Ancient Irrigation in the Southwest

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July/August 2009 March/April 2011

INTERVIEW

WERNER HERZOG Origins of Art
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Lost Wrecks of the Adriatic
Life Beyond Imperial China

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MARCH/APRIL 2011 VOLUME 64, NUMBER 2

CONTENTS
features
18 Reading the Yellow River
Preserved by centuries of floodborne silt, a rural landscape offers a new look at the Han Dynasty
BY LAUREN HILGERS

24 The Adriatic’s
Uncharted Past
Once closed to exploration, the waters off the Albanian coast begin to give up their secrets
BY MARA HVISTENDAHL

29 Pieces of History
On one of Britain’s most famous battlefields, early gun fragments hint at a new style of warfare
BY JARRETT A. LOBELL

32 Interview:
Werner Herzog on the Birth of Art
The famed director of more than 60 films speaks with ARCHAEOLOGY about Chauvet Cave

40 The New Upper Class
Recent digs at Copper Age sites across Europe are overturning long-held beliefs about the continent’s earliest cultures
BY ANDREW CURRY

40 Gold artifacts in a burial from Varna, Bulgaria, provide evidence of the emergence of a class system in Copper Age Europe.

Cover: Amphorae mark the site of a 4th-century A.D. shipwreck off the coast of Albania.

1

68

47

14

departments
4 In This Issue 6 From the President 8 Letters
Archaeology of (illegal) immigration, America’s first church, and the endangered fisherman

9 From the Trenches
The expanding archaeological toolbox, Puerto Rican petroglyphs, and recent collapses in Pompeii

on the web www.archaeology.org
■ More from this Issue
Listen to Werner Herzog talk about his new film, Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

12 Reviews
The rise and fall of ancient Egypt and squabbling over a Sumerian city

14 World Roundup
Secret message from the Civil War, a black velvet mask, a Neanderthal family’s grisly end, first groundedge tool, rock art vandals, and the oldest soup

■ Interactive Digs
Read about the latest discoveries at the Minoan site of Zominthos in central Crete.

16 Insider
Ancient irrigation systems in the Southwest point the way toward sustaining modern water supplies

■ Stay in Touch
Visit Facebook to become a friend of ARCHAEOLOGY or follow us on Twitter @archaeologymag

47 Letter from Iraq
An American soldier reflects on his experience at the ancient city of Ur

■ Archaeological News
from around the world—updated by 1 p.m. ET every weekday. And sign up for our e-Update so you don’t miss a thing.

68 Artifact
A working Antikythera Mechanism— made out of Legos

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IN THIS ISSUE
Editor in Chief

Hidden from View
n December , , in the southern Ardeche region of France, three speleologists had climbed the cliffs above the Ardeche River and were picking their way along a mule path that led to a small opening in the cliff face. Once they squeezed through, they began to search for drafts that might indicate the presence of larger spaces. Jean-Marie Chauvet, Éliette Brunel Deschamps, and Christian Hillaire did indeed detect a flow of air. They followed a narrow passage and climbed down into an enormous chamber. What they discovered that night is now known as Chauvet Cave, site of the world’s oldest paintings. Since the discovery of Chauvet, only a handful of researchers has been able to view the extensive galleries filled with sophisticated paintings of horses, lions, and other animals dating back some 30,000 years. This spring, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a new movie by renowned filmmaker Werner Herzog, documents the site, and will offer the public a rare and intimate view of Chauvet’s masterpieces. Herzog, whose films such as Fitzcarraldo and Nosferatu have dealt evincingly with themes of humanness and the soul, spoke with senior editor Zach Zorich. In our interview,“Werner Herzog on the Birth of Art” (page 32), they discuss the new movie, his decision to film in 3-D for the first time, and his unique ties to archaeology. In “Reading the Yellow River” (page 18), ShangPanel of the Horses in Chauvet Cave hai-based writer Lauren Hilgers surveys work in China’s Henan Province to excavate a vast site preserved some 2,000 years ago by the capricious flooding habits of the Yellow River. For the first time, archaeologists are now uncovering signs of a prosperous Han Dynasty farming community. The deep waters of the Adriatic have hidden hundreds of shipwrecks, dating from antiquity and more modern times, due to the decades-long prohibitions against exploration during Communist rule. In “The Adriatic’s Uncharted Past” (page 24), science journalist Mara Hvistendahl joins an international team aboard the R/V Hercules as they explore the Albanian coast for evidence of ancient trade routes. In “The New Upper Class” (page 40), contributing editor Andrew Curry surveys three emblematic Copper Age sites that show how metalworking created both wealth and social hierarchy in ancient Europe. At sites all across the continent, decades of dogma are being overturned as the complex nature of society more than 6,000 years ago is revealed. Plus, microarchaeology helps detect what the eye can’t see, some of Europe’s oldest guns and the Wars of the Roses, ancient lessons for water conservation today, and much more. Happy reading!

Claudia Valentino
Executive Editor Deputy Editor

Jarrett A. Lobell

Samir S. Patel

Senior Editors

Nikhil Swaminathan

Zach Zorich

O

Design Director

Editorial Assistant

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Roger Atwood, Paul Bahn, Bob Brier, Andrew Curry, Blake Edgar, Brian Fagan, David Freidel, Tom Gidwitz, Stephen H. Lekson, Jerald T. Milanich, Jennifer Pinkowski, Heather Pringle, Angela M. H. Schuster, Neil Asher Silberman
Correspondents

Athens: Yannis N. Stavrakakis Bangkok: Karen Coates Islamabad: Massoud Ansari Israel: Mati Milstein Naples: Marco Merola Paris: Bernadette Arnaud Rome: Roberto Bartoloni, Giovanni Lattanzi Washington, D.C.: Sandra Scham
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ARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

A Smithsonian Treasure
This commemorative piece represents one of the biggest “what-ifs?” in numismatic history! It’s a special one-ounce Gem Proof struck in .999 pure silver to the exact design of U.S. Mint Chief Engraver Charles Barber’s entry in the informal competition for the design of the 1907 Gold Double Eagle. As many know, famed sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and his remarkable design won, thanks in no small part to his close relationship with President Teddy Roosevelt. Charles Barber’s pattern was completed in the fall of 1906—shortly after the President asked Saint-Gaudens to go back to the drawing board—and the only known pattern piece resides in the Smithsonian. So why did the President reject Barber’s design? And, why wasn’t Barber’s pattern destroyed as it likely should have been? We may never know. However, had Barber’s design won, we might be talking about $20 “Barbers” instead of $20 “Saints.” Officially authorized by the numismatic experts at the Smithsonian Institution, this special edition Silver Proof features mirrored fields and detailed frosted images. Each has been authenticated by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) in recognition of its historic importance in U.S. coinage history. Order yours today
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FROM THE PRESIDENT

Archaeological Institute of America
Located at Boston University

Ready to Serve
Greetings from the newly elected AIA President
s the newly elected president of the Archaeological Institute of America, it is my great pleasure to pen my first letter to the readers of Archaeology. Over the next four years I will bring you news of the signal initiatives of the AIA, and I will bring to your attention issues and events in the wider world that affect the field and practice of archaeology. I have been fortunate to have served for the last four years as first vice president under our distinguished departing president C. Brian Rose. These years have provided me with an invaluable apprenticeship and I know that our members and our trustees join me in thanking him for his outstanding and selfless service to the AIA and its core mission of education and outreach. That mission is one that has sustained me as well in my several decades with the AIA. I have been an officer of two of our distinguished local societies— New York and Philadelphia—I have served as a trustee on the national board, and I have also chaired multiple board committees. A turning point for me occurred when I began speaking to societies as part of the AIA’s celebrated Lecture Program and was able to meet society officers and members around the country. Volunteers one and all, they selflessly offer their time, intellectual capital, and financial support to ensure the AIA’s success. This spirit of volunteerism is at the core of the AIA and it extends across more than 100 local societies here in the U.S., Canada, and abroad. I will continue to expand that global reach by forging strong relationships with archaeological groups in other countries. I will work with my colleagues at the AIA so that we may take advantage of new technologies and modes of communication to spread our message to a broader public. And I will work to bring attention to the fact that archaeology as a subject of study is under threat in universities. The AIA must lend its name and resources to ensuring the survival of this discipline—for without it there will be no trained professionals to succeed the present generation and carry on the critical work of excavation and research. As I begin my term, I know that I will continue to draw inspiration from our members’ efforts—even as I deepen my own commitment to our mission.
OFFICERS
President

Elizabeth Bartman
First Vice President

A

Andrew Moore
Vice President for Education and Outreach

Mat Saunders
Vice President for Professional Responsibilities

Sebastian Heath
Vice President for Publications

John Younger
Vice President for Societies

Thomas Morton
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 Laura Childs Lawrence Coben Julie Herzig Desnick Mitchell Eitel Harrison Ford Greg Goggin John Hale Sebastian Heath Lillian Joyce Jeffrey Lamia Lynne Lancaster Robert Littman Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis Peter Magee Shilpi Mehta Naomi Norman, ex officio Eleanor Powers Paul Rissman Ann Santen William Saturno Glenn Schwartz Chen Shen Douglas Tilden Claudia Valentino, ex officio Shelley Wachsmann Ashley White John J. Yarmick
Past President

C. Brian Rose
Trustees Emeriti

Norma Kershaw Charles S. LaFollette
General Counsel

Mitchell Eitel, Esq, Sullivan & Cromwell, LLP

Elizabeth Bartman
President, Archaeological Institute of America

Archaeological Institute of America
656 Beacon Street • Boston, MA 02215-2006 www.archaeological.org

6

ARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

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LETTERS
Archaeology of (Illegal) Immigration

I am appalled that you could even consider publishing an article like “The Journey to El Norte,” ( January/ February). It casts a romantic light on illegal immigration. To compare these criminals to the millions of Europeans who immigrated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is an insult to their memories and efforts to give their children better lives. My grandparents came to this country legally. They wanted no handouts, learned to speak English, and eventually owned their own company. To document the trash heaps of these current illegal immigrants as artifacts, as if they are sacred, is beyond credibility.
Debra Stellato Merrimack, NH

Archaeologists at Jamestown discovered the site of North America’s first Protestant church, where Pocahontas married John Rolfe.

As I read “The Journey to El Norte,” I was amazed and disappointed. Regardless of which side of this politically charged issue you are on, it is certainly not archaeology.
Ronald K. Toppings Richmond, KY

2010”) leaves us a bit confused. It states that five postholes spaced 12 feet apart suggest a 60-footlong building. Having constructed a number of post-and-beam buildings, something struck us as odd. If two posts were endposts, they would form four spans, for a total building length of 48 feet. Are we missing something?
Paul and Sarah Schwennesen Winkelman, AZ

Fishing and Shipwrecks

Senior editor Zach Zorich replies: The study of recent material culture may not be for everyone, but it is most certainly archaeology. Jason De Leon’s work is an example of how archaeology can provide a unique perspective on a modern issue. Mass migrations—past and present, all over the world—are an important area of study.
Building America’s First Church

The description of the Jamestown Church (“Top 10 Discoveries of
ARCHAEOLOGY welcomes mail from readers. Please address your comments to ARCHAEOLOGY, 36-36 33rd Street, Long Island City, NY 11106, fax 718-4723051, or e-mail letters@archaeology.org. The editors reserve the right to edit submitted material. Volume precludes our acknowledging individual letters.

William Kelso of Historic Jamestowne replies: A 1610 description of the 1608 Jamestown church established its overall dimensions as 24 feet by 60 feet. If its posts are spaced 12 feet apart, there should be a total of 14 postholes around its perimeter. Excavations, as yet incomplete, have so far revealed eight postholes, and it is almost certain that the remaining six will be found when digging resumes this spring. Other compelling evidence that this is the 1608 structure is four aligned burials in the east end of the structure, and a 1608 map that appears to locate the church where the postholes were found.

In the list of “Sites Under Threat” (“Top 10 Discoveries of 2010”) you assert that fishing is destroying shipwrecks worldwide. As the daughter of a commercial fisherman, I was very disappointed, as the article appears to contend that fishermen are somehow inherently destructive. Trawl fishermen stay clear of shipwrecks on their charts because those areas can damage their gear. It is misleading to suggest that they are simply “hauling huge nets across the ocean floor” without any regard for what’s on the bottom. It’s unfortunate that historic shipwrecks are under threat, but the New England fisherman is also becoming an endangered species. We have to share the ocean, and if the public wants to eat healthy domestic seafood in the future, they must understand the threats facing our fishermen as well. Supporting more closures in Stellwagen Bank to protect shipwrecks furthers the assault on generations of fishermen who are increasingly losing their fishing rights.
Tove Bendiksen New Bedford, MA

