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July/August 2009 www.archaeology.

org A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America January/February 2013


France: Home Organization 40,000 Years Ago
Death And
Rebirth in
Ancient
Egypt
TOP 10
Discoveries
2012
Plus:
Richard IIIs Grave,
Shark Tooth Trident,
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WORLD TRAVELERS DREAM BOOK
25 Top 10 Discoveries of 2012
ARCHAEOLOGYs editors reveal the
years most compelling finds
32 Mohenjo-Daros New Story
What may be the Bronze Ages
largest city lies on the plains of
Pakistan
BY ANDREW LAWLER
38 Neolithic Europes
Remote Heart
One thousand years of spirituality,
innovation, and social development
emerge from a ceremonial center on
the Scottish archipelago of Orkney
BY KATE RAVILIOUS
45 Te Water Temple of
Inca-Caranqui
Was hydraulic engineering the key to
winning the hearts and minds of a
conquered people?
BY JULIAN SMITH
50 Gateway to the
Netherworld
Spectacular finds reveal the
millennia-long history of one of
Egypts most important sanctuaries
BY MARY-ANN POULS WEGNER
CONTENTS
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2013
VOLUME 66, NUMBER 1
features
34 Over the 90 years of excavation at
Mohenjo-Daro, archaeologists have dug
trenches as deep as 40 feet, exposing 700
years of evidence of occupation at the site.
1
Cover: A tomb painting from Luxor
shows Osiris, the Egyptian god of
the dead. For millennia, Osiris was
worshipped at sites across Egypt,
including the sanctuary of Abydos.
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departments
More from this Issue To learn more about the
pottery found on the Scottish archipelago of Orkney, go
to www.archaeology.org/orkney
Interactive Digs Read about the latest discoveries
at the Minoan site of Zominthos in central Crete and at
Johnsons Island, a Civil War site in Ohio
on the web www.archaeology.org
Archaeological News from around the
worldupdated by 1 p.m. ET every weekday. And
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Stay in Touch Visit Facebook and like
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20
4 Editors Letter
6 From the President
8 Letters
Vandalism at Banganarti, sympathy for the plight
of Hampi, and that other temple at Palenque
9 From the Trenches
The recovery of Richard IIIs remains, DNA and the
archaeological time line, the alchemy behind a
3,500-year-old gold pendant, and three pieces of
Bronze Age obsidian do a trade network make
22 World Roundup
San Franciscos earthquake-ravaged City Hall
unearthed, Dakar oodwaters reveal Neolithic
artifacts, the source of Angkor Wats
sandstone blocks
55 Letter from France
Nearly 20 years of investigation at two rock
shelters in southwestern France reveal the well-
organized domestic spaces of Europes earliest
modern humans
68 Artifact
A mid-nineteenth-century trident illustrates a
changing marine ecosystem in the South Pacic
12
10
3
I
n this issue, we bring you our celebration of the years Top 10 Discoveries (page 25).
As always, it is a walk through time and includes evidence gathered from around
the world at sites in Guatemala, Spain, South Africa, Mexico, Germany, France,
China, Scotland, Israel, and Egypt. Each new discovery is intriguing in its own right and
oers an expanded view of the culture that created it.
Weve gathered features from far and wide for you, as well. Freelance journalist Kate
Ravilious journeyed to the Orkney archipelago in Scotland to bring us the story of
an immense, sophisticated, and long-used Neolithic ceremonial complex. Neolithic
Europes Remote Heart (page 38) details the beauty of the sites architecture, and its
signicance to spiritual life.
Politics likely played a key role in the construction of the Templo de Agua, or
Water Temple, in the Andean highlands of northern Ecuador. In The Water Temple
of Inca-Caranqui (page 45), contributing editor Julian Smith surveys the relationship
that the Inca had to water, and how they may have used this signicant engineering feat
to win hearts and minds in the fteenth century.
Pakistan is home to the long-buried and misunderstood site of Mohenjo-Daro.
Excavations at this Bronze Age settlement, built more than 4,000 years
ago, are beginning to yield more and more evidence that it may well have
been the Indus civilizations largest and most populous city. Contributing
editor Andrew Lawler oers us a view of its citadel, its art, and its brick-
lined streets in Mohenjo-Daros New Story (page 32).
In Gateway to the Netherworld (page 50) archaeologist Mary-
Ann Pouls Wegner brings us the story of the Egyptian site of Abydos,
associated for millennia with Osiris, the god of the dead. There,
generation after generation celebrated a festival dedicated to his
death and rebirth with a variety of rituals, including a half-mile-long
procession through the desert. That procession route, its changing
structures, and the dedicatory artifacts left behind add up to an impressive
view of the power and continuity of myth and religious practice.
Senior editor Nikhil Swaminathan traveled to Frances Dordogne
region this past summer to interview archaeologist Randall White at
the site of two rock shelters that were inhabited by Europes earliest
modern humans some 40,000 years ago. These sites have yielded some
of the earliest-yet-known examples of art on the continent. Letter From
France (page 55) surveys the work that has gone on there since the rst
excavations in 1910, and examines what contemporary digs now tell us
about the manner in which these early people lived.
And when you think youve seen it all, turn to From the Trenches, World Roundup,
and last but not least, a pretty amazing Artifact. You may have to pinch yourself and
ask if you dreamed it up.
ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 4
EDITORS LETTER
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Claudia Valentino
Executive Editor Deputy Editor
Jarrett A. Lobell Samir S. Patel
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Angela M. H. Schuster, Neil Asher Silberman,
Julian Smith
Correspondents
Athens: Yannis N. Stavrakakis
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Washington, D.C.: Sandra Scham
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OMPUTERS HAVE TRANSFORMED so many aspects of modern life and, similarly,
they are transforming how we practice archaeology. From plotting locations via
GIS to rendering buildings using AutoCAD, computer applications now assist
archaeologists in both understanding and presenting the complex data that emerges during
excavation and survey. These applications thus facilitate analytical thinking about a site
and its finds. C. Brian Rose, director of excavations at Gordion in Turkey explains: Every
discovery we make is now entered directly into a GIS database. This means that, at the
push of a button, we can identify the strata in which an artifact type, for example a loom
weight, has been discovered, as well as the dates associated with those strata. We can then
quickly ascertain where and when an activity, in this case weaving, occurred at the site, and
how the locations of the weaving centers changed over time.
Devices such as Apples iPad are
creating other changes in the ways
archaeologists record their data in the
field. Steven Ellis, director of the Pompeii
Archaeological Research Project: Porta
Stabia, introduced the iPad into the
field in 2010, and has been conducting
a completely paperless excavation ever
since. Gone are the old field notebooks
with hand-drawn illustrations of finds.
Instead, Ellis team enters both written
and visual data directly into the tablet, and then uploads it to a shared server. The recorded
data is accessible from any location, and unlike paper records, cant be lost or damaged.
Each tablet can also hold reams of comparative material, which facilitates the interpretation
of data while in the field. A generation ago computers made it possible for scholars to
move away from just looking at pretty pictures on walls and work with massive amounts
of information and data. It was a huge leap forward, says Ellis. Using the iPad to conduct
our excavations is the next one.
More than 20 years ago, Harrison Eiteljorg II founded a research center outside
Philadelphia to promote digitization in archaeology. His Archaeological Computing, a book
fittingly only available in digital form, was but one of the centers many initiatives. I am
proud of his and other AIA members pioneering roles in promoting the use of computers
in archaeology and look forward to seeing how further technological advances transform
archaeology in future years.
ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 6
FROM THE PRESIDENT
Elizabeth Bartman
President, Archaeological Institute of America
Archaeological
Institute of America
Located at Boston University
OFFICERS
President
Elizabeth Bartman
First Vice President
Andrew Moore
Vice President for Outreach and Education
Pamela Russell
Vice President for Professional Responsibilities
Laetitia LaFollette
Vice President for Publications
John Younger
Vice President for Societies
Thomas Morton
Treasurer
Brian J. Heidtke
Chief Executive Officer
Peter Herdrich
Chief Operating Officer
Kevin Quinlan
GOVERNING BOARD
Susan Alcock
Michael Ambler
Carla Antonaccio
Cathleen Asch
Barbara Barletta
David Boochever
Julie Herzig Desnick
Michael Galaty
Greg Goggin
Ronald Greenberg
Michael Hoff
Jeffrey Lamia
Lynne Lancaster
Deborah Lehr
Robert Littman
Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis
Heather McKillop
Shilpi Mehta
Naomi Norman, ex officio
Maria Papaioannou
Eleanor Powers
Paul Rissman
Robert Rothberg
Glenn Schwartz
David Seigle
Chen Shen
Charles Steinmetz
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
Legal Counsel
Mitchell Eitel, Esq.
Sullivan & Cromwell, LLP
Archaeological Institute of America
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www.archaeological.org
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ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 8
LETTERS
Desecration at Banganarti?
I read with great interest Pilgrimage to
Sudan (November/December 2012). In
the portrait of St. Damian in the table
of contents, what, at rst glance, look
like stylized, elongated irises are actually
scratched-o areas where someone has
deliberately scraped away the paint. This is
an act of contempt by a persons enemies.
There is also another deliberate-looking
scratch on the center of St. Damians
forehead. This is the location of the third
eye of wisdom and higher consciousness.
The vandal may have been implying that
St. Damian wasnt a wise or enlightened
man. On page 50, in the image of the king
accompanied by the Archangel Raphael,
the paint has been scraped o both eyes of
both gures. Since much of Banganarti is
so well preserved, these desecrations were
probably the work of a lone vandal.
Amanda Russell
Beverly Hills, CA
Mourning the Loss of Community
In your Letter From India (November/
December 2012), I read with dismay about
the termination of community activity at
the Hampi Bazaar in the medieval city of
Vijayanagara, India. The article was infor-
mative and fairheartbreaking. While a
huge percentage of the world struggles to
make ends meet, a place of community life
and commerce was demolished and turned
into a sterile ruin. It seems the Archaeo-
logical Survey of India, in the name of
preservation and progress, threw the baby
out with the bathwater.
Kathleen Dooley
Joplin, Missouri
Correction
Our November/December 2012 cover
image was misidentied as the Temple
of the Inscriptions. It is actually a photo
of the Temple of the Cross.
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our acknowledging individual letters.
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Tour archaeological sites,
view demonstrations by
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and experience a
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PUEBLO PEOPLES OF
THE RIO GRANDE
2013 TRAVEL ADVENTURES
Explore archaeological sites and
oral histories that link ancient and
contemporary Tewa Pueblo people
of New Mexico.
THE SOUTHERN TEWA
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May 1925, 2013
800.422.8975
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2013 TRAVEL ADVENTURES
July 30Aug. 5, 2013
LATE-BREAKING NEWS AND NOTES FROM THE WORLD OF ARCHAEOLOGY
P
ity poor Richard. Last of
the House of York, last
king of the Plantagenet
line, last English monarch to
die in battle. Richard III (r.
14831485) carries the most
damning of reputations. His
image as a villaindeformed of
body and twisted of mindhas
been rmly established, rst
by historians loyal to his suc-
cessors (the Tudors), and later
in literature and on the stage
and screen. He is known to
have seized the throne from
his young nephews after the
death of his brother, and it is
rumored that he even had them
killed. Thomas More, the Tudor
historian, described him as ill
featured of limes, croke backed,
his left shoulder much higher
then his right. Later, a century
after his death, Shakespeare gave
him few redeeming qualities,
and this to say of himself: And
thus I clothe my naked villainy /
With odd old ends, stoln out
of holy writ / And seem a saint,
when most I play the devil.
A reputation so bad practi-
cally begs for a re evaluation. Five
hundred years after his death,
Richard III nally seems to have
passionate defenders and a good
press team. Philippa Langely is a
screenwriter and member of the
Richard III Society, a group dedicated to rehabbing the kings
shabby image. To that end, she spent several years raising
funds for the excavation of a parking lot in Leicester thought
to have been the site of Greyfriars, the long-demolished fri-
ary where Richard III was supposedly buried. University of
Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) was commissioned
for the dig, and the eld evalua-
tion and excavations took place
in September 2012.
In rapid succession, archae-
ologists found a trail of clues to
what may be one of the more
signicant discoveries in Eng-
lish archaeology: the remains of
a notorious, anointed King of
England. The ndspunctu-
ated by a dramatic series of press
releasesattracted worldwide
notice. I found the project an
interesting one, if Im honest,
because of the opportunity to
learn more about the site of
the Franciscan friary in which
Richard III was said to have
been buried, rather than actu-
ally nding the remains of the
king, which I thought was a
long shot, says Richard Buckley,
director of ULAS. Of course
nding Richard III would be
the icing on the cake, but given
that we had no reliable infor-
mation about the layout of the
friary buildings, let alone the
position of the church, and a
very restricted area available for
trenching, it did not look likely.
Even before anything was
found, the excavation drew
enormous public and media
interest, leading the University
of Leicester, the Leicester City
Council, and the Richard III
Society to keep the press and public apprised almost daily
an atypical practice in a eld in which time, research, and
analysis are often needed to understand nds. It was unusu-
al to be watched so closely by the pressI never expected
there to be so much interest and was completely taken by
surprise by the numbers of journalists who appeared on-site
Te Rehabilitation of Richard III
www.archaeology.org 9
vv
FROM THE TRENCHES
ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 10
on the launch day, says Buckley,
who has excavated in the city
for 30 years. In some ways,
this is what drove the strategy
for regular updates as the work
proceeded.
For those who follow archaeo-
logical discoveries, the nds came
with breathless speed. On Sep-
tember 5, archaeologists reported
they had found traces of the
friary church, including a tiled
oor, walls, and architectural
fragments. Then, on September
7, they reported nding fragments of
window tracery thought to be from the
church, as well as paving stones from a
garden that occupied the area after the
friary had been demolished in the 1530s.
In 1612, this garden was reported to
have held a stone pillar that identied it
as the burial place of Richard III.
And then, on September 11, came
news that they had found human
remains. These were uncovered in what
is thought to have been the choir, the
specic part of the friary church where
Richard III was said to have been
buried. The skeleton is that of an adult
male with scoliosisa spinal deformity
consistent with historical accounts of
the kings physical state. And, perhaps
most tellingly, the remains exhibit battle
wounds, including a puncture on the
top of the head, the cleaving of the rear
part of the skull, and a small piece of
iron embedded in the spine. Richard
III died in the Battle of Bosworth Field
as he fought forces aligned with Henry
Tudor, who became Henry VII. The
caseat this stage still circumstan-
tialfor these remains being those of
Richard III is hard to ignore.
Conrmation of the remains as Rich-
ard IIIs will have to wait for the results
of mitochondrial DNA tests comparing
the skeletons genetic material with that
of Michael Ibsen, a Canadian who is
a seventeenth great-grand-nephew of
the king. The results are likely to be
announced in conjunction with a tele-
vision special produced alongside the
excavation. ULASs seasoned archaeo-
logical team has very clearly stated that
the discovery of Richard IIIs remains
has always been more a hope than an
expectation. They accept the risk that
the early press coverage will prove to
be only hype if the remains are shown
not to be the kings. I think the public
enjoy the detective-story element of
archaeology, in particular the process
of oating ideas and interpretations,
some of which can then be tested by
more detailed scientic analy-
sis, says Buckley. There were
no real drawbacks [to involving
the public in this way] and it
was immensely rewarding to
have so much interest in our
workgreat for the archaeol-
ogy of Leicester and also for the
discipline in general.
Further analysis of the skel-
eton will include radiocarbon
dating and bone analysis to
learn about its pathology, diet,
age, stature, and origins. If it
is indeed shown to be Richard IIIs,
Langley says the work might help
provide specics on the kings physi-
cal condition, his death at Bosworth
Field, and how his body was treated
before burial. A realistic picture of
the man, she says, might help dispel
some of the mythsin particular the
oft-told tale that his remains were
exhumed and scattered in the River
Soar during the Reformation.
The manner in which the nds
were reported certainly raised a few
eyebrows. But according to Richard
Hodges, archaeologist and president of
the American University of Rome, who
has worked with Buckley before, the
archaeology behind the press releases can
be trusted to root out the truthas well
as attract a little positivity. I should be
far from certain that Richard III will be
found, says Hodges, but U.K. archae-
ology has gained a great deal of valuable
attention at a time of austerity!
SAMIR S. PATEL
U
nder a third-century A.D. Roman fortress near the
village of Ilsu in southeastern Turkey, archaeologist
Erkan Atay and his team from the Mardin Museum
recently uncovered two theater masks of a type rarely found
in Turkey. Atay believes that the masks, one of which is
made of bronze and the other of iron, were not intended
for formal theatrical performances, but may have been used
by young male actors entertaining during sporting events.
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FROM THE TRENCHES
S
cientists have recently uncovered
evidence of a couple of instances
of ingenious dental work in the
ancient world. A team led by Federico
Bernardini of the International Center
for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy,
used a variety of techniques including
CT scans and mass spectrometry
to show that a 6,500-year-old
skull found at the site of Lonche
in Slovenia contains a cracked tooth
that had been lled with beeswaxthe
oldest dental lling yet discovered
(below, on left). A similarly inventive
technique was used on an Egyp-
tian man whose
mummied body dates to around 2,100
years ago. Andrew Wade of the Univer-
sity of Western Ontario led a group of
researchers who found that the man
had numerous cavities, the largest of
which had been packed with linen.
Unfortunately, the idea of using
woven plant bers to make dental
oss was still millennia away.
ZACH ZORICH
Fixing Ancient Toothaches
Saint Thomas has its share of
delightsbeaches, food,
snorkelingbut it is also home to
the only urban archaeological dig in
the Caribbean. The Magens Site is a
house compound in the Kongens
Quarter of Charlotte Amalie, the
capital and largest city in the U.S.
Virgin Islands. The walled compound
dates to the early nineteenth century
and rests among other historic
properties in the area known as
Blackbeards Hill. In the 1820s, the
site was home to Major Joachim
Melchior Magens II, a Danish colonial
official, and his children and other
relatives. Douglas V. Armstrong, an
archaeologist from Syracuse
University, is examining the material
culture left by the Magens family
and their tenants and servants for
insight into life in a bustling
Caribbean port town. Because the
compound was completely intact
and so little of it had been altered
since the nineteenth century, it is an
excellent site for archaeological
investigation, Armstrong says.
The site
Spread across 23 terraces, the
Magens property consists of several
historic buildings, including the
kitchen, tenant quarters, slave/servant
quarters, and two houses occupied
by clerks and managers, as well
as the ruins of the Magens
House, where Magens
and his family lived.
The house is, in
fact, the only
building from
the complex
that is no longer
intactit was destroyed by Hurricane
Marilyn in 1995. (Plans are underway
to rebuild the house based on
archaeological evidence.) The Magens
compound and the harbor can be
viewed from an overlook down the
hill from Skytsborg Tower (popularly
known as Blackbeards Castle).
The propertys current owner,
Michael Ball, has restored many of
the nineteenth-century buildings
and offers heritage tours. In 2007,
Armstrong and his team began their
excavations, which revealed a diverse
community and a complex port
economy. Artifacts include everything
from high-status items, such as Danish
porcelain, to a range of local and
regionally produced earthenware
and Moravian ware pottery
used by the servants. The
laborers also operated
their own cottage
industry producing
bone buttons from
animal ribs, and
hundreds of bone button blanks have
been recovered.
While youre there
If you can peel yourself away from the
beach, Saint Thomas is full of historic
sights and wonderful shopping. Check
out the 99 Steps, which were built in
the mid-1700s, using ballast stones
from Danish ships. Fun fact: There are
actually 103 steps! Other sights include
the historic synagogue of Beracha
Veshalom Vegmiluth Hasidim. Built
in 1796, it is the oldest synagogue in
continuous use under the American
agand it is probably the only one
in the United States with a sand oor.
French impressionist painter Camille
Pissarro, who was born on Saint
Thomas, and his father were members
of its congregation. When youre ready
to take a break from sightseeing,
the restaurants nestled in the citys
hillsides provide breathtaking views of
the harbor at night.
MALIN GRUNBERG BANYASZ
derico
enter
Italy,
ng
e
(below, on left). A similarly inventive
technique was used on an Egyp-
tian man whose
researc
had n
whic
Un
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nagers, as well
Magens
gens
d.
porcelain, to a range o
regionally produce
and Moravian w
used by the
laborers a
their ow
indust
bone
ani
ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013
Obsidian
and Empire
T
hree small and apparently unre-
markable pieces of obsidian,
found in the palace courtyard
of the ancient city of Urkesh in mod-
ern-day Syria, are changing ideas about
trade networks at the height of the
Akkadian Empires power. Urkesh sits
near a mountain pass by the border
between the Bronze Age Hurrian and
Akkadian empiresputting it in a
natural position to be a trading cen-
ter. According to Ellery Frahm of the
University of She eld and Joshua
Feinberg of the University of Min-
nesota, decades of studies had shown
that nearly all of the obsidian used in
Urkesh and sites throughout Mesopo-
tamia came from volcanoes in what is
now eastern Turkey. Frahm, however,
tested this by analyzing the magnetic
properties of 97 pieces of obsidian
found throughout the city and learned
that three of the pieces came from a
volcano located much farther away, in
central Turkey. These pieces were dated
to around 2440 b.c., about the time
that Emperor Naram-Sin expanded the
Akkadian Empire to its peak inuence.
Frahm believes that the Akkadians
were expanding their trade networks
into new territory. The three pieces
of obsidian may have been from items
traded along with more valuable goods,
such as metals. According to Frahm,
It shows that they were tapping into
a trade network at that time that they
werent using before or after.
Zach Zorich
www.archaeology.org 13
C
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ARCHAEOLOGICAL CENTER
Discover the Past, Share the Adventure
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Excavate alongside
professional
archaeologists &
study artifacts in
the lab.
Sessions in June,
August, September
& October, 2013
Archaeology Research
Program
Make your
family vacation
an archaeology
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August 410, 2013

FROM THE TRENCHES
ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 14
T
o the naked eye, the pendant
once looked like solid gold, but
anthropologist David Peter-
son of Idaho State University knows
its secret. Using a powerful scanning
electron microscope at the Center for
Archaeology, Materials and Applied
Spectroscopy, Peterson discovered that
more than 3,500 years ago, a craftsman
in the Russian steppes made the orna-
ment appear to be solid gold by using a
miniscule amount of the precious metal
and a great deal of chemical knowledge.
Peterson believes that the Late Bronze
Age metalworker, a member of the
Srubnaya people, employed a tech-
nique known as depletion gilding. The
pendant was made with a core of (now
corroded) copper, which was covered
with a very thin foil of electrum (a mix-
ture of gold and silver). Before or after
wrapping the pendant, the surface of the
foil may have been covered for several
days in a solution of salt and/or other
minerals that are corrosive to silver. The
silver would have become a black scale
that was then washed awayleaving a
micrometers-thick layer of gold on the
surface, burnished to look even richer.
Depletion gilding has been found in
artifacts from the third-millennium B.C.
royal cemetery of Ur in Mesopotamia
and the pre-Columbian Andes. How-
ever, the pendant, which was excavated
in the 1990s in a young girls grave at
the site of Spiridonovka II, would be
the earliest known example from the
Eurasian steppes. Petersons research
on ancient Eurasian steppe metallurgy
began while he was a member of the
Samara Valley Project, sponsored by
Hartwick College and the Institute
for the History and Archaeology of the
Volga. Evidence of depletion gilding at
this time in this area is a big surprise
and stands to greatly impact our under-
standing of the technical sophistication
of Srubnaya pastoralists, says Peter-
son. A kind of technological sleight
of hand or dissembling was used in
covering the copper ornaments with a
very thin gold and silver foil, and then
altering the surface to make it look
more like pure gold, a strong indication
of the high valuation of gold.
Depletion gilding has been di -
cult to identify because the principle
usedthe removal of material rather
than its additiondiers from mod-
ern gold plating, which uses chemicals
or electrolysis to deposit gold on an
objects surface. The technique also
diers from other ancient gilding prac-
tices, such as hammering gold foil onto
an object without additional prepara-
tion, or diusion bonding (used by the
Greeks and Romans), which involves
attaching gold through the application
of heat and pressure.
JARRETT A. LOBELL
Ancient Alchemy?
Kidnapped in Copenhagen
K
ongens Nytorv, a major square in Copenhagen, has oered evidence of a dark
chapter in the exploration of the northern latitudes, according to Jens Winter
Johannsen, an archaeologist at the Museum of Copenhagen. Excavations in the
square uncovered a piece of a Thule bird spear from Greenland in what was once a moat
around the city. There is one obvious way the seventeenth-century spear prong could have
made it across the North Atlantic: kidnapping. It wasnt uncommon for European explorers
to bring home natives, often against their will, as novelties or to prove tales of discovery.
The fragment, made of bone, could have been a mariners souvenir, but also could have
belonged to one of the 19 Greenlanders known to have been forcibly kidnapped by Danes
that century. According to Johannsen, The small implement found at Kongens Nytorv thus
illustrates a cruel story of some of the consequences of Danish ambitions as a great power.
SAMIR S. PATEL

Washington crossing the Delaware.


Eisenhower launching D-Day.
Kennedy rescuing the crew of PT
109. These men made history.
This set made history
To celebrate the bicentennial of
America, the U.S. Mint struck this
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honoring these three American
presidentsand our 200th birthday.
To capture the bicentennial spirit,
the coins in the set are dualdated
17761976.
This set was so popular over
4 million were sold.
Unlike the regular circulating coins
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40% precious silver.
Its the first commemorative U.S.
Mint Proof Set ever. Its also the first
proof set to feature all dual-dated
coins. And finally, its the first U.S.
Proof Set to include a Silver Dollar.
Americans love proof coins from
the U.S. Mint. Each coin is struck
twice from specially prepared dies
and has deeply-mirrored surfaces
and superb frosty images.
And you know youve got a real
piece of American history when you
hold this setthe red white and
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Now for the steal part...
This first-ever Bicentennial Silver
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decades ago. When you consider
how much prices have risen since
then, you might expect to pay $100
or more to buy this set today.
But for this special offer, we are
releasing our entire stock of
Bicentennial Silver Proof Sets for
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Its a first. Its silver.
Its patriotic. And its a steal.
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FROM THE TRENCHES
ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013
T
he rst fragments of the remarkable ancient Roman monument called the
Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace) were found in the early sixteenth century. For
the next four hundred years, the large marble altar, built to commemo-
rate the emperor Augustus victories in Gaul and expansion into Spain in the rst
century B.C., was reassembled as pieces resurfaced until it was nearly completed
in 1938. Since then, scholars have examined the altars heavily decorated exterior,
attempting to identify the mythological and historical gures represented. How-
ever, until several years ago when archaeologist Giulia Caneva of the University of
Rome was asked whether the plants and owers represented on the Ara Pacis were
faithful representations or purely fantasticaland if she could identify themno
one had carefully studied the monuments vegetation in such detail.
Soon Caneva discovered that the owers were both fantasies and what she calls
extremely realistic representations. The most surprising faithfully depicted species
were two types of orchids, both of which are native to the Mediterranean. Until
Canevas research, orchids were unknown in ancient art and had only been identied
on works dating from the Renaissance and later. Caneva is continuing to decode the
altars highly symbolic language of owers and vegetation, which is part of the political
message of this enduring monument to Augustus lineage and power.
JARRETT A. LOBELL
Te Emperors Orchids
16
T
he world is full of strange,
unmoored historical artifacts.
Some come with puzzling, mys-
terious origins and interesting, if uncon-
rmed, auras of intrigue. Take the Nazi
Buddhist iron man from outer space.
This 10-inch-tall, 24-pound sculpture
apparently depicting a Buddha gure
with scale armor bearing a swastika has
some pretty dubious provenance: Its
rumored to have been found during Nazi
expeditions to Tibet, perhaps part of an
eort to establish Germanys Aryan roots.
(Prior to its life as the calling card of
National Socialism, the swastika enjoyed
thousands of years as a positive symbol
in South Asian religions.) Recent miner-
alogical analysis by German, Australian,
and Austrian researchers now shows that
the statue may have been sculpted from
a meteorite that fell somewhere along the
Siberian-Mongolian border. The paper,
in Meteoritics and Planetary Science, also
sparked heated debate about the statues
origins. Buddhist scholar Achim Bayer at
Dongguk University in Seoul, Korea, says
that the statue is most likely just decades
(rather than centuries) old, perhaps made
after WWII for the lucrative market in
Nazi memorabilia.
SAMIR S. PATEL
Nazi Iron Man
Buddha?
SAMIR S. PATE
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ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 18
vv
FROM THE TRENCHES
Maya Mural Miracle
L
ucas Asicona Ramrez probably had no idea that he
was embarking on an archaeological excavation ve
years ago when he began scraping down the plaster
on the walls of his 300-year-old home in Chajul, Guatemala.
But his renovation uncovered a series of murals that had
been painted by his Ixil Maya ancestors in the years after
the Spanish conquest. Some of the paintings depict what
archaeologists Lars Frhsorge, Jarosaw raka, and William
Saturno believe to be a ritual called the Dance of Conquest.
The people in this painting seem to be Maya, yet wear some
pieces of European clothing. The seated gures are playing
instruments while the gure on the right, wearing a jaguar
skin and cape, dances.
ZACH ZORICH
Neutron Beams and Lead Shot
B
ritish researchers are going
beyond standard X-rays to study
nearly 500-year-old lead can-
nonballs found on the wreck of Mary
Rose, a Tudor warship brought to the
surface of the English Channel in 1982.
The ship sank when the British eet
squared o with the French during the
Battle of the Solent in 1545.
Using neutron-based imaging,
which employs beams of the neutral
subatomic particles that can pass
through lead, the team has devel-
oped 2-D and 3-D renderings that
reveal the Mary Roses cannonballs
had lumps of iron in them. Why was
the iron used? Possibly to save on
expensive lead or because it altered
the ight or impact of the projectiles.
According to battleeld archae-
ologist Glenn Foard of the University
of Hudderseld, Mary Roses 1,600
rounds of unred shot can help
researchers understand state-of-the-
art weaponry in the fteenth and
sixteenth centuries. Says Foard, We
can compare it to the much rarer
battleeld nds of projectiles which
have ring and impact evidence tell-
ing us something of the guns that
red them.
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ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 20
FROM THE TRENCHES
A
new technique for sequencing
ancient DNA has allowed a
multinational research team to
reconstruct the genome of a person who
lived in Siberias Denisova Cave between
30,000 and 82,000 years agowith the
same level of accuracy as genomes from
modern people. This new DNA sequence
gives researchers a clearer picture of how
early hominins such as the Denisovans
and Neanderthals were related to modern
humans and to each other.
The analysis showed that Deniso-
vans were much more closely related to
Neanderthals than to Homo sapiens, and
that in spite of coming from a small
population, they managed to contrib-
ute genes to modern populations in
Island Southeast Asia and Australia.
According to David Reich, a geneti-
cist at Harvard Medical School and a
member of the research team, the new
DNA sequence also shows that Native
Americans and people from East Asia
have more Neanderthal DNA, on
average, than Europeans. Archaeolo-
gists have long thought that the largest
population of Neanderthals lived in
Europe, so the nding complicates
the picture of the way modern people
and Neanderthals are related. Either
there was a separate event in which
Neanderthals interbred with people
in Asia, or the genetic contribution of
Neanderthals in Europe was diluted by
later migrations of Homo sapiens.
Zach Zorich
Denisovan DNA
I
n the remote mountains of southwestern Oregon,
researchers have uncovered a preCivil War battleeld
that was lost for more than a century and a half. The
Battle of Hungry Hill was a pivotal ght during the Rogue
River Wars of 1855 to 1856, a conict between Oregon settlers
and Native Americans. The battle, a defeat for the U.S. Army
and a local militia, prompted the government to evict the
native population from Oregons Rogue and Umpqua Valleys.
For years, pioneer family stories led researchers searching
for evidence of the battle in the wrong direction. However,
archaeological surveys, according to Mark Tveskov, an archae-
ologist with Southern Oregon University, eventually identied
the location where it had been fought. During the research,
which began in 2009, Tveskov found previously unknown
primary documentation, including a front-page article in the
New York Herald, published 12 days after the battle concluded
on October 31, 1855, and eyewitness accounts. This led the
team to 24 square miles of the Grave Creek Hills, several
miles northwest of the spot where the battle was previously
thought to have taken place.
In September, the team turned up three artifacts that
match weaponry used by the U.S. Army during the mid-
nineteenth centurytwo .69 caliber lead musketballs and a
lead stopper from a gunpowder container. Tveskov hopes to
uncover more details, which might, among other things, cor-
roborate two historical accounts of a Native American sniper
picking o the majority of the Armys 39 casualties.
Jude Isabella
Site of a Forgotten War
www.archaeology.org 21
F
or years, archaeologists and geneti-
cists have been troubled by the fact
that their time lines for key events
in human evolution dont always match up.
While archaeologists rely on the dating of
physical remains to determine when and
how human beings spread across the globe,
geneticists use a DNA clock based on
the assumption that the human genome
mutates at a constant rate. By comparing
dierences between modern and ancient
DNA, geneticists then calculate when
early humans diverged from other species
and when human populations formed dif-
ferent genetic groups.
The DNA clock is a powerful tool, but
its conclusionsfor example, that mod-
ern humans rst emerged from Africa
about 60,000 years agocan disagree
with archaeological evidence that shows
signs of modern human activity well
before that date at sites in regions as far-
ung as Arabia, India, and China.
Now, new work, based on observa-
tion of the genetic dierences between
present-day parents and children, sug-
gests that the genetic clock may actually
run about twice as slowly as previously
believed, at least for the last million years
or so of primate history. In their review
paper in the journal Nature Reviews Genet-
ics, Aylwyn Scally and Richard Durbin of
the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in
Hinxton, England, propose much earlier
dates for watershed events in human evo-
lution, which could help bring the genetic
and archaeological records in line. For
instance, a slower clock places the migra-
tion of modern humans out of Africa at
around 120,000 years ago, which is more
consistent with archaeological evidence.
The revised clock also supports
archaeological signs of modern human
activity from more than 60,000 years
ago at sites such as Jwalapuram, India
(Stone Age India, January/February
2010), and Liujiang, Chinaevidence
that has often been dismissed by geneti-
cists as impossible. While more work is
needed to conrm the ndings, Scally
says that archaeologists who work on
such sites should be excited: It can no
longer be said that the genetic evidence
is unequivocally against them.
KATHERINE SHARPE
Turning Back
the Human
Clock
CAPITAL CITIES
OF THE MAYA:
Copan, Tikal, Bonampak, Palenque
ARCHAEO-ASTRONOMY
OF PERU
Chankillo, Kuelap, Machu Picchu
1-800-552-4575 www.farhorizons.com
JORDAN
ETHIOPIA
GREEK ISLANDS
EASTERN TURKEY
THE ENDURING MAYA
Tikal to Chichicastenango
BOLIVIA
SRI LANKA
CENTRAL ASIA
Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan
BALI
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JORDAN
With Professor Gary Rollefson
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ETHIOPIA
With Dr. Cinzia Perlingieri
April 28 - May 12, 2013
GREEK ISLANDS
With Professor Bryan Burns
May 18 - 31, 2013
EASTERN TURKEY
With Profs. Jeremy & Maud McInerney
May 18 - June 2, 2013
THE ENDURING MAYA
Tikal to Chichicastenango
With epigrapher Stanley Guenter
May 25 - June 6, 2013
BOLIVIA
With Dr. John Janusek
June 4 - 19, 2013
SRI LANKA
With Professor Michael Coe
August 16 - September 3, 2013
CENTRAL ASIA
Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan
With Professor John E. Woods
September 28 - October 18, 2013
BALI
With Dr. Leo Howe
September 27 - October 12, 2013
and much more!
England Scotland India China Myanmar
Cambodia & Laos Cyprus & Malta Iran Italy
France Egypt Easter Island Mongolia Israel
JOURney into the heart of History
CAPITAL CITIES
OF THE MAYA:
Copan, Tikal, Bonampak, Palenque
With Professor Peter Mathews
March 1-11, 2013
Co-sponsored by UCLA Extension
ARCHAEO-ASTRONOMY
OF PERU
Chankillo, Kuelap, Machu Picchu
With Dr. E.C. Krupp
June 8-23, 2013
F E A T U R E D
J O U R N E Y S
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WORLD ROUNDUP
ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 22
VIRGINIA: The Battle of Fred-
ericksburg in December 1862
was a major Confederate vic-
tory. An archaeological dig
preceding construction of a new
courthouse has revealed the
foundations and intact carbon-
ized oorboards of a building
likely destroyed near the end of
the battle. Finds insideinclud-
ing bullets and metal uniform
insignias indicating Company C
of a regiment designated with a
2suggest that Union soldiers
took shelter in the row house.
CALIFORNIA: At 7.9 on the Richter scale,
the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco and
the resulting res destroyed 80 percent
of the city, including its imposing city hall,
which was completed just 10 years before.
Workers digging recently under the side-
walk on Hyde Street to plant a tree uncov-
ered bricks and mortar from the structure.
While remains of this building often turn
up in the area, preservation specialists
were surprised to nd such large portions
of its foundations still intact.
SENEGAL: Flooding in the Dakar suburb of Ouest-Foire
has revealed hundreds of shell beads, pieces of pottery,
stone and iron tools, and other Neolithic artifacts that
could date to 3000 B.C. The items were found by accident
while a local archaeologist was examining a construction
site damaged by torrential rains. The site is now heavily
disturbed and further excavation will be difcult because
of the rapid, anarchic pace of building around the capital.
IRELAND: An
Gorta Mr (The
Great Hunger), as
the 1840s famine
is known in Irish,
led to the deaths
of 1.5 million peo-
ple and the emigration of two million more. The
famine was caused by Phytophthora infestans,
a microorganism that causes the plant disease
known as potato late blight. Researchers have
now extracted genetic data for the pathogen
from ground-up, rotten potato samples from
19th-century experiments. They found that the
same lineage of P. infestans was responsible for
another epidemic 30 years later, and are now
sequencing the whole genome to see how it
changed over time.
CANADA:
Parks Canada
archaeologists
have, for several
years now, been
searching for
evidence of Sir John Franklins doomed
1840s expedition to traverse the North-
west Passage, including the remains
of his ships, HMS Erebus and Terror.
Another season has passed without sign
of the ships, but on land, archaeologists
have continued to nd artifacts. At a
previously excavated site on Erebus Bay,
where the expedition crew was stranded
and around 20 of them died, research-
ers found more pieces of human bone,
buttons, scraps of cloth, and a bone-
handled toothbrush.
23
By Samir S. Patel
www.archaeology.org
TANZANIA: A case of child-
hood anemia indicates
that early humans relied
on meat as part of their
diets as many as 1.5 million
years agoand sometimes
did not get enough. In
fragments of the skull of
a two-year-old hominin,
researchers found evidence
of porotic hyperostosis, a
condition associated
with nutritional
deciencies
related to a
lack of meat
consumption.
The scientists conclude
that people must have
been hunting at the time,
as scavenging would not
have yielded enough meat
to make it such an essential
dietary need.
JAPAN:
The radio-
active
carbon
isotope
14
C
decays at a
predictable rate. By measur-
ing the carbon in ancient
organic materials, you can
tell how long the
14
C has
been decaying, and there-
fore how old the object
isradiocarbon dating. But
the atmospheric concentra-
tion of
14
C has not always
been constant, so knowing
past
14
C concentrations is
essential to rening accu-
racy. Tree rings, corals, and
marine sediments are used
for this. Now researchers
have another resourcethe
sediments at the bottom
of Lake Suigetsu are so
clearly layered, year by
year, that they will help
improve the accuracy of
radiocarbon dating for
objects between 10,000
and 52,000 years old.
CAMBODIA: The monuments
of Angkor Wat include thou-
sands of sandstone blocks
but where did they come
from? Researchers recently
undertook a study of the quarries used by the builders
and identied more than 50 of them, active in different
phases, about 20 miles northeast of the site, at the foot
of Mt. Kulen. The team also investigated a canal-river
system visible in satellite images, which they believe
was used to transport the blocks to the site efciently.
FROM
THE CLASSICAL
CIVILIZATIONS OF
EUROPE
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DENMARK: Examination of textiles
found wrapped around cremated
remains in a 2,800-year-old bronze
urn show that wild nettles were used
to make cloth in the Bronze Age,
calling into question the assumption
that only cultivated plants, such as
ax and hemp, were used for textiles
in the period. Further, the nettles
were imported from an area where
ax was being grownmeaning that,
for reasons unknown, they were cho-
sen over their cultivated counterpart.
The textile was of very high quality,
with a dense tabby weave.
POLAND: Record low
water levels on the Vis-
tula River due to heat and
drought have revealed a
trove of 17th-century plun-
der. Marble and alabaster
decorative structures, including a fountain,
vases, and steps, as well as cannonballs and
wheels from cannon wagons, emerged from
the mud. They were probably looted from
royal residences after a 16651666 Swed-
ish invasion, and ended up on the riverbed
when a barge carrying the items sank.
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www.archaeology.org 25
Any discussion of archaeology in the year 2012 would be incomplete without
mention of the much-talked-about end of the Maya Long Count calendar and the
apocalyptic prophecies it has engendered. With that in mind, as 2013 approaches,
the years biggest discovery may actually be that were all still hereat least thats
what the editors of ARCHAEOLOGY continue to bet on.
However, you wont nd that story on our Top 10 list. We steered clear of specu-
lation and focused, instead, on singular ndsthe stu, if you willthe material
that comes out of the earth and changes what we thought we knew about the past.
Here youll see discoveries that range from a work of Europes earliest wall art
to the revelation that Neanderthals, our closest relatives, selectively picked and
ate medicinal plants, and from the unexpected discovery of a 20-foot Egyptian
ceremonial boat to the excavation of stunning masks that decorate a Maya temple
and tell us of a civilizations relation to the cosmos.
Then there are the discoveries that just made us wonder. What drove someone to
wrap their valuables in a cloth and hide them almost 2,000 years ago? And why
were people in Bronze Age Scotland gathering bones and burying them in bogs?
The nds span the last 50,000 years and cover territories from the cradle of civiliza-
tion to what is today one of the worlds most populous cities. These are a few of the dis-
coveries that speak to us of both our record of ingenuity and our humanity. The enduring
question is always: Were the people behind the evidence anything like us? The Editors
Top 10
Discoveries
of 2012
26 ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013
A
rchaeologists have unearthed a spectacular series of stucco
masks at the Maya city of El Zotz. Dating to between A.D.
350 and 400, the ve-foot-tall masks decorated a temple atop El
Diablo pyramid, which commemorates the founder of the citys
royal dynasty. The masks were painted bright red and depict sev-
eral deities, including the sun god. They show dierent phases of
the sun as it makes its way across the sky. Between the gods are
representations of Venus and other planets. Its a celestial sym-
phony, says Brown University archaeologist Stephen Houston,
who co-led the excavation with Edwin Roman of the University
of Texas. The sun is closely associated with Maya kingship, and
these images celebrate that link. Eric A. Powell
Maya Sun God Masks El Zotz, Guatemala
A rendering (top) of one of the
masks representing the Maya sun
god found at El Zotzs Temple
of the Night Sun in Guatemala
shows places where crimson
pigment remains. The five-foot-
tall stucco masks (above left)
chart the suns path across the
sky and decorate the exterior of
the temple. Work continues (left)
at the site.
T
he latest frontier in Neanderthal research is not the artifacts they left
behind or remnants of their DNA. Rather, it is the gunk that stuck
to their teeth. Karen Hardy of the Catalan Institution for Research and
Advanced Studies in Spain and Stephen Buckley of the University of York
in the United Kingdom used a variety of chemical analyses that helped
uncover the first evidence that Neanderthals consumed medicinal plants.
The team examined the chemicals embedded in the calcified plaque on the
teeth of five Neanderthals dated to between 50,600 and 47,300 years ago
from El Sidrn Cave in Spain. The research showed that the Neanderthals
inhaled wood smoke, probably from a campfire, and that they had eaten
cooked plant foods as well as the bitter-tasting medicinal plants chamo-
mile and yarrow. They had to have a body of knowledge about plants
to select yarrow and chamomile, says Hardy. The same analyses used in
this study have the potential to be used on almost any tooth. According
to Hardy, they could be used to provide direct evidence of hominin diets
going back millions of years. Zach Zorich
www.archaeology.org 27
A
notched wooden stick from South Afri-
cas Border Cave dating to 24,000 years
ago contains the earliest evidence of humans
using poison. The artifact was found in the
1970s, but new chemical studies conducted
by a research team led by Francesco dErrico
of Bordeaux University in France revealed
trace amounts of substances from poisonous
castor beans. The stick may have been used
to apply poison to arrowheads just as a culture
of modern-day hunter-gatherers called the San
does today in southern Africa. According to
dErrico, poison is an important part of tra-
ditional San hunting methods because their
bone-tipped arrows usually dont cause enough
damage to kill large prey on their own.
The poison applicator is just one of several
artifacts, some dating to as early as 44,000
years ago, that resemble objects used by the San.
Others include a digging stick, ostrich eggshell
beads, carved pig tusks, bone arrowheads, and
a lump of beeswax. DErricos team believes the
nds indicate that San culture emerged about
44,000 years ago, making these the earliest link
to a culture of modern humans.
The ndings also clarify why it is thought
that modern human behaviorloosely dened
as making objects that show symbolic thinking
or complex hunting methodsmay have begun
in Africa. Earlier evidence of such behavior has
been uncovered in South Africa at sites such as
Blombos Cave and Pinnacle Point, where beads,
pigments, and artifacts related to shing that
date to more than 100,000 years ago have been
found. Those types of artifacts, however, seem
to disappear from the archaeological record at
later times, indicating that those cultures may
have died out. The poison and other discoveries
from Border Cave, on the other hand, are the
earliest that can be directly connected to an
extant culture. We think of modern humans
as people who are able to change their culture
all the time, says dErrico, but when we have
a very eective cultural adaptation, we dont
need to change. Zach Zorich
First Use of Poison Lebombo Mountains, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Neanderthal Medicine Chest Piloa, Asturias, Spain
In South Africas Border Cave, archaeologists
found ostrich eggshell beads (above), wooden
digging sticks (far left), and notched sticks
(left) used to apply poison to arrowheads.
Scientists analyzed
microscopic material
(above) on Neanderthal
teeth (left) found in Spains
El Sidrn Cave to learn
what the extinct hominins
might have eaten.
N
ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 28
T
he discovery of a collection of
75 sandal nails has led German
archaeologists to the rare identi-
fication of a temporary Roman
military camp near the town
of Hermeskeil, near Trier,
in southwestern Germany.
Directed by Sabine Hornung,
an archaeologist at the Johannes
Gutenberg University Mainz, the team
uncovered the camps main gate, the flat stones
that once paved its entrance, and grindstones used by
the Romans to mill grain. Scattered among the
paving stones were bits of metal that the team
quickly identified as sandal nails. Some of the
nails were quite largeas much as an inch across
and had distinct workshop marks of a type used by
the army, a sort of cross with little dots or studs, says
Hornung. That told us it was definitely a military
camp, she adds. Ground-penetrating radar surveys
showed that the camp, built to house soldiers on
the move, sprawls over nearly 65 acres.
Excavated pottery sherds, both from local
and imported Roman wares, date the camp to the
50s B.C., the period Julius Caesar wrote about in
his memoir, The Gallic Wars. From 58 to 50 B.C., Caesar
waged three campaigns against the Gallic tribes and their
powerful leaders for control over the territory of Gaul, primarily
modern-day France and Belgium. Taking account of the camps
date and the distinctly Caesarean sandal nails, Hornung says,
Its very probable it is a camp built by Julius Caesars legions.
The camp sits just a few miles away from the so-called
Hunnenring, a major Celtic hill fort with 30-foot-high walls.
Such centers of military and political power made Gaul an
attractive target for the Romans. By focusing their efforts
on these regional centers, the Romans could exert sustained
and concentrated pressure on local leaders instead of hav-
ing to chase down the scattered tribes living in the German
forests further to the east. Eventually this pressure, and the
military victories achieved by Caesar and his legions, resulted
in the conquest of Gaul and cleared the way for the general
to assume sole control of the Roman Republic.
For Gunter Moosbauer, an archaeologist at Germanys
University of Osnabrck familiar with the discovery, the
finds from Hermeskeil are an archaeological thrill. He says,
Roman field campaigns lasted just a few months, and to find
one of their temporary camps is really rare. Andrew Curry
M
exicos Templo Mayor was a center of Aztec civic life
before the Spanish conquest. In 2012, archaeologists
learned more about its importance for civic death. In a grisly
discovery, they excavated more than 1,000 tightly packed
human bones, among them 45 skulls and 250 jawbones.
There was only one complete, undisturbed skeleton, in a
separate cachea woman, lying face down, her left hand
resting enigmatically on her back and her right on her abdo-
men. She was surrounded by more bones, including at least
10 skulls, plus ceramic and charcoal oerings.
Ral Barrera of Mexicos National Institute of Anthro-
pology and History says the larger cache was probably a
closure deposit buried as a kind of consecration after an
important building phase around 1479. Because the bones
are so crowded together, he says, they must have been
buried elsewhere, exhumed, and reburied here. But not all
of them. Barreras team excavated a volcanic slab used for
human sacrices, beneath which they found ve more skulls
with gaping perforations. The victims may have died on
the sacrice stone, but the holes were probably for mount-
ing their skulls on a stake known as a tzompantli. It may all
seem macabre to us, but to the Aztecs, this charnel house
was, according to Barrera, where the earthly and heavenly
realms communicated with each other. Roger Atwood
Aztec Ritual Burial
Mexico City, Mexico
Caesars Gallic Outpost
Hermeskeil, Germany
ction of
erman
enti-
man
wn
hannes
z, the team
gate, the flat stones
and grindstones use
Outpost
many
e
ss
d by
ds, says
litary
ys
n
l
he
t in
C
ed by
Archaeologists found multiple caches of skeletal
remains at Templo Mayor, one of which included 45 skulls
and 250 jawbones.
Sandal nails (above) were found at the site of a temporary
Roman military camp in southwestern Germany as plotted
(top) in a diagram of the area.
www.archaeology.org 29
T
he invention of pottery for collecting, storing,
and cooking food was a key development
in human culture and behavior. Until recently,
it had been thought that the emergence of
pottery was part of the Neolithic Revolution
around 10,000 years ago, which also brought
agriculture, domesticated animals, and ground-
stone tools. Finds of much older pottery have
put this theory to rest. This year, archaeologists
dated what is now thought to be the oldest known
pottery in the world, from the site of Xianrendong
Cave in the Jiangxi Province of southeastern China.
The cave had been dug before, in the 1960s, 1990s, and
2000, but the dating of its earliest ceramics was uncertain.
Researchers from China, the United States, and Germany
reexamined the site to nd samples for radiocarbon dating.
While the area had particularly complex stratigraphytoo
complex and disturbed to be reliable, according to somethe
researchers are condent that they have dated the earliest
pottery from the site to 20,000 to 19,000 years ago, several
thousand years before the next oldest examples. These are
the earliest pots in the world, says Harvards Ofer Bar-Yosef,
a coauthor on the Science paper reporting the nds. He also
cautions, All this does not mean that earlier pots will not be
discovered in South China. Samir S. Patel
The First Pots Jiangxi Province, China
A
rchaeologists have dated an
engraving of a vulva found
on a one-and-a-half-ton limestone
block at Abri Castanet, a collapsed
rock shelter in France, to about
37,000 years ago. That figure, how-
ever, is only a minimum age for the
rock carving. The date, announced
in May, actually corresponds to
the approximate time when the
rock shelters roof, of which the
engraved block was once a part,
collapsed. The engraving is thus one
of the earliest examples of European wall
art, likely older than the elaborate paintings
200 miles east in Chauvet Cave.
The block was found directly above a surface
containing hundreds of artifacts from the early Auri-
gnacian culture, the earliest modern humans in Europe.
An imprint of the vulva on the shelter floor, along with a
lack of sediment buildup between the block and the surface,
suggested that radiocarbon dating of several pieces of bone
smashed by the fallen block would give an accurate age of the
roof collapse and an approximate age of the engraving.
We see vulva again and again and again, says New York
University archaeologist Randall White about Auri-
gnacian sites in the region near Abri Castanet (Letter
from France, page 55). The fact that theyre repeating the same
forms suggests that it is conventionalized in a way that allowed
these people to relate to the meaning. Nikhil Swaminathan
Europes Oldest Engraving Sergeac, France
ne
wall
aintings
bove a surface
m the early Auri-
n humans in Europe.
elter floor, along with a
n the block and the surface,
g of several pieces of bone
University archaeologist Randall White about Auri-
gnaciansites intheregionnear Abri Castanet (Letter
ng,
-
e
ts
own
dong
China.
90s, and
uncertain.
d Germany
b d h d b f h ld l Th
ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 30
2,000-Year-Old Stashed Treasure Kiryat Gat, Israel
T
his past summer archaeologists dis-
covered a veritable treasure chest of
jewelry and coins buried inside a pit in the
courtyard of an ancient building in southern
Israels Kiryat Gat region. According to the
Israel Antiquities Authoritys Saar Ganor,
the cache likely dates to the time of the Bar
Kokhba revolt, which lasted from A.D. 132
to 135, and was one of the largest Jewish
uprisings against the Romans. This was
probably an emergency cache that was
concealed at a time of impending danger by
a wealthy woman who wrapped her jewelry
and money in a cloth and hid them deep in
the ground, says Ganor. Its now clear that
the owner never returned to claim it. While
there are other contemporary hoards from
Israel, this example is exceptional for the
inclusion of several gold coins, rare in Israel
at this time. Mati Milstein
30
A cloth bundle
containing gold
coins and jewelry
found stashed in
a pit in southern
Israel was likely
put there during
the Bar Kokhba
revolt, almost
2,000 years ago.
I
nstances of deliberate mummication in Europe
are rare, but, while performing excavations in 2001
at Cladh Hallan, a Bronze Age settlement on the
island of South Uist in Scotlands Outer Hebrides,
archaeologists found a pair of 3,000-year-old skel-
etons that t the bill.
Both skeletons, one male and one female, were
buried in the fetal position. Tests indicated they
had been intentionally preserved for some time
in nearby peat bogs, where microbes prevented
them from fully decomposing, before they were
eventually retrieved. Mummication has been
surprisingly widespread throughout world history,
but this is the rst time weve seen clear evidence
that it was employed during the Bronze Age on
the British Isles, says University College London
archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson.
Further examination of the remains led to another star-
tling discovery. The male skeleton is actually a composite. Its
torso, skull and neck, and lower jaw belong to three separate
men. New DNA tests prove that the female skeleton is also a
composite formed from a female torso, a male skull, and the
arm of a third person, whose gender has yet to be determined.
Carbon dating indicates that the skull of the female mummy
is probably 50 to 200 years older than the torso.
Archaeologists have yet to agree why these remains were
mummied and then combined. The mixing of remains could
have been designed to combine dierent ancestries or families
into a single line of descent, Parker Pearson explains. At the
time, land rights would have depended on ancestral claims, so
perhaps having ancestors around in the esh was the prehis-
toric equivalent of a legal document.
Erin Mullally
Scottish Frankenstein Mummies South Uist, Scotland
www.archaeology.org 31
Oldest Egyptian Funerary Boat Abu Rawash, Egypt
E
gyptologist Yann Tristant was reading a 1914 excavation report on a First
Dynasty (ca. 31502890 B.C.) tomb at the elite cemetery of Abu Rawash when
he noticed something strange. The author, legendary French archaeologist Pierre
Montet, wrote that just north of the mudbrick tomb, or mastaba, he had uncovered
a wooden oor. That seemed bizarre to Tristant, of Macquarie University in Sydney,
because he knew that no other archaeologists have reported nding wooden oors
around mastabas. Sensing a mystery, he directed his team to excavate at the same
spot Montet had almost a century before. The hunch paid o and led Tristant to
a pit bounded by a brick wall that held the oldest boat found in Egypt, a 20-foot-
long vessel dating to 2950 B.C.
Its clear the boat played some role in the burial ceremonies of the tombs
owner, a high-ranking o cial. Tristant uncovered artifacts nearby that point to
a lavish funerary feast, including ceramic beer jars and bread molds. Ceremonial
boats have been found at tombs at royal cemeteries; they were intended to sym-
bolically carry pharaohs into the afterlife. But since so few boats have been found
at nonroyal tombs, Tristant hesitates to speculate exactly what religious function
the Abu Rawash vessel served. Its a good example of why we must sometimes
re-excavate sites, says Tristant. I never would have expected to nd a boat at a
tomb like this. Eric A. Powell
Archaeologists
originally mistook
an ancient Egyptian
funerary boat found at
the cemetery of Abu
Rawash for a wooden
floor. The 20-foot boat
dates to 2950 B.C.
W
HEN THE INDUS RIVER SWELLED
two years ago in central Pakistan,
the oodwaters came within just
three feet of overtopping an earthen
embankment protecting the ancient
city known as Mohenjo-Daro. At the
time, archaeologists breathed a sigh of relief. But in September
2012 monsoon rains again threatened the site, lashing at the
exposed walls and sparking new fears that this 4,000-year-old
metropolis may be destroyed before it yields its secrets.
Those secrets remain legion. Archaeologists still dont
know the citys true size, who ruled there, or even its
ancient nameMohenjo-Daro (Mound of the Dead) is
the sites name in modern Sindhi. A decades-long excavation
ban, frequent political upheaval, and futile past conserva-
tion eorts have made it challenging for archaeologists to
understand the site. To many, Mohenjo-Daro remains a
dull, monochrome city, lacking the monuments, temples,
sculptures, paintings, and palaces typical of contemporary
Egypt and Mesopotamia in the third millennium B.C.
Now, however, archaeologists are using old excavation
reports, remote sensing data, and computer modeling tech-
niques to reexamine the reputation of what was the largest
city of the Indus River civilization and perhaps the entire
Bronze Age. Once dismissed as a settlement dominated by
similar-sized, cookie-cutter dwellings, Mohenjo-Daro is being
recast as a vibrant metropolis lled with impressive public
and private buildings, artisans working with precious stones
What may be the Bronze Ages largest
city lies on the plains of Pakistan
by Andrew Lawler
Mohenjo-Daros
New Story
Built more than 5,000 years
ago, the ancient city of
Mohenjo-Daro was likely the
Indus River civilizations largest
and most populous city.
ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 34
and realized they had stumbled on a civilization rivaling
ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, it was largely forgotten.
The rst work at the Indus site of Harappa began in 1921
and eventually revealed a large, 4,000-year-old city. Unfor-
tunately, however, British engineers had destroyed large por-
tions of the site in the 1850s, when they used the red bricks
from which it was builtwhich had withstood the ravages
of nearly four millenniato construct a railroad to Lahore.
Within months of the start of excavation at Harappa, work
began at Mohenjo-Daro, which towered 60 feet above the at
plain of Pakistans Sindh province, 375 miles south of Harappa.
Fortunately, much of the city was intact, in
large part because its foundations were made
primarily from that same hardy red brick.
Situated on a small ridge formed during the
Pleistocene era, Mohenjo-Daro was located
near the Indus River, covered at least 600
acres, and harbored a population of at least
40,000 in its heyday, although current work
suggests that both these numbers underes-
timate its true size. With a possible popu-
lation of 100,000, Mohenjo-Daro would
have been bigger than Egypts Memphis,
Mesopotamias Ur, or Elams Susa in todays
Iran, some of the ancient Near Easts larg-
est metropolises.The city boasted wide
streets, more than 60 deep wells, strong
foundations, and impressive walls, 25 miles
of which have been excavated thus far.
Overlooking the settlement, on the northwest end, was a high-
walled platform that archaeologists dubbed a citadel.
Work at the site continued sporadically during the 1940s
and 1950s, but the last major digs were in the mid-1960s,
after which the government of Pakistan and UNESCO for-
bade new excavations since the opened areas were quickly
deteriorating. Salt had leached from the ancient bricks,
causing them to begin to crumble away. Although millions of
dollars were spent over the next two decades on expensive
pumps in an attempt to lower the groundwater level, that
eort proved futile. It was discovered that the real culprit
was the damp winter air. The fragile ancient bricks have since
been treated with mud slurry, but the results have been mixed
and the sites condition remains a major concern.
Despite its arresting standing remains, however, Mohenjo-
Daro has largely ba ed archaeologists. No rich tombs and only
a handful of small statues and an occasional seal with symbols
that remain undeciphered have been found. There were some
large structures on the citadel, including one dubbed the Gra-
nary (sometimes identied as a meeting hall or public bath)
and another called the Great Bath. But there are no obvious
palaces or temples, in stark contrast to Bronze Age Egypt and
Mesopotamia, where remains of such monumental buildings
are common. At Mohenjo-Daro and other Indus sites, early
archaeologists did nd standardized bricks, common weights,
intricate beads, and evidence of urban planning, all of which
point to a well-organized society with no clear signs of major
and metals gathered from all points of the
compass, and a sophisticated water system
unmatched until the imperial Roman period
two millennia later. Instead of the strongly
egalitarian society imagined by some schol-
ars, most now believe that Mohenjo-Daro had elite families
who vied for prestige, building massive compounds with large
paved courtyards and grand columned entrances on wide
streets. Looming over all was an acropolis dotted with majestic
structures, possibly including an enormous stepped temple.
In the coming year, scientists may have the rst chance in
decades to locate Mohenjo-Daros true boundaries. Michael
Jansen, an architect recently retired from the University of
Aachen who has devoted decades to understanding the site,
says that much remains deeply buried in ne silt. Having
spotted signs of urban life that dont appear on old excava-
tion maps, including the remains of numerous buildings and
masses of pottery, more than a mile beyond the main site,
Jansen predicts that eventually Mohenjo-Daro will prove to
be the Bronze Ages most extensive and most populous city.
Faced with future ood threats, the government of Pakistan
is eager to determine the citys extent so they can decide
how to protect the site. The rst step will be to drill small
cores to determine where the urban center ends and the
ancient countryside begins. Archaeologists hope this will
eventually lead to new excavations.
T
HE INDUS CIVILIZATION, which ourished from
around 2600 to 1900 B.C., once covered a large por-
tion of Pakistan and northwestern India. But until
the 1920s, when archaeologists began excavating Indus sites
Mohenjo-Daro
Dholavira
PERSIAN GULF
Main Indus Region
Ancient Site
Modern City
Modern Border
River
Harappa
Islamabad
AFGHANISTAN
PAKISTAN
INDIA
Farmana
In
d
u
s
R
iv
e
r
Delhi
Excavations at Mohenjo-Daro began in
1921 and have continued sporadically
for almost a century. Beginning at the
exposed top layer, archaeologists dug
down more than 40 feet in some areas to
uncover at least seven occupation layers
spanning more than 700 years.
Fort
larg
prim
Situ
Ple
nea
acr
40
su
tim
la
h
M
I
e
s
f
Overlooking the settle
e
m
d
ly
l-
www.archaeology.org 35
the outskirts of todays Delhi. Recent work by University of
Wisconsin researcher Randall Law demonstrated that stones
and metals from across this vast region circulated throughout
(Letter From Pakistan, September/October 2008). Indus
merchants, mastering the monsoon winds, traded goods with
Arabians and likely conducted business as far west as todays
Iraq. One Mesopotamian text records a court case involving
a Meluhhan, thought to be the Sumerian word for someone
from the Indus, while another mentions a Meluhhan
interpreter at a Mesopotamian court.
I
N THE PAST, MOHENJO-DARO was seen as possibly
the worlds rst planned city, created as a major
capital at the start of the Indus urban phase in the
middle of the third millennium B.C. Jansen still supports
this idea, but others are growing increasingly skeptical.
The problem is the high water table, explains Massimo
Vidale, an Italian archaeologist based in Rome who is
familiar with the site. When you reach [about 20 feet]
below the surface, the groundwater starts to creep into
the trenches. As a result, previous researchers focused
only on the later levels. This is what gave the supercial
impression of a planned city built on virgin soil, says Vidale.
But more recent analysis of potsherds uncovered during earlier
digs includes a type predating the urban phase. And coring at
points in the city reveals some three feet of cultural material
below the water table that might date back to 2800 B.C.and
possibly much earlier. Vidale argues that Mohenjo-Daro is like
other Indus settlements, including Harappa and Farmana, grow-
ing over time from modest, indigenous pre-urban roots, with
large-scale mounds eventually forming what some call citadels.
University of Wisconsin archaeologist Jonathan Mark Kenoyer,
who has worked both here and at Harappa, agrees with Vidale.
warfare or destruction during its 700-year
run. The challenge then was to create a pic-
ture of the civilization using relatively few
artifacts and no decipherable texts to reveal
a political hierarchy, explain religious beliefs,
and expose the workings of an economic sys-
tem. In the mid-twentieth century, Giuseppe
Tucci, an archaeologist at La Sapienza at
Rome, quipped, Every day, we know less
and less about the Indus. Echoing Tuccis
sentiment several decades later, University
of Pennsylvania archaeologist Gregory Pos-
sehl lamented that scholars still didnt know
what the Indus people called themselves
or their cities, and that there were no king
lists, chronologies, commercial accounts, or
records of social organization of the type that
aided scholars of other ancient civilizations.
Over the past few decades, archaeologists
working to answer some of these questions
have identied several other major urban cen-
ters and hundreds of smaller towns and villag-
es that have started to provide a fuller picture
of the Indus civilization. Its now clear that the Indus was not
a monolithic state, but a power made up of distinct regions,
and that it involved a much larger geographical area than
imagined by the 1920s excavators. Covering some 625,000
square miles, the Indus surpassed Egypt and Mesopotamia
in size, and may have included as many as a million people, a
staggering gure for an agricultural society that depended on
the unreliable waters of the Indus River and its tributaries.
Indus sites have been identied
from the shores of Iran to the
mountains of Afghanistan to
V
b
i Among the small finds
from Mohenjo-Daro are
finely worked beads (left)
made from raw materials
brought from around the
region and stamp seals,
including one (above)
displaying an elephant and
some still-undeciphered
Indus symbols.
This bathing facility, called the Great Bath, was sealed with bitumen to retain water,
and may have been at the center of the citys ritual life. Recently archeologists have
identified a second, smaller bath in what likely was a private compound.
ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 36
T
O THE SOUTHEAST OF THE CITADEL is the
lower town, a sprawling collection of boxy,
earth-colored houses whose homogeneity
ba ed early excavators. Sir Mortimer Wheeler, who
excavated at Mohenjo-Daro in the 1940s, despaired
at the miles of brickwork which alone have descend-
ed to us, which he described as monotonous. In
fact, these walls were likely the foundations of the
mudbrick houses built above them. Based on limited
evidence, such as postholes and charcoal left from
roof beams, some later archaeologists envisioned a
city gaily decorated with painted wood and colorful
cloth. Much of this vision, however, is guesswork.
Small wonder, says Vidale, noting that because early
excavators were digging with picks and without
sieves, the workers probably lost thousands of small
nds that might have revealed architectural details.
Now Vidale, Kenoyer, and other scholars hope that by closely
examining the remaining architecture, they can lay to rest the
charge of homogeneity that has dogged modern views of the city.
By comparing the plans of Mohenjo-Daro drawn up in the
early twentieth century to those from Harappa and Dholavira,
a large, recently excavated, and remarkably well-preserved city
to the south in Indias state of Gujarat, Vidale has pinpointed
several palace-like compounds at the site. Each of these
resembles a miniature citadel, and as they grew, he says, their
elite owners competed for status and recognition by enlarging
and beautifying their homes. One palace contains 136 rooms
and is 300 feet long, with a carefully paved brick courtyard
nearly 50 feet by 60 feet at its center. At several compounds,
particularly where they front major streets, archaeologists in
the 1920s found round stones and columns that were long
interpreted as cultic objects. However, recent excavations at
Dholavira, which is built largely of stone, have uncovered many
objects identical to these clearly used as pillars. Vidale believes
these well-crafted and costly artifacts testify to the wealth and
status of some of Mohenjo-Daros citizens.
He also suggests these compounds can tell us much about
the way Mohenjo-Daro was organized and governed, long a key
question. Instead of being dominated by a single lord,
says Vidale, the city was made up of powerful clans
who shared the same ideology. Kenoyer has come
to a similar conclusion about Harappa, which has
evidence of similar walled compounds. He thinks
these structures point to cities controlled by
competing elites, possibly merchants, religious
leaders, or landowners, who lived in their own
well-dened neighborhoods.
Despite its large population and prestige-seek-
ing clans, there does not appear to be signicantly
more concentrated wealth or presence of exotic
goods at Mohenjo-Daro than at other Indus sites.
Mohenjo-Daro, he says, was not the result of master urban
planners who decided to lay out a majestic city.
The nal result, however, was impressive. The citadel
that forms the height of Mohenjo-Daro was clearly a
planned eort, with enormous walls enclosing a raised
platform that is 200 yards long and 400 wide. At its high-
est point sits a prominent structure that 1920s researchers
identied as a Buddhist stupa. These scholars thought the
stupa, which was built with bricks and ringed by what they
called monks cells, had been constructed in the early cen-
turies A.D., when Buddhism was at its peak in the region.
This assumption derived mainly from the discovery of coins
dating to that era. But in 2007, Giovanni Verardi, a retired
archaeologist from the University of Naples, examined the
site and noted that the stupa is not aligned in typical Bud-
dhist fashion, along the cardinal points. The plinth is high
and rectangular, not square as would be expected, and there
is little pottery associated with the later period. He also
concluded that the materials recovered from the monks
rooms were made in the Indus period. Verardi now thinks
there is little doubt that, apart from the mudbrick dome,
the stupa is actually an Indus building. He believes that
it was likely a stepped pyramid with two access ramps,
and that terracotta seals found nearby depicting
what appears to be a goddess standing on a tree
while a man sacrices an animal suggest that
the building was used for religious activities.
Jansen and other archaeologists agree that
Verardis interpretation may be correct, though
they add that excavations are necessary to prove
that his theory about an Indus-era temple is accurate.
If it is, says Jansen, this will turn our interpretations
upside down. No temples have been discovered at
any Indus site, an absence unique among major
ancient civilizations. But the presence of a
stepped platform in the heart of its largest city
would link the Indus with a tradition of reli-
gious buildings that by 2000 B.C. had spread
across the Middle East and Central Asia.
Dominating the city is a massive structure long thought to be a Buddhist stupa.
Some archaeologists now suspect it may, in fact, have been constructed during
the Indus era, but excavations are needed to confirm this theory.
This small statue found at Mohenjo-Daro, dubbed
the Priest-King, is one of very few Indus-period
sculptures depicting a human ever found.
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www.archaeology.org 37
ood forced the citys abandonment. Both of these theories
are now out of favor. Archaeologists now think that the citys
decline was more gradual; though whether economic disloca-
tion or political turmoil was the main cause remains uncertain.
Climate change may also have been a culprit, but scientists are
at odds over whether the region suered from a drought that
might have led Indus urban dwellers to ee to the countryside.
At Mohenjo-Daro questions still outweigh answers. Dating
based on old excavations remains imprecise. There are no plant
or animal remains that would help answer questions about
diet, the economy, and the citys relationship to its hinterland.
There also is no excavated cemetery to tell us about the health
of its citizens and their social standing, or whether people
immigrated to the city from far-ung locations. But Jansen
has assembled a vast archive of photographs and dig reports,
and says that there is an enormous amount of data waiting
to be interpreted. Only 10 percent of the known site has been
dug, and no major excavations are in the o ng. But Fazal Dad
Kakkar, director general of Pakistans museums and ancient
sites, says he hopes to begin coring around the perimeter
soon. These cores could provide welcome new materials for
radiocarbon dating as well as botanical and zoological evidence,
and knowing the citys true extent is critical for conservation
and preservation. Despite the hurdles, Jansen is optimistic
about Mohenjo-Daros future. The city may be twice as big
as we thought, he says. Our task now is to nd its limits.
Andrew Lawler is a contributing editor at Archaeology.
At many Indus sites, archaeologists have found mortars and
pestles that Law determined were made of sandstone from
southern Baluchistan to the west and steatite from northern
Pakistan or Rajasthan to the east. Agate, a favorite stone for
bead-making, was transported from Gujarat to the south.
Lead, meanwhile, was brought from Baluchistan and silver
from Rajasthan, both of which initially appear to have been
prized primarily as makeup. In addition, Mohenjo-Daro was
ideally placed to take advantage of the cherta hard stone
that can be used to make sharp bladesthat litters the Rohri
Hills and the Thar Desert just to the east and was traded all
over the Indus region. Pakistani archaeologist Qasid Mallah
has recently found hundreds of encampments and settlements
that demonstrate that this was a thriving area at the height of
the Indus civilization. And, according to New York University
archaeologist Rita Wright, chert may have sparked the growth
of Mohenjo-Daro as a center of that important network.
As the city grew, so did one its most dening features: good
plumbing. At a time when wells, drains, and sewage systems
were almost unknown in Egypt and Mesopotamia, Indus
engineers were constructing massive brick-faced wellsone
is an astonishing 55 feet deepto provide clean water and a
system of carefully laid drains with just enough slope to keep
water moving to take away the waste. According to Jansen,
almost every house had a bathroom consisting of a basin
or platform about three feet square that fed into the drains
located just below street level. He believes that the investment
in building and maintaining this system, which appears to have
functioned well for centuries, shows more than a desire to stay
clean. Instead, Jansen says, bathing, whether at home or at the
Great Bath, was part of a ritual system dominating Indus life.
B
Y 1900 B.C., HOWEVER, Mohenjo-Daros prosperity and
stability were nearing an end. Wheeler suggested in the
1940s that several skeletons discovered in an alley were
evidence of a massacre, what he claimed to be an invasion of
Aryan peoples from the north and west, an event mentioned in
later Indian texts. Other scholars believed that a massive Indus
Mohenjo-Daros brick streets and walls mark the site as one of
the worlds best-preserved Bronze Age cities.
The Indus builders were master water engineers, and
dozens of wells (above, left) cover the site. Many houses even
included private toilets (above, right).
ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 38
www.archaeology.org 39
One thousand years of spirituality,
innovation, and social development
emerge from a ceremonial center
on Scotlands Orkney
by Kate Ravilious
Nestled between two lakes on the remote Orkney archipelago
in Scotland, the site known as the Ness of Brodgar contains a
succession of Neolithic stone buildings spanning 1,000 years
and was likely an important ceremonial center.
I
N 2002, OLA AND ARNIE TAIT decided they wanted
to change the view from their kitchen window. Rather
than staring at a sheep pasture, they envisioned looking
out onto a wildower meadow full of poppies, corn-
owers, buttercups, and singing birds. Their farm, on
Orkney, a remote archipelago of 70 islands 10 miles o
the north coast of Scotland, sits in a stunning natural setting,
on a narrow strip of land between two sparkling lochs, and is
equidistant from two of the most signicant Neolithic stone
circle monuments: the Standing Stones of Stenness and the
Ring of Brodgar, each less than a mile away. In 2003, the Taits
plowed their eld in preparation for planting that meadow. Just
as they rounded the last bend, the plow brought up a surprise:
a notched slab of stone. They showed the nd to Orkneys
regional archaeologist, Julie Gibson, who thought it might be a
side panel from a Bronze Age stone co n. This nd implied
that there were human remains under the eld, so a test trench
was opened, says Roy Towers, an archaeologist at the Orkney
campus of the University of the Highlands and Islands.
Ten years have passed and the Taits are still not looking at
their wildower meadow. Rather, they have a prime view of one
of the most spectacular Neolithic ceremonial complexes ever
discovered. Spanning a millennium of activity beginning around
5,000 years ago, these exquisitely preserved buildings, including
foundations and low walls, are revealing how Neolithic society
changed over time, and why Orkneydespite its seemingly
Neolithic
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Remote
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ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 40
earlier structures, says Card. What we are seeing really is just
the tip of the iceberg. So far the archaeologists have concen-
trated on a small portion of the sitejust 10 percent of the
total areaand only excavated down to the oor level of the
uppermost structures. In the layers of building foundations,
Card and his team are seeing a clear progression in building
style and architecturea pattern they think may reect some
of the changes occurring in Neolithic society over that time.
T
HE SO-CALLED NEOLITHIC REVOLUTION started in
the British Isles around 6,000 years ago, when new
ideas arrived from the continent. Gradually, hunter-
gatherers settled down in small villages, adopted new stone
tools, and began farming. These agricultural communities were
centered in the most productive areas: southwest England,
eastern England, eastern Scotland, Orkney, and Ireland.
Remains of these communities are relatively rare, as most
British Neolithic dwellings were built from timber and do
not survive. Orkney, however, has few trees, so more, though
not all, of their buildings were made of stone. Stone villages,
such as the Knap of Howar on one of Orkneys outlying
islands, Skara Brae on the western shores of the Orkney
mainland, and Barnhouse, just southeast of the Taits farm-
house, have provided archaeologists with insights into the
domestic lives of these farming communities.
remote locationwas at the center of Neolithic Europe. Thank
goodness the Taits didnt use a deep plow, or else wed have been
looking at a pile of rubble, says Towers.
Instead of digging up a Bronze Age co n in the 2003 test
trench, as they expected, the archaeologists uncovered part of a
nely crafted Neolithic wall. It had sharp internal angles, beau-
tifully coursed stonework, and ne corner buttresses, explains
Nick Card of the Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology, dig
director at the site, now known as the Ness of Brodgar.
The next year the archaeologists embarked on a season of
digging test pits and trial trenches across the eld. To their
delight they encountered incredible Neolithic stonework
in virtually every hole. Realizing that they were looking at a
major Neolithic complex, Card and his colleagues decided
to open up a larger area. For the last ve years, he and his
team have dug for six weeks every summer. So far they have
identied more than 20 structures, and observed even more
through geophysical tests such as magnetometer surveys and
ground-penetrating radar, all enclosed by the remains of a
thick boundary wall delineating a six-acre complexthe size
of three soccer pitches. Carbon dating of animal bone, wood,
and charcoal indicates at least 1,000 years of continuous activ-
ity, from around 3300 to 2300 B.C. The site was likely in use
for even longer. In many cases one structure is built on top
of another structure. The whole thing is sitting on a jelly of
Ness of Brodgar
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The Ness of Brodgar lies close to other Neolithic sites, such as the Ring of Brodgar (left top), Barnhouse (left middle), and Skara
Brae (left bottom). It was likely a key ceremonial site, perhaps seen as a place of spiritual transition.
www.archaeology.org 41
of it. The wall has beautiful stonework on the side facing the
Ring of Brodgar, says Card. Meanwhile, south of the site, what
is assumed to be the continuation of this wall has also been
uncovered, rising to at least six feet tall, with similarly exqui-
site stonework and a agstone pathway at its base. The walls
emphasize the importance of what was happening here, and as
with us today, the Neolithic people approaching this enclosure
must have felt a sense of wonderment and awe, he continues.
The presence of this imposing wall suggests that the build-
ings at the Ness of Brodgar were more than ordinary family
homes. Furthermore, the location, on a natural land bridge
that links the Ring of Brodgar to the Stones of Stenness
(both constructed around the same time as the boundary
wall), seems signicant. It feels very central to
the landscape here, in the middle of a huge
natural amphitheater created by the hills
around, and with water on either side. There
is nowhere else quite like it, says Card.
This spectacular setting, the relationships
among the Ness buildings, the impos-
ing exterior wall, and the proximity
to other ceremonial sites, including
the stone circles and Maes Howe
tomb, suggest that the Ness of Brod-
gar held a powerful place in the spiritual lives
of these people. While excavations at villages
such as Skara Brae and Barnhouse have revealed much about
their everyday lives, little is known of the political and spiritual
aspects of their culture and society. One suggestion, put forward
by Mike Parker Pearson, an archaeologist at University College
London, is that the Ness ceremonial complex separated the
The change to a Neolithic lifestyle also brought
a new form of spirituality. Many tombs were
constructed during the early and middle Neo-
lithic, and by the late Neolithic, around 2500 B.C.,
people were building impressive ceremonial stone circles, such
as Stonehenge. Stone tombs, including the mysterious Maes
Howe, half a mile southeast of the Ness of Brodgar; Unstan,
across the waters of the Loch of Stenness; and many others
scattered all over the archipelago, hint at elaborate burial
practices. Orkneys stone circlesthe Ring of Brodgar and the
Standing Stones of Stennessprovide a tantalizingly incom-
plete glimpse of these peoples beliefs and customs.
Now, however, the discovery of the Ness of Brodgar complex
shows that something truly important was going on here. Seen
from a specially erected viewing platform, the site is a crazy
patchwork of overlapping rectangles, like a carelessly scattered
pack of cards, with each rectangle delineated by a substantial
stone wall. Peeking out from the bottom of this pile are the early
structures, and later additions slice over them, culminating in a
vast, double-walled building. Hundreds of panels of elaborately
carved artwork have emerged from this spectacular construc-
tionmarking it as a truly extraordinary place.
The earliest structures Card and his colleagues have
revealed are a series of oval-shaped stone buildings dating
to around 3000 B.C. In most cases, only fragments of the
buildings have been excavated, with the remainder still buried
beneath later structures. However, the fragments suggest that
the buildings were divided into dierent areas by upright
slabs arranged in a radial pattern like the spokes on a bicycle
wheel. In at least one of these buildings there was a hearth
in the center, and in some there were a few sherds of what is
known as Grooved Ware pottery.
What really sets these buildings apart from other known
Neolithic settlements is the enclosure by a massive stone
wall13 feet widewith a ditch running along the outside
Several phases of construction at the Ness of Brodgar
have left a variety of overlapping structures at the site.
Changes in the architectural style of these buildings
may reflect changes in Neolithic society.
The southern boundary wall at the Ness of Brodgar rises
to at least six feet high and features immaculate stonework.
The massive wall sets the site apart from Neolithic
settlement sites across Orkney.
Sherds of Grooved Ware pottery have
been found at the Ness of Brodgar site. The
style may have originated in Orkney before
spreading across Britain and Ireland.
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ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 42
land of the living at the Stones of Stenness, from the land of
the ancestors at the Ring of Brodgar, and thus represented a
place of transition. Card thinks this is plausible, and wonders if
each nearby community had its own special building at the Ness
site. I think that these communities may have been ercely
competitive, each trying to outdo each other, with visible shows
of prestige and power, he says.
Gradually, environmental changes appear to have intensied
competition between communities, perhaps leading to a more
hierarchical form of society, something that Card believes is
reected in the changes of building style. During this portion
of the Neolithic, Orkneys land was slowly sinking due to a
phenomenon called glacial rebound. When glaciers melt, the
land (which oats upon the Earths molten mantle), relieved of
the weight, rises like a ship with its cargo removed. As this was
happening in western Scotland, Orkney was left on the other
end of a seesaw, being pushed down. Valuable farmland was
submerged by rising waters. This changing landscape would
have made life quite stressful and the ourishing of sophisticated
monuments may have partly been a response to this changing
landscape, says Caroline Wickham-Jones, from the University
of Aberdeen, who has studied the sea-level change in the area.
People may have turned to spiritual matters to make sense of
the changes around them. The monuments and associated
ceremonies may have helped the society organize and work
together, but also likely reinforced a social hierarchy and the
rise of powerful leaders who made decisions for everyone. And
as the water continued to slowly risea process that continues
todaythe neck of land at the Ness of Brodgar is likely to have
taken on even greater spiritual importance, as the only dry pas-
sage between the two stone circles.
For the people living at the Barnhouse settlement, it appears
that the rising waters took their toll around 2700 B.C., when the
site was abandoned. We think the boggier land may have made
it too di cult for them to grow crops, and they abandoned the
village, explains Wickham-Jones. And around the same time, a
new phase of building began at the Ness of Brodgar. Excavations
have revealed that the oval-shaped buildings were replaced by
several much larger buildings with more angular architecture,
including internal stone piers that divide the buildings into
rectangular alcoves. These buildings are three or four times
larger than the dwellings uncovered at Orkneys most famous
Neolithic village, Skara Brae, about ve miles away. Skara Brae
is like a shantytown in comparison to this, says Card. Some of
the new buildings slice over portions of the old oval buildings,
suggesting a fresh start and a new way of doing things.
Four of these newer structures have been excavated,
revealing a series of features: The combination of hearths,
piers, and upright slabs would have guided peoples passage
through the buildings and dened how dierent parts of the
building were used, explains Towers.
One of these buildings, known as Structure 8, has been
excavated down to oor level across half of the interior, pro-
viding clues as to how the building was used. The building,
which measures 60 by 29 feet, contains four pairs of stone
piers, creating 10 alcoves. The central area contains at least
Orkneys Artists
I
NSIDE STRUCTURE 10, also known as the cathedral,
the discovery of ancient grinding stones, containing
little hollows and the remains of pigments, indicates
that the paints daubed on the walls and brushed onto
the pots at the Ness of Brodgar complex were made by
grinding down locally derived minerals and mixing them
with animal fat or egg white to create a paste. The nearby
island of Hoy is known to produce hematite [an iron ore
used to make dierent colored pigments], and not far
away from the Ness there is a known source of galena, a
lead-bearing ore that can produce a white pigment, says
Scott Pike, an archaeological geologist from Willamette
University in Oregon, who has been analyzing the Ness
paintwork. X-ray uorescence spectroscopy carried out by
Pike and his team has shown that the colors are chemically
distinct from the stone walls, conrming that they were
painted on and not naturally occurring.
It seems that only certain parts of the walls were
painted (such as the stones surrounding a door), and only a
small percentage of the pots were colored. What the colors
signied remains a mystery. These colors are sometimes
taken as a strong reference to the self, the body, and its
uids, but colors such as red, white, and black could also
refer to re and its transformative eects. Certain colors
and patterns could also have signied ownership, says Roy
Towers of the University of the Highlands and Islands.
Meanwhile, the carved artwork emerging from the
Ness of Brodgar is puzzling archaeologists. A huge variety
of types of inscriptions has been found across the site, but
some of the most elaborately carved stones were found in
dark corners and deep recesses, where they wouldnt have
been fully visible. Possibly the act of carving the stone was
more important than viewing it afterward. Meanwhile,
some of the faint scratchings are barely visible with the
naked eye, leading to speculation that the bold designs
may have been scratched through pigment.
Painted stonework at the Ness of Brodgar
Carved slab at the Ness of Brodgar
www.archaeology.org 43
during the 2012 dig season. It is a magnicently colored
metamorphic rock, bluey-black as a background, interleaved
with puy white clouds of quartz. Looking at it is like lying
on your back gazing at a summer sky, Towers says. The huge
amount of time, eort, and energy that went into making these
highly prized items, their location within the buildings, and
the special status of the buildings themselves, all point toward
these objects being used in some kind of ceremony or ritual.
Some archaeologists speculate that dierent buildings at
the Ness of Brodgar would have belonged to dierent clans
or settlements. Just as stones from dierent places form the
Ring of Brodgar, I suspect that particular groups are present
at the Ness site by way of big houses, or holy houses as they
have been called, says Colin Richards from the University of
Manchester, who excavated the Barnhouse settlement.
This idea is also supported by the pottery that has been
found at the site. At the time, dierent settlements tended
to have their own motifs for decorating the pottery of their
village or clan. A variety of motifs and colors (another Ness
rstthe earliest evidence of colored pottery from Neolithic
Britain) have been identied among the Ness nds. Distinct
buildings and pottery for dierent communities suggest sepa-
rate ceremonial practices and decision making. We think it
is possible that the pottery was brought from all over Orkney
to a special place, which was the Ness, representing a more
holistic sense of identity between settlements as society
became more centralized, says Towers.
Over time, the interaction of these dierent communities
at the Ness of Brodgar may have contributed to a more cohe-
sive, less fragmented form of societya transition also visible
in the architecture of the site. Around 2500 B.C., construction
began on a single, truly gargantuan building. Measuring 82
by 66 feet (roughly the size of two tennis courts), and with
walls nearly 13 feet thick, this structure was a serious status
symbol. This denitely wasnt an ordinary building; it was way
beyond the norm. It would have been the nest bit of
architecture in northern Europe at the time, says Card.
The Neolithic cathedral, as it has been nicknamed
(Structure 10, formally), had a wide agstone pavement
around the outside of it and an entrance forecourt,
leading to a doorway anked by two standing stones.
Inside the building, archaeologists have traced the
remnants of a square central chamber about 26 feet
across. The masonry was exceptional, with extensive
use of dressed stone and imperfections removed by
pecking them away with stone hammers.
Standing in front of the remains of the Neolithic
cathedral, it seems barely plausible that such a build-
ing could have been built using only stone tools. More
incredible still is that enough men could be spared for
its construction (as they had been for the two mam-
three hearths, and is divided by a number of upright slabs.
These buildings really have architecture: They have been
planned, laid out, and designed, says Card. Interestingly, a
similar architecture is seen in many of Orkneys Neolithic
tombs, such as the Midhowe and Unstan tombs (see Tomb
Architecture, page 44).
Inside the building, Card and his colleagues found evidence
of interior decoration. A number of stones are incised with
geometric patterns, and others have remnants of dierent-
colored pigments on themthe oldest evidence of painted
walls in northern Europe (see Orkneys Artists, page 42).
Archaeologists also uncovered a layer of hundreds of thin
rectangular stone slates, just above the oor level. They all had
carefully trimmed edges; the only plausible explanation was
that they were slates from a roof that collapsed in 2800 B.C.
This is the rst evidence for a Neolithic slate roof in Britain,
and contradicts the prior assumption that all roofs from this
period were thatched. Unlike steeper modern slate
roofs, this one probably had a low pitch, with clay
used to seal gaps. Orkney doesnt have many large
trees, but roof trusses may have been made with wood
from Scandinavia and the Baltic, as well as big pieces
of North American driftwood riding the Gulf Stream.
The roof collapse appears to have taken place
while the building was still in use, encasing a variety of
unusual items exactly where they had been left 4,800
years ago. In some of the alcoves, Card and his team
have found exotic items, including a whalebone mace-
head, stone mace-heads, a whale tooth, and polished
stone axes and tools, along with more familiar items
such as animal bones and pottery. The unusual assem-
blage appears to have been positioned deliberately and
carefully. It looked like people had left these things
and intended to come back to them, or they were votive
oerings to mark the end of this building, says Card.
Similar prized objects have also emerged from the other
contemporary structures, including a stunning polished
stone ax discovered in another building, Structure 14,
A layer of flat stone slates is what remains of a roof that
collapsed around 2800 B.C. It is the earliest known slate roof in
Britain, and one of Orkneys many Neolithic innovations.
A beautifully polished stone ax is among many
exceptional objects recovered from inside ceremonial
buildings at the Ness of Brodgar. Its workmanship and
location suggest some sort of ritual purpose.
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ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 44
eled, and a cross-shaped chamber, 21 feet across, was put in its
place, incorporating colorful local red and yellow sandstone.
Strangely, though, the masonry wasnt up to previous standards,
making the walls a bit uneven. It is a bit perplexing, as this
secondary phase is a bit of a cowboy build, says Card. The
inconsistency in the walls might be due to subsidence into ear-
lier underlying structures, and the remodeling may have been
an attempt to shore the walls up. Throughout the period, the
buildings reect a gradual rise and centralization of power, and
the rise of an elite culminating in a truly hierarchical society
by the time of Structure 10, explains Card.
So what did these elite people do in the cathedral? Inside
each of the recesses of the central chamber, Card and his team
have uncovered stone shelves (locally known as dressers,
and also found in high-status buildings at a number of other
Neolithic sites), which may have functioned like altars. In the
center of the chamber was a hearth with a cow skull placed
upside down in the middle. And like the earlier buildings with
piers and alcoves, a number of exotic items, such as beautifully
polished stone axes and mace-heads have emerged from the
cruciform chamber. Could these objects have been some kind
of ritual oerings? Were the people entering this inner sanctum
the Neolithic equivalent of priests?
Well never know exactly what happened inside these
unusual buildings, but whatever it was it came to an abrupt,
perhaps spectacular, end. When Card and his colleagues
excavated down to the pavement level around Structure 10,
they were stunned to recover the shinbones of hundreds of
cattleenough to have fed thousands of people. Carbon dat-
ing of the bones has revealed that this huge feast took place
around 2300 B.C.approximately the same time as the very
large eruption of an Icelandic volcano called Hekla, which may
have had cataclysmic climate consequences across northern
Europe. The timing could be a coincidence, or possibly this
feast was the Orkney way of ushering in the end of the world.
Alternatively, this decommissioning of the cathedral may
have been a celebration of a fresh start, ushering in Bronze
Age technology, new forms of pottery, new beliefs, and new
burial practices. For now, the answers remain underground.
Kate Ravilious is a freelance science journalist based in York, England.
For more on Orkney pottery, go to www.archaeology.org/orkney
moth stone circles nearby). The scale of the structures tells
us that it was a society that could mobilize lots of people and
provide for them by creating surpluses, says Card.
Despite living in a seemingly remote place, this thriving
population of linked communities appears to have been Stone
Age movers and shakers. They came up with new ideas, designs,
beliefs, and ways of doing things that spread far and wide across
Britain. The Ness of Brodgar ceremonial complex, including
the Ring of Brodgar and Standing Stones of Stenness, is a ne
example of a new social and cultural trend, with the Ness predat-
ing Englands most famous stone circle and ceremonial complex
at Stonehenge by at least a couple of hundred years. Meanwhile,
Neolithic Grooved Warestyle pottery is also thought to have
had its origins in Orkney before spreading across Britain and
Ireland. And inside their buildings the Neolithic people of
Orkney started a colorful trend, decorating sections of their
walls with red, black, and white paints.
The design of the cathedral may have been on the cutting
edge of Neolithic Britain, but it didnt stay the same for long.
By around 2400 B.C., the original inner chamber was remod-
Tomb Architecture
T
HE PROGRESSION IN ARCHITECTURE seen at the Ness
of Brodgar mirrors the architectural progression
seen in Orkneys Neolithic tombs. The very earli-
est tombs, such as the ones on the Calf of Eday, an outlying
island, are simply small oval rooms with radial divisions
scaled-down versions of the earliest buildings at the Ness of
Brodgar. These are followed by stalled tombs, rectangular
structures with stone piers creating a series of stalls down
either side, such as the Midhowe tomb on the island of
Rousay. These clearly reect the rectangular buildings with
internal stone piers seen at the Ness of Brodgar. Finally,
the stalled tombs give way to chambered tombs, which
consist of a central room with an entrance passageway and
side chambers coming o of it, such as nearby Maes Howe,
which is aligned with the winter solstice so that the setting
sun shines down the entrance passageway on the shortest
day of the year. At the Ness, this nal phase is reected by
the cathedral (Structure 10), which has the same interior
shape and alignment as Maes Howe.
The cross-shaped chamber at the center of Structure 10,
also known as the cathedral, represents the final phase of
architectural development at the Ness of Brodgar.
Chambered tomb at Unstan, Orkney
www.archaeology.org 45
T
AMARA BRAY of Wayne State
University walks through a
municipal lot in a suburb of
the colonial city of Ibarra,
in the Andean highlands of
northern Ecuador. At 7,550
feet on the northern slope of Imbabura Vol-
cano, the equatorial sun has an intensity that
burns through the occasional cool breeze.
Chickens peck in the dirt and we can hear
children playing at a school nearby. As we walk
through the lot, which is now an archaeological
site called Inca-Caranqui, Bray explains that
the local people knew this was an ancient
settlement long before the rst archaeological
surveys in the late 1990s. Just across the street
stand two wallsone 130 feet long and the
other 165that were built by the Inca. One
wall has traces of three trapezoidal doorways
with remnants of plaster and pigments.
Ecuadorian archaeologist Jos Echeverra
leads us through the site, down a winding path
Was hydraulic engineering the key to winning the
hearts and minds of a conquered people?
by Julian Smith
Archaeologists are
uncovering remnants
of a large pool
(above) constructed
in Ecuador by the
Inca during the 15th
century. Its elaborate
series of canals may
have been used
to collect water
from as far away as
Imbabura Volcano (in
background).
The Water Temple
of Inca-Caranqui
ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 46
chronicler Pedro Cieza de Len estimated the conict left
20,000 to 50,000 Caranqui dead.
Bray and Echeverra think that in the aftermath of that
bloodshed, the Inca built the pool as part of a construc-
tion project that was meant to demonstrate their power to
their new Caranqui subjects. The ceremonial pool would
have represented a considerable investment of wealth and
labor by the Inca. It also would have showed their skill as
engineers by bringing water from as far as ve and a half
miles away and demonstrated their mastery over a resource
with powerful religious symbolism.
T
HE CARANQUI ARE BEST KNOWN for the dozens of
large earthen mounds called tolas they built between
A.D. 1200 and 1500. The Inca ceremonial pool was
built next to the central part of a Caranqui
settlement that had been about 25 acres in
size. Radiocarbon dates from the site show
that it was occupied on two occasions with a
long period of abandonment in between. Dates
from several burials indicate that an unknown
group of people rst lived at the site sometime
between 40 B.C. and A.D. 80. One of the buri-
als held the remains of a woman over the age
of 40, who Bray believes was an important
person because she was buried seated upright
that follows the low outlines of partially excavated walls. He
explains that, in 2006, he was helping clear debris left over
from a brickmaking operation when he uncovered some Inca
masonry at the east end of the site, which turned out to be part
of a large ceremonial pool about 33 by 55 feet in size. It was dug
to a depth of four to ve feet below the modern ground level
and was surrounded by walls about three feet high. The walls
and oor were made of nely cut and tted stone.
Bray and Echeverra believe the pool may date to a period
in the early 1500s, shortly after the Inca ruler Huayna Capac
had concluded a 10-year war of conquest against the local
people, the Caranqui. Legend has it that Huayna Capac
had every adult male Caranqui executed. Their bodies
were thrown into a lake known today as Yahuarcocha, or
the Lake of Blood, on Ibarras northeast edge. Spanish
Two types of canals (left top) were used to
bring water from the surrounding area into the
site of Inca-Caranqui. The canals led to several
places around a stone-lined pool known as the
Water Temple (above). Water flowed through
grooves carved into stones (left bottom) and
then into the large central pool.
www.archaeology.org 47
into an underground canal, also on the east side.
Spanish chroniclers disagree over which Inca ruler built
these structures and why. One Spaniard, Fernando de Mon-
tesinos, says that it was Huayna Capac, who then departed
for Cuzco but left behind his two-year-old son, Atahualpa, to
be raised by Inca authorities. Another, Juan de Betanzos, says
Atahualpa himself ordered the construction to commemorate
his father, who died of smallpox around 1527, and to celebrate
his upcoming wedding and ascension to the throne.
Bray thinks that each explanation may be partly correct,
noting that the pool apparently went through two periods
of construction. Echeverra points out a large area where
ooring stones had apparently been removed down to the
underlying soil. At the edge of this section, two levels of
ooring are clearly visible: a lower level made of rectangular
blocks, and an upper level of smaller, more polygonal stones.
I think Huayna Capac built the site, and then Atahualpa
remodeled it for his coronation, says Bray. Every new Inca
ruler traditionally founded an estate for his royal lineage and
Bray believes that may have been Atahualpas intention at
Inca-Caranqui. The new oor level would have been part of
Atahualpas remodeling. It could also have been to correct
some kind of functional problem, she admits. Either way,
she says, it was probably the last major Inca construction
project. In 1532, the Spanish under Francisco Pizarro arrived
just as Atahualpa defeated his half-brother Huascar in a civil
war. Within a year, Atahualpa had been executed and the
Spanish conquest was well under way.
with a shell-bead necklace, two folded gold discs, and a large
ceramic dish. The Caranqui themselves probably occupied
the site around A.D. 1250 and continued there until sometime
between 1420 and 1480, a date that came from a radiocarbon
sample associated with an Inca wall. These dates generally
correspond with the time other Inca sites in the northern
part of their empire were being settled. Only a small hand-
ful of Inca ceramics have turned up, which, Bray says, is one
indicator that they werent here long.
Cieza de Len, the rst Spanish chronicler to visit the site in
person, wrote in the late 1540s that even though [the site] is in
total ruins today, one can see that it was a grand place in former
times. He described royal palaces and dwellings made of large,
elegantly cut, and subtly tted stones. Among these was a ne
estanque (pool) made of piedra muy prima (the nest stone).
Bray and Echeverra think they have found the estanque Cieza
de Len recorded. We call it the Templo de Aguathe Water
Temple, Bray says. You nd pools at almost every Inca site, but
theyre usually 10 or 20 square feetnothing like this. Only three
or four sites in Ecuador have this kind of Inca masonry, which
seems to have been reserved for palaces and temples, she says.
We dont know if it was intended to hold water for any signicant
amount of time or not, but it was clearly built for the circulation
of water and people, she adds, referring to the water channels
and the sets of steps in each corner of the pool.
Two distinct styles of canals run through the lot and into
the pool. The larger type was lined and capped with roughly
worked stone. The other was made of stone blocks 20 to
30 inches long laid end to end, each with a grooved channel
carved into it. Bray points out various features to explain how
they think the water circulated. Streams from the slopes of
Imbabura, ve and a half miles away, were directed to the site
through canals and emptied into the pool through a series of
spouts on the south side and a carved stone canal on the east.
The water would have drained through two carved holes and
Water would have drained from the Water Temple through
holes that lead into an underground canal (above left). Steps
at its corners (above) provided the settlements residents easy
access to the large pool. Archaeologists speculate that people
used the space for some kind of water ritual.
ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 48
and aesthetic sophistication, Wright says. Agricultural terraces
were fed by long canal systems, optimized to carry certain ow
rates and prevent washout after excessive rainfall.
They were absolute experts in elaborating the natural
world in a way that made the water both useful and ritual,
says Jerry Fairley of the University of Idaho. He adds that
the Inca had developed a system of groundwater storage at
settlements such as Tipn and Tambomachay near Cuzco,
where walls were built at the bottom of geologic basins to hold
back groundwater in the soil itself. The water could then be
discharged through an opening in the wall.
All these features were fed and drained by channels or
canals that ranged from a few inches to many feet wide, he
explains. They could be covered or open, above- or below-
ground, straight or curved or zigzagged. As they split apart and
joined together, Dean believes, the canal networks followed
the Inca principles of pallqa (division) and tinku (joining),
concepts at the core of their view of the universe as a balance
of complementary forces.
Water was a sacred natural force to the Inca, Dean says, add-
ing, to manage water, to ensure its availability and control its
amount, was to manage the essence of life. In the Inca view, all
water came from a single source called Mama Qucha, embodied
by the ocean and large lakes. It circulated in a continuous cycle
between the underworld, the earths surface, the atmosphere,
and the heavens, where the Milky Way was seen as a giant river.
The Inca considered some natural springs to be sacred plac-
es of ancestral emergence, mirrored by the water itself com-
ing to the surface, Dean says. The Inca often enhanced these
natural sources with ne stonework such as spouts and pools
in places such as the 500-acre royal estate of Tipn. Display
fountains in prominent locations were designed to appeal to
the senses with the sight and sounds of water owing through
channels and over steps or terraces. Reservoirs, holding tanks,
and cisterns arranged throughout the site helped regulate ow.
Some of these features probably served as basins or baths,
places of ritual purication and cleansing, a common practice
in the Andes in pre-Hispanic times, according to Dean.
There was also a denite political element to Inca water
architecture. The idea is to impress the hell out of the natives,
says Gordon McEwan of Wagner College. This may have been
an especially important task in new territories at the edges of
the empire. The Inca were saying, Our emperor is a demigod,
and we control the most important things in life: fertility and
water. The area that is now Ecuador was very rebellious, Dean
explains, and places such as Inca-Caranqui showed what the
new overlords had to oer, both technologically and culturally.
According to Dean, the Inca believed they were bringing
civilization to less developed regions. Part of any Inca rulers
reputation was his ability to increase his territory as a warrior,
Dean says. But equally importantand I think even more
sowas his ability to make that newly acquired land even more
productive than it had been. Destruction only takes you so far.
Afterward, the really important part was to create things.
Julian Smith is a contributing editor at Archaeology.
A
S ARCHITECTURALLY IMPRESSIVE as the site is, Bray
says, its hard to overstate its symbolic importance.
Manipulating water was clearly a huge deal to the
Inca. Theyre manifesting physical control and power over
an important local resource.
Controlling water was essential, says Carolyn Dean of the
University of California, Santa Cruz, because either too little
or too much could be disastrous to crops. As a result, hydrau-
lic features were common in Inca architecture, and many of
them balanced practical, aesthetic, and symbolic elements.
They were drawing on thousands of years of previous experi-
ence, says Charles Ortlo, a hydraulic engineer specializing
in ancient water systems. Earlier cultures such as the Wari,
Chim, and Tiwanaku were experts in manipulating water in
a land with few reliable sources and regular climatic extremes,
from El Nio events to centuries-long droughts.
Its really impressive, what the Inca did without iron, steel,
or written language, says Ken Wright, a hydraulic engineer
who has studied Inca water control techniques. They did
so much with so little, its just miraculous, he says. The Inca
came to power in a period of increasing precipitation, after a
drought that lasted roughly from A.D. 950 to 1200. They took
earlier techniques and raised them to new levels of technical
The floor of the Water Temple was resurfaced with a new
layer of stones, but the reason for the renovation is still a
mystery. One possible explanation is that it was renovated for
the coronation of the Inca ruler Atahualpa.
www.archaeology.org 49
O
NE OF THE MOST SPECTACULAR
examples of Inca hydraulic
engineering is the Stairway
of Fountains, built sometime after
1450 at the city of Machu Picchu. The
fountains supplied the citys inhabit-
ants with clean, fresh water. The rst
challenge the Inca faced was how to
bring water from a pair of rain-fed
springs almost half a mile away from
the rst fountain. At the main spring,
Inca engineers built a 48-foot long
permeable wall that concentrated
the seeping water into a stone-lined
canal. The canal also collected water
from a second, smaller spring. Water
owed to the city through the canal,
which averaged ve inches wide and
ve inches deep, and had an average
grade of about 3 percent. Hydraulic engineer Ken Wright
calculates the system could carry up to 80 gallons per
minutetwice as much water as the springs typical peak
owto prevent overows.
The canal passed under the citys outer
wall, through the agricultural zone, and
under another wall into the residential
zone, where it owed through a series of
16 fountains. Each fountain had a spout
designed to shape a jet of water that was
the perfect size for lling an aryballo, the
clay water jug of the ancient Andes. The
fountains were linked by stone channels
that formed a 180-foot-long cascade of
water with a total vertical drop of 65
feet. The rst fountain was next to the
emperor Pachacutis residence, allowing
him rst access to the water. All the foun-
tains, including Pachacutis, were publicly
accessible except the last one, which was
located inside the Temple of the Condor.
The result was a controlled, depend-
able public water supply that protected
the hillside architecture from erosion. Nothing like it
exists, says hydraulic engineer Charles Ortlo, in an
urban setting at other royal residence sites or at other
Inca settlements. J.S.
Machu Picchus Stairway of Fountains
The square chambers next to a
staircase at the Inca city of Machu
Picchu are part of an ingenious
network of 16 fountains. Each
fountain produced a stream of water
(below) shaped to fill a water jug.
T
HE ANCIENT EGYPTIANS celebrated Osiris,
the god of death and regeneration, at the cult
center of Abydos in Upper Egypt for thou-
sands of years. Beginning in the early second
millennium B.C., the site drew people from
all walks of life to participate in a festival that
dramatized the gods postmortem transformation. During the
festivals main procession, which traveled more than half a mile
across the desert from Osiris temple to his tomb, priests carried
statues of the god and his divine retinue in boat-shaped shrines.
Along the way, Osiris murder was dramatically reenacted. Upon
reaching the subterranean tomb, priests performed rituals
intended to regenerate his inert, mummied body. When the
ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 50
Spectacular nds reveal the millennia-long history of one of Egypts
most important sanctuaries
by Mary-Ann Pouls Wegner
reborn Osiris emerged from his tomb to return to the temple,
the assembled crowd roared and rejoiced in celebration of the
gods victory over his enemies and the triumph of the individual
over death. For the ancient Egyptians, Osiris death and rebirth
served as a model for their own immortality.
The Osiris myth also had political signicance. The Egyp-
tians believed that, in the far distant past, the god had ruled
Egypt. After his brother Seth murdered and dismembered him,
Osiris wife and sister, the goddess Isis, reassembled the scat-
tered parts. Isis then reanimated the gods body long enough
to conceive a son named Horus, whom she raised in secret.
When he was old enough, Horus challenged Seths right to
rule. A divine tribunal judged Horus the rightful heir to the
Gateway to the
Archaeologists uncovered this mudbrick offering chapel dating to the Middle Kingdom, around 1850 B.C., during the 2011 season.
It was located immediately adjacent to the edge of the processional way as it existed in the New Kingdom, more than 400 years
later. The fact that the chapel was allowed to stand in the midst of later construction attests to its continuing use and significance.
The buildings importance may be related to the individual it commemoratedother Middle Kingdom monuments in this prime
area had been razed to allow for new building. The large dimensions of the stela that was once embedded in its rear wall, long
since removed but discernable from the impressions in the mud mortar that held it in place, corroborate the suggestion that the
chapels owner was a member of the high elite. Fragments of Ptolemaic period (the first three centuries B.C.) pottery recovered
from the thick accumulation of deposits in front of the chapel are evidence that offerings of food, drink, and incense were still
being presented at the chapel more than 1,500 years after its construction.
www.archaeology.org 51
throne of Egypt. For millennia the myth served as a model for
the passing of kingship from father to son.
In their eagerness both to secure their own access to the
afterlife and to legitimize their lines of succession, royal
patrons and elite members of society built mudbrick chapels
and erected elaborately carved limestone stelae along the pro-
cessional route to Osiris temple. Those with fewer resources
set up simpler markers or left behind small akes of limestone
painted with their names. Many also brought oerings of food,
drink, and incense in coarse pottery cupshundreds of which
have been found on the siteevidence of popular religious
practices preserved only in the archaeological record.
L
ONG BEFORE SYSTEMATIC EXCAVATION became standard
in Egypt in the mid-twentieth century, Abydos, and in
particular the artifact-rich areas adjacent to the Osiris
temple, now known as the Votive Zone, drew treasure hunters
to the site. In the 1960s and 1970s, excavations carried out by
the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University uncovered
a small area that had escaped disturbance. It had been sealed
under the stone oor of a later temple begun by the pharaoh
Seti I around 1820 B.C. and completed by Ramesses II roughly
20 years later. But apart from this protected area, the Votive
Zone presented a discouraging vista of jumbled pits and spoil
heaps left after centuries of digging and plunder.
In 1996, archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania,
Yale University, and New York University launched the Abydos
Votive Zone Project to investigate the site in a systematic way.
They began with detailed topographic mapping and archaeo-
logical survey, and then carried out selective excavations to
help clarify the phases of development and use of this complex
area. Among the many surprises discovered are the remains of
the small, previously unknown, beautifully decorated limestone
temple of Thutmose III, built around 1450 B.C. (The Chapel of
Thutmose III, July/August 2001). Since then the project has
documented thousands of fragments of this buildings deco-
Netherworld
Royal patrons and elite members of society often placed funerary figurines (shabtis) shaped like mummies near Osiris tomb.
These sometimes bore the names of their dedicators or deceased family members and were provided to perform any work the
dead might require in the afterlife. Many shabtis were made of faience (below, left and second from left), a quintessentially
Egyptian material made of easily molded silica-rich paste that, when fired, produced a glazed surface resembling enamel.
The most typical color of faience is turquoisea result of super-heating the copper in the pastewhich symbolized birth and
regeneration. These examples were found in the tomb of an elite individual dating to about 1100 B.C. The tomb had been built
inside a chapel that was approximately 150 years older. Although the tomb had been robbed long before the 2011 excavations,
the plunderers had left behind almost 50 shabtis, which provide both the name and titles of the tombs owner, possibly Priest of
the [house of] bread, Shed-Aset. A later clay shabti (below, third from left) also found in this context points to the tombs reuse.
The shabtis back (below, right) bears a small fingerprint likely belonging to the child who made it.
ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 52
security force assigned to its protection also discouraged illicit
digging at a time when reports of looting at several sites and
storage facilities across Egypt had proved disturbingly true.
The projects 2011 research focused on the development of
the Votive Zone over its thousands of years of use. Specically,
the team wanted to test the long-held theory that the proces-
sional routes boundaries changed and constricted over the
nearly 500 years between the Middle and the New Kingdom.
Over that time, new oering chapels were constantly being built
along its edges. Egyptologists had long believed that the prime
locations immediately adjacent to the processional route were
available only to people of high socioeconomic status. Further,
they suggested that as these locations were taken up by the large
monuments of elite individuals and associated clusters of small
rated limestone walls and excavated the ornate co n of an elite
21st-Dynasty woman buried with her feet under the chapels
enclosure wall to associate her with its sacred space.
W
ITH THE EVENTS OF the Arab Spring still unfolding
in Egypt, in June 2011, a small but intrepid crew
from the University of Toronto set out for Abydos
to resume work in the Votive Zone. Political uncertainties had
discouraged most other archaeological projects from carrying
out eldwork in Egypt and tourists were in short supply. This
had created real economic hardship for the local population,
who depend on archaeological work at the site, as well as on
income from visitors, to supplement their meager agricultural
subsistence. The teams presence oered a respite, and the
In 2011, archaeologists uncovered this
remarkable royal wooden statue near a
partially exposed monumental building.
The statue appears to predate the building,
and may have originally come from the
nearby Thutmose III temple. Or it may
have been an already-ancient artifact
that was used in sacred rituals carried
out in the monumental structure. The
statue probably derives from a wooden
boat-shaped shrine of the kind used
to transport divine images across the
landscape. Preliminary analysis of the
figures proportions and shape of the jaw
and chin suggest that it may represent
Hatshepsut, a woman who ruled Egypt
during the 18th Dynasty (ca. 14731458
B.C.) The statues discovery and very
fragile state caused a flurry of activity
as archaeologists debated with police
about how best to protect it. Project
archaeologists suggested that the statue
required immediate on-site conservation,
while site security forces felt the artifacts
intrinsic value required its immediate
removal to the regional storage facility.
Eventually a compromise was struck. Increased
security measures around the conservation
laboratory allowed for the statues proper treatment
and storage, ensuring its continued survival.
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iintr
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laboratory all
and storage, e
Wooden figures, such as this sculpture of the god
Horus in the form of a hawks head, often formed an
aegis at the prow or stern of the divine boat-shrines
that were carried in the procession from Osiris
temple to his tomb. Actual examples are extremely
rare, but images of Horus shrine depicted in wall
scenes of the temple built by Seti I at Abydos show
that it featured a hawk-head aegis at both ends.
This highly significant artifact is an example of
ceremonial equipment almost never preserved in the
archaeological record. Its context adjacent to a tomb
also provides clues as to how it was used. At some
point the aegis was housed inside the tomb, possibly
for safekeeping. When the tomb was robbed, the
artifact was removed and discarded along with other
material. This event occurred during or just after the
Persian period (399332 B.C.), and may be evidence
of the last days of ancient Egyptian religion. At
that time, traditional practices were discontinued
or transformed under the influence of the powerful
cultures of Persia and Greece.
www.archaeology.org 53
use and repurposing that saw tombs built inside temple sanctu-
aries, Late Period dog mummies buried in a reused tomb, and
an extraordinary gilded mummy that attests to the continuing
importance of traditional Egyptian religion even during the
Roman period. The nds also include parts of the type of boat-
shaped shrines used in Osiris procession. For more than two
millennia, at Abydos, individual citizens and kings sought to
associate themselves with Osiris in the hope of attaining eternal
life. Though their ways of expressing this desire changed, they
maintained a strong connection with the past and to a commu-
nity of worshippers that, in fact, transcended time.
Mary-Ann Pouls Wegner is Director of the Abydos Votive Zone
Project and professor of archaeology at the University of Toronto.
chapels built by their dependents, the zone gradually expanded
into what had formerly been designated as sacred space o-
limits to construction. Periodic state-sponsored eorts to
establish new boundaries also would have changed the route.
Now entering its fourth season, the Abydos Votive Zone
Project continues to focus its eorts on understanding the
ways in which individuals and the pharaohs contributed to the
development of Abydos ceremonial landscape, and how the
structures they created and artifacts they left behind express
their status, power, social identity, and even their right to rule.
Excavations in the Votive Zone have revealed an extraordinary
range of artifacts attesting to Abydos enduring importance even
as religious practices changed over time. The project has traced
the transformation of structures through an ongoing process of
During the Roman period, after 30 B.C., changes had occurred allowing for burial
in the Votive Zone. This young man, clearly of high status, was found among
the disturbed remains of his robbed grave. Remarkably, his mummified head
still preserves his gilded skin. Examples of skin gilding are also known from
Roman-period mummies discovered at other sites. The strong association of
gold with the sun suggests that gilding the skin highlighted the connection of the
deceased with the solar deity. Few Roman-period mummies have been excavated
previously in the Votive Zone , and the discovery of Roman-period interments across
the processional route indicates that major changes in the Osiris festival had occurred by that
time. Despite the modifications in circulation patterns in this area of the site, the use of the Votive
Zone in the Roman period, more than 2,000 years after the complex of offering chapels was first
built, attests to Abydos long-term significance.
More than
88 dog skulls
were found in a dense
deposit that likely represents
the remains of mummified
animals originally placed as votive
offerings in a reused tomb. At some
point, in the search for valuables, the mummies had been
roughly removed, scattering their bones. The practice of
mummifying animals was widespread in Egypt during the
Late Period, from about the seventh century B.C. onward.
Animals were mummified for different reasonsindividual
animals were sometimes chosen for worship and mummified
upon their death, and pets could be mummified and buried
with their owners. And at Abydos and other sanctuaries
across Egypt, pilgrims could purchase a specially created
animal mummy to offer in honor of a particular god who
took that animals form. The presence of dogs in the Votive
Zone reflects the sites association with the protective
jackal deity, Wepwawet, who preceded Osiris in the festival
procession. The healed fracture on the femur of one of the
dogs from this deposit (right) indicates that some of the
animals used in this way were cared for in life and nursed
through potentially deadly injuries.
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D
uring a car ride through
Frances Dordogne depart-
ment, it doesnt take long to
realize that youre no longer in wine
country. Signs and billboards bearing
words like Cro Magnon and Prehis-
torie and Grotte (French for cave)
are stationed along the highways and
winding roads. Here, the claim to
fame isnt the terroir, but a prepon-
derance of Paleolithic sites, such as
Lascaux, Pech Merle, and Font-de-
Gaume, all of which hold some of
Europes earliest cave paintings.
New York University archaeolo-
gist Randall White has spent the bulk
of the last 18 years here investigat-
ing two collapsed rock shelters once
inhabited by some of Europes rst
modern humans. Abri Blanchard and
its neighbor to the south, Abri Casta-
net, sit along a cli face in the Castel
Merle Valley, just beyond the quiet,
190-person commune of Sergeac.
Abri Blanchard, perched to the
left, and Castanet, to its right, once
housed extended families who con-
gregated here in the winter, possibly
for the purpose of nding mates,
group hunting, and other activities
necessary for survival. At Abri Casta-
net, a steep slope covered by a pile of
fallen rocks, soil, and debris extends
to the top of the cli. Immediately
to the south is a vast clearing. White
says that occupation might have
extended south along the cli face and
deep into the clearing. Today, the eld
is part of Castel Merle, a tourist des-
Structural Integrity
Nearly 20 years of investigation at two rock shelters in southwestern France
reveal the well-organized domestic spaces of Europes earliest modern humans
by Nikhil Swaminathan
LETTER FROM FRANCE
www.archaeology.org 55
Abri Blanchard, the southern end of which
is seen tarped in the distance, is one
of two collapsed rock shelters in Frances
Castel Merle Valley believed to have
been inhabited at one time by some of the
first modern humans in Europe.
ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 56
the exchange of objects and materi-
als with their neighbors. The wealth
of evidence uncovered points to the
development of a highly structured
domestic space with distinct areas
for various activities. Some of those
practices, such as the manufacture
of ornamental beads worn to signify
social standing and the creation of
public art, were likely introduced to
Europe by modern humans.
That was the rst engraved block
to come out of Abri Blanchard since
1911, White says about the plaque
bearing the aurochs. The fact that
Ren was actually there at a place
that 100 years earlier his father
had been excavating and nding
engraved blocks was a rather moving
thing for everybody.
F
orty thousand years ago,
Europe was undergoing the so-
called Middle Upper Paleolithic
transition. As many as 5,000 years
earlier, modern humans, or Homo sapi-
ens, began to enter the continent from
Africa. Other hominins, specically
Neanderthals, were already in Europe.
Over the next 15,000 years, modern
humans ventured further west onto
the continent. Their encroachment
scattered Neanderthals to the Ibe-
rian Peninsula in the west and into
the Caucasus Mountains in the east.
Neanderthals eventually died out
roughly 30,000 years ago.
There is no archaeological evi-
dence pointing to any Neanderthal
occupation in the rock shelters of
Castel Merle Valley. Additionally,
White and his colleagues hypothesize
that there might have been only a rel-
atively short window of time between
formation of the rock shelters from
climatic and geologic processes and
their collapse.
White believes the area was a
wide-open steppe with about 10 per-
cent forest cover. The Vzre River
is less than 200 yards away from the
rock shelters and a freshwater spring
still ows just in front of them. The
average temperature in the region
would have been anywhere from ve
Ph.D. student at the University of
Arizona, told me. She was right.
After removing the slab from the
ground, Whites team determined
that the engraving was of an aurochs,
an ancestor of modern cattle. White
suspects the artwork is about 35,000
years old, though lab results wont
conrm his hunch until early 2013.
Nevertheless, the depiction is likely
one the earliest pieces of art ever
made in Europe.
Among those there for the dis-
covery was 88-year-old Ren Casta-
net, who owns a home a few hundred
yards away in the main section of
Sergeac. His father, Marcel, was the
rst man to excavate Abri Blanchard
back in 1910. Marcels work and
the subsequent modern excavations
led by White produced evidence
suggesting that, almost 40,000
years ago, Abri Blanchard and Abri
Castanet played host to families of
hunter-gatherers who spent the win-
ter huddled around res, engaging in
tination where visitors get the oppor-
tunity to practice throwing an ancient
spear called an atlatl at a hay bale with
a picture of a reindeer on it. White
says, This was Grand Central Sta-
tion for reasons that are not very clear
except for these deep rock shelters.
A few hours after my rst glimpse
of the sites this past July, White and
10 members of his team crammed
themselves under a tarp overhang in
a northern sector of Abri Blanchard.
Excavation director Romain Mensan,
a geoarchaeologist at the University
of Toulouse-Le Mirail, assisted two
graduate students in extracting a
one-foot limestone slab embedded in
the shelters oor. The day before, an
adjoining piece of this block had been
recovered. On its underside was an
engraving of what appeared to be the
rear of an animal. The team hoped
this next piece would provide the rest
of the illustration.
You picked the right time to
visit, team member Amy Clark, a
Archaeologist Randall White (above,
in orange) and Ren Castanet (above
right), whose father Marcel was
the first person to excavate at Abri
Blanchard a century ago, look on as a
fragment of the first engraved block
(left) found at the site in 100 years is
recovered.
www.archaeology.org 57
A
ccording to White, it was
Marcel Castanets discovery
of an ivory bead in a foxhole
at Abri Blanchard that prompted the
rst excavation of this particular cli
face, back in 1909. Castanet owned a
farm overlooking the cli, where the
Auberge de Castel Merle hotel now
stands. He contacted Louis Didon,
to 20 degrees cooler than the roughly
50 degrees Fahrenheit it is today.
The hunter-gatherers who
assembled at Abri Castanet and Abri
Blanchard would have primarily eaten
reindeer, the bones of which make up
more than 90 percent of the animal
remains found. White speculates
they would have been hunted one at
a time. The rock shelters were likely
one of many sites occupied during
what White calls the typical hunter-
gatherer pattern of aggregation and
dispersal. Were a little perplexed
about why all these symbolic activi-
ties are here, White explains. Its a
rather inhospitable place to live. He
notes that Castel Merle would have
had cold air currents, causing it to be
a few degrees cooler than the rest of
the Vzre River valley.
The preponderance of reindeer
near the Vzre might have lured
early Aurignacian people during the
winter because the animals hides
would have made ideal coverings and
clothing. Summer occupation sites
may have been as far ung as Bras-
sempouy, 150 miles southwest, near
Frances Atlantic coast. That site,
famous for its Venus, the head of an
ivory gurine dating back 25,000
years, includes some of the same
ornamentation found at the Castel
Merle sites. Faunal remains at Bras-
sempouy are of reindeer, as well as
horses and bovids, such as sheep,
goats, and wild oxen.
We dont have these peoples
seasonal trajectory gured out, says
White, noting that the evidence
of bead production seen at Abri
Blanchard and Abri Castanet far
outstrips that seen at other contem-
porary sites, like Brassempouy. Much
of the material used to make beads
and other ornamentation comes from
far away. Soapstone from the central
Pyrenees Mountains and seashells
from both the Atlantic Ocean and the
Mediterranean Sea have been found
at Castel Merle. Theres no evidence
that mammoths roamed southwest-
ern France, so ivory could have come
from southern Germany.
an amateur archaeologist and hotel
owner who lived in Prigueux, 30
miles away, to take out a lease on the
site. By June of 1910, Castanet was
digging on Didons behalf.
As Castanet dug, he wrote reports
on what hed found, which he would
(continued on page 60)
Abri Castanet (top), which was first excavated in 1911, is buried by up to 40 feet of
rocks and debris at some points along its 100-foot expanse. Randall White has led
digs at a 300-square-foot section at the sites southern end (above) for 15 years.
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Photo Credits
COVERAraldo de Luca; 1Copyright
Harappa.com; 3Courtesy Douglas V.
Armstrong, Syracuse University, Courtesy
Mardin Museum, Courtesy Max Planck Institute
for Evolutionary Anthropology; 4Courtesy
Mary-Ann Pouls Wegner, Abydos Votive Zone
Project; 6Courtesy Steven Ellis; 9Courtesy
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University of Leicester; 10Courtesy University
of Leicester, Courtesy Mardin Museum;
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Douglas V. Armstrong, Syracuse University,
Courtesy Douglas V. Armstrong, Syracuse
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Laboratory of Anthropology, Courtesy Max
Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology;
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(2); 28Courtesy Melitn Tapia/INAH;
Courtesy Sabine Hornung, Arno Braun (3);
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34 Copyright Harappa.com; 35Borromeo,
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Catalog Number 99071 The Field Museum,
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mates that Abri Castanet was about
six-and-a-half feet high, 100-feet
wide, and about 20 feet deep, with
a ceiling reachable by Aurignacians
standing on tiptoes, allowing them
to modify it. Several blocks found
at Abri Castanet during Peyronys
excavations, as well as Whites, bear
deep gouges in them that formed
raised ring shapes known as anneaux.
According to White, the anneaux
appear both on blocks that would
have been on the oor of the shelter
and on parts of the collapsed roof.
So far a total of 30 of them have
been found on 18 dierent slabs. The
working hypothesis is that they were
used to string up reindeer hides, so
that the Aurignacian people could
close o the front of the shelters and
eectively heat the space.
There were four re features
uncovered in Abri Castanets south-
ern sector. Using magnetic suscep-
tibility, which identies iron-rich
patches of soil that are indicative of
burning, the team was able to identify
a central re pit, roughly one foot
in diameter and one foot deep, dug
directly into the bedrock. It appeared
to have been renovated continuously
for multiple uses.
end of the site. Later, in 1995, when
White began digging at the southern
end, he had to bring in power shovels
to remove the stones and dirt and
expose the artifact-bearing surface.
White excavated the 300-square-
foot Castanet South, as he calls
it, until 2010, recovering 150,000
artifactsfrom limestone blocks to
burnt antler bones to tiny ornamental
beads. His team is meticulous, exca-
vating in two-and-a-half-square-foot
blocks and retaining every particle
down to 0.05 inches in size. Dur-
ing my visit to the site, several crew
members mentioned Whites atten-
tion to detail. And Jean Clottes, an
archaeologist who once served as
director of prehistoric antiquities for
the Midi-Pyrnes region of France,
praises Whites fastidious approach.
What is special about Abri Casta-
net is Randy White took it up with
modern methods. That was not done
in other shelters of the same period,
he says. Hes got far more reliable
results and far more precise results.
B
y carefully studying the
microstratigraphy and com-
position of the limestone of
the collapsed roof, Whites team esti-
send in letters to Didon every three or
four days. Its actually a testimony to
the e ciency of the French mail ser-
vice even back then, letters got to
their destination in a day, says White.
He has relied heavily on the archive of
letters to guide his own work. Didon
could react relatively quickly with
new dig directives. Castanet writes
these reports and he includes in them
wonderful little drawings and describes
where hes excavating, White contin-
ues. We have a really quite remark-
able record that was never intended to
be a eld record.
A couple of months into the
excavation, Castanet wrote to Didon
and described a large limestone
block with a heart-shaped engraving.
Didon sent a sketch of the depiction
to Abb Henri Breuil, a Catholic
priest and amateur archaeologist,
who interpreted it as a vulva. Breuils
interpretation persists today, and the
shape is found frequently at Aurigna-
cian sites (Top 10 Discoveries of
2012, page 29.)
Castanet also told Didon about
an adjacent site to the south with
artifacts likely from the same period.
Didon passed on leasing that site,
but Denis Peyrony, a schoolteacher
in the commune of Les Eyzies-de-
Tayac-Sireuil, who would excavate
20 sites in the region, bit. So, as
Castanet wrapped up his work at
Abri Blanchard at the end of 1911, he
began digging at the site that would
bear his name, Abri Castanet.
P
eyrony once wrote that Abri
Castanet was the most dan-
gerous site he had ever been
associated with. A vertical channel at
the top of the cli face had allowed a
ow of rocks and debris from above
to loosely cover the archaeological
layers and collapsed roof at Abri Cas-
tanet. At the middle of Abri Castanet,
there remained 40 feet of rubble to
get through to expose the surface
that the Aurignacian people lived on.
Thus, Peyronys digs focused on a rel-
atively accessible area at the northern
ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 60
(continued from page 57)
While excavating Abri Blanchard in the early twentieth century, Marcel Castanet
regularly composed letters that included detailed drawings (above) as a way of
recording his finds. The letters have since served as a highly valuable field record
for subsequent digs at the site.
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Field School
ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013 62
S
pecial zones at Abri Castanet
and Abri Blanchard were not
restricted to the practice of
various industries. Art also tended to
appear primarily in specic sectors of
the sites. Both Marcel Castanets and
Whites excavations have yielded sev-
eral blocks with geometric engravings
and a few paintings, done with black
manganese and red ochre, of animals,
such as bison.
Some of the art is found on slabs
that were part of the ceilings of
both shelters, but much appears on
freestanding plaques, including the
engraved aurochs found this summer
at Abri Blanchard. The plaques were
found with their engraved surfaces fac-
ing down, but because their illustrations
follow the edges of those blocks, White
says, the stones were unlikely once
part of the roof. He adds that, accord-
ing to Marcel Castanets notes on his
excavations at Abri Castanet, several
other engraved and painted blocks were
found with their decorated surfaces
turned toward the ground.
One working hypothesis is that
there is, for lack of a better word,
ritual deposition of these things, says
White. He notes that three-quarters
of the engraved blocks were at the
One of the re features is full of
burnt antler bone that White believes
was probably shaped into points with
split bases for hand-thrown spear
tipsthe hunting weapon that pre-
dated the atlatl. Elsewhere,
there are waste int akes
that suggest it may have
been a spot where stone
tools were sharpened.
Twenty percent of the tools
at the site are made of int
from Bergerac, a commune
roughly 40 miles west of
Castel Merle, indicating that
Aurignacians likely came
here by way of Bergerac.
Romain Mensan says the
tool kit found at Castanet
South includes end scrapers,
keeled scrapers, and large
blades with sh-scale pat-
terns that could be up to
nearly a foot in length.
Theres no evidence, however, of
the production of blades, though Pey-
ronys excavation notes include the
discovery of many int cores from
which blades had likely been struck.
White explains that this is further
evidence of the organized distribu-
tion of disparate activities taking
place throughout the site.
White notes there are distinct
areas where certain types of artifacts
are found, and specic activities were
carried out around the central re pit.
To the northwest, toward the front
of Castanet South, is an eight-square-
foot section where 80 percent of the
debris from the manufacturing of
ornamental ivory beads was found.
This is prime bead-making area, he
says.I rst came here because these
sites had yielded so many beads.
Claire Heckel, a Ph.D. candidate
in archaeology at New York Univer-
sity, describes the beads, hundreds
of which have been recovered, as
basket-shaped, rounded at the base
with a little handle. They measure
a quarter of an inch on average and
were likely sewn onto garments with
horse hair or another plant or animal
ber. What was probably driving the
advent of this behavior were distant
social networks coming together that
required signaling your identity to
people who may not know your sta-
tus, Heckel explains.
Nearly 40,000 years ago, Abri
Castanet was a site where some
of Europes first modern humans
made hundreds of basket-shaped
beads (above) from ivory.
Tools found at Abri Castanet include
keeled scrapers made of flint (above
left) and spear points (above right)
made of reindeer bones and antlers.
One of the re features is full of
burnt antler bone that White believes
was probably shaped into points with
Nearly 40,000 years ago, Abri
Castanet was a site where some
of Europes first modern humans
www.archaeology.org 63
White, Blanchard is the
richest Aurignacian site
ever excavated in Europe,
yielding hundreds of split-
based points, bone and antler
pieces, hundreds of beads,
and all the production stages
for their manufacture.
Our work provides really pre-
cious insights into group organiza-
tion and the very highly structured
nature of domestic space in the early
Aurignacian, says White. Not to
bash Neanderthals, Neanderthals are
great. I think they just werent oper-
ating in the same way.
Nikhil Swaminathan is a senior editor at
Archaeology.
dence clearly shows that
some of the rst modern humans in
Europe were making beads.
The resolution on the picture
becomes sharper when you add in
Abri Blanchard. Until about four
years ago, we didnt even know
where Abri Blanchard was, White
says. This whole hillside was com-
pletely wooded. According to
northern end of Abri Blanchard.
What it conrms is that these places
where there are engravings are
perhaps special places with-
in the site. There may be
concentrations of them,
he continues. I think
thats raw material for
thinking about the context
in which art is being done
and seen.
O
ver his 18 years of
work, White has
uncovered a lot of
raw material for thinking about
the daily life of the earliest modern
humans in Europe. When he started
digging at Abri Castanet, White
says, no one knew for certain what
timeframe within the Aurignacian
they were dealing with. Colleagues
assumed, for instance, that body
ornamentation would have been a
behavior that later Aurignacians might
have engaged in. But Whites evi-
An engraved block found at Abri
Castanet bears a hole called an
anneaux, which archaeologists
believe was used for stringing
reindeer hides in order to
close off the rock shelter.
W
ric
ever
yield
based
piece
and all
for their m
Our wor
cious insight dence clearly shows that
hard.
hese places
are
-
out
modern
An engraved
Castanet b
anneaux
believ
rein
clo
T
he second National
Archaeology Day was celebrated
on October 20, 2012. On that
day and throughout the month of
October, the AIA, its Local Societies,
and 125 Collaborating Organizations
from around the world held more
than 275 events in 49 U.S. states, eight
Canadian provinces, and six other
countries (Australia, Egypt, France,
Germany, Ireland, and the United
Arab Emirates). While nal reports
from the various events are still being
collected at the AIA Boston o ce,
organizers estimate from preliminary
accounts that at least 40,000 people
participated in these activities, making
it the single largest outreach event ever
organized by the AIA.
National Archaeology Day pro-
grams generated a signicant amount
of media attention. By the beginning
of November there were at least
500 mentions of the celebration in
newspapers and newsletters and on
websites and blogs. Tis year also
saw a marked increase in the use of
social media, including Facebook and
Twitter, both to publicize the months
activities and to report on events as
they unfolded at various locations
around the world.
Te numbers indicate a signicant
increase in participation over last
years inaugural event (when there
were 14 Collaborating Organiza-
tions, 114 events, and approximately
15,000 participants) and emphasize
the growing popularity of National
Archaeology Day. Te rise in the
number of Collaborating Organiza-
tions is especially noteworthy as a
testament to the commitment of
archaeological organizations around
the world both to cultivating a bet-
ter understanding of the discipline
and to informing people about the
signicance of archaeological heritage.
Te growing interest outside North
America speaks to the global appeal
of an event of this nature. We look
forward to expanding this program
in the coming years and are currently
planning the 2013 National
Archaeology Day. To read more
about the event, please visit
www.nationalarchaeologyday.org
EXCAVATE, EDUCATE, ADVOCATE www.archaeological.org
Success of Second National Archaeology Day
Emphasizes Events Growing P opularity
64
The variety of National Archaeology Day events
offered something for everyone. Clockwise from
left: in Milwaukee, Wisconsin demonstrating how
chicha (maize beer) was made by ancient Ameri-
cans; a mock-dig at Bell County Museum in Belton,
Texas; volunteer day at the Kansas Anthropological
Associations laboratory in Topeka, Kansas; grinding
in Charleston, South Carolina; and mudslinging at
the Pueblo Grande Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. For
more events visit www.nationalarchaeologyday.org
T
his past November, the AIA
Conservation and Site Preserva-
tion Committee announced the
winners of the 2013 Best Practices in
Site Preservation Award: George Bey,
Professor of Anthropology at Mill-
saps College, for his work at Kaxil
Kiuic, Mexico, and Cristina Vidal
Lorenzo and Gaspar Muoz Cosme
of the University of Valencia and
Polytechnic University of Valencia,
respectively, for their joint work on
the La Blanca Project, Guatemala.
Te award, established in 2011 by
the Conservation and Site Preserva-
tion Committee, is given to individu-
als or projects recognized by their
peers for doing exemplary work in the
eld of site preservation and conser-
vation. Trough the award, the Com-
mittee acknowledges these individuals
or projects for their work, supports
their eorts nancially, and publicizes
their methods and techniques as best
practices in the eld.
Beys work at Kaxil Kiuic demon-
strates that archaeology can be used
to preserve not only cultural resources
but also endangered environments.
Bey spearheaded Millsaps Colleges
eorts to purchase and develop 4,500
acres of land in Guatemala. Beys
eorts helped transform the land into
a bio-cultural reserve. Additionally,
Bey developed a method of conserva-
tion that focuses on preserving stand-
ing architecture while monitoring and
mitigating any damage that occurs to
the buildings through natural pro-
cesses. Te projects archaeological
conservation goes hand in hand with
the monitoring and preservation of
the natural environment around the
site. To promote the long-term pres-
ervation of the site, Bey has imple-
mented a number of educational
outreach activities, including site
visits and conservation training, for
local communities.
Te La Blanca Project, codirected
by Vidal and Muoz, also takes a
holistic approach to site preservation
by combining scientic research and
the conservation of cultural heritage
with economic development and
educational opportunities for local
communities. Vidal and Muoz
developed a conservation program
that was integrated at all stages of
research, ensuring the protection
and stabilization of archaeological
structures and resources before, dur-
ing, and after excavation. In addition
to archaeological conservation, Vidal
and Muoz are working to maintain
the integrity of the natural landscape
surrounding La Blanca by prevent-
ing deforestation and conducting
research on the paleoenvironment.
An interpretive center built as part of
the project informs visitors about this
important site and the projects con-
servation eorts. Te projects out-
reach programs provide conservation
training, educational workshops, and
a tour guide training course to help
ensure the long-term preservation of
this archaeological site.
Trough their extensive and com-
prehensive work at Kaxil Kiuic and La
Blanca, Bey, Vidal, and Muoz have
shown a level of commitment to site
preservation and community engage-
ment that we hope will inspire many
others in the eld. To nd out more
about their work and the AIA Site
Preservation Program, visit
www.archaeological.org/sitepreservation
65
D
i
s
p
a
t
c
h
e
s

f
r
o
m

t
h
e

A
I
A









E
x
c
a
v
a
t
e
,

E
d
u
c
a
t
e
,

A
d
v
o
c
a
t
e

AIA Conservation and Site Preservation Committee Announces
Winners of Best Practices Award
Excavating (top) at the Kuche Palace, Kaxil
Kiuic. Main pyramid (above) at the Yaxche
Palace, Kaxil Kiuic.
Ongoing excavation (top) and conservation
work at La Blanca. Workshop (above) for local
staff members at La Blanca.
Local residents visit a photo exhibit celebrat-
ing 10 years of partnership between the town
and the Kaxil Kiuic project.
66
D
i
s
p
a
t
c
h
e
s

f
r
o
m

t
h
e

A
I
A









E
x
c
a
v
a
t
e
,

E
d
u
c
a
t
e
,

A
d
v
o
c
a
t
e

G
oogle has released a new
application for smartphones
called Field Trip that includes
AIAs maps of Archaeological Sites in
the United States and Canada and an
Archaeological Heritage Map of Ire-
land, in the Historic Places & Events
category. As stated on the website for
the product, Field Trip runs in the
background on your phone and when
you get close to something interesting,
it pops up a card with details about
the location. No click is required. If
you have a headset or are Bluetooth
connected, it can even read the info to
you. Te data is sorted into several
categories: Architecture, Historic
Places & Events, Lifestyle, Oers &
Deals, Food Drinks & Fun, Movie
Locations, Outdoor Art, and Obscure
Places of Interest around you.
AIA Google Earth Map Layers Featured in Google Field Trip
T
he AIA has released a 2013 calendar, A Year
of Archaeology, which features photos from the
2011 Photo Contest and of AIA Site Preserva-
tion funded sites. Te calendar can be purchased from
the AIA online store: http://archaeology.k-online
.biz/?loadItem=AIACAL2013. All proceeds from
the sale of this calendar will go directly to the AIA
Site Preservation Program, which works to safeguard
the worlds archaeological heritage for future genera-
tions through direct preservation, raising awareness of
threats to sites, education, and outreach, as well as by
facilitating the spread of best practices. Join the AIA in
preserving the past by purchasing the calendar!
AIA 2013 Calendar Features
Winners of 2011 Photo Contest and
Site Preservation Sites
AIA Second Annual Photo Contest
T
he second annual AIA Online Photo Con-
test was held in October 2012. Contestants
submitted photographs that were divided into
four categories: Archaeological Sites, Excavation,
Field Life, and Fun Finds. AIA members and the
general public were invited to vote for their favorite
photos. Thousands of votes were cast over a seven-
day voting period. A winner was chosen from each
category and each winner received a complimentary
year of AIA Membership.
Two of the winning entries from the 2012 AIA Online Photo Contest: winner of the Archaeological Sites category (above left) , Matthew Piscitellis
Clouds Over Cerro Baul, and (above right) winner of the Excavation category, Nate Ramsayers Getting An Early Start at Tell es-Safi. To see the
other two winning images and more contest entries, visit www.archaeological.org/outreach/photocontest
call: 800-748-6262 web site: www.aiatours.org email: aia@studytours.org
Fascinating itineraries with expert lecturers
India China Greece Turkey Egypt
Peru Italy France Spain Georgia Armenia
Scotland Ireland Mexico & More
Travelers visiting the Broch on sle of Mousa, Shetland slands, Scotland

ARTIFACT
68 ARCHAEOLOGY January/February 2013
A
rchaeological artifacts create not only a record of human behavior, but
can also record past environmental conditions. By identifying the teeth
of 19 dierent shark species that Gilbert Islanders used to make
weapons, conservation biologist Joshua Drew of Columbia Uni-
versity discovered that two species of sharks that once swam in the surrounding
waters are no longer found within several thousand miles of the islands.
Drew is certain that spotn and dusky sharks were once local, since there
is no ethnographic, linguistic, or material evidence for long-distance trade
between the Gilbert Islands and any other place where the sharks might
have lived. He is less clear about what
caused their disappearance from these
waters, but suggests it may have been
depopulation as a result of the
practice of nning, the removal
of the animals n. Sharks are
particularly susceptible to
overshing as they have long
gestation periods and only
a few pups are born with
each pregnancy. If we hadnt
looked into these collections,
says Drew, our perception of
what a healthy coral reef in the
southern Pacic would have
looked like would be totally
dierentand wrong. We would
have had no idea these sharks were
ever even there.
WHAT IS IT?
Trident
DATE
ca. 1855
MATERIAL
Palm wood, shark
teeth, vegetal ber,
human hair, shark or
stingray skin
FOUND
Collection assembled
in the Gilbert Islands,
Republic of Kiribati
DIMENSIONS
28.03 inches long
CURRENTLY LOCATED
The Field Museum,
Chicago
ARCHAEOLOGY Ja
artifacts create not only a record of human behavior, but
d past environmental conditions. By identifying the teeth
shark species that Gilbert Islanders used to make
ervation biologist Joshua Drew of Columbia Uni-
cies of sharks that once swam in the surrounding
hin several thousand miles of the islands.
and dusky sharks were once local, since there
or material evidence for long-distance trade
d any other place where the sharks might
ut what
m these
e been
l
ld
were
Byzantine to Baroque (12 days)
Travel from Assisi to Venice with Prof.
Ori Z. Soltes, Georgetown U., as we trace
the development of art and history in both the
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Throughout we will experience the sources of
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Journey back in time with us. Weve been taking curious travelers on fascinating historical study tours for the
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Great Museums: Berlin,
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(10 days)
View the Egyptian, Classical
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Berlin, Hildesheim and
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Bianchi, Art Historian. For all who
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for their outstanding paintings.
Indonesia (20 days)
Discover the lush tropical islands of Java,
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the magical paradise of Bali. In addition,
we have commissioned private musical and
dance performances throughout our tour.
Prehistoric to Medieval
Ireland (18 days)
Explore Irelands prehistoric and early
Christian sites with Prof. Charles Doherty, U.
College Dublin. Touring will span thousands
of years as we study Neolithic and Bronze
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systems and stone forts. Highlights include
prehistoric Newgrange and Knowth; Dun
Aengus fort on the Island of Inishmore; Ring
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Dublin and Belfast. Our tour is enhanced by
traditional music and dance performances
and lectures by local archaeologists.
archaeological tours
LED BY NOTED SCHOLARS
superb itineraries, unsurpassed service
Classical Greece (16 days)
Tour the major Mycenaean, Classical and
Byzantine sites of mainland Greece with
Prof. Gerald Schaus, Wilfrid Laurier U.
Beginning in Athens we explore the
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and the Bronze Age sites of Tiryns and
Mycenae. Traveling north, highlights
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fabulous museum and the
many monuments associated
with Philip and Alexander.
Archaeological Tours
led by noted scholars
Invites You to Journey Back in Time
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