that
the area was essentially empty when the walls and nearby
settlements were built, which allowed the king to place settle-
ments strategically on the landscape and appoint whomever
he liked to rule them. Scenes carved into the door lintels at
Yaxchilan show that Shield Jaguar IIIs successor, Bird Jaguar
IV, appointed several new sajals during his reign. Likewise,
a scene carved into a panel on a door lintel in La Pasaditas
largest building shows the towns sajal and king Bird Jaguar
IV standing over a lord who had been defeated in battle.
So far, the excavations have been concentrated at La Pasa-
dita and Tecolote, which lie less than three miles away from
each other. What the archaeologists have found is revealing
important details about the part these settlements played in
the political life of the Yaxchilan kingdom.
onstruction at the border settlements
seems to have begun during the reign of Yaxchilans
king Shield Jaguar III. At the time he ascended the
throne, Yaxchilan had been defeated and made subordinate
to Piedras Negras. Shield Jaguar III was appointed to his
post by a king of Piedras Negras known only as Ruler 4.
For the rst 40 years of Shield Jaguar IIIs exceptionally long
reign, he seemed to accept this arrangement, but something
changed around 713. A carved stone monument in a temple
in Yaxchilans western acropolis records a series of military
victories over the rulers of nearby settlements including
several allied to Piedras Negras. Extending the territory
under its political control may have brought more wealth
ome of the most important clues that led to
deciphering ancient Maya glyphs came from the carved
stone monuments at Piedras Negras and Yaxchilan.
In 1960, art historian Tatiana Proskouriako published a
systematic study of the glyphs on more than 40 large rect-
angular monuments called stelae that had been erected at
Piedras Negras. Her research showed that the stelae could
be separated into seven series, each of which began with a
stela that had a niche carved into it. Inside that niche was the
image of an elaborately costumed person sitting on a cushion.
Above each niche were carvings of astronomical signs and
a grotesque bird gure. Below the niche the carvings
depicted footprints ascending a ladder. Glyphs,
including some that referred to specic dates, were
carved in various places on the monuments. At the
time, most scholars believed the stelae were records
of astronomical events and the gures in the niches
were gods. However, Proskouriako believed
that these scenes symbolized a king ascending the
throne, and that the other stelae in each series marked
the passing of a ve-year period, called a hotun, dur-
ing the kings reign.
Proskouriako noticed that some of the dates on
each stela in a series were identical to each other, and
that they were always followed by the same glyph.
She surmised that the glyph that appears next to
the earliest date on the stela, informally dubbed
the upended frog glyph, referred to the birth of
the king, and the glyph that appears next to the
second date, dubbed the toothache glyph, referred to the
day when the king ascended the throne. Proskouriako plot-
ted all of the dates on the stelae on a graph, which showed
Translating Maya History
that her interpretation of the
glyphs was consistent across
all seven series.
To further test her ideas,
she also studied monumental
stone carvings at Yaxchilan.
She found that the pattern
of the upended frog and
toothache glyphs applied to
that site as well. In addition,
she identied the name glyphs
of two kings who were frequently mentioned in
the monuments. One she called Shield Jaguar
because his name glyph has an element that looks
like a shield in front of the face of a jaguar, and the
other she named Bird Jaguar because of the bird
and jaguar elements in his name glyph. Tese
naming conventions are still used by archaeolo-
gists today.
Proskouriako was not the rst person to believe
that the stelae were historical records. In 1901,
Charles Bowditch, a wealthy supporter of Harvards
Peabody Museums work in Mesoamerica and an
amateur Mayanist, rst proposed the idea that the
stelae recorded the lives of Piedras Negras kings.
Its a strange little story of Maya archaeology that
these ideas and these specic observations had
been oating around there for decades. But it was
Proskouriako laying out a coherent argument
that made the dierence, says Stephen Houston of Brown
University. She was able to lay a foundation that people
were able to build on. Z.Z.
Upended frog and
toothache glyphs
himself with the rival city. Houston thinks the king was
in Piedras Negras by choice, and that he was purposefully
removed from the monuments of Yaxchilan. Whatever this
king was trying to do at Piedras Negras, it just went against
the grain of Yaxchilan, he says, He is one of the very few
historical gures who was so odious to his family an attempt
was made to obliterate his memory.
By 752 Bird Jaguar IV, the son of Shield Jaguar III by one
of his lesser wives, ascended the throne. He picked up where
his father left o, strengthening the border against Piedras
Negras and expanding the city itself by putting up or radi-
cally altering more than a dozen buildings. Monuments at
the site commemorate his 20 military victories over nearby
settlements. Te long years of warfare between the two cities
nally ended in 808 when Yaxchilans king Tatbu Skull III
captured the last king of Piedras Negras, Ruler 7. A few years
later Piedras Negras was overthrown, and parts of the city
were burned. Archaeologists have found pieces of the kings
throne smashed to pieces inside the palace.
In spite of his victory, Tatbu Skull III was the last king of
Yaxchilan, but no one knows exactly when his reign ended.
Over a period of years the population of Yaxchilan seems
to have moved away from the city. About the same time,
the defensive settlements of La Pasadita and Tecolote were
abandoned. Te walls that symbolized the kings desperate
attempt to satisfy the need for land, security, and self-aggran-
dizement went unmanned. Te kingdom may have become
the victim of a demographic trend that the kings themselves
had a hand in creating. In order to have these communities
out on the landscape, there couldnt be daily interaction
between the kings and the people they governed, says
Scherer. Tese people out on the landscape had to have their
own sort of leaders. One of the challenges that all state-level
societies face is how you keep your subordinates from seek-
ing power for themselves. With the secondary settlements
now able to provide security, land, and ceremonial centers for
themselves, Yaxchilan may, it is theorized, have lost its attrac-
tive power. Its population dispersed across the landscape, and
the city collapsed with no war to sustain it.
Zach Zorich is a senior editor at Archaeology.
Te kings prominent place on the monument suggests that
Yaxchilans subordinate lords were under the kings strict
On the other hand, the area south of Piedras Negras was
occupied by smaller cities such as La Mar and El Cayo, which
had their own royal families and whose loyalty had to be
negotiated for or bought. Golden interprets these dierences
to mean that the Piedras Negras kingdom had a less rigid
political structure. Its subordinate lords seem to have enjoyed
more freedom and autonomy. In contrast, Yaxchilan seems to
have been very authoritarian, and may have had steadier allies
in better locations when the time came to ght.
mong the Maya, the victors literally did write the
history. Rulers were proud to commemorate their
successful military campaigns, while the losers typi-
cally did not record their defeats. To get a complete history
of warfare between Yaxchilan and Piedras Negras, scholars
have had to study monuments in both cities. But there is a
mysterious 10-year gap in the historical record between the
death of Shield Jaguar III and the ascension of Bird Jaguar
IV to the throne. Archaeologists refer to this period as the
interregnum. What happened during that period is still
debated by scholars.
Te only mention of a ruler in Yaxchilan during those 10
years comes from Piedras Negras, in a monument named
Panel 3, which seems to be an attempt at propaganda as a
response to Yaxchilans resurgence. Te panel shows Ruler
4 meeting subordinate lords who oer him tribute, and
one of them appears to be the interregnum king. Ruler 4
seems to be scolding this interregnum king of Yaxchilan and
telling him remember who put your father on the throne,
and remember whos the boss here, says Golden. Te name
glyph of this king is partially eroded, obscuring his identity,
but his presence at Piedras Negras probably means that he
was either captured in war or chose to make peace and ally
An archaeologist sits next to the largest
building at the site of Tecolote in Guatemalas
Petn rain forest. The building probably served
as a temple or royal residence. 39
uring excavations in Pompeii in the mid-nineteenth century, Italian
archaeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli began to encounter voids in the solidied ash
and pumice from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that had buried the town
in a.d. 79. By pouring plaster into the voids and removing the ll around the plaster
after it had hardened, Fiorelli discovered that the voids were in fact the spaces left by
the decomposed bodies of Pompeians killed by the volcano. As soon as they came
out of the earth the plaster casts became direct evidenceartifacts, not just records
of artifactsof these people at the particular moment of their deaths. Te casts, and
dozens of others made since, using the same technique, also became iconic symbols of
the human toll the eruption took that day.
An artist interprets
the ancient citys
most evocative
by Jarrett A. Lobell
Artist Gary Staab measures
and photographs the
plaster cast of a small
child in the Garden of
the Fugitives in order
to create a model of the
original cast.
ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 40
got there, I was just blown away. He had only three days
to do all his eldwork. Apart from the necessary tasks of
measuring and photographing the originals, being on-site
in Pompeii was crucial to Staab. Its really important to
me to get a sense of place. Te best thing you can do to
understand someone, to relate to them, even after they are
gone, is to try to walk in their shoes and to see what they
saw, he says. Te beauty of it all is on the human level as
you lie in the dust where these people died. I was crawling
on the ground and lying in the pumice with small bits of
artifacts and rubble under me, Staab adds. Just as Fiorelli
may have done.
Before he went to Pompeii, Staab looked at old photos
that showed some of the casting techniques. But actually see-
ing the casts gave him the insights he was after. When I got
there, I tried to put myself in the minds of the original cast-
ers because it really helped me understand how these casts
were made, says Staab. For example, he learned that in the
Almost 150 years after Fiorelli made his rst cast, art-
ist Gary Staab was commissioned to make models of four
original Pompeian casts for a special exhibition on Pompeii
in New York (Vesuvius Strikes Again, May/June, 2011). In
doing so, Staab created a new type of evidence. His models
record not only these individuals deaths, but also the context
in which the original casts were fashioned by Fiorelli and
later archaeologists. Staabs models are not precise replicas of
these earlier casts, but rather interpretations of them. Tey
are a product of technologies and materials not previously
available and also of Staabs own input as an artist.
taab is known for creating some of the worlds
most impressive museum models, bringing life to
dinosaurs and Inca sacricial victims, and for having
made the only replica of King Tuts mummy. And while he
was aware of the Pompeii casts, he had never seen them
in person or been to the site. Staab recalls, As soon as I
Fiorellis Merchant
The software then
reconciled the
hundreds of photos of the
figure in order to create a 3-D
image, which was then checked
for accuracy against physical
measurements made in the field.
In order to create an
accurate model of
the original cast of what
is commonly referred to
as Fiorellis Merchant,
the first step was to get
precise measurements in
his photographs. Staab
employed specially
made scale bars that
are recognized by a 3-D
modeling program called
AgiSoft Photoscan.
The data was sent to
a computer-navigated
cutter in Texas, which then
milled the figure out of high-
density foam. 41
then, with a thin layer of plaster and tooled in the details to
match the original. My job is to be as true to the artifact as
possible, explains Staab. Although its inevitable that some
of the artists hand is shown in the surface details, I do my
best to keep a faithful eye and a steady hand when it comes
to capturing and producing a model. For example, he tried
to reproduce even the patches that covered the holes into
which the plaster had been poured.
Staab believes that the nature of his work allows him to
connect with the past in an intimate way. I am a person
with a highly active imagination and theres a lot of emo-
tion, whether its looking at Aztec sacricial knives, Olduvai
Gorge pebble tools, or the people of Pompeii. Tey all carry
their own weight, if you will, as artifacts. And the models
that Staab has created will now also become part of the
archaeological record.
Jarrett A. Lobell is executive editor of Archaeology.
areas where there is only a little esh covering the bones, like
ngers and toes, only a small amount of plaster was able to
make it into those spaces after the esh decayed. Te original
casters had to ll those parts in a second time, and the plaster
pooled up, obscuring the shape of the hand or foot. Tis
explains the blocky look of many of the casts extremities.
In addition, several of the casts showed evidence of a post-
excavation patch job in the spot where the archaeologists had
made a hole through which to pour the plaster.
isiting Pompeii helped Staab determine the
technique he would use to create his own models
once he returned. Tey would be made of high-den-
sity foam, reinforced with steel rods at their core. Although
Staab had initially planned to coat them using a plastic resin
like material to reproduce surface details, he changed his
mind. I decided that nothing looks more like plasterthan
plaster. After Staab made the foam models, he coated them
Since the milling process captures the figures overall
shape but none of the subtle surface details, Staab
coated the foam in a thin layer of plaster. He then sculpted in
the details so that his model matched the appearance of the
original cast as closely as possible.
After the foam model was cut, Staab placed three steel
rods inside in order to reinforce and stabilize it.
After all the fine detail work was completed,
Staab saturated the model with an industrial-
strength epoxy resin to increase its durability. Finally,
the Merchant was painted, crated, and sent to New
York for the Pompeii exhibition.
Perched high above an important pass
between Central Asia and the road to India,
the fortifications of Cheshm-e Shafa were
a crucial stronghold for a succession of
empires for more than 1,500 years beginning
in the 5th century
oday, Cheshm-e Shafa in northern Afghanistan has spec-
tacular views but a forlorn, end-of-the-world air. Broken
stone walls once stood high upon a steep and barren hillside.
Far below, a river snakes through a narrow dele, an empty
highway hugging its banks. To the north lie the open steppes;
in the south, the jagged peaks of the distant Hindu Kush
mountain range rear up in the haze.
But during the fourth century b.c., at the height of the Persian Empire,
Cheshm-e Shafa was more than just a spot from which to view a dramatic
landscape. It was an impressive fortication that controlled the strategic pass
between the rugged plains of Central Asia and the road to the rich lowlands of
India. Te high walls may also have protected an important Zoroastrian temple
and a long-lost city that lies just below. A team of French archaeologists has
now begun the rst comprehensive excavation of a site that oers a rare glimpse
into the eastern half of one of the worlds great empires.
he Persians who fortified this dramatic pass created what
was, at the time, the worlds largest, wealthiest, and most ethnically
diverse empire. Also called Achaemenids, after their founding father,
Achaemenes, this tribe of horsemen burst out of their native Iran in 550 b.c.
after crushing their former rulers, the Medes. Under Cyrus the Great, the
Achaemenids conquered Babylon, then the greatest city in the world, and
began to expand toward the Mediterranean. By 522 b.c. Cyrus son, Cambyses
II, had conquered Egypt and pushed his empires boundaries as far south as
todays Sudan. Any dissent was quickly snued out with an iron st, notes John
Simpson, an archaeologist at the British Museum in London.
Te Achaemenids were capable of more than impressive martial victories,
however. Greek and Persian texts, as well as statues and friezes from the period
uncovered during the past two centuries, point to a government careful to allow
locals to retain their religions and traditionsCyrus famously allowed the Jews
to return from Babylon after their exile and rebuild their temple in Jerusalem.
In some regions, such as Cyprus, local rulers were even permitted to continue
their reign, as long as they provided tax revenues. Te empire was based on a
notion of pluralistic hegemony, says Margaret Cool-Root, an archaeologist at
An ancient Afghan fortress offers rare evidence
of Persias forgotten eastern territories
by Andrew Lawler
Iran as far as the Indus River in todays
Pakistanremain, by comparison,
scarce. Tere have been tantalizing
glimpses of what further research
may uncover. Te extraordinary Oxus
Treasure, a collection of 170 gold piec-
es found in southern Tajikistan and
acquired by the British in the 1880s,
demonstrates the power and wealth
of the region in Achaemenid times.
Excavations in southern Afghanistan
in the last century revealed several
Achaemenid administrative buildings
dating to the fourth century b.c., while
digs at Akra in northwest Pakistan,
which were cut short by the 2001 ter-
rorist attacks, show a thriving Achaemenid trade entrepot
from the same era. But today much of the region remains
o-limits to archaeologists because of war, logistics, or poli-
tics, and textual clues are still frustratingly few. We know
the west so well, says Cool-Root. Anything that peels back
the layers in the east is exciting.
heshm-e Shafa offers archaeologists a
chance to do just that. Te site lies less than an hours
drive from the ancient city of Balkh in northern
Afghanistan, the metropolis long considered to be the capital
of the vast Persian province called Bactria. At Cheshm-e
Shafa, the Balkh River streams out of the Hindu Kush and
pushes its way into the Central Asian plains at the narrow
pass before owing on to the Amu Darya, the ancient Oxus
River. Te high hills of the pass make it easily defensible.
Until recently, this locations signicance went largely
unnoticed by Westerners. Traveling through the pass just
before World War II, Alfred Foucher, who founded the
French archaeological mission to Afghanistan, noted briey
the University of Michigan. Tere were multiple centers,
and the king served as a kind of overarching deity for a vast
multicultural arena.
By ensuring peace and promoting trade, the Achaemenids
ushered in an unprecedented period of prosperity in a vast
area half a millennium before Rome reached the apex of its
power. At its peak, the empire covered three million square
milesmore than that of either Rome or the Chinese Han
Dynasty at their largest in the rst century a.d. Te taxes
gathered from conquered peoples allowed the Achaemenids
to create monumental cities, build dependable roads stretch-
ing from Anatolia to Afghanistan, and construct caravan
stops to protect and encourage merchants, as well as to
ensure royal couriers could travel quickly across long dis-
tances. Te Royal Road, from Sardis in todays Turkey to
Susa in todays Iran, provided regular way stations through
territory free from danger, says the fth-century b.c. Greek
historian Herodotus.
ost of what we know about the Persian
Empire, however, comes
from its western half. Greek
authors on the empires western fringe
wrote copiously about the Persians,
whom they both admired and abhorred.
And Achaemenid monumental inscrip-
tions, tablets, and carvings have been
found primarily in their heartland
around the old capital, Pasagardae, and
the nearby ceremonial city of Persepolis
in southwestern Iran.
Archaeological and textual evidence
of the empires eastern halfwhich
stretched from the deserts of eastern
Achaemenid Empire, 4th century
Archaeologist Nicolas Engel of the
French mission in Afghanistan shows
Afghan student Yama Hafiz a hole left
by looters searching for Achaemenid-
period artifacts.
For nearly two millennia after they
were constructed, a succession of empires
repaired and rebuilt the fortications
laid by the Achaemenids at this strategic
point. Te walls that stretch across the
hillside and cling to high clis remained
in use until the arrival of the Mongols in
the thirteenth century a.d. Marquis says
it remains unclear how large a popula-
tion lived on the high terrace or what the
buildings functions may have been. Right now we can only
say that there are numerous buildings of the Achaemenid
period, explains Marquis, and that the site had a capacity
to house a huge population. Te chain of walls that swoops
down the northern side of the mountain also enclose what
may be a very rare Achaemenid re altar (see sidebar). And
on the plain below, where the river rushes out of the pass,
are the walled remains of a large and still mostly unexcavated
settlement that may extend back to Persian times.
Cheshm-e Shafa has yet to yield the dramatic artifacts,
such as gold drinking vessels or clay tablets, that often
characterize Achaemenid sites. Tere has been extensive
looting, as evidenced by the pits covering the hillside that
are the work of poverty-stricken modern villagers eager to
nd stray coins or statues to sell. Foucher also mentions
seeing treasure hunters during his visit, and the decades
of invasion, civil war, and economic crisis make it challeng-
ing to piece together what may have happened to this class
of artifact. Nicolas Engel of the French mission says that
local workers report that they have seen thin, hammered-
that the locals called the site Kar Qualeh, or Fortress of
the Indel. He suspected it to be of great antiquity. It
dominates the valley on the old route to India, with walls
a kilometer around, he later wrote. But whether it was
captured by Alexander the Great when he arrived in Bactria
[in the fourth century b.c.], none can say.
Seventy years after Fouchers visit, French mission chief
Roland Besenval spotted Achaemenid potsherds while sur-
veying the area in 2007. Tough the results of radiocarbon
dating of organic remains at the site are not complete, based
on the more than 3,000 pottery sherds he collected, Besenval
believes that the site dates from the sixth century b.c. A
Persian presence in this distant eastern outpost at such an
early stage of the empire, which only began around 550 b.c.,
surprises researchers. Tis is tremendous archaeological
evidence, says Deborah Klimburg-Salter of the University
of Vienna. It may also be an indication that the empire grew
faster than once imagined.
he size of Cheshm-e Shafa, an enormous three-
tiered area covering more than
a square mile, makes the task
of excavation daunting, particularly in a
region where the Taliban have recently
made inroads. Since 2007, current
French mission director Philippe Mar-
quis has probed the walls of the high
fort perched near the top of the eastern
side of the gorge. On the steep slope on
top of the hill, Marquis and his team
have uncovered remains of massive
fortication walls as well as the stone
foundations of sturdy, rectangular-
shaped Achaemenid-era buildings.
The well-preserved walls and houses
high on the steep slopes of Cheshm-e
Shafa were likely constructed in the
Achaemenid period and reused for more
than a thousand years.
The ancient city of Balkh is said to have
been the home of Zoroaster, founder of
Zoroastrianism. This religion was likely
practiced in Cheshm-e Shafa, less than an
hours drive from Balkh.
ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 46
at the center of Zoroastrian ritu-
als, but they have been thought by
some academics to be a much later
development, in the early centuries
a.d. At Cheshm-e Shafa in north-
ern Afghanistan, however, Nicolas
Engel, working with a team led by
Philippe Marquis (see feature story),
has found a large free-standing altar
enclosed within the remains of a
massive building dating to at least
the fourth century b.c.
Grenet believes that the struc-
ture is in fact an early re temple,
and that the altar is an important
nd, although other archaeologists
are skeptical at this juncture. Te
nd is also reviving an old debate
over whether the Achaemenids
were practicing Zoroastrians. While
Grenet believes they were, others
say the Achaemenid kings may have
embraced Zoroasters reforms or
promoted a return to the older pan-
theon, or possibly both, at dierent
times during their reigns from the
sixth to the fourth centuries b.c.
According to Bruce Lincoln of the
University of Chicago, the evidence
is utterly ambiguous, and he sug-
gests that Achaemenids were Mazdians, devoted to Ahura
Mazda, but not as a single deity. Margaret Cool-Root of the
University of Michigan agrees. Ahura Mazda was one god of
many, she says. Tis was not a monotheistic environment.
y the early centuries a.d., alongside the Zoro-
astrian re altars, there were Christian churches,
Jewish synagogues, and Buddhist monasteries in
what is today Afghanistan. In the seventh century a.d.,
Arab armies vanquished the Sassanian Empirewhich had
ourished in the Middle East starting in the third century
a.d. and which embraced Zoroastrianismmarking the
beginning of a long decline for the faith. Tere is little doubt
that Zoroastrianism left its mark on Judaism, Christianity,
Buddhism, and even Islam. Muslims adopted the idea of
praying ve times a day from the Zoroastrians and Iranians
still celebrate the start of spring, which was the faiths holiest
day. Furthermore, the New Testaments apocalyptic visions
of the battle between good and evil owe much to Zoroastrian
beliefs. And three of Christianitys most cherished gures,
the famous visitors at the birth of Jesus, were magipriests
of the good religion.
rom the early centu-
ries b.c. until the rise of
Islam in the seventh cen-
tury a.d., the Zoroastrian
religion dominated much
of the Middle East and Central
Asia. Today only pockets of what its
adherents call the good religion sur-
vive in Iran, India, and a few Western
countries. But when and how the
belief system originated, what form
its early practices took, and what role
it played in the Achaemenid empire
remain open questions for schol-
ars, given the dearth of textual and
archaeological evidence. Now a new
discovery in Afghanistan, near what
is thought to have been the home of
Zoroaster, the religions founder, may
provide a rare glimpse into the early
days of this inuential religion.
Tradition has it that the prophet
Zoroaster hailed from Balkh, once
a major city on the Silk Road and
now a modest town outside Mazar-
i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan,
although it is not clear exactly when
Zoroaster lived (the dates range
from 1200 to the sixth century b.c.).
Very little is known about either the
preexisting religion that Zoroaster is said to have radically
reformed or the beliefs of the new religion itself. Zoroaster
did leave behind the Gathas, or psalms, which praise the
single deity Ahura Mazda (the Wise Lord), teach followers
to abhor idols, and advocate participation in community life.
But this main source for the religions original beliefs is only
5,660 words long. Tere are a few mentions of aspects of
Zoroastrianism in Mesopotamian texts, such as a document
from ancient Assyria dating to approximately the eighth
century b.c., before the rise of the Achaemenid Empire. Tat
text, according to University of Chicago Assyriologist Mat-
thew Stolper, appears to mention Ahura Mazda.
Te mid-fth century b.c. historian Herodotus says that
the Persians worshipped the sun, moon, and the elements,
especially re. He also insisted that the Persians built no
temples. But this statement, which has been taken for grant-
ed by generations of scholars, is starting to be challenged.
Paris-based archaeologist Frantz Grenet says that two
temples from the Achaemenid period have been identied
recently in Uzbekistan. And at Nush-i-Jan in northeastern
Iran, archaeologists in the 1960s and 1970s uncovered a
sanctuary dating to about 700 b.c. with what appears to be
a small stepped re altar in a niche. Fire altars have long been
Seeking Zoroastrianisms Roots
This enormous carved rock, which was once
contained within a very large building, dates
to the Achaemenid period and may have
been a Zoroastrian fire altar. 47
Most historians have long equated Zariaspa with the
nearby city of Balkh. However, despite a century of digging,
the site of Balkh has yet to yield denitive evidence of an
Achaemenid past. In addition, the rst-century b.c. Greek
writer Strabo dierentiates between Balkh and Zariaspa.
And if Alexander went to Zariaspa to recover from illness,
as Arrian asserts, then Cheshm-e Shafa may have been the
better option. As late as the nineteenth century, Balkh was
known for malaria outbreaks, while Cheshm-e Shafa oers
dry and cool weather.
ntil the French team nds more denitive
evidence, Cheshm-e Shafas identity will remain
a matter of debate. And it will not yield its secrets
easily. Te road to the site from the closest major city,
Mazar-i-Sharif, is not always secure, and the archaeolo-
gists working there must be gone well before nightfall. Te
deteriorating security situation in northern Afghanistan is
forcing the excavators to y into Mazar-i-Sharif from Kabul
rather than drive the route across the Hindu Kush. On top
of that, winter comes early in this region. All these factors
limit the amount of actual excavation time.
Haste is the mother of failure, Herodotus warned the
Persian King Xerxes as he was contemplating war against
the Greeks. And for failure we always pay a heavy price.
But for scholars like Cool-Root, any new evidence, however
scant and however long it takes to collect, will begin to create
a picture of a little-known part of one of the ancient worlds
greatest empires.
Andrew Lawler is a contributing editor at Archaeology.
gold objects, including gold vessels and small gold plaques
attached to clothing, emerge from the site during illegal digs.
Similar vessels and plaques have appeared in Siberian burial
mounds dating to around the fourth century b.c., far from
Achaemenid territory but a sign of its far reach, says Cool-
Root, who adds that there is evidence that wooden doors of
important Achaemenid buildings might have been covered
in strips of gold.
ith no texts and few artifacts beyond pot-
sherds yet recovered from the site, Engel and his
colleagues are searching for other clues in histori-
cal sources to determine what role Cheshm-e Shafa played
during the Achaemenid period. Given the extent of the ruins,
they suspect it may have served as the headquarters for the
Persian governor, or satrap, of the province of Bactria.
Greek historians including Arrian refer to a Persian
stronghold called Zariaspa. Tey also note that the city had
a key role in the destruction of the Achaemenids and the
rise of Alexanders empire. It was here that the last Persian
satrap, Bessus, was mutilated on orders from Alexander for
his role in assassinating his nemesis, King Darius. And it
may be the place where Alexander married Roxanna, the
Afghan princess who bore him his only son.
Archaeologists at Cheshm-e Shafa have uncovered a section of
a well-built Achaemenid-period fortification wall close to what
may have been a massive gate to the complex.
The Balkh River snakes through the pass at Cheshm-e Shafa on
its way to the Amu Darya, a major river in Central Asia.
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thread my legs into snake
guardscanvas chaps with
hard plastic shin covers that
hook to my jeans. Standing beside
a rented van, I see the same scenery
all aroundthick woods scalloped
by broom straw and river cane. I
silently lace muck boots, don an
expedition hat, heft a backpack,
and join a small group of students
preparing to hike into the heart of
the Great Dismal Swamp. I ask the
person standing next to me if the
snake guards stay on all day. I get
a look that I interpret as, Are you
kidding? Ive doused myself with
bug spray, pushed my socks into
my boots, and stowed a half-liter of
water in my bag, along with crackers
and raisins I later realize wont get
me through the days hike.
Te Great Dismal Swamp spans
about 200 square miles of North
Carolina and Virginia, down from
2,000, due in part to an aggres-
sive canal project that divided and
drained it by 1805. Despite that
development and all that has come
since, it lives up to its nameunset-
tling, isolated, and uncivilized. As
we head out, American University
graduate student Cynthia Goode
invites me to stick close. I know
American Refugees

Thousands of escaped slaves made a new life in one of the worlds most
unwelcoming placesthe Great Dismal Swamp, full of sink holes, thorns,
snakes, bears, and bugsfor a chance at self-determination
by Marion Blackburn
ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 50
While accounts from the time
agree that the swamp hid hundreds
or even thousands of escaped slaves,
they lack clear information about
their daily life and social structures.
Heres where the Great Dismal
Swamp Landscape Study, as the
overall project is known, will help.
narrow footbridge, across
a nineteenth-century canal,
tinkles with the gentle sound
of bells to scare o bears. We cross
the bridge, following a route that
lies underwater for much of the
year. Soon we are up to our knees in
muck. We encounter insects, thorny
vines, brush, and brambles so thick
that even after weeks of use this
eld season, the path still needs to
be cleared by machete. After about
2,000 feet, the trail dries and the
land gradually rises. We are close to
one of the raised, interior islands,
with up to 20 acres of clearings and
wooded areas.
Sayers, a tall man with long hair
and a rugged, handsome face, has
explored the Dismal since 2003,
alone or with small teams of stu-
dents and archaeologists, search-
ing for traces left by the maroons.
Tese days, hes fully at home here,
describing landmarks and distances
tiesthe obscurity on which they
dependedoften means they have
been overlooked by historians.
Te Great Dismal Swamp was
long such a sanctuary. Native Amer-
icans found refuge here after Euro-
peans arrived. Soon after, maroons
made their way to the same high
and dry areas, known as mesic
islands, that are found far from the
swamps marshy edges. Te islands
unmatched natural defensesur-
rounded by several boggy miles
allowed complex refugee communi-
ties to arise here, with sustainable
agriculture, commerce, and cultural
arts, Sayers says. Te escaped slaves
threw o captivity and created a
self-reliant subsistence society using
available materials. Starting with
the expansion of slavery after 1660
and continuing until the mid-1800s,
the swamp was a parallel world for
escapees, where maroons could live
freely in a state Sayers calls self-
emancipationa di cult life, but a
free one.
Tere were hardships, says
Sayers. But working in the brutal
cotton elds with overseers, not to
mention life after the days labors
compared to this? You may have to
work for ve hours to grow food, but
there was really a self-reliant ethos.
where the deep holes are, she says.
Te place is so inhospitable that
when it was surveyed in 1728, Col.
William Byrd II, a commissioner
charged with setting a boundary
between North Carolina and Vir-
ginia, wrote, We found the ground
moist and trembling under our feet
like a quagmire, insomuch that it
was an easy matter to run a ten foot
pole up to the head in it, without
exerting any uncommon strength to
do it. He added, Never was rum,
that cordial of life, found more nec-
essary than it was in this dirty place.
We set o from a clearing within
the Great Dismal Swamp National
Wildlife Refuge, about 45 minutes
from its main entrance in Suolk,
Virginia. We are going to an interi-
or site so remote that its impossible
to nd without an experienced guide
like American University anthropol-
ogist Daniel Sayers. Hes spent most
of the past eight years in this place,
searching one shovelful of dirt at a
time for the rare traces of escaped
slaves who made homes in this
unforgiving place. For these fugitive
slaves, known as maroons, facing
the Dismals heat, quicksand, bugs,
snakes, and bears was a reasonable
price for a chance at freedom and
Maroons appear wherever slavery
has existedsuch as in the Carib-
bean and South America. Te
provenance of the term maroon is
unclear. Some trace it to the Span-
ish word cimarrn, which means
wild or runaway slave, but recent
scholarship shows it may have
derived from a Spanish translation
of an ancient Arawak or Taino word
meaning erce and wild. In the
American South, maroons often hid
in swamps to evade the trained dogs,
armed bands of angry whites, and
even soldiers who pursued them.
Te isolation of these communi-
Graduate student Karl Austin and
archaeologist Dan Sayers carefully
remove soil in tiny increments to reveal
traces of a cabin used by escaped
slaves in the Great Dismal Swamp.
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ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 52
mines when sand was last exposed
to natural light, dates the site to
sometime between 1600 and 1759.
We know no one else was out
heretheres no other explanation
for whos building cabins except
what the documents are indicating,
which is that a lot of people ed
here, Sayers says. Indeed, Byrds
1728 survey team came across an
African-American family who
claimed to be free (which Byrd
doubted). Another writer, J.F.D.
Smyth, wrote, Run-away negroes
have resided in these places for
twelve, twenty, or thirty years and
upwards, subsisting themselves in
the swamp upon corn, hogs, and
fowls that they raised on some of
the spots not perpetually under
water, nor subject to be ooded,
as forty-nine parts out of fty are;
and on such spots they have erected
habitations, and cleared small elds
around them.
e walk along a gentle rise
in the clearing to this
years excavation area,
which Sayers calls the crest. About
a dozen students crouch over one-
meter squares with trowels, buckets,
and brushes. Tey are removing soil
one centimeter at a time and sifting
it through a double layer of screens
to capture small artifacts. Te pro-
cess is critical for these maroon sites,
which typically have few artifacts.
No natural rocks are present in the
swamp and maroons scoured the
area for anything leftover from pre-
vious inhabitants.
Cynthia Goode, the doctoral
student who guided me in with the
team, opens a bag containing her
nds from the previous day, taken
from a depth of about three cen-
timeters. An irregular lump about
the size of a ngernail is a piece of
handmade ceramic and a thin piece
of light-colored stone is a quartzite
even some outcast or criminalized
On the other side of the clearing
he indicates the location of a re
pit and at least one cabin, the latter
probably dating to the second half
of the seventeenth century. It was
probably built by refugee slaves, but
the grotto, like most of the swamp,
was home to a succession of com-
munities over the centuries. Here,
Sayers found the partial footprint
of another cabin that appears to
have been set using round posts. A
square posthole, which would have
been made after European contact,
also appears on the site. Between the
posts he found evidence of ll, likely
from logs placed between them.
During more than a year of exten-
sive work at the grotto, he found
evidence of 150 features represent-
ing at least ve cabins, including
one L-shaped section of a struc-
turea doorway and outer wall.
Tese indicate a thriving maroon
community, he believes. Because
the site is so remote, it remained
largely undisturbed except for
wildlife activity. Te architectural
features, when exposed, appear as
dark shapes against the orange clay
soil layer beneath a loose covering of
leaves, organic debris, and peat. A
technique called optically stimulated
luminescence dating, which deter-
as if talking about his backyard. Hes
unfazed by the heat and heavy gear,
and walks among the excavation
squares with a measured, unhurried
pace. Because he is the rst to exca-
vate in the modern swamp, it has
taken time to nd sites, soil features,
and artifacts. Last year he received
a $200,000 We the People award
from the National Endowment for
the Humanities that has allowed
him to dig deeper, enlarge his area of
study, and conduct soil tests.
Some distance through the
woods, we arrive at one of Sayers
earliest study areas, a one-and-a-
half acre area he calls the grotto.
Except for the bugs, its easy to
forget Im in a swamp. Te ground
is crunchy with dead leaves and
free of brush tangles. A deer passes,
then bounds away. With a sweep
of his arm Sayers points out where,
in 2004, he found a semicircle of 83
round postholes. About three inches
below the surface, they likely repre-
sented a structure erected by Native
Americans in the very early histori-
cal period (ca. 16001650). He also
found lead shot, knife-cut bone, and
several stone artifacts. I thought
Okay, we know this is here, lets
expand on it, he says. You have all
this documentation pointing to the
fact that potentially thousands of
people went in there prior to 1800,
Sayers and Austin often have only
changes in soil color to help them
identify habitation sites from the Great
Dismal Swamps refugee community.
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after my visit, they nd white clay
tobacco pipe pieces here. But over-
all, the scarcity and small size of the
artifacts attest to the nonmaterial-
istic nature of the settlements and
form a signicant pillar of Sayers
theories about maroon culture. An
escaped slave would have been aware
that there was little chance of avoid-
ing recapture once he or she left the
swamp to acquire supplies. Sayers
believes the maroons developed a
sense of pride and self-containment
by resisting the exterior worlds val-
ues and materialistic culture.
How that translates on the
ground is that were not going to
nd many outside-world objects,
he says. Te materials I expect
to nd are those available in the
swamp, a lot of organic materials,
animal byproducts, plants, or bas-
kets, [though] I havent found much
preserved wood. On the ip side,
the indigenous Americans had used
these areas for thousands of years,
so there was some mining for stu
that was already there. Once they
had these items, Sayers says, they
near the surface indicates they were
found and reused by later residents,
probably maroons. Nearby, a dark
soil patch indicates a trench between
what appears to be more round
postholes. Sayers has seen such
trenches between posts throughout
the excavation. Its possible Native
Americans and maroons both used
trenches to stabilize posts for what
were likely wattle-and-daub houses.
Riccio has exposed two ceramic
pieces aligned with the posthole.
One is larger than a golf ball, a sig-
nicant size for the site. Te day
ake created during tool-making.
Teres also a piece of lead shot and
an iron nail covered in corrosion.
For this site, its quite a haul. Goode
chose American University because
of the Dismal Swamp project and
hopes to continue it by excavating
outside the swamp in now-developed
areas, where logging began sometime
around 1800 when the canal was
built, an act that changed the dynam-
ics of maroon and swamp life forever.
Were trying to gure out
to what extent the maroons may
have communicated with these
edge groups, she says. Te goal
is testing the model of maroon
settlement in areas that are outside
the swamp, where slaves would have
been logging.
In a nearby area called the north
plateau, graduate student Jordan
Riccio is working on a telling inden-
tation. It appears that a round post
sat here in a hole lined with ancient
Native American ceramic pieces, of
the Croaker Landing style (1200
800 b.c.). Under normal circum-
stances, these pieces would be far
deeper in the soil; their presence so
ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 54
Later canals and development, such as
Jericho Ditch, made the Great Dismal
Swamp somewhat more navigable,
which helped end its days as a refuge
for escaped slaves.
Goods and raw materials were scarce
in the swamp. This posthole, perhaps
part of a maroon cabin, was lined with
pieces of Native American pottery to
help stabilize it.
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as well as commerce outside it. Te
Dismal Swamp Canal Company
incorporated in 1784, and laborers
were hired freedmen as well as slaves
commissioned from landowners so
that work could begin in 1793. Te
next 12 years brought changes to
the maroon communities, as some
people assumed jobs on the canal
and moved away. Other canal labor-
ers may have temporarily lived in
maroon settlements. Say-
ers and others believe
that from this time for-
ward, contact between
maroons and the out-
side world increased.
As more logging for
cypress shingles took
place in the swamp,
maroons may have
exchanged work for
goods with companies
that overlooked their
fugitive status. Eventu-
ally the communities
dwindled, so that after the
Civil War, they were mostly
deserted. A few hermits, living
in the occasional cabin, may have
What they left behindthe
nails, glass fragments, and shadow
cabin outlineswill lead to a fuller
picture of this unique American
resistance movement. Specically,
this work might be able to tell us
more about how the escaped slaves
cooperated with their Native Amer-
ican swamp neighbors, how they
fought o armed militias that came
searching for them, and how they
managed to survive for decades in
this mysterious place.
Te Great Dismal Swamp Land-
scape Study will change the way we
think about runaway slave culture in
the Southand around the world.
Traditionally, little work has been
done on these maroon swamp com-
munities, but they are pervasive
in the region: New Orleans and
the swamps of Alabama, Florida,
Georgia, and South Carolina have
signs of maroon life. Yet they have
a chip comes o the bowl,
theyre going to use it. Same if
the stem breaks.
Te scarcity of artifacts
means that excavations will
remain problematic and inter-
pretation will depend on a larger
context. Te Dismal Swamp is
acidic and wet, says Warren Perry,
anthropologist and director of the
Archaeology Laboratory for African
and African Diaspora Studies at
Central Connecticut State Uni-
versity. Maroons, Perry adds, are
in these places so people dont nd
them. Youre going to have limited
artifacts. People arent going to build
big towns, because that will get you
caught. In maroon sites in Jamaica,
theres a lot more material, but still
not a bunch.
We see sites themselves as arti-
facts, he continues. Te location
and the distribution of these sites
across the landscapes begin to tell us
ayers believes maroon culture
underwent signicant changes
after the canal projects began,
leading to logging inside the swamp
used and reused them until almost
nothing remained. Even akes of
stone that resulted from sharpening
a prehistoric point would be used,
as would any man-made object. For
example, excavations have uncov-
ered reused pieces of lead shot,
gunint, glass, and chipped stone, as
well as a reworked projectile point.
Tis consistent reuse of materials is
another distinction of the site.
In the Dismal, traces of settle-
ment are ephemeral. It could reect
shortness of time of use. Tese peo-
ple had such a low-impact footprint,
its just not the kind of feature that
historical archaeologists are used to
seeing, Sayers says. Ive worked on
sites throughout the country and
this really is unique. Some might
nd it boringheres a collection
of stu, and its all the size of a
pennybut the signature makes it
fascinating because its so connected
with their community and how they
ran things.
If they found a bottle, and it
broke, they are going to use the
pieces. Youre not going to have a
whole bottle thrown into a pit. If
they acquire a white clay pipe, and
ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 56
A few tiny artifacts represent an average days haul at the Great Dismal
Swamp. Tools and other necessities were so scarce that the swamps
residents reused and reworked whatever they had, such as the Native
American Morrow Mountain point at right.
Civil W
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was limited or that slaves only
escaped with the help of benevolent
whites. Instead, he says, refugee
communities existed throughout
the region. We have to get away
from the idea that they are few and
far between, Perry says. Its much
more prevalent than we thought.
While this dig and others to
come could eventually give us a
better idea of the lives of maroons,
much will remain a mystery. Say-
ers says hes yet to nd descendants
of these swamp dwellers, who may
know the names or stories of some
refugees. Teir survival depended
on their ability to disappear, so our
understanding of them may always
be partial, hidden by the extraordi-
naryand welcomingsecrecy of
the Dismal.
Marion Blackburn is a freelance
writer based in Greenville, NC.
been largely excluded from study,
in part because they are di cult to
reach and the artifacts so scarce. Such
communities have been much bet-
ter examined around the world, and
their historical signicance noted.
For instance, in Jamaica in 1740, the
British freed maroons and gave them
2,500 acres, as long as they returned
future escaped slaves. Revolutionary
maroons in Haiti established a nation
in 1804, and maroons in Suriname
gained sovereign status in the 1800s
after attacking nearby plantations.
While the American maroons
never succeeded in claiming freedom
for themselves in that way, there are
commonalities with other refugees
around the world, such as establishing
a resistance community in thick jun-
gles, rugged terrains, and di cult sur-
roundings. Tis project is tting into
that global view, Sayers says. But in
North America, theres not as much
discussion of maroons. You talk
about runaways, but its fragmented.
For instance, the Underground Rail-
road was a maroon movement, but
is often considered apart from these
other maroon eorts. Its both glori-
ed and separated. Sayers asserts that
this is because of the involvement of
benevolent white people. We need to
start thinking of processes such as the
Underground Railroad as part of this
global marronage, he says. Sojourner
Truth, Frederick Douglass, and Har-
riet Tubman should be considered
key maroon gures. As a step in con-
necting them, the Dismal became
the rst National Wildlife Refuge to
be o cially designated a link in the
Underground Railroad Network
to Freedom in 2003. A new public
exhibit at the refuge is expected to
open in fall 2011.
Te Underground Railroad
is lauded, while maroons remain
nameless fugitives, Sayers says. In
the traditional view, its the ight
thats important, not the lives that
maroons led after ight.
According to Perry, Sayers work
will debunk misconceptions about
slaveryspecically that resistance
ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011 58
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Great Dismal Swamp, fueled a logging
boom in the early 1800s that brought
the outside world to the isolated refuge.
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Materials for the November/December 2011
issue are due September 7, 2011.
Photo Credits
COVER Justin Kerr; 1Courtesy
Sierra del Lacandon Regional
Archaeology Project; 2Washington
Post/Getty Images, Royal Museums of
Art and History, Brussels, Smithsonian
National Zoo/flickr; 4Courtesy Bruno
Alva Meneses; 9Washington Post/
Getty Images; 10Courtesy The Lake
Ponchartrain Basin Maritime Museum,
Courtesy The Greater New Orleans
Archaeology Program; 12AP Photo/
The News & Observer, Robert Willet,
Courtesy Djedi Team; 13Courtesy
Melissa Lutz Blouin, University of
Arkansas; 15 Courtesy Cambridge
University; 16Courtesy University
of Maryland, Courtesy Mark Horton,
University of Bristol, Courtesy Carlo
Beltrame, Universita Ca Foscari
Venezia, Courtesy Dennis Van Gerven,
University of Colorado, Courtesy
Getty Conservation Institute, Daniel
Chong Kah Fui/flickr; 17Courtesy
Ludovic Slimak, Universite de Toulouse
le Mirail, Courtesy WF 16 Project,
David Oliver, Smithsonian National
Zoo/flickr, Courtesy P.J. Cherian,
KCHR and Pattanam Excavations;
20-21Imaginechina; 22Courtesy
Cui Yong; 23Imaginechina (3);
24Imaginechina (2); 26-29Courtesy
Bruno Alva Meneses; 30Courtesy
Jude Isabella; 31Courtesy Jude
Isabella; 32Courtesy Georgia Combes,
Courtesy Jude Isabella; 33Courtesy
Jude Isabella (2); 34-35Courtesy Sierra
del Lacandon Regional Archaeology
Project; 36Courtesy Peabody
Museum, President and Fellows of
Harvard University; 37Courtesy of the
Penn Museum; 38Courtesy Sierra del
Lacandon Regional Archaeology Project;
39Courtesy Lissi Staab; 40Courtesy
Staab Family (3); 41Courtesy Owen
Staab, Courtesy Max Staab, Courtesy
Toby McFarland Pond; 42-47Courtesy
Andrew Lawler; 49Courtesy Dan
Sayers; 50Marion Blackburn;
52Marion Blackburn; 54Courtesy
Dan Sayers; Marion Blackburn; 56
Marion Blackburn Courtesy Dan Sayers;
58Courtesy Dan Sayers; 68 Royal
Museums of Art and History, Brussels
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n April , the AIA added
two more archaeological sites,
both located in Ireland, to the
growing list of projects being
supported by the Institutes Site
Preservation Program. Money to
help save the Irish sites was raised
through a special pledge drive held
at the AIA Annual Spring Gala.
Te two sites, the Blackfriary
at Trim in County Meath and
the Dominican Priory at Tulsk in
County Roscommon, are being
investigated, conserved, and devel-
oped as part of larger and more
comprehensive projects that will
integrate the archaeological sites
more fully into the future develop-
ment plans for the local communi-
ties surrounding the sites. Te pri-
mary motivation for both projects
is to make the archaeological sites
an essential part of the community,
transforming them from potential
liabilities to assets. Te repair and
use of an archaeological site for
educational and economic purposes
is a guiding principle of the AIA Site
Preservation Program. Archaeologi-
cal sites were a part of the fabric of an
ancient community and with proper
planning and management they can
become an integral part of the mod-
ern community as well.
The Blackfriary at Trim,
County Meath
Founded by Georey de Geneville,
Lord of Trim, in 1263, the historic
signicance and considerable
importance of the Blackfriary at
Trim is evidenced by its choice as the
location for a meeting of Irish bishops
in 1291. Today the Friarys remains
lie buried under a ve-acre eld that
Saving Irish Sites!
is bounded by council houses and
local businesses. Te undeveloped
site is viewed as a problem rather
than a resource, and has come under
signicant development pressure in
recent years.
AIA funds are being used to assist
an academic research program and
eld school started at the Friary in
2010. Te program will excavate and
conserve the site, and will publish
their ndings; provide university-
accredited training for students;
and rescue the site from dereliction
and development by making it an
amenity that can be used by local
residents as a tourist destination and
community-accessible space. Te
program is designed to engage the
local community throughout the
life of the project with the ultimate
goal of handing over responsibility
for the site to the local council and
community. Trough the project,
program directors are interested in
showing how archaeological work
can contribute to community devel-
opment so that members will iden-
tify with the site, ensuring its pres-
ervation for generations to come.
The Dominican Priory at
Tulsk, County Roscommon
Te Dominican Priory at Tulsk is
a Recorded Monument and a Pro-
tected Structure, but the standing
remains of the priory are in ruinous
condition. Te Priory was the main
ecclesiastical site for the OConnor
Kings since it was built in 1448. It
was later fortied and occupied by
English government troops.
Plans are for AIA funds to be
used to assist with the stabiliza-
tion and conservation of existing
structures and the development
of the ruins for tourism. Increased
tourist tra c to the area will benet
local businesses and allow the resi-
dents to avail themselves of the eco-
nomic potential of the archaeological
remains in a sustainable and respon-
sible manner.
Te community-driven project is
supported by Roscommon Commu-
nity Council and the National Monu-
ments Service. Te renovated Priory
will be incorporated into the larger
development of the medieval village
of Tulsk, which in turn is part of the
internationally recognized Rathcro-
gan Complex, a signicant ancient
Irish site popular with tourists.
The Blackfriary at Trim (above) and
the Dominican Priory at Tulsk
ach year AIA Local Societies
advance the Institutes mission
through public programs and
activities that inform and educate
thousands of people about archaeolo-
gy and the importance of our cultural
heritage. Te Local Society Outreach
Grant Program provides funding to
support these programs. Here are this
years winners and their programs:
Te Bozeman Society will
present Roman Fresco Workshop
Techniques, a weeklong program that
examines the creation of Roman-style
wall paintings. Participants will study
Roman workshop organization, the
use of pattern books, imitation versus
emulation, creation and maintenance
of paint formulas within a workshop,
various techniques of applying plaster
coats for Roman wall paintings,
methods of creating a puntata, and
the practice of repairing or inserting
a section into an earlier wall painting
and concealing the repair and the new
artists hand.
Troughout the fall, the Central
Missouri Society will present Te
Ancient World on Film, a program
that includes four screenings of lms
on the ancient world and a lecture to
complement an upcoming exhibition,
Te Mediterranean Melting Pot:
Commerce and Cultural Exchange in
Antiquity, that will be shown at the
Museum of Art and Archaeology at
the University of Missouri from Sep-
tember 20 to December 24.
Te Los Angeles Society will
organize ARC SMART, an AIA
outreach project to sixth-graders in
public schools in Los Angeles. ARC
SMART provides AIA members and
local archaeology students with the
opportunity to connect with children
in Los Angeles public schools in order
to build interest in the AIA and the
archaeology of the Mediterranean,
Egypt, and Near Eastern regions.
AIA members and student volunteers
will take fun, California state stan-
dards-based archaeology activities to
sixth-grade classrooms.
Te Minnesota Society will pres-
ent Students in Archaeology: Poster
Presentation of Recent Fieldwork.
Undergraduate and graduate stu-
dents from at least six institutions in
Minneapolis and St. Paul who have
recently participated in archaeological
eld work will be invited to present
posters of their work.
Te Ottawa Society, in partner-
ship with the University of Ottawas
Museum of Classical Studies, is
introducing archaeology to the class-
room through the creation of a unit
entitled Archaeology in the Ancient
Mediterranean, which will become
a part of the grade ve curriculum of
the Ottawa Public School Board.
Te Salem Society is continuing
to make archaeology accessible to
Local Society Outreach Grant Winners
the Mid-Willamette Valley deaf and
hearing-impaired community by pro-
viding sign language interpreters at
each of the societys lectures.
Te Vancouver Society, with the
assistance of archaeologists from the
University of British Columbia and
the Museum of Anthropology, and
graduate students from the Classical,
Near Eastern, and Religious Studies
and Anthropology departments will
present, Objects of Purpose, Objects
of Prestige: Celebrating Ancient
Artifacts at the University of British
Columbias Museum of Anthropology.
Te daylong workshop celebrates the
rich archaeological collections housed
in the Museum of Anthropology at
the University of British Columbia.
n the July/August issue
of Dispatches we announced the
rst National Archaeology Day.
We now have a date! On October
22, 2011, the Archaeological Insti-
tute of America and its 108 Local
Societies invite you to join us in
a celebration of archaeology and
share the thrill of discovery during
the rst National Archaeology Day.
Troughout the month of October
and on October 22 in particular,
the AIA and its societies across
the United States and Canada will
National Archaeology Day is October 22, 2011
present archaeological programs
and activities in more than 100 cit-
ies for people of all ages and inter-
ests. Whether it is a family-friendly
archaeology fair, a guided tour of a
local archaeological site, a simulated
dig, a lecture, or a classroom visit
from an archaeologist, the interac-
tive, hands-on programs presented
by the Institute and our societies
will provide you with the chance to
indulge your inner Indiana Jones.
To nd out about events near you,







Upcoming Events
October 22, 2011: AIAs inaugural National
Archaeology Day
January 58, 2012: 113th AIA-APA Joint
Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA
Support the AIAs programs and initiatives.
Become a member at
he AIA recently joined
the International Coalition to
Protect Egyptian Antiquities.
Te coalition is led by the George
Washington University Capitol
Archaeological Institute and
includes the American Schools of
Oriental Research and the National
Geographic Society. In May, coalition
members, including Peter Herdrich,
CEO of the AIA, traveled to Cairo
at the invitation of the Egyptian
government for a series of meetings
with senior Egyptian o cials and
private sector and archaeological
experts. Te Coalition and the
Ministry of Foreign Aairs of Egypt
reached a mutual agreement to
cooperate on a comprehensive plan
to protect Egypts archaeological and
cultural heritage sites and artifacts,
which are an essential cornerstone of
tourism revenue in Egypt and vital
to supporting a successful economy.
Te Ministry and the Coalition
formed a public-private partnership
and agreed to develop a framework
that commits resources to improve
site protection, including protective
AIA Joins the International Coalition to Protect Egyptian Antiquities
walls at archaeological sites and
increased training of law enforcement
personnel, a nationwide satellite
imagery analysis initiative, a complete
database of Egypts antiquities based
on inventories of Egypts museums
and storage facilities, an education
and awareness campaign, and longer-
term small business and green
archaeological site programs.
Egyptian antiquities and sites
are among the most historically
signicant and important in the
world. In times of political transition,
ancient sites and artifacts are often
targets of international crime and
illicit activity, said Deborah Lehr,
Capitol Archaeological Institute
chairman. We commend the
government of Egypt for its eorts
and are delighted to be working
together to develop and implement
short- and long-term solutions
to ensure protection of Egypts
invaluable cultural heritage.
Tis is a landmark agreement and
establishes a new system for all of us
to work on our mutual goal of pro-
tecting Egypts archaeological sites,
said Herdrich. Its a great day for
archaeology in Egypt.
The AIA Site Preservation Program is
pleased to announce the creation of a
Site Preservation Internship for graduate
students. Interns will develop and maintain
communication networks between
professionals working with cultural
resources in countries around the world;
compile reports detailing the nature
of heritage management frameworks
within selected countries; identify key
governmental and non-governmental
figures with influence over cultural
resources and national policies related
to protecting heritage; and assess the
general state of archaeological materials
within these countries. Interested in
applying for the 2012 internship? Email
New Site Preservation Internship
AIA Encourages Renewal of MoU with Bolivia
n the ongoing effort to advo-
cate for the protection of cultural
heritage around the world, the
AIA encouraged its members to write
letters to the State Departments
Cultural Property Advisory Commit-
tee (CPAC) in favor of renewing the
bilateral agreement or Memoranda
of Understanding (MoU) with the
Republic of Bolivia. Te MoU helps
to protect Bolivias cultural heritage
and restrict the import of undocu-
mented archaeological objects from
the South American country. Tank
you to all of you who wrote letters in
support of the renewal.
Previously, the AIA and its mem-
bers have supported the renewal of
the bilateral agreement with Italy and
the creation of one with Greece.
Call: 800-748-6262
Toll: 603-756-2884
Receive our e-newsletters
Download brochures at:
Smal l gr oup t our s wi t h out s t andi ng AI A l e c t ur e r s
For Detailed Information:
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March 2012
Jim Gordon

68 ARCHAEOLOGY September/October 2011
Here I lie victorious, Diodorus the wretched. After breaking my opponent Demetrius,
I did not kill him immediately. But murderous Fate and the cunning treachery of the
summa rudis killed me Epitaph
or modern athletes, there is nothing more frustrating than a
referees blown call. It can cost the player a touchdown or a home run, but in
the case of the ancient Roman gladiator Diodorus, it cost him his life.
Although Diodorus had, in fact, beaten his opponent Demetrius and taken
his swordthe moment
depicted on this marble
tombstonethe referee
intervened, allowing
Demetrius to get up and
keep ghting, a decision
that led to Diordorus
demise. But was the
referee, an o cial in the arena with the
gladiators known as the summa rudis
(chief stick), within his rights to make
this call? Despite their great popularity
in the Roman world, surprisingly little is
known about the rules of gladiatorial
contests. By focusing on the scene and
the epitaph together, Roman historian
Michael Carter of Brock University
thinks he has found rare evidence that
there were, in fact, rules that governed
the combatants, including the right of
the gladiator to submit before he was
seriously harmed. Te epitaph also
makes it clear that the summa rudis was
able to intervene in order to interpret the
rules. Carter believes that understanding
how the contests actually operated is key
to understanding how spectators
experienced this central social activity. If
this were simply murder on display,
says Carter, thats one thing. But since it
seems to have been a spectacle of
professional gladiators ghting according
to established rules and procedures, then
that is something quite dierent.
Tombstone for the
gladiator Diodorus
2nd to 3rd century a.d.
Samsun, northern
Turkey (ancient
18 by 12 inches
Muse du
Northern India (21 Days)
Visit the palaces and fortresses of the
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Buddhist temples with Prof. Daniel White, U.
of North Carolina. Tour highlights include the
Taj Mahal, the sacred ghats and temples in
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sculptures and the Neolithic cave paintings
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Archaeological Tours
led by noted scholars
Invites You to Journey Back in Time
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Southern India (24 days)
Join Prof. Daniel White, U. of North
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Jain pilgrimage center at Sravanabelagola
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extraordinary Vijayanagara ruins at Hampi,
a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Northern Maya Kingdoms
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Discover Mexicos Yucatn and Chiapas
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highlights include two days in the highlands
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Palenque, Yaxchiln and Bonampak.
archaeological tours
superb itineraries, unsurpassed service
Israel (17 days)
Discover Israels layers of ancient
history with Dr. Mattanyah Zohar,
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Masada, the amazing fortress
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the Roman/ Crusader port
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and a private reception at
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Thailand and Singapore (18 days)
This new tour examines the long history
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with Prof. Richard Cooler, Northern Illinois
U. Tour highlights include Singapores
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at Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, the ancient
Khmer cities Lopburi, Phimai and Prasat
Phnom Rung, Chiang Mai, an elephant
conservation center, fabulous botanical
gardens and special dance performances.
A year of Irish arts
in America 2011
A trip to Ireland is more afordable than ever. Here, legend and life fow seamlessly
together. So dont be surprised if on your way to the Dublin Theatre Festival, you take
an unexpected detour or two. Wherever you go, youll fnd plenty of friendly folk to
regale you with amazing tales of the Rock of Cashel or the Walled City of Derry.
After all, the Irish are famed for being great storytellers. And even better friends.
For information and great value vaction ofers vist
Events here, vacation there!
visual arts