8

ARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

LATE-BREAKING NEWS AND NOTES FROM THE WORLD OF ARCHAEOLOGY

New Instruments Enter the Archaeological Toolbox

R

ecently, excavators uncovered a crucible at Tell es-Safi/Gath, the site of a tenth-century b.c. Philistine city in southern Israel. Many excavation teams would have continued digging, overlooking nearby evidence. Instead, thanks to the presence of instruments that are more typically found in a laboratory, the Tell es-Safi/Gath team— which includes chemists, zoologists, and metallurgists—took a time out. Several square yards surrounding the crucible were examined in excruciating detail. Samples of sediment were tested, and scientists confirmed the presence of copper and iron as well as hammerscale, flakes of iron that fly off when the metal is forged. These results answered a puzzle that Chemists and other natural scientists at the Tell es-Safi/Gath site offer had perplexed researchers for years: Although there is much evidence of met- immediate anaylsis of finds. Their results can help determine where to dig next. allurgy throughout early Iron Age Israel, Mediterranean. He calls this novel approach to archaeolarchaeologists never find workshops. “There’s very little ogy “microarchaeology”—“like ‘microbiology,’” he says, infrastructure,” says Steve Weiner, a researcher at the “which is the biology of things you can’t see with the eye.” Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel. Here, finally, was In addition to allowing excavators to glean more informaclear evidence that a metalsmith worked at that location. tion from the evidence they find, the methodology also “You go around with your anvil, like the gypsies used to avoids a reliance on off-site labs where samples from digs do, and make a pot on the spot. And you move on and are sent for analysis, which can delay results for months leave nothing.” to years after an excavation. The use of devices such as infrared spectrometers and With Weiner in tow, however, if archaeologists uncovX-ray fluorescence analyzers is allowing archaeologists to ered, say, a white, flat layer, they could pass a sample to read deeper into the archaeological record, beyond what him for immediate analysis. Weiner could then load can be seen by the naked eye. Thomas Levy, a researcher it into his infrared spectrometer, which shines a light at the University of California, San Diego, says that more similar to the one a remote control uses to change the and more excavators are taking this new approach. “The channels on a TV on the sample. The instrument disportability and the drop in price of these high-precision plays a spectrum with peaks corresponding to the unique scientific instruments are creating a sea change in the way wavelengths of light that a material absorbs. In this case, that we do field archaeology,” he says. it quickly tells excavators whether they’ve uncovered phyIn the late 1980s, Weiner, whose background is in toliths (silica-based remnants of ancient vegetation) or geology and chemistry, began accompanying archaecalcite (a primary constituent of limestone, as well as of ologists on digs, carrying with him a first-generation man-made plaster). portable infrared spectrometer. Since then, he’s traveled Recently, Weiner and colleagues at the Weizmann with such equipment to sites in China, France, and the
9

www.archaeology.org

FROM THE TRENCHES
Institute exploited the fact that the infrared light is probing the bonds between atoms in a material to take the analysis one step further. The heights and widths of the peaks on a spectrum offer clues to how tightly the atoms are arranged— taller, sharper peaks indicate more disorder—allowing Weiner to differentiate between subtypes of calcite: sedimentary limestone, plaster used in building, or wood ash, which is evidence of fire-related entities, like ovens or kilns. This year, Weiner collaborated with two materials scientists, Kristin Poduska at Memorial University in Newfoundland and Stefano Curtarolo at Duke University, to refine his method and provide a framework for extending it to materials beyond calcite, such as bone. Over time, bone that’s not well preserved tends to recrystallize—meaning its internal structure tightens, becoming less disordered, and samples become poor candidates for radiocarbon dating or DNA analysis. “If you can check right away,” says Poduska, “you can say, ‘Wow, these bones aren’t very well crystallized—we should take more samples.’” On-site analysis of a crucible at Tell es-Safi/Gath provided Curtarolo believes the first evidence of ancient Philistine metalwork. that in 20 to 30 years, scientists could develop spectral finCase in point: the metal-making gerprints for the majority of minerals center at Tell es-Safi/Gath. Says dig that archaeologists might encounter director Aren Meier, an archaeologist during excavations. at Bar-Ilan University, “Perhaps some Microarchaeology offers not just of these barely noticeable areas where quicker analysis of finds on-site, it metal production was conducted also allows excavators to restrategize would have been plowed through in digs on the fly based on solid the past.” knowledge of what they’ve found. —Nikhil Swaminathan

Many people get away to Puerto Rico during the winter, but few know it was a home of the Taino people before Columbus arrived in the Americas, and that Taino culture is alive and well there. Archaeologist Miquel Bonini of the Puerto Rico State Historic Office recommends that vacationers hit La Piedra Escrita in the town of Jayuya, where there is a huge,

river-bound boulder covered with 86 prehistoric Taino petroglyphs.
The site La Piedra Escrita, or “The Written Rock,” is 32 feet high and 13 feet wide, and rests right in the middle of the Rio Saliente, in the central forested, mountainous region of the island. About half the petroglyphs on it resemble people, a few have animal shapes, and others are geometric or

abstract. The petroglyphs date to sometime around A.D. 600–1200, but the significance of the boulder is unknown. Getting there It should take about two hours by car from San Juan to reach Jayuya, a town known for its deep love of its Taino heritage. There is no fee to view the petrolgyphs, and there is a recreation area, restrooms, and a parking lot. A wooden boardwalk leads down to the river for a closer look, but Bonini requests all visitors to refrain from touching the boulder. While you’re in the neighborhood In Jayuya, check out the Museo el Cemi, designed to represent Taino divinities. It is full of Taino artifacts for those curious to learn more about Puerto Rico’s indigenous people. Also nearby are the Caguana Ceremonial Ball Courts, a group of 30 restored courts, called bateyes, that date back 700 years. One of them is the largest of its type in the Caribbean. To learn more about the Tainos, Bonini recommends Irving Rouse’s The Tainos: The Rise and Decline of the People Who Greeted Columbus. —MALIN BANYASZ

10

ARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

Recent Collapses in Pompeii

P

ompeii is one of the most visited archaeological sites in the world. The extraordinarily well preserved remains of the Roman city buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in a.d. 79—luxurious homes containing some of the finest ancient fresco paintings, streetside bars that provided the city’s inhabitants with a quick snack, and still-standing temples, theaters, and brothels—attract more than 2.5 million visitors and bring in more than 30 million dollars annually. But the November collapse of the so-called “School of the Gladiators” and several ancient walls has once again thrown the spotlight on the reality that Pompeii is falling down. The primary cause of last year’s collapses was days of torrential rain that taxed the city’s drainage system and

thousands of buildings that are more than 2,000 years old and covers roughly 160 acres, is in “a constant state of emergency.” Andrew WallaceHadrill, director of a major project to conserve the nearby site of Hercula-

neum, says, “These collapses are a warning to us of much, much worse collapses that could easily happen. The whole site [of Pompeii] is at risk.” —Jarrett A. Lobell

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may have broken down some of the ancient mortar and weakened the walls. Just days after the collapses, a UNESCO team visited to see the damage and recommend how the site might best be preserved. As of this writing, they are scheduled to return for a second assessment. Many Italian government officials in charge of protecting the country’s cultural heritage, and scholars who work in and study the site, agree with archaeological superintendent Jeannette Papadopulos’ evaluation. She says that the site, which includes
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REVIEWS
BOOKS

A New Look at Ancient Egypt
ome stories never fail to fascinate, such as the knowledge and writing skill to hold the reader’s attention discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb, with which for more than 500 pages. Cambridge Egyptologist Toby Wilkinson opens While this book is accurate in most of its details, y is by nature interpretive, his brilliantly told history, The Rise and history Found on Pharaoh e, and som Fall of Ancient Egypt (Random House, some of Wilkinson’s ideas are Shoshenq II’s mummy, unconvin $35.00). But those familiar with the unconvincing. One example is his this pectoral was intended to magically ensure his ll thesis that th ancient Egypt was pristory of Tutankhamun’s discovery will resurrection. maril find some minor inaccuracies. Hismarily a brutal culture, ruled by phar tory tells us that Howard Carter pharaohs who cared little for the comm did not, in fact, find amulets and common man. As an example of the health disparities between ritual objects inside each coffin the up when he came upon the tomb. But upper and lower classes, he compa readers should not be put off. The compares tomb paintings of health book is a masterful introduction to healthy-looking elites with the bones of peasants who suffered ancient Egypt for a general audience. from a range of debilitating disWilkinson uses the Palermo eases. It is not a fair comparison. Stone, a fragmentary list of the early The paintings p kings of Egypt carved during the are idealized; the actua Fifth Dynasty (2450 to 2325 b.c.), actual bones of Egyptian elites als as a platform from which to tell also show the ravages of dise his story of Egypt’s earliest pharaohs. ease. Tutankhamun suffered tails m Along the way he selects revealing details multiple bouts of malaria, as the Ram to answer questions such as: What was Rameses II had a massive infecearliest papyrus found in Egypt? (Kemeka’s of Dynasty I.) tion in his mandible, and Amenhotep III had excruciating And which was the first bronze vessel? (Khasekhemwy’s, dental abscesses. Wilkinson’s account, despite these small Dynasty II.) As he describes the early cities and objects drawbacks, is an enjoyable history of Egypt packed with found there, Wilkinson demonstrates both the detailed details not found elsewhere. —Bob Brier

S

EXHIBITIONS

Squabbling Over a Sumerian City

I

n 1889, University of Pennsylvania archaeologists began excavations at Nippur—one of the world’s earliest cities and the most important religious center of the Sumerian civilization—located in modern-day Iraq. Archaeologists & Travelers in Ottoman Lands, which will be on display at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology until June 26, tells a tale of discovery, diplomacy, and deception involving the three men responsible for much of the early archaeology at Nippur: John Henry Haynes, Hermann Vollrath Hilprecht, and Osman Hamdi Bey. Haynes served as field director on Penn’s excavations at Nippur. Hilprecht, who officially led the project, avoided the harsh condi-

The Nippur temple excavation photographed by John Henry Haynes in 1893. ARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

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BORA ÖZKÖK / Cultural Folk Tours’ 33rd year
tions on-site, instead staying back in relatively cozy Constantinople. There, he ingratiated himself with Hamdi Bey, the director of the Ottoman Empire’s Imperial Museum, founder of what would become the Istanbul Archaeological Museums, and author of a restrictive set of laws limiting foreign excavations within the empire. To gain access to sites and artifacts, Hilprecht arranged for Penn to award Hamdi Bey honorary degrees and buy some of his paintings for exorbitant prices; two of these paintings are on display. The exhibited artifacts from Nippur illustrate the trio’s story. Particularly noteworthy are never-beforeseen black-and-white and sepia-toned landscape photographs that chronicle Haynes’ extensive travels around the Ottoman Empire. While the exhibition tells us more about the three men than it does about ancient Sumer, a collection of 16 cuneiform tablets provide details about life in Nippur. A severely fractured piece bears an inscription that uses sexual imagery to describe digging a canal. Another is a receipt for the sale of a slave for 20 silver shekels. Several school tablets clearly contrast the meticulous, tiny cuneiform of an advanced scribe and the clumsy, large markings of a novice. During a decade of excavating at Nippur, Haynes helped uncover the Temple Library, which held 23,000 of these tablets. Hilprecht, however, stole the credit for this and other finds, earning him headlines in The New York Times and eclipsing Haynes’ career. After being revealed as a fraud and accused of mismanaging the collection of tablets, Hilprecht resigned from Penn in 1910—the same year that both Hamdi Bey and the emotionally shattered Haynes died. In the final analysis, Archaeologists & Travelers in Ottoman Lands is aptly named. It offers a fascinating behindthe-scenes look into what impelled these three personalities with different motivations to dedicate themselves to Nippur. —Nikhil Swaminathan
www.archaeology.org

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WORLD ROUNDUP
NEVADA: In the world of graffiti writers, location is important—tagging an inaccessible or notable site is an achievement. This spirit often leads to serious damage. In a recent incident, a vandal covered three panels of ancient Native American pictographs at Red Rock Canyon with maroon spray paint. It’s the worst damage the site has seen in years, and cleanup may cost upwards of $10,000. The suspect the police have identified may face federal charges. VIRGINIA: An encrypted message in a bottle dating to the Civil War has been removed and deciphered by codebreakers. “You can expect no help from this side of the river,” began the unsigned message, which is in a museum collection. It was meant for Confederate Lt. Gen. G John C. Pemberton, in response to his request for aid a during the Siege of Vicksburg V in Mississippi. But the t note never reached his hands—it was dated July 4, 1863, 1 the date he surrendered to t Ulysses S. Grant. ENGLAND: Silk k inside and black velvet vet outside, this rare 16th-century vizard, or mask, would have been worn to hide or protect a gentlewoman’s face while e traveling. The small white thread read by the mouth was once attached to a bead, also found with the mask, that she would have held in her mouth to keep the mask in place. It was secreted away in a stone wall, perhaps as a “witch deposit,” a common practice for warding off maleficent forces.

PERU: Acoustic scientists have resurrected the ancient, booming sound of decorated shell trumpets from Chavín de Huántar by playing the 2,500-year-old pre-Inca instruments. They also used computers to simulate the acoustic properties of the site’s ceremonial center and found that the sound from a shell trumpet—20 were found at the site—could have created sensory disorientation that might have been used in rituals or to enforce social hierarchy.

CHILE: The country’s mining industry— brought to the world’s attention during last year’s dramatic rescue of trapped miners— began some 12,000 years ago, when the Huentelauquen people mined iron oxides as pigments. Their recently discovered mine, which is estimated to have produced 50 tons of pigment over 8,000 years, is the oldest securely dated mine in the Americas.

SPAIN: In 1994, the jumbled remains of several Neanderthals were found in a cave called El Sidrón. Scientists recently determined there were 12 individuals— six adults and six children— and that they were massacred together and cannibalized. The gruesome scene is also providing some of the first detailed evidence of Neanderthal social structure. Mitochondrial DNA shows that they were a family—the three adult males were related, though the three females were not. This suggests that Neanderthals were patrilocal—females left their own families to join their mates.

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ARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

By Samir S. Patel
ISRAEL: During the construction of a mikveh, or ritual bath, in Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter, archaeologists found an older bathing pool, built and used by the Roman Tenth Legion. The troops were garrisoned there after A.D. 135, when the Roman city of Aelia Capitolina was established following Hadrian’s destruction of the old city. The location of the find supports an emerging theory that Aelia Capitolina was larger than previously thought.

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INSIDER
By Brian Fagan

Phoenix’s Looming Water Crisis
Could the solution be under the city itself in the vast and ancient irrigation networks of the Hohokam people?
California in the midst of a multiyear drought, I wondered just how long it would be before promiscuously expanding Phoenix imploded in the face of chronic water shortages triggered in part by a culture of urban excess and waste. The statistics are daunting: More than 1.8 million people live in Phoenix itself, and a further 22 cities surround it in the Valley of ctober 2008. The the Sun, forming the largpropjet’s engine est metropolitan landscape slowed and I woke by area in the United States. abruptly, watching an almost Each year the valley receives surreal urban landscape come about seven inches of rainfall. into view as we descended. Average temperatures exceed The sun was setting behind 100 degrees for three months us, casting long shadows, a year, with peaks as high as but Phoenix shimmered 120 degrees. beneath us. Broad streets We descended gradually, led into the far distance, bumping gently in the late and huddled apartment afternoon turbulence, and buildings and carefully passed over the meandering ordered subdivisions were Salt River, its waters yellowscattered over arid terrain. brown in the hazy sunlight. High-rise office buildings Once this was the land of the towered incongruously over Huhugam, meaning “somethe desert. Everything was thing that is all gone” in the yellow or buff-colored except O’odham language. To archaefor occasional splashes of ologists they are known as the green—golf courses, parks, Hohokam, an ancient people and irrigated farms seemed who faced the challenges to have sprung up without of this dry and changeable notice from the dry landscape. environment for more than Dozens of blue swimming a thousand years and turned The city of Phoenix was built on the ruins of a Hohokam settlement that is between 1,500 and 550 years old. The this inhospitable desert into pools adorned suburban remains of a canal network are still visible near the airport. a thriving urban and agriculyards. Over to the left, the long, straight line of an tural landscape. In some ways aqueduct ran to the distant horizon. the story of the Hohokam offers an Copyright ©2011 Brian Fagan. All of this urban sprawl depends example of how to live sustainably From: Elixir: A History of Water and on finite water supplies pumped in this landscape, but it also reveals Humankind by Brian Fagan. Reprinted from deep beneath the earth or what a difficult balancing act it is. by permission of Bloomsbury Press. (continued on page 54) delivered from afar. Coming from a At a time when water is still relatively inexpensive and abundant, at least in the industrialized world, it is easy to forget that controlling water was a necessary first step to feed and quench the thirst of the people who built the first cities. Brian Fagan’s soon-to-be-released book Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind, provides an in-depth examination of the history of water control. For thousands of years, societies have found inventive ways to provide water for their fields and their people in spite of fickle climates. It is no exaggeration to say that civilization itself is built on a foundation of water. This excerpt from Fagan’s book centers on the Hohokam people, who used an elaborate network of canals to support a society that flourished in the area around Phoenix, Arizona, until about 550 years ago.

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ARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

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. R. Kidder often says that a river is like a text. It leaves behind telltale layers of silt, carves channels when it runs quickly, and makes patterns in the sand when the water is low. If that is the case, he says, then China’s Yellow River is one hell of a read. Kidder, a geoarchaeologist at Washington University in St. Louis, is standing in a place where the river once flowed, at the bottom of a hole dug 30 feet into the layers of sediment it left over millennia. The bands of colored mud provide a timeline—Kidder’s feet are somewhere near the end of the Pleistocene, around 10,500 years ago, while his head is a few feet below the Han Dynasty, 206 b.c.–a.d. 220. In the cross-section of sediment, Kidder sees the undulating furrows of an agricultural field and, in the layer of red clay above it, the fate of a 2,000-year-old farming community. In this stretch of peanut fields and peach trees in the northern part of China’s Henan Province, near the village of Sanyangzhuang, archaeologists have discovered an entire landscape sealed away by the whims of the Yellow River. Kidder is at the site of a remarkably well-preserved rural homestead. Footprints are still visible in the fields, and within the collapsed walls of a courtyard, intact millstones and ceramic food steamers look like they are waiting to be used. Two thousand years ago the Yellow River

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Reading the

YELLOW RIVER
Preserved by centuries of flood-borne silt, a rural landscape offers a new look at the Han Dynasty by Lauren Hilgers
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took this place by surprise and preserved a never-before-seen picture of farming life in the Han Dynasty, far from any imperial city, across an area so large it will keep archaeologists busy for generations. The river had broken its banks a few miles away and Kidder imagines—invoking Carl Sandburg—that the water came in “on little cat feet,” in a slow trickle at first and then faster. The Han settlement was in a low spot, a dangerous place to be considering the Yellow River’s well-earned reputation for caprice. The water rose and rose until the entire area was flooded. Its residents traveled roughly 40 miles to reach higher ground, leaving behind tile-roofed houses and well-maintained fields. They abandoned coins and farming tools and looms still in use, and traveled along roads that still bear the tracks of their wooden wheels. The Yellow River covered it all in thick, heavy silt. Today, though the river has meandered north, the county is still called Nei Huang, or “Inside Yellow”—a reminder of how much time it spent under water. Archaeologists have now excavated four homestead sites here, which they refer to as
www.archaeology.org

A Han Dynasty homestead site in China’s Henan Province, surrounded by what was once a moat, was preserved in silt when the Yellow River burst its banks and flooded the area around 2,000 years ago. At lower left, archaeologist Liu Haiwang climbs out of a pit dug into thousands of years of river sediments.

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Stacks of roof tiles near one ancient house were waiting to be used in repairs when the Yellow River washed into the area. They include, according to Liu, some of the largest tiles ever found.

compounds. Each compound consists of a house, made of a series of covered rooms and courtyards surrounded by a rammed-earth wall, and the area immediately around it. One compound was surrounded by a moat, another by trees. Each of the four is within 500 yards of the next, and tests indicate there are at least 12 more sites within a few square miles. A bit further afield, the top of a Han Dynasty wall is visible, hinting that an entire city might lie in wait. Kidder jokes that if this find had been made in America, where manpower is more limited, overwhelmed archaeologists might have covered it back up and run. After three years of visiting the site each summer, the American archaeologist still seems amused by his good fortune. Kidder, a self-proclaimed “river guy” or “dirt guy,” has spent most of his life studying the Mississippi River. He is most at home with mud in his hands, examining it through glasses that cling precariously to the tip of his nose. His Chinese host, Liu Haiwang, is a senior researcher at the Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology and the head archaeologist at the site. He is thin and polite and extremely organized. While Kidder examined silt, Liu measured the scope of their archaeological task by putting together a meticulous 10-foot-square diorama of the area, with little blue lights flickering around every possible new site. “The area is huge,” he says. It also presents a conservation challenge—the state of preservation is so excellent that the archaeologists are hesitant to disturb the first layer of collapsed roof tiles and risk exposing what is underneath to Henan’s up-anddown climate. “We have to be careful; we have to go slowly,” says Liu.

A few yards further they hit more tiles—a collapsed roof. Two archaeological finds in one ditch were enough cause to notify the local authorities, and Liu’s institute sent him to investigate. He examined the find, read the patterns on the roof tiles, and dated the remains to the first half of the Han Dynasty. The construction crew changed direction again and Liu left for another project in the city of Chongqing. Two years later he returned to follow up on the earlier discovery. “It wasn’t until 2005 that we realized how significant the find was,” Liu says. “We found the fields.” The Han Dynasty fields at the site are preserved so perfectly that once they are exposed it looks as if they’d been plowed last week. The furrows begin just beyond the walls of each compound and Liu, citing historical records of farming practices, estimates they extend for around four square miles. The fields confirm an important feature of the site—it is no monument, tomb, or tiny outpost, but an active farming settlement, a picture of everyday rural life from around 100 b.c. to a.d. 40. This is new territory for archaeologists in China, where most work is focused on imperial sites and cities, about which Chinese rulers and historians kept meticulous records. Here, however, Liu has a segment of society that has been left out of the histories and has been unexplored archaeologically. This is China’s first look at a farming community far away from the gates of an imperial capital, outside the protective walls of any city. Over five years of excavation, Liu has uncovered a surprisingly interconnected and prosperous settlement. “There are historical records that tell us what life was like in Chang’an and Luoyang,” he says, referencing the capitals of the Western and Eastern Han Dynasties, respectively. “But in China’s plains, the lifestyle was different—we’ve never researched it before because we’ve never had the material.” In most parts of rural China, when peasants left a place like this, they took their pots, plows, and tools with them. But at the site outside Sanyangzhuang, life was in motion when the water came. Roof tiles are carefully stacked outside of one

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f Kidder is a reader of rivers, Liu is fluent in ceramic tiles. He first came to Sanyangzhuang in 2003 on a familiar errand. A construction team digging an irrigation ditch hit what appeared to be a wall and a pile of roof tiles. So they changed direction.

A corner roof tile is decorated with the characters “Yi Shou Wan Sui,” or “long life,” a decoration reserved for well-to-do households. ARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

house, to be used for repairs. Weights used for weaving sit under the base of a loom. The largest of the four sites, Compound Two, has been completely uncovered. The warehouse-sized stretch includes the house itself, a well, the beginning of a field, and a large depression that Liu thinks might have been a seasonal pool. The house features a large entry courtyard and kitchen, living quarters, and a smaller courtyard tucked away in the back. Piles of cracked roof tiles, which fell when the flood collapsed walls, cover the site today. The curve of a large ceramic pot—perhaps for storing water—peeks out from what was once a covered room. So far, archaeologists have also found coins, bronze and stone tools, and more pottery, even without excavating many of the enclosed rooms. Liu picks up a tile and runs his fingers lightly over shallow, closely spaced ridges and round depressions.“Late Western Han,” he says. Another tile has a mesh pattern, as if it were dried on a burlap sack. “This is more typical during Eastern Han,” he says. Some of the bricks used for the homestead’s walls and flooring have unusual patterns, stripes Liu has never seen before. “Maybe they had a local kiln operating nearby,” he says. The tiles point to a unique period in China’s history. The four hundred years of the Han Dynasty were unusually peaceful, bracketed by periods when warlords struggled for control— the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods before, and the Three Kingdoms period after. According to histories, this lasting peace allowed the development of new cultivation techniques, such as crop rotation and improved plows. The flood probably came during a brief interlude in this history of peace and advancement, the 14-year Xin Dynasty that marked the transition from Western to Eastern Han. At that time, Wang Mang, a Han Dynasty official, had seized the throne from the ruling family and spent his few years in power trying to implement a series of land and tax reforms. Kidder guesses that the flood played a role in ending the usurper’s rule. Written records mention a break in the Yellow River around a.d. 11 that caused famine and mass migration. The fleeing of the Han settlers, combined with
Patterns in clay bricks and roof tiles can be used to date the site. The top two patterns come from a tile that might be unique to Sanyangzhuang. The next dates to the late Western and early Eastern Han, while the bottom became prevalent during the Eastern Han. www.archaeology.org

In a protective structure over Compound Two, Kidder and Liu compare theories on a mysterious collapsed structure.

a massive drought, helped catalyze a series of agrarian rebellions and bring about the downfall of Wang Mang. By a.d. 25, a descendant of Western Han royalty had retaken the throne, establishing the Eastern Han Dynasty, which lasted for another 200 years. he Han settlement that Kidder and Liu are studying was neither the first nor last to end up under water. A pattern—common to floodplains all over the world—repeated over the centuries here: occupation, flood, and abandonment, over and over again. No matter how many times the water came, people kept coming back for the rich, river-enriched soil. While Kidder examines silt near the bottom of the 30-foot hole, Liu stands on a platform halfway back to the surface, where there is another field preserved in silt, as yet undated. This pattern occurs because the Yellow River is a flowing mudslide. The river normally carries an enormous silt burden, and a flood can increase it dramatically. During a 1958 flood, for example, sediment levels in the river were measured at 35 pounds per cubic foot, and an observer described its surface as “wrinkled.” The river was primarily dirt. The Yellow River flows in a braided stream, a network of smaller channels that weave in and out of each other. “Think of the river coming into Henan like a loose hose,” says Kidder. “It’s
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just spraying all over the place.” In each channel, silt slowly builds the riverbed above the surrounding landscape and gives the river the devastating habit of breaking its banks and changing course. In some places, where water flowed slowly or not at all, sediment could accumulate and preserve whatever was below. In other places, it might flow fast and furious, carving deep channels. A flooding Yellow River might crush one ancient household and preserve the next. The sediment left behind changes depending on the river’s mood. In Kidder’s excavation, the cross-section, or profile, of each flood has a different color and texture. Kidder’s reading of the Han flood reveals two distinct layers: one rustcolored and syrupy to the touch, the other dark brown and composed of a denser, thicker mud. The flood was part of a centuries-long cycle, but its two phases were uniquely suited to preserving the landscape. A slow initial flood allowed a protective layer of silt to settle to the bottom, and then a second, stronger flood brought more silt that sealed it all away. The first stage would have undermined the foundations of buildings and walls. When the second wave came, roofs collapsed and sank into the layer of mud already covering the ground below. “Then there was a period of time when the river was relatively still,” says Kidder, who guesses the area stayed under water for nearly 50 years while the river slowly carved out a new path elsewhere. More floods would come, including a strong one in the Tang Dynasty (a.d. 618–907), but higher up the dirt in Kidder’s profile becomes loose and sandy, a sign that the river had settled in elsewhere. The monumental volume of sediment is key to preserving
The condition of the Han Dynasty sites is so pristine that in many cases the archaeologists stopped at the level of collapsed roofs to protect what lies beneath.

the landscape so well—a river with less silt would simply erode away whatever lay in its path. And a more austere, less prosperous settlement would have left little behind to suggest its existence. “To get something like this, you need a river system that buries things and a cultural system that practices things on this scale,” Kidder says. he prolonged stability of the Han would have helped the Sanyangzhuang settlement prosper and expand from simple agriculture to trade, silkmaking, and a whole range of cultural production including ceramics, textiles, and stone-carving. The land they worked was likely their own and they benefited from it. “These were not peasants,” Liu says.“These were people with connections to trade and comfortable lifestyles.” Signs of their prosperity are scattered throughout the site. An indoor toilet at Compound Two is one of the most opulent Liu has seen. “There were bricks covering the floors,” he says emphatically. An average family would have been content with packed dirt. Some of the roof tiles are the largest Han Dynasty tiles on record, about the size of a movie poster. Archaeologists also uncovered corner tiles with the Chinese characters for “Yi Shou Wan Sui,” or “long life,” imprinted on the end—a mark generally reserved for high-ranking families. A system of roads uncovered nearby suggests that each household was connected to the surrounding community and probably beyond. Liu is particularly excited to show off stumps of mulberry trees and the imprints of their leaves, evidence that one household was involved in silk production. “This could be the real start of the Silk Road,” he says. Their silk could have made it to the imperial capital and from there to as far away as Baghdad and Byzantium, with Roman

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gold coins filtering back in return. Without the security that allowed for the flow of silk and wealth, Liu conjectures, compounds like these could never have been built. The Sanyangzhuang sites are unusual not only for their apparent prosperity, but also for the rare example they provide of farmers living permanently outside the protection of city walls.“During the Warring States period, farmers would live inside cities and go out during the day to work,” Liu explains. “Or they would live in smaller towns and go out to cultivate their fields during certain times of year.” That settlement pattern persisted throughout Chinese history and Liu guesses that many farmers still lived like that during the Han. In Sanyangzhuang, however, the farmers appear to have lived exposed on the plain, building large houses a few steps from their fields and a comfortable distance from their neighbors.

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oday, with the Yellow River 20 miles in the distance and no roving warlords, the Sanyangzhuang sites are facing a new set of threats. Henan’s climate—cold in the winter and wet and hot during the summer—can be hostile to an exposed site. A large warehouse has been constructed over a portion of the site, part of a recently opened tourism complex that includes a small museum. The building is not air-conditioned, however, and in Henan’s summer, the exposed parts of the Han Dynasty layer develop a thick green sheen of mold. Liu has experimented with a range of anti-mold agents and thinks he has found the right formula. The other excavated sites have all been recovered with loose dirt until Liu can get permission to build additional structures and prepare conservation treatments. The cautious archaeologist also faces dilemmas courtesy of the Yellow River. Unlike Pompeii, where in some places volcanic ash and lava fragments filled houses and preserved their structures, the river collapsed the buildings as it preserved their contents. Typically, Kidder says, excavators would record and chart what they had discovered, and then go deeper. This site is so well-preserved, however, that Liu has stopped at roof level, wanting to keep the outline of the houses and collapsed roofs complete. He hopes to excavate further at some sites but leave others as they were found. This way, he says, archaeologists and visitors can understand both life in the settlement and the way the disaster unfolded. “There will be some difficult decisions to make,” Liu says. There are so many layers of occupation, he points out, that archaeologists could potentially keep digging past the Han Dynasty into the Warring States period and beyond. Despite his cautious approach, Liu is eager to see what lies underneath the roof line. In Compound Two, he says, it’s possible the family would have kept

Henan’s hot and humid climate makes mold a pressing challenge once portions of the site have been exposed. The team believes it has found the right anti-mold agent.

Farm tools, like these millstones, provide archaeologists with a rare glimpse into rural life during the Han Dynasty. www.archaeology.org

a bamboo book, in which a wealthy or aristocratic household recorded its daily affairs. “If we want to find and preserve a bamboo book, we will have to proceed carefully,” he says. The book would likely be very fragile but could provide important details on community and household management. For now, Kidder and Liu are puzzling over a mysterious indentation. A section of the Han Dynasty layer a few yards behind the compound has been washed away, replaced by a stretch of rubble—chunks of rammed earth and broken tile that lie at an incline, as if they had settled into the side of a riverbed. Interspersed in the rubble are smooth glazed pottery sherds, an easy read for Liu.“Tang Dynasty,” he says, well after the end of the Han. The archaeologists guess that a braid of the Yellow River settled here during the Tang Dynasty flood, carving its way through the soil and uncovering a collapsed wall that was once part of the homestead at Compound Two. Too heavy to be swept away, the tiles and rammed earth of the wall simply slid toward the center of the river before another layer of sediment settled on top of them. As they were sinking in this new silt, Tang pottery sherds that had been swept downstream lodged in the sludge. But that still leaves the question of what kind of structure the tiles and rammed earth came from. “Maybe this was a pigsty or a storage room,” Liu says, examining the base of the wall. “It seems too big for a pigsty,” argues Kidder, who is eager to start digging for more clues. He clambers past Liu to the base of the wall. “Can I cut a profile right here?” he asks. Liu, silent and thoughtful, raises his eyebrows. “He is good at keeping me in line,” laughs Kidder. ■ Lauren Hilgers is a freelance writer based in Shanghai.
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he R/V Hercules is anchored in the Adriatic Sea near Saranda, Albania, and the crew of the 110-foot-long research vessel is at attention. “Back deck, stand clear of the wind!” RPM Nautical Foundation (RPMNF) founder George Robb bellows into a walkie-talkie from his seat in the boat’s control room, deep in the belly of the ship. “Winch going out, winch going out!” Up on deck, two crew members ease the massive, milliondollar SeaEye Panther Plus remotely operated vehicle (ROV) off the stern. With two spindly arms and a boxy frame, the submarine robot resembles a cross between R2-D2 and a construction crane. The SeaEye is about the size and weight of a golf cart, but a single Kevlar cord attached to its protective metal cage holds it up and out over the water. The apparatus breaks the surface of the water, and the boat heaves from the sudden lightening of its load. As robot and cage plunge into the Adriatic, a video feed streams from a camera bolted to the top of the cage to one of the dozen computer monitors in the sunless control room. “Give me TMS full-screen here,” Robb calls out. “Is it off ? Kill it and reopen it.” The monitor goes blank and then flickers on again. Next to Robb, ROV operator Kim Wilson fiddles with a joystick, his lips clamped shut. He has the silent intensity of a boy steering a remote-controlled car. “Give me lights!” Robb shouts. Wilson flicks a switch and another camera—there are six in total—reveals the sea as a crystal-clear, turquoise expanse punctuated only by air bubbles. RPMNF archaeologist Jeff Royal inches forward on his leather recliner to get a better view.

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The Adriatic’s
Once closed to exploration, the waters off the Albanian coast begin to give up their secrets by Mara Hvistendahl

Uncharted
ARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

Past
www.archaeology.org

Hiding more than 200 feet down is a wealth of untouched finds, encompassing everything from ancient Roman trade vessels to medieval warships to World War II fighters. Until recently, decades of isolationist Communist rule meant Albania’s waters were off-limits to archaeologists and even the recreational divers who sometimes discover sites. “Up to the 1990s the coast was protected,” says Adrian Anastasi, director of the department of nautical archaeology at the Albanian Institute of Archaeology.“You couldn’t do nautical research because the military had control.” But that control also means that Albania’s underwater treasures have been well-preserved, insulated from the trawling and waterfront development that have ravaged other portions of the Mediterranean and Adriatic. Democracy came in 1992, opening the coast to archaeologists, and

Above, the SeaEye remotely operated vehicle investigates a 1,600-year-old shipwreck that contained amphorae from Tunisia. At far left, the crew of the R/V Hercules lift the SeaEye out of the Adriatic and back onto the ship.

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in 2007 Anastasi’s institute began surveying the waters in collaboration with RPMNF, a Key West–based nonprofit foundation that specializes in nautical archaeology. Together, they have been discovering shipwrecks at a dizzying pace. In four short years, they have uncovered 32 wrecks—eight of them more than 1,600 years old—in Albanian waters. “No one had done anything like this in Albania,” says Auron Tare, director of the Albanian National Trust, who helped set up the survey. “It’s completely uncharted territory.” The region’s waters contain so many wrecks, in fact, that RPMNF mostly focuses on ancient finds, leaving more modern sites largely unexplored. For several months each summer, the Hercules trolls the coast, conducting detailed surveys and using the SeaEye and divers to explore potential wrecks. The long hours at sea can be grueling: Robb, Wilson, Royal, Anastasi, Tare, and the rest of the ten-member crew bunk in tiny rooms belowdecks, and despite the fast pace of discovery, the team sometimes goes weeks between finds. The daily monotony during these dry spells is broken only by dinner, which is prepared by a Michelin-rated chef. (As a former Wall Street financier, Robb can afford a few indulgences.) To find sites worth exploring in detail, the crew spends weeks scanning the ocean floor with multibeam sonar, bouncing sound waves off it to map its topography. Poring over the resulting charts, Robb and Royal look for anomalies, telltale red spots that indicate increased elevation. If the spots are surrounded by depressed green areas—features they jokingly refer to as “doughnuts”—it suggests the anomalies have been there long enough for currents to carve out the surrounding seafloor. A doughnut could mean an ancient wreck, but it could also indicate modern debris—more than once the team has stumbled across sunken plastic beach chairs. The sonar
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Righting a Cold War Wrong

Where was the HMS Volage?
n October , , the British ship HMS Volage struck a mine off the coast of Albania—a collision that blasted apart the destroyer’s hull, killed dozens of its crew members, and helped spark the Cold War. As the matter, one of a trio of clashes that became known as the Corfu Channel Incident, went before the United Nations Security Council and the International Court of Justice, tensions between the United Kingdom and Albania escalated, resulting in the two countries severing relations for over four decades. But just where the Volage’s bow sank—the rest of the ship was towed to safety—has been a serious matter of debate. The international court found Albania liable for damages— suggesting the country had planted mines in the international waters of the Corfu Strait. Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha, meanwhile, maintained that the British had provoked Albania to find a pretext for an invasion. “The Corfu Channel Incident is a concoction of the British from start to finish,” Hoxha reportedly told Joseph Stalin in 1947. Hoxha’s view suddenly gained credence in 2009 when a survey conducted by the RPM Nautical Foundation and the Albanian Institute of Archaeology uncovered the bow of the Volage off the coast of Saranda, Albania—not in international waters, where most historians thought it was.
ARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

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RPM Nautical Foundation founder George Robb and archaeologist Jeff Royal watch from the ship’s control room as the SeaEye ROV investigates a possible wreck site.

narrows down the possibilities, but the team must use the SeaEye to determine a site’s identity. They also use divers, but the robot is preferable, especially at deeper sites, as it can stay underwater longer and gather more data. When the SeaEye reaches a point two yards above the ocean floor, Wilson looses the ROV from its cage and steers it toward the target anomaly they identified on the sonar scan of the area. The trick is to keep the robot hovering at a steady depth to prevent it from stirring up blinding clouds of silt. Hit bottom, says Robb, and “it’s like a pickup on a Texas road.” Royal, the archaeologist, keeps a watchful eye on the wall of screens. The robot’s arms—critical to retrieving any particularly interesting or diagnostic artifacts—are not working, and the FedEx shipment containing replacements is still a few days away, delayed by Albanian bureaucracy. Though they’re in the midst of a weeklong dry spell, Royal knows each anomaly is a potential shipwreck—and that a few of those can reconfigure ancient history.

ust  years ago, Croatian maritime archaeologist Mario Jurišić wrote that the history of the Albanian coast was “almost entirely unknown.” He asserted, “It is only certain that maritime trade occurred in this area, and that ports that paralleled the navigational route must have existed here.” That is an understatement. The Adriatic’s position between ancient Rome to the west and the important Aegean and Black Sea economies to the east means that it would have hosted a great deal of ship traffic—and shipwrecks. Well before RPMNF started working in the area, other finds pointed to the region’s economic importance. In the early twentieth century, archaeologists unearthed Butrint, a majestic city founded in the seventh century b.c. at the southwestern tip of Albania, and occupied from the Bronze Age through the Ottoman period. And yet from the standpoint of nautical archaeology, the Albanian coast, from western Greece north to Montenegro, was a “gigantic blank spot,” says Royal, a genial, wisecracking man who turns serious when discussing Roman history. “It seems so obvious,” he continues.“It’s an area you’d think would be under a lot of influence from the economic and political development happening in the region.”

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was neatly arranged, much as it “The bow is very close to the shore, would have been onboard—sugand in a different position than in the gesting the hull sank quickly, as a official record,” says James P. Delgado, vessel that hit a mine would have. director of maritime heritage for the “The dishes were still stacked,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric says Delgado. Administration, who joined the survey Auron Tare, director of the that summer, when he was president of Albanian National Trust, folthe Institute of Nautical Archaeology lowed the discovery with research at Texas A&M University. in the British National Archives. The discovery came about when He found a four-minute reel of Delgado, an expert in twentiethfilm, shot from another ship, concentury wrecks, learned that the firming the Volage was close to year before, the team had found the shore when it exploded. Togethremains of a wreck measuring about Dishes and a canteen were seen in the wreckage er, the discoveries upend decades 40 feet in length but had moved on of the bow of the HMS Volage. The Cold War–era of Cold War gospel.“All evidence after determining the ship was moddestroyer (below) was in Albanian waters— proves that the British ships ern. Delgado wondered whether it where it shouldn’t have been. were not on innocent passage as could be a piece of the Volage. claimed,” says Tare, “but on a military operation.” The team returned to the site to investigate. As the By suggesting that the United Kingdom, and not Albania, remotely operated vehicle reached the ocean floor, was at fault in the blast, the Volage ruins “rewrite our underDelgado spied a partially buried steel hull lying on standing” of one of the first incidents of the Cold War, says its side in the mud, misshapen in a way suggestive Delgado—a change with repercussions for geopolitics of damage from an explosion. Electrical wiring today. “We live in a world,” he says, “that is still strongly established that the ship dated to World War influenced by the Cold War.” II or later. The surrounding debris, meanwhile,

www.archaeology.org

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January 12, 1945. Another particularly striking modern find is the long-missing bow of the HMS Volage, which is rewriting a controversial bit of Cold War history (see sidebar on page 26). Nautical archaeologists are just starting to understand the region, Royal stresses. But that is an improvement on years past, he adds. “Before, archaeologists didn’t even know what questions to ask.” he mood in the control room is tense. Wilson steers the SeaEye toward the anomaly using a 3-D model of the seafloor generated by the ship’s GPS. Robb and Royal are antsy, their eyes glued to the wall of monitors.“This is when we turn into little kids,” This early amphora, made in Sicily or southern Italy, probably carried wine Robb says. in the 5th or 4th century B.C. Such finds are changing our understanding Suddenly in the corner of one screen a long, of the place of the eastern Adriatic in ancient trade networks. curved, gray-green object pops into view. “That is an anchor!” Robb says, smiling. But in the absence of more archaeological evidence, it was “It’s a long daddy,” Royal chimes in, as the full object hard to say with certainty what role the area played in regionappears on-screen. Octopus eggs hang off the curved fluke, al trade. As a result, many historians embraced a narrative and the shank is covered with tiny crustaceans. A lobster put forth by ancient Roman texts—that the eastern shore of clings to the tip. the Adriatic was in fact not so economically critical, and that Where there is an anchor, there is often a wreck, and now the Illyrians, the people who inhabited it, were pirates, not the expedition’s team members wonder whether they’ll break traders. Polybius (ca. 200–118 b.c.) summed up what would their dry spell. “This is a good sign,” Robb says, to no one in become the prevailing analysis of Balkan maritime activity in particular. Tare jogs in from the next room and kneels on the Book II of The Histories: “For a long time previously they [the floor to get a good look. Illyrians] had been in the habit of maltreating vessels sailing Wilson steers the SeaEye west, then north. A school of from Italy, and now while they were at Phoenice, a number fish swims into view—another good sign, since fish tend to of them detached themselves from the fleet and robbed or hide in wreck debris. The fish disappear, and a rectangular killed many Italian traders, capturing and carrying off no column, long and fuzzy with sea life, takes their place. small number of prisoners.” “Looks like wood!” Royal shouts. Today, RPMNF and the Albanian Institute of Archaeol“Yep, wood,” Tare says.“Wow.” Then everyone is talking at ogy are changing that interpretation. The surveys of Albaonce. “That looks like a cannon!” “Looks like a cannon lying nian and surrounding waters have uncovered wrecks that on something.” “Wow, there’s a lot of stuff here.” “A cannon give strong evidence of trade. Last summer in Montenegrin and an anchor—that means a ship!” waters just north of Albania, RPMNF found a wreck site The ship’s hull long ago disintegrated, but sure enough, the covered with amphorae of a type known to have originated team has found a wreck. The SeaEye’s cameras reveal a ram, in Sicily and southern Italy, dating to the fourth century two anchors, and fragments of five cannon. Robb announces b.c., suggesting a clear commercial route across the Adriatic. the discovery over his walkie-talkie, and the rest of the crew The ship, Royal says, “would have been coming from Italy or crowds into the tiny control room—captain, chef, videograSicily and continued right past northern Albania and into pher, divers, and engineers, all vying for a look. Wilson traces Montenegro”—providing further evidence that the region’s the outline of the wreck with the SeaEye, and Royal decides, people were traders rather than pirates. Royal believes the based on the features of the cannon and anchors, that they region may have also hosted trading partners for Corinth, the are looking at a ship from the early eighteenth century. Later ancient city-state in southern Greece established in the late he will run the images past modern-era specialists, but his seventh century b.c. RPMNF has already found five wrecks assessment means that for now, at least, the team won’t linger containing Corinthian amphorae, and Royal hopes future there. There are simply too many ancient wrecks waiting to work will reveal Corinthian trade routes. be discovered. As the SeaEye hovers over the ocean floor, Albanian waters are so archaeologically rich that the crew though, the crew members take a minute to marvel. Then is making modern discoveries as well. In 2007, RPMNF they go back to work. ■ found what appear to be the remains of the HMS Regulus, Mara Hvistendahl is a science journalist based in a 235-foot World War II minesweeper that reportedly sank The Netherlands. off the southern shore of Albania after hitting a mine on
28 ARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

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HISTORY
On one of Britain’s most famous battlefields, early gun fragments hint at a new style of warfare by Jarrett A. Lobell
www.archaeology.org

PIECES OF

Two f fragments found o on the Towton b battlefield are from th the earliest guns to have been discovered in En England on the site of a known conflict. Analysis has shown th that at least one of the guns was fired, probably during the battle.

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n a snowy Palm Sunday morning, March 29, 1461, two armies met between the villages of Towton and Saxton in North Yorkshire, England. At stake was nothing less than control of the English throne. By the end of the next day, the Battle of Towton, as it came to be known, was over. Thousands of soldiers were dead, and the decades-long Wars of the Roses had reached a turning point. The House of Lancaster, led by King Henry VI, was routed by the forces of the House of York, which soon assumed control of England under King Edward IV. Although the actual number of casualties is a matter of scholarly debate, the Battle of Towton is often called Britain’s bloodiest battle.
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When Tim Sutherland of the Towton Battlefield Archaeology Project began digging at the site more than a decade ago, he expected to find the usual artifacts of medieval warfare— arrowheads, horse fittings, spurs, and graves. What he did not expect to find was evidence of new developments in armament technology that would eventually change the way that subsequent battles and wars were fought. On what is believed to be the Lancastrian side of the battlefield, Sutherland found the remains of two guns, the earliest firearms found on the site of a known battlefield in Britain, and possibly Europe. Although we know from historical sources that guns were becoming popular on the battlefield at this time, no examples this early have ever been found at the site of a recognized conflict. The Battle of Towton pitted the House of Lancaster under King Henry VI (left) against Edward of York, who would become King Edward IV (right). Sources also tell us the Lancastrians hired gunners from the Burgundy region of France, noise and lots of smoke, and probably intimidated people who were known to be up-to-date in their battle practices, to who had never seen one. But they also might have blown up fight alongside them as mercenaries. But with only these two in a person’s face.” guns for evidence—and the possible remains of a third—it’s One of the main questions Sutherland wanted to answer hard to gauge the weapons’ effectiveness on the battlefield. was if the guns had actually been fired during the battle. He “Although local bronze smiths knew how to cast bronze very sent the fragments—earlier microscopic analysis had already well—they made really good bells found just down the road established that they were from two different guns—to that still ring—these guns are poor castings, filled with air Bruker AXS, a company specializing in high-tech scientific bubbles,” says Sutherland.“The guns would have made a huge

The Towton Mass Grave Project
or more than 10 years, researchers from the University of Bradford have been studying the Battle of Towton’s dead. Analysis of bones found in both single and mass graves has shown that Towton’s warriors were larger and more robust than other medieval populations. Evidence of healed injuries suggests that some of them may have participated in armed conflict from a young age. But on March 29, 1461, many suffered an extremely violent end, sustaining injuries far beyond that necessary to cause death, and suggesting perimortem— around the time of death—mutilation. The excessive violence of the injuries has lead researchers to challenge the traditional picture of medieval warfare. Rather than the commonly accepted view that it was chivalrous, the project’s directors believe that the skeletons may be early evidence of the brutality more often encountered in the civil wars of the modern era. The Towton Mass Grave Project is also challenging the received wisdom about another aspect of the battle. According to archaeologist Tim Sutherland, the generally accepted figure of 28,000 war dead from the single day’s conflict may be grossly exaggerated, and would represent approximately 10 times as many casualties as any other battle of In addition to weapons and artillery, excavators have the Wars of the Roses. Sutherland says that early uncovered the remains estimates based on the graves’ dimensions suggest of soldiers felled on the that they held several thousand, rather than tens of Towton battlefield, many of whom had sustained injuries thousands. “The main site of the mass graves on the Towton battlefield has now been located and awaits from projectiles and handheld weapons. imminent excavation,” says Sutherland.
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A Superior Shot
t isn’t only the guns’ discovery that has provided scholars with new evidence of medieval warfare’s advancement. In the center of the Towton battlefield, Sutherland’s team also uncovered a lead ball with a wrought-iron core. It may seem like a small find, but, in fact, it is the earliest example found in Europe of a specific type of lead shot that would make artillery much more lethal. Shot is a round piece of artillery—in contrast to bullets, which are rounded cylinders and were not made until the nineteenth century. Medieval shot was fashioned of lead (or occasionally wrought iron). “When you blast lead out of something and it hits a hard target, like a castle, armor, horse, or person, lead completely splatters,” says Sutherland, “so there is not a lot of point in solid lead shot.” But neutron tomography has shown that the shot from Towton is composite shot, made of an iron cube inside a spherical lead shell (shown at right). In contrast to the earlier, simple lead shot, composite shot, with its hard iron center, doesn’t totally shatter on impact. Thus, the potential for far greater bodily harm to one’s enemies is obvious. So far, there has been no evidence linking this shot to one of the newly discovered guns. instrument manufacture and materials analysis. There, specialist Mike Dobby used X-ray fluorescence to confirm that at least one fragment had traces of both sulfur and lead inside. He believes the sulfur is from the original gunpowder and the lead residue is from shot, evidence that at least one of the guns was used during the battle. Sutherland even believes he may be able to pinpoint what time the round was fired. Primary sources, some of which were written only days after the battle, suggest that the main conflict began between 9 a.m. and noon. “This would fit with it being a very cold day since the guns heating up very quickly as they were first fired, possibly even with their first shots, would have stressed the poor-quality castings until they fractured and exploded,” says Sutherland.

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Archaeologist Tim Sutherland of the Towton Battlefield Archaeology Project www.archaeology.org

lthough it is clear that a gun was fired at Towton, whether the expelled shot would have wounded or killed anyone it hit is a question for future research. But the guns’ effectiveness may be beside the point. Sutherland thinks it’s possible that a gun may sometimes have been more of a fashion statement than a functional weapon. “One can imagine a Lancastrian noble saying ‘I have to have a gun,’ and even if he couldn’t get a good one, he might have had one made that was of inferior quality, cast by nonexperts, or perhaps one the manufacturer was passing off as high quality.” In the final analysis, it may have been somewhat like showing up on a battlefield in a Ferrari. It would look great and be highly impressive, but as to its ability to determine the outcome of the battle, the jury is still out. ■
Jarrett A. Lobell is executive editor of Archaeology.
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ast March, preeminent filmmaker Werner Herzog was given unprecedented access to Chauvet Cave in southeastern France to film the site’s Paleolithic art. The result, his film Cave of Forgotten Dreams, which will be released this spring, is a document of some of humankind’s earliest and most extraordinary paintings. Since the cave was discovered in December 1994, few people, mostly researchers, have seen the artwork, owing to the cave’s extremely delicate climate and concerns about preserving the ancient paintings. But the film is more than a tour of the cave. It is an exploration of what the science of archaeology is revealing about the Aurignacian people—Europe’s first artists—and the origins of the modern human mind. Part of the film focuses on the work of Jean Clottes, the former director of research for the Chauvet Cave Project, and Jean-Michel Geneste, the project’s current director, and what their work tells us about how the Aurignacian people may have lived their lives and connected to their world through art. In November, Archaeology senior editor Zach Zorich was invited to Herzog’s Manhattan apartment for an extended interview about the unique challenges of making this film, the kinship among artists across the ages, and Herzog’s archaeologist grandfather.

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INTERVIEW

WERNER HERZOG
ON THE BIRTH OF ART
ARCHAEOLOGY: There are hundreds of ancient sites in the

world that have really fascinating artwork. What was it that attracted you to Chauvet?
WERNER HERZOG: It is one of the greatest and most sensa-

tional discoveries in human culture and, of course, what is so fascinating is that it was preserved as a perfect time capsule for 20,000 years. The quality of the art, which is from a time so far, so deep back in history, is stunning. It’s not that we have what people might call the primitive beginnings of painting and art. It is right there as if it had burst on the scene fully accomplished. That is the astonishing thing, to understand that the modern human soul somehow awakened. It is not a long slumber and a slow, slow, slow awakening. I think it was a fairly sudden awakening. But when I say “sudden” it may have gone over 20,000 years or so. Time does not factor in when you go back into such deep prehistory.
ARCHAEOLOGY: You are famous for taking on some very difficult challenges in filmmaking, especially in Fitzcarraldo where you hauled a steamboat over a mountain. In this case, the limitations were of a different nature. You had to stay on a two-foot-wide walkway, and had only a short period of time to film.
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HERZOG: Yes, and having only three light panels. Of course, we were only allowed to take along what we could carry in our own hands, so we couldn’t move heavier equipment into the cave. The most intense challenge came from the fact that when filming in 3-D, you cannot move a 3-D camera around like a regular film camera. If you move, for example, closer to an object, the lenses actually have to be closer together, and when you are fairly close you even have to make them “squint” slightly. We had to reconfigure our camera to take close-up shots of the paintings. It is a high-precision, technical thing to have to do, in semidarkness on a narrow walkway. We had a fairly brief period of time to film. When the researchers left in early April, I had the cave practically undisturbed for filming, but only for six days, and only four hours each day. Of course, later in the season the carbon dioxide level in the branch of the cave where you have the Panel of the Lions becomes dangerously high. In other parts of the cave there is a fairly high level of radon, and it has a cumulative effect on your lungs. So, we had to move around between toxic gases and radioactive gases. ARCHAEOLOGY: Did these shooting conditions limit the story you were able to tell?
ARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

HERZOG: No, I was able to tell what I had to tell, but we had to be completely focused, very fast, and very professional. So, when I am asked, what was your feeling inside the cave? Did it somehow strike you like a religious experience? No, it was professionalism that was foremost. But there were moments where the crew moved out and I just stayed behind for five minutes, which I apparently was not supposed to do. But I did it anyway and the guards knew I wouldn’t do anything foolish so I stood there in silence and looked. ARCHAEOLOGY: What was it like in those five minutes? HERZOG: It is really awesome, absolutely awesome. ARCHAEOLOGY: The film seems to convey what it is really

like to be in the cave. How were you able to capture that?
HERZOG: We talked a lot about how still the cave is. When you hold your breath you can actually hear your own heartbeat. I said to Jean Clottes, we have to have this in the film, even if it’s staged, even if it’s a scripted text. But of course, it is not fake. It is exactly what you experience when you are in there. In making the film we paid attention to details, to sound, to music. That’s what moviemaking is all about. It’s about steering the flow of the viewers’ imagination, to awaken the imagination, to sensitize them to sound, to sensitize them to imagery, to sensitize them to life in general. The movie proceeds very, very carefully and very methodically. And this is why at the end when you see these endless shots and pans of the paintings you see them with a different depth of feeling than if you were just going through a catalog. And that’s what cinema can accomplish. ARCHAEOLOGY: Why did you choose to film in 3-D? ARCHAEOLOGY: Were there any of HERZOG:

used by the artists. They did it with phenomenal skill, with great artistic skill, and there was something expressive about it, a drama of rock transformed and utilized, in the drama of paintings. This is why it was imperative to shoot in 3-D. the paintings that you found particularly striking or moving? Yes, the Panel of the Horses and the Panel of the Lions, of course. The lions in particular are just incredible because a whole group of lions is looking, is stalking something. The intensity of their gaze, all looking exactly at something, focusing on something. You don’t know exactly on what they focus and it has an intensity of art, of depiction, which is just awesome. in some of these images, and talk about this as being an early form of animation. Do you feel a connection between what the cave artists at Chauvet were doing and what you were doing as a filmmaker?
HERZOG: Well, there is one moment in the film where I am

3-D was imperative because I initially thought there were flat walls and paintings in the cave. But there are no flat areas. The drama of the bulges and niches was actually

HERZOG:

Werner Herzog and director of photography Peter Zeitlinger review footage from Cave of Forgotten Dreams, which was filmed in 3-D.

ARCHAEOLOGY: You also say that there is a sense of motion

speaking about the charcoal that was found in the vicinity of the Panel of the Horses, the charcoal fires. There is a row of fires which was used for illumination, but placed in a way that when you are close to the Panel of the Horses your own shadARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

ow becomes a part of the image, apparently as an integral part of the staging. Of course in the film, I couldn’t help showing Fred Astaire dancing with his own shadow in Swing Time, which is quintessential cinema. In it, a human being, Fred Astaire, is moving with his own shadows and all of a sudden the shadows do something separate and become independent of him, do mischief, and he still catches up and dances with them. It is one of the great moments of cinema.
ARCHAEOLOGY:

The Panel of the Big Lions shows a pride of 14 individuals stalking bison. The painting follows the contours of a niche in the cave wall, lending dimensionality to each of the figures.

ARCHAEOLOGY: Another idea you have mentioned is that you are searching for a new grammar of imagery, and I was wondering how the images of Chauvet Cave play into that, or do they?

You admire the cinema of the past, but you have said that the imagery of today’s civilization is inadequate, that it is absurd and useless, and that the lack of adequate imagery is a danger of the same magnitude as the overcrowding of our planet. Why do you believe that, and how does this film confront that issue? plex thought, which has to do with language and imagery. When you are looking around at images, when you watch television for six consecutive hours, or when you open a catalog from a travel agency, you immediately know those are worn-out images not really adequate to our state of civilization. If you are lagging behind it is dangerous, and it brings decay with it. In America, for example, you have a lot of innovation in language. However, almost worldwide, there are very few attempts to bring images up to the status of our civilization.

HERZOG: Well, that’s a very condensed form of a more com-

That’s a very interesting question because my immediate reaction was, what you see there is not just a vocabulary—this is a megaloceros, this is a wooly rhino, this is a lion. Yes, you do have a complete new vocabulary for the first time, but you also have new grammar: How do horses interact with each other? How do lions charge and stalk? It’s the entire ensemble, focused on something that we do not see. So there’s a very mysterious, obvious grammar of depiction there, narratives, whole stories. And, by the way, the painters of Chauvet are not accountants of truth, of the variety of species. They are not accountants. They are not cinema verité of their time.
HERZOG: ARCHAEOLOGY: They are not creating a taxonomy. HERZOG: Exactly. They are creating something at a complete-

ly different level, something imaginary, probably ritualistic. I say this with necessary caution: probably something interi35

www.archaeology.org

or—the interior landscape of their souls. And it coincides with the landscape near the cave, the Pont d’Arc with this natural arch, which is like a purely Wagnerian opera stage.
ARCHAEOLOGY: You are talking about a limestone arch that goes over the river Ardeche. HERZOG: Yes, what I am trying to say in the movie’s voiceover is that this kind of staging of the landscape as an interior landscape does not belong to the German romanticists alone. It belongs to the Aurignacian people, and that makes them immediately familiar to me. The kind of wild, exuberant fantasy and the stylizations. I’ve done this all my life in my movies. That is why I feel absolutely at home, in a way, when I move into the cave, as strange and as remote and as foreign as some of it is, and beyond the reach of my understanding. But that doesn’t matter. There were people out there who created something absolutely fantastic. ARCHAEOLOGY: And at the end of the film you introduce

The Panel of the Horses is among the cave’s most technically adept paintings. The figure of the horse on the right was outlined in charcoal, shaded with a mixture of charcoal and clay, and engraved around its profile with fine white lines.

way, completely accomplished, and somehow, of course, adequate to the civilization of Aurignacian man, no doubt about it. We should never forget the dexterity of these people. They were capable of creating a flute. It is a high-tech procedure to carve a piece of mammoth ivory and split it in half without breaking it, hollow it out, and realign the halves. We have one indicator of how well their clothing was made. In a cave in the Pyrenees, there is a handprint of a child maybe four or five years old. The hand was apparently held by his mother or father, and ocher was spit against it to get the contours and you see part of the wrist and the contours of a sleeve. The sleeve is as precise as the cuffs of your shirt. The precision of the sleeve is stunning.
ARCHAEOLOGY: You have resisted having the label “artist”

a postscript, the idea of radioactive mutant albino crocodiles from a nearby animal preserve getting loose and heading for Chauvet. Why did you do that?
HERZOG: It has to do with pure science fiction fantasy. That

applied to you. Were the people of Chauvet artists or craftsmen in your estimation?
HERZOG: In this case, you can clearly say this is art, and you can say it easily. It goes back to a time when there was, for example, no art market, no exhibitions, no galleries. No doubt in my heart that this is art, and it’s some of the greatest that the human race ever created, period. It can’t get any better, and it hasn’t gotten much better. That’s a great mystery. ARCHAEOLOGY: There is a great shot in the film of a painting of a half-woman, half-bison figure that wraps around a stalactite. Until now, the painting has only been photographed from one side. How difficult was it to get that shot considering the constraints of the cave?
ARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

is the beauty of it. It allows me to introduce the idea that I am not an accountant of truth, that I intensify something, something into an ecstasy of truth instead. I’ve been very much into the quest for ecstatic truth in all my films.
ARCHAEOLOGY: Do the incredible images in the cave con-

front this problem of worn-out imagery?
HERZOG: No, not explicitly. But it shows that images burst onto the scene and into our consciousness in a phenomenal
36

HERZOG:

Well, we were not allowed to step beyond the walkway. When we were alone and only with the guards, at the end of one of the last days, I said, “let’s give it a try.” We had a boom for the mike with us, although we had no sound man, and I said to the guards, “If we held the camera man and tied him securely to the boom, could he possibly extend this tiny camera a little bit beyond the walkway?” And they looked at us, and they looked at the camera, and they just nodded and knew we would do it right. We couldn’t extend it really far otherwise the pole might have fallen over so we were still limited. But we’ve seen a little bit more than anyone else could ever see. But in a way it’s good that you do not know what is on the other side of this stalactite and how the painting continues. Sometimes it is better to have a big question and no answer.

ARCHAEOLOGY: You’ve talked about how culture conditions the way we interpret images. Have we lost something between the modern day and the time of Chauvet? HERZOG:

No, not lost. We simply have changed. We are fundamentally changed and yet there is something about humanness, there is something about the modern human soul, which awakened during the time of Chauvet, or maybe a little bit earlier, we don’t know.

ARCHAEOLOGY: What is your definition of humanness? HERZOG: I think as Jean-Michel Geneste says, it is an adaptation to the world, language, symbolic representations, including rituals like burial, like probably cannibalism, initiation rites. There is a point where we shift away from a purely material culture. ARCHAEOLOGY: Do you feel the story that science is telling

ARCHAEOLOGY: Why is that? HERZOG: Because it is much more intriguing. It becomes much more an element that forces us to think, forces us to imagine, forces us to use all our intelligence and all our capacity for vision. And it’s the same in archaeology. You hardly ever have full answers and much of the interpretation has to be with a clear vision and understanding of how people would live, let’s say, in England in late Neolithic times. How do you imagine it, and how do you visualize it and interpret things? That’s the beauty of it, which is beyond the sheer factual findings.
Just below the Panel of the Horses is an image called the Confronted Rhinoceroses, which may depict two males fighting or a male and a female about to mate.

of Chauvet Cave is inadequate in some way?
HERZOG: No, its not inadequate, and I’m glad that it does not proclaim to have a full explanation. There is a younger generation of archaeologists at work who are very much into declaring the findings as they are and not over-interpreting them. Everything in the previous generations was declared ritualistic and part of ceremonies and the young generation says “maybe, but we do not know.” I find it a healthy attitude. It will certainly be the school of archaeology that will prevail in the foreseeable future. ARCHAEOLOGY: You included quite a bit about the way archaeology is done in this film. As I was doing research

for this interview, I was surprised to find out that you actually have a very personal connection to archaeology. Your grandfather, Rudolph Herzog, was an archaeologist who excavated in Greece.
HERZOG: Yes, he discovered and excavated the Asklepieion,

imagine how it looked with forests and where a facility like that might be built. I really liked him for that. Unfortunately, he was insane at the end of his life and I practically know him only as being insane, but I really loved him.
ARCHAEOLOGY:

Did you have a chance to visit the

on the island of Kos, and that was his life’s work in the early twentieth century.
ARCHAEOLOGY: What is the Asklepieion? HERZOG: Dedicated to Asclepius, the god of medicine, it was like a hospital and resort. I think my grandfather came across it through studying texts. Originally he was a classicist. He was a teacher of ancient Greek at a university, and at that time there were discoveries of texts, and one was a text by Herondas, a fairly unimportant writer. It describes the Asklepieion—two women are in dialogue and describe it. My grandfather set out and left his profession as a classicist behind, a little bit like Schliemann [Heinrich Schliemann, the discoverer of a city that may be Troy from Homer’s Iliad]. He was just barely 30 or so, got married, and took his wife, my grandmother, to the island of Kos.

Asklepieion?
HERZOG: Yes. I went out when I was 15. I was more interested in my grandfather’s generation than in my parents’ generation and I followed his footsteps trying to find out what he had done and where he had done it. That is why I went to Greece and actually made my first long feature film in 1966 on the island of Kos, Signs of Life. ARCHAEOLOGY: As you were making this film, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, were you surprised at how much archaeology has changed since the days of your grandfather?

HERZOG: Yes, or since Schliemann. My grandfather was basically at the end of that generation, more or less. There were more modern methods at that time, and I think he looked at Schliemann with a suspicious eye considering the techniques they applied at the time. It’s quite extraordinary ARCHAEOLOGY: This would have been the early 1900s. what they are doing now. How they have new, almost forensic-like science to collect pollen and understand the vegetaHERZOG: Yes, and he had an astonishing eye for locations. tion. They do things that are unprecedented, in a way, and it’s I have seen, for example, a vast field with all these trees and very beautiful to see that. I’m really intrigued by modern-day vineyards. Somehow in the middle of all this he chose to dig archaeology. For example, a square foot in one of the caves and found a late Roman bath. How? Why right there? Or, in the film—it took five months to remove half a centimeter the Asklepieion, which is high up on the slope of this small of sediment. Every single grain of sand was picked up with mountain ridge on the island. He had a fantastic eye for a pair of pincers and documented with laser measurements. a situation that was, let’s say, 2,000 years earlier. He could And all of a sudden it makes clear things like the flute, the flute from Hohle Fels Cave [in Germany], which is mammoth ivory, and the tiny To preserve the cave’s fragile environment, Herzog and his crew had to fragments that were not understood for do all of their filming from a metal walkway that runs through the cave. decades, but they were preserved. That’s a fine thing, yes, until somebody came who had the kind of imagination like the young woman who is in the film, Maria Malina, an archaeological technician who had the insight and started to put the fragments together. ARCHAEOLOGY:

Yes, I think those moments of insight really draw people into archaeology. any other Tutankhamun’s tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don’t know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that’s missing, not treasures. ■
ARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

HERZOG: Yes, of course. We do not need

Some of the paintings in Chauvet Cave incorporate claw marks left by bears, making the art an interspecies collaboration.

A CHAUVET PRIMER
Dating
After the cave paintings were discovered in December 1994, the first question archaeologists faced was, how old are they? At first glance, the paintings’ technical sophistication made them seem relatively recent, perhaps 10,000 to 15,000 years old. Radiocarbon dating of the charcoal in the black pigments, however, showed that the earliest paintings in the cave were made 35,000 years ago. The date overturned the idea that Europe’s earliest cave paintings were crude and simple and that artistic techniques had to be refined over thousands of years before the finest cave art could be made. More than 80 radiocarbon dates have been taken from the torch marks and paintings on the walls, as well as the animal bones and charcoal that litter the floor, providing a detailed chronology of the cave. The dates show that the artwork was made in two separate periods, one 35,000 and one 30,000 years ago.

Tracings

the cave floor, possibly as sleeping areas. They also made their own marks on the cave walls by repeatedly raking their claws across the limestone, incising sets of four parallel lines. In some cases the paintings in Chauvet Cave are a kind of collaboration between humans and bears. Human artists incorporated claw marks into some of their paintings. In others, cave bears made their marks on top of the paintings, adding a new element to the images that cave art expert Jean Clottes calls “the magic of the bears.”

Cave Bears
The way that people used Chauvet Cave was shaped by their interactions with the cave’s primary residents, the now-extinct cave bear. Humans do not appear to have lived in the cave and it is likely that the paintings were made in the spring or summer when the bears would not have been hibernating. The bears themselves seem to have held a special significance for the artists who worked in the cave, in addition to being subjects of the artwork. A bear skull was placed on top of a large, flat rock in an area called the Skull Chamber. There is evidence a fire was lit before it was set there, raising the possibility that it had some kind of ritual function. More than 190 bear skulls have been found in the cave, giving paleontologists an enormous amount of information about a species that disappeared 20,000 to 25,000 years ago and used caves in ways that were similar to how humans used them. The bears organized the space within the cave by digging shallow depressions in
More than 190 cave bear skulls have been found in Chauvet Cave. Why this one was placed at the edge of a large stone block remains a mystery. www.archaeology.org

Studying the paintings is an intensive process that begins by going into the cave to photograph an image. The digital photograph is enlarged in the laboratory. Then a researcher places a sheet of transparent plastic over the photo and traces the image in as much detail as possible. The tracing is then brought inside the cave to check it against the original painting. At this stage the researchers also move a light at different angles around the painting to reveal any hidden details of the image. The process forces the researchers to put themselves in the place of the painters and understand the variety of techniques that were used to make the artwork. Some of the images were made after scraping away a layer of dark brown clay that covers the cream-colored limestone walls. Most were made by drawing with a piece of charcoal, or painting with a brush or finger covered in red pigment, or by spitting pigment against the wall. As the tracing is created, the research team learns how the images were composed and the order in which the lines were drawn. “People ask me, ‘Why don’t you use photos?’” says Clottes. “Well, a photo is not a study…the human mind is still the better computer.”—ZZ

THE NEW UPPER
Recent digs at Copper Age sites across Europe are overturning longheld beliefs about the continent’s earliest cultures by Andrew Curry
40

nce largely ignored by the scholarly community, the Copper Age has become a hot topic. Since the collapse of communism in 1989 opened doors for western scholars in countries including Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine, a new appreciation for the region’s prehistory is taking hold. The centuries between 5000 and 3500 b.c. are now seen as a crucial transition period during which early Europeans began to use metal tools, developed complex social structures, and established far-flung cultural and trading networks. Far from being a historical footnote, Copper Age Europe was a technological and social proving ground. Archaeologists have found the earliest evidence of distinctions between rich and poor, rulers and the ruled. There
ARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

O

is no evidence of social hierarchy prior to this period, in the Neolithic, or Stone Age. Until recently, scholars assumed the Copper Age was no more advanced. “Copper Age and Neolithic societies are always described as egalitarian, or as less complex,” says German Archaeological Institute researcher Svend Hansen. The latest discoveries, however, suggest that humanity’s first hesitant steps out of the Neolithic were probably taken as a result of the development of metalworking and the changes in society that came along with this technological breakthrough.

B

CLASS
Beginning in the early 1970s, archaeologists excavating the Copper Age site of Varna, Bulgaria, uncovered evidence of the emergence of a class system in prehistoric Europe. In one grave (pictured above in a reconstruction from the Varna Museum of Archaeology), the remains of a man buried with more than two pounds of gold pointed to his economically and socially superior position in society. www.archaeology.org

eginning around  b.c., a wave of pioneers from the Middle East settled in southeastern Europe. They brought with them the first agricultural technology, including domesticated grains such as barley and wheat, and livestock such as sheep and cattle. But they were still using flint tools. Around 5000 b.c., someone may have had a lucky accident. Heating certain green stones (malachite) or blue stones (azurite) produced shiny beads of copper, a malleable metal that could be melted and shaped into weapons, tools, and jewelry. Hartwick College archaeologist David Anthony says the first metalworkers may have been regarded as magicians, turning green pebbles into gleaming knives and axes. Demand for their specialized skill and products set in motion the emergence of a ruling class. Over the next 1,000 years, in the area that is now Greece, Turkey, Hungary, and the Balkans, simple farming villages slowly became substantial settlements, with solidly built houses, finely worked pottery, and trade networks that linked settlements together. In the last 20 years, researchers all over Europe have been comparing Copper Age sites and discovering that the Balkans were a kind of trading gateway to other areas of prehistoric Europe, including France, Spain, and Germany. Along the Danube, early traders transporting copper could have reached southern Germany and, from there, followed the Alps to France. Skirting the Carpathians led to what is now Poland, where they exchanged their prized metal goods for jade axes and sacred shells. “The Copper Age used to be seen as a regional phenomenon, but all these areas somehow connected. The know-how to make copper developed in the Balkans and quickly spread elsewhere,” Hansen says.

he study of the Copper Age in Europe is synonymous with one woman, anthropologist Marija Gimbutas. Born in Vilnius, Lithuania, in 1921, Gimbutas fled to Germany when the Soviet Union invaded the Baltic states in 1939 and later moved to the U.S. She spent her career at Harvard and UCLA studying the archaeology and prehistory of Eastern Europe. Even though Gimbutas died in 1994, archaeologists today are still working in her shadow. In 1974, Gimbutas coined the term “Old Europe” to describe the cultures that emerged in southeastern Europe during the Copper Age. She was convinced that the people who lived between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean before the Bronze Age were peaceful farmers living in small, simply organized groups. Though minor cultural differences like pottery styles and settlement patterns separated nearly a dozen different Old European regional cultures including the Varna, Karanovo,
41

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ers from the east, “patriarchal, stratified, pastoral, mobile, and war-oriented,” swept into Old Europe from the Central Asian steppes. These Proto-Indo-European invaders replaced the Old European goddesses with the aggressive male gods we know today. Her explanation of the era’s end—cruel eastern hordes snuffing out a superior, more democratic civilization—fit neatly with the anti-Soviet sentiments of her time. But as new evidence emerges, many of her most extravagant claims have now come under fire from a new generation of scholars. “If I have to be honest, everything Gimbutas has written about the structure of societies is not very correct,” says Vladimir Slavchev, curator of the Varna Museum of Archaeology.

I

At sites across the former Communist Bloc, archaeologists are uncovering surprising evidence of Copper Age culture. Female figurines like this f one from the site of Dra ˘ gus ¸eni, Romania, are some of e. the most characteristic artifacts of the Copper Age.

Cucuteni, Tripol’ye, Cernavoda, Bodrogkeresztur, and Gumelniţa, Gimbutas argued they had more similarities than differences. Gimbutas was captivated by some of the most distinctive artifacts of the Copper Age—clay, bone, and later copper figurines that appear at sites across the region beginning around 6000 b.c. Ninety percent of the figurines are female, but they have little in common with the plump, f sexual “Venus” totems from tens of thousands of s years earlier in western Europe, such as the Venus tly of Willendorf. Copper Age figurines are less overtly ous sexual and Gimbutas interpreted them as religious omeobjects. They’re often found in seated poses, someylized times even on their own tiny ceramic chairs. Stylized bone and clay figurines of this type—Gimbutas dubbed ns near them “goddesses”—found during new excavations Pietrele in Romania had pierced ears and copper anklets and necklaces. Based on these female figurines, Gimbutas argued that the small, prosperous settlements found on top of mounds throughout the region were the product of a society run by women. These “Old Europeans” were “matrifocal … agricultural and sedentary, egalitarian and peaceful,” she wrote in her 1974 book Gods and Goddesses of Old Europe, a tremendously influential tome that was later reissued with the title slightly but provocatively altered to Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe. According to Gimbutas, this feminist utopia thrived in the Danube Valley and the Balkans for 2,000 years. Then, around 4000 b.c., calamity struck. Horse-riding invad42

n  , a construction worker discovered a prehi prehistoric cemetery while digging a trench for electric cable cables in Varna, Bulgaria, a small city on the shore of the Black Sea. After the worker alerted archaeologi gists, Bulgarian authorities authorized a massive ex excavation that lasted until 1991. Researchers eve eventually uncovered more than 300 graves containm than 15,000 artifacts. The Varna cemetery, ing more which Slavchev says was in use for less than a century some t time between 4600 and 4400 b.c., was filled with an as astounding variety of flint, jade, gold, and copper tool tools. There were also weapons, mostly flint, jade, and copper axes, some of which were covered in go gold foil. In addition, the graves held gold necklaces, r rings, scepters, and even a gold penis sheath. Distinctive pottery and carbon dating of o organic remains marked Varna as a Copper Age si and it remains the world’s earliest major gold site, ho hoard. As important as the dramatic finds were, so

Among the six pounds of gold artifacts found in the graves at Varna, were several zoomorphic figures, such as the one above, likely depicting bulls, which may have been used as amulets. ARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

Since 2004, archaeologist Svend Hansen has been working at Pietrele, Romania, one of the most thoroughly excavated Copper Age sites in Europe.

was their distribution. “More than six pounds of gold was found in the cemetery, but most of it was found in just four graves,” says Slavchev. More than two pounds were found in a single tomb containing the body of a man between 45 and 50 years old. The discovery was explosive. Excavations at the site reinvigorated interest in the archaeology of the region, and in what the Copper Age could tell us about the development of complex civilizations. Archaeologists had long assumed the societies of the Copper Age were organized much like the small bands of Stone Age farmers that preceded them—simple, egalitarian hamlets without much need for hierarchy or class differences. But “it is clear that the Varna cemetery illustrates the early emergence of a kind of class or political and social structure,” Slavchev says. The people buried in Varna’s graves had contact with others from relatively far-off regions. Metallurgical analysis of the copper used to make the axe heads and jewelry found in many of the Varna burials showed that it was mined from multiple sources, some almost 150 miles away. Shell jewelry from the Mediterranean, more than 300 miles away, was a e trade, probably carpopular ornament. The long-distance ried out along the region’s rivers and on foot in an age before the wheel and domesticated horses, was a remarkable feat of organization and power. The me benhandful of rich graves shows that some egins in efited more than others. “Inequality begins the cemetery at Varna,” says Hansen. iscoveries at the site of lso Pietrele in Romania have also rgone a long way toward overn turning the idea of Old Europe as an egalitarian idyll. Hansen started digging at Pietrele, one of the Gumelniţa culture sites, in 2002 after using geomagnetic scanners to map the buried settlement’s layout. In the past, archaeologists studying the Copper hen Age had focused on tells formed when ctures, people built houses on top of old structures, s. over and over, sometimes for centuries. lassic example At first glance, the Pietrele tell is a classic example. Located a few miles north of the Danube River, it’s a pronounced mound about 30 feet high. From the top of the tell, the view to the south in 4500 b.c. would have taken in a wide, lush plain, crisscrossed by meandering streams and dotted with meadows and marshes, making it an ideal place for a settlement. By analyzing the bones found on and around the tell, archaeologists know that the lowlands yielded ample fish, mussels, and turtles. Plains atop a nearby plateau provided a steady supply of wild boar, horses, and deer for enterpriswww.archaeology.org

D

ing hunters. “We have catfish bones as thick as your wrist,” Hansen marvels. “That’s an eight-foot fish.” (The area today is primarily scrubby, ill-kept fields. After Romania’s communist government channeled and redirected the Danube in the 1960s, fishermen in Pietrele were left high and dry for the fir rst time in millennia.) Previous digs at tells in Bulgaria and a Romania from the same time period had given archaeologists an impression of sm small, tightly knit settlements. Most of the region’ regions tells have fewer than 20 houses, enough to co comfortably fit a group of 60 to 80 people. “With 80
Around 5000 ı, metalworkers metalworker began to make tools, utensils, and orn ornaments from copper as well as bone, l like these discovered at Pietrele (left).

people, it’s hard to imagine a complex so society with a hierarchy,” Hansen says. “It’s hard to imagine ima many complex economic activities in a settlement t that small.” As expected, Hansen’s first geomagnetic surveys of Pietrele packe together showed a knot of 25 houses atop the tell, packed with just a few feet between each dwelling dwelling. Bu But Hansen decided to expand his search, running geomagnetic sensors over the flat area at the base of the tell. To his surprise, the survey revealed foundations for as many as 120 houses. For the last six years, Hansen’s team has uncovered the remains of these 6,300-year-old houses, first on top of the tell and then, beginning in 2009, in the lower settlement. “Two hundred people might have lived here once,” Hansen says. German Archaeological Institute archaeologist Agathe Reingruber, who was born in Romania and immigrated to
43

Germany with her parents in 1990, oversees pottery experts and local workers at Pietrele who clean and catalog ceramic sherds in a makeshift classroom workshop. In a typical season, the team may excavate close to 40,000 pieces of pottery—almost a ton of broken pots, jars, and plates. Inside one house, Reingruber found the shattered remnants of hundreds of clay pots and jars, some distorted and melted by fire. She also found scattered copper pins, precious objects in the early days of metalworking. Forensic analysis of more than 200 human bones found in the house identified the bones of four children, a man and a woman in their 20s, and an older couple in their 50s—a Copper Age family killed in a house fire almost 6,000 years ago. Pietrele is one of the most thoroughly excavated Copper Age settlements ever dug. Hansen has uncovered more than 2000 whetstones and grindstones, some weighing more than 100 pounds; more than 9,000 flint tools; a collection of human and animal figurines made of bone and clay; and more than 200 copper blades, axes, pins, and rings. “We have more copper artifacts at Pietrele than all the rest of the Gumelniţa sites combined,” says Romanian Institute of Archaeology copper expert Meda Toderas. As the team sifted through the data, clear trends emerged. Although the foundations of all the houses are roughly the same size, the interiors weren’t the same. For instance, certain types of artifacts are found in certain houses. Three layers of houses built on the same spot contained nearly all the hunting weapons in the settlement, while another he contained ceramic loom weights, some of the earliest known evidence for weaving. Reingruber and Hansen say the finds show that the houses on top of the tell were richer. They had nicer, more elaborately decorated pottery and more shell jewelry. All but one of the copper objects found at Pietrele so far came from the tell, not the surrounding lower settlement. And judging from the bones they threw away, the people who lived on the tell ate more wild game like deer and boar, perhaps showing that only the upper crust spent their time hunting. e The excavations at Pietrele confirm what the o. rich graves of Varna first suggested 30 years ago. y, For perhaps the first time in human history, n social and class divisions can be seen clearly in the archaeological record.“Social stratification is er closely linked to metal production,” Reingruber es, says. “You have to be a specialist to handle ores, a specialist to extract copper.” me With some villagers spending all their time
In the past, scholars have sometimes etimes interpreted the female figurines found und at Copper Age sites across Europe, such as this one from Pietrele, as goddesses. However, owever, current research is challenging this interpretation. retation. 44

A Agathe Reingruber cleans and catalogs tens o of thousands of pieces of pottery that are u uncovered each season at Pietrele alongside th the copper artifacts.

doin one thing—a metalworker, for example, doing w would have had to spend all his time producin ing copper—elaborate social structures must ha have developed to ensure the settlement’s spe specialists were fed and clothed. That level of o organization probably required both large s settlements and someone at the top giving o orders. “We’re suddenly not in the Neolithic a anymore, where everyone’s a generalist, but in a specialist society that has to be organ nized,” Hansen says. “You have to reckon with in inequality and rulership.” undreds of miles to the northeast of Pietrele, in central Ukraine, University of Durham archaeologist John Chapman is working to unravel the mystery c of a culture that existed at the same time as the people of Varna and the Gumelniţa culture found Pietr Called the Tripol’ye, their settlements at Pietrele.
ARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

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look very different from the tall, layered tells found in Romania and Bulgaria. At some Tripol’ye sites, archaeologists have found the remains of more than 1,500 nearly identical houses spread out on the flat plains. At first, Ukrainian archaeologists sugegested that these “mega-settleies, ments” were the world’s first cities, es by predating Mesopotamian cities hapman more than 1,000 years. But Chapman ult of houses says they may just be the result t being abandoned and then rebuilt nearby—a sort of creeping, horizontal tell that sprawled over more than 1,000 acres. Carbon dating, capable of estimating ages within a century or two, isn’t precise enough to tell which house was built when, and “so far no one’s been able to figure out a way to date the Tripol’ye sites, so nobody knows how many were r occupied at the same time,” Chapman says. The sheer vel size of the sprawling settlements suggests a higher level of organization, and researchers are searching for hard ve 1,500 evidence of social structures. “If you really do have ow there houses occupied at the same time, it’s hard to see how wasn’t social hierarchy.” Chapman is hoping to find funding to excavate one of these mega-settlements. In the meantime, he has used extensive geomagnetic surveying to map the settlements from the surface. A few years ago, Chapman found a large building, bigger than its neighbors by a factor of three. “If
The specialization required to make these copper implements found at Varna created the need for centralized organization and leadership, spurring the rise of class distinctions.

The surprising evidence of long distance trade in Europe in the 5th millennium ı includes ornaments made of Spondylus, a type of shell ornament found in the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea, at Copper Age sites such as Cernavoda Coppe ˘ , Romania.

yo have a mega-city, you would expect to find you m mega-buildings,” he says. “That’s a hint toward a b bit more social complexity.” ietrele was occupied for a few centuries starting around 4500 b.c. Then, some time around 4250 b.c. the settlement was abruptly aba abandoned. At hundreds of tells all across the region, radiocarbon dates s tell a similar story. “There are a lot of radio radiocarbon dates for 4700, 4600, 45 4500, 4300, and then it drops off a cliff,” says Anthony, who o organized a definitive exhibition o of Copper Age artifacts at the In Institute for the Study of the An Ancient World at New York University called The Lost World of Old “So Europe. “Something really catastrophic— something culture-ending—happened there.” In the end, perhaps the people of Old Europe simply exhausted the potential of the technology they had at hand. Metalworking, however miraculous it may have seemed, wasn’t enough. They still lacked the advancements, including writing and the wheel, that pushed later civilizations, such as those in Mesopotamia, into more complex social organization. “Maybe they just were not able to make that last big step,” Reingruber says. ■ Andrew Curry is a contributing editor to Archaeology.

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LETTER FROM IRAQ
The author’s M1117 Armored Security Vehicle is parked next to the 4,000-year-old ziggurat in Ur.

The Ziggurat Endures
An American soldier reflects on his experience at the ancient city of Ur

by Michael Taylor
he city of Ur, once the largest in the world and the crown jewel of one of humanity’s first civilizations, sits in a wasteland at the edge of a war zone. In late spring, the temperature easily hits 120 degrees as the blazing sun reflects off endless sand flats and yellow Sumerian brick. A 45-minute walk around the site is exhausting even for a very fit person. The ruins, which were inhabited from roughly 3000 to 300 b.c., consist mostly of brick walls, some of which are partially restored, revealing the outlines of monumental complexes
www.archaeology.org

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such as shrines, storehouses, and elite residences. The ruins are now abandoned, save for a solitary shopkeeper who sits in a ramshackle hut marked “Shop Ziggurat,” where he sells trinkets and Mesopotamianthemed souvenirs. I went to Ur in May 2008 as neither archaeologist nor tourist, but as a platoon leader in an American infantry battalion, responsible for 30 soldiers and 10 gun trucks. The ancient Sumerian city is within Tallil Air Force Base, near Nasiriya, Iraq. Few Westerners have been privileged to see it. In 1999, Saddam Hussein

even denied Pope John Paul II access to the site, supposedly the birthplace of Abraham (ca. 1800 b.c.). But since 2003, American military personnel have been able to convoy into Tallil and drive straight into the ruins, putting down rifles and picking up cameras. Above the tiny shop—we soldiers were its only customers—looms the heart of Ur, the best-preserved ziggurat in all of Iraq. The classic steppyramid temple consists of two tiers stacked one atop the other, with three converging staircases in front. It is six stories tall and its footprint would fill
47

The author, from the 1-160th Infantry of the California National Guard, poses on the steps of the ziggurat at Ur. Few Westerners were able to visit when Saddam Hussein was in power, but since 2003, American military personnel have had easy access to the site.

escorting food, fuel, and equipment from Kuwait to the fight up north. Most of our stretch was defined by tedium, punctuated by moments of terror—exploding roadside bombs or incoming rockets. My platoon was fortunate to suffer no casualties caused by the enemy. A typical mission involved linking up with a long line of civilian trucks and convoying through a desolate stretch of southern Iraq, as barren as the moon. At night the desert glowed from the thousands of oil wells. Finally, as we turned onto Iraq’s Highway One, a modern if somewhat decrepit road, we would begin the most dangerous part of our trip, where every dead donkey or pile of trash might be rigged to explode. Just shy of the Euphrates River, we could see the landmark that signaled the end of the trip: the ziggurat, a monument that has stood mute witness to 4,000 years of human conflict.

more than half a football field. In an otherwise barren landscape, it exerts an almost gravitational pull, drawing visitors up the steep yellow steps. It is a great artificial mountain of brick, and long ago it gave the Mesopotamians a brush with their gods. The ruins of the city cover roughly 30 acres around the ziggurat. As one walks through the larger site, potsherds crunch underfoot. It is impossible not to step on them. The Sumerians simply tossed their rubbish in the streets, gradually raising the level of their cities as garbage accumulated over hundreds of generations. And a few hundred yards from the ziggurat, there is the great necropolis of Ur, where dozens of tombs and pits lie open, their inhabitants removed by British archaeologists decades ago. When my platoon visited the site, I was the officer in charge. At most tourist sites, you have to wait in line, purchase a ticket, and see things under the supervision of custodians and docents. But in Ur we were free to wander and enjoy a few rare moments of peace. Most of our time in-theater
48

was spent sucking sand, dealing with military snafus, and worrying about getting blown up. Ur was a fleeting opportunity, in the calm of the empty ruins, to take in this exotic land. That May, our unit, the 1-160th Infantry of the California National

U

A tomb in Ur’s necropolis complex was one of many excavated by Leonard Woolley in the 1920s and 1930s.

Guard, was wrapping up a year in Iraq. We were citizen-soldiers from all walks of life, hastily mobilized and with the unglamorous mission of

r was one of a series of Sumerian city-states that arose in Mesopotamia roughly 5,000 years ago, fueled by agricultural surpluses and dominated by an elite that maintained the complex irrigation systems upon which the city’s wealth depended. Around 2250 b.c., Sargon the Great made Ur part of his Akkadian empire, one of the world’s first centralized states. Akkadian, a Semitic language distantly related to the modern Arabic now spoken there, gradually replaced Sumerian as Ur’s language. Little of the architecture visible today dates to Ur’s early history, though artifacts from early tombs can be viewed in the museums of London, Philadelphia, and Baghdad. The city’s greatest and most enduring monuments were constructed in the period that followed the collapse of the Akkadian dynasty around 2050 b.c. In 2047 b.c., Ur became the capital of its own centralized state, ruled by what historians call the Ur III dynasty. Its new king, Ur-Nammu, sought to create monuments to make
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the city equal to that status, and began construction of the ziggurat temple in honor of the city’s patron deity, Nannar, god of the moon. But Ur-Nammu died before his greatest work could be finished, and the project was completed by his son, Shulgi. The brickwork of the ziggurat attests to the kings’ desire to create a lasting monument to their empire. The bitumen mortar—one of the first uses of southern Iraq’s vast oil fields—is still visible between the burnt bricks. The sticky black substance, today a source of the region’s instability and violence, once literally bound this civilization together. The use of bitumen as mortar and pavement has helped waterproof the otherwise fragile Sumerian mud-bricks, ensuring that the structures endured for millennia. The ziggurat has always been an important symbol for this region, and two later rulers attempted to adopt it as their own through reconstruction projects. The first was Nabonidus, the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. The second was Saddam

Hussein and his Ba’ath Party. A pious ruler, Nabonidus restored a number of ancient temples in his realm during the sixth century b.c. The exact details of his reconstruction are unclear, but it seems that he built some enormous structure on top of the massive burnt-brick base left by Ur-Nammu, replacing what had been a modest shrine. But where Ur-Nammu used durable bitumen mortar, Nabonidus’ builders used ordinary cement. Wind and rain have since reduced his later structure to the heap of rubble that now sits atop the ziggurat. Nabonidus was not rewarded for his piety—he was deposed by invading Persians in 539 b.c. Over the next 2,500 years, Nabonidus’ contribution fell to ruin, while Ur-Nammu’s original held up. The Ba’ath Party, which dominated Iraq from 1968 to 2003, was keenly interested in Iraq’s Mesopotamian heritage and its potential to unite a population fragmented by sectarian differences. As part of an aggressive program in the 1970s to restore Mesopotamian antiquities, the

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This 2008 photo shows the shop that sits at the base of the ziggurat. Visible in the foreground is the monument’s bitumen mortar. The sticky black substance helped preserve the structure, and is one of the first uses of southern Iraq’s oil fields.

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An adventure of historic proportion is waiting for you—at two living-history museums that explore America’s beginnings. Board replicas of colonial ships. Grind corn in a Powhatan Indian village. Try on English armor inside a palisaded fort. Then, join Continental Army soldiers at their encampment for a firsthand look at the Revolution’s end. Don’t forget your camera. Because the history here is life size. And your memories will be even bigger!

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Ba’athists installed a new facade on the ziggurat’s stairways and around the top of the first tier, in addition to making other repairs. A grand festival in 1977 celebrated the restoration, hailing the legacy of Ur-Nammu who, according to the official Ba’ath newspaper, “united the state administratively and politically after it had been divided and split.” Ur, treated modestly by Hussein, was fortunate not to have captured the dictator’s self-aggrandizing imagination the way Babylon had. Hussein liked to compare himself to that city’s Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar II, and ordered an elaborate reconstruction of the Babylonian ruins, transforming them into a gaudy Ba’athist theme park. He even had his name stamped in cuneiform on the new bricks. Ur, on the other hand, received only basic restoration—with modern bricks protecting ancient ones within, thankfully devoid of megalomaniac excess. As a general rule, most of the bricks in the massive first tier of the ziggurat are the originals of Ur-Nammu, while rubble on the second tier dates to Nabonidus. Facade elements, such as the banisters on the stairways, fencing around the edge of the first tier, and the facing on the second tier, are modern restoration. The Ur III empire founded by Ur-Nammu was overrun around 1950 b.c. by Elamites invading from the east, a disaster memorialized in haunting Sumerian laments: Ur—inside there is death, outside there is death Inside we succumb to famine Outside we are dispatched by Elamite blades. The city, however, endured and was eventually subordinated under successive empires of Babylonians, Kassites, Assyrians, NeoBabylonians, Persians, and (briefly) Macedonians. At some point after the Persian invasion in 539 b.c., the
50

Euphrates shifted to the north and east of the city, transforming Ur from prime riverfront property to the center of an expanding desert. While a tablet found at Ur that mentions Philip Arrhidaeus, Alexander the Great’s half-brother, states that the site was inhabited as late as 316 b.c., it was more or less abandoned for the next 2,200 years.

s I walked around the site in 2008, I could see evidence of archaeological activity: great tells of dirt and ceramic sherds. In 1854, James E. Taylor, the British consul at Basra, conducted an excavation at Tell al-Muqayyar, the “Mound of Pitch,” so named by the locals for the bitumen mortar visible in it. He revealed the crumbling ruins of the ziggurat, as well as cuneiform tablets that identified the site as the biblical “Ur of the Chaldees,” birthplace of Abraham in Genesis. There were a few minor British digs in the waning years of World War I, but the landmark excavation of the site was conducted between 1922 and 1934 through a joint expedition sponsored by the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania. The chief archaeologist was Leonard Woolley, an experienced Near East excavator who had previously dug in Syria with T.E. Lawrence. The dig captured the public imagination and proved curiously conducive to romance. Woolley married his assistant Katherine Merke in 1927. When a charming divorcée named Agatha Christie visited the site, This silver lyre was found by Leonard Woolley in the she caught the eye of “Great Death Pit,” a royal grave at Ur that contained the remains of 68 women and six men. another archaeologist,

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Max E.L. Mallowan, 14 years her junior, and the couple married in 1930. Katherine Woolley quickly came to detest Christie, who was subsequently banished from the dig. Mallowan lamented that “there was only room for one woman at Ur,” and spent the first dig season after his marriage separated from his bride. The dig at Ur inspired Christie’s 1936 mystery novel Murder in Mesopotamia, in which the archaeologist’s sickly wife, Mrs. Leidner, is brutally murdered. Similarities between the victim and Katherine Woolley were not exactly accidental. Woolley’s most dramatic finds were in the necropolis, where he uncovered the remains of around 1,850 people from all stages of the city’s life. He defined 16 tombs as “royal,” and identified a grisly burial

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practice: Human sacrificial victims were arranged around the royal dead, producing what he dubbed “death pits.” The largest of these, the “Great Death Pit,” contained the bodies of 68 women and six men. Woolley especially excelled in the excavation of delicate objects. He extracted fragile artifacts (such as the two “Ram in a Thicket” statues) by coating them in melted wax before removing them. Noticing two voids in the earth left by decaying organic matter, he carefully filled them with plaster, producing a precise cast of a lyre. Woolley continued excavating until diminishing finds and funds forced an end to the expedition. There has not been an excavation at Ur since. Though only soldiers see Ur today, the ruins have largely escaped the worst effects of modern warfare. The site was incorporated into a Hussein-

The author waits at a checkpoint located about a mile from the ruins of Ur.

The British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania cosponsored the excavations at Ur. Each institution holds one of the two nearly identical “Ram in a Thicket” sculptures from a royal grave at Ur. The British Museum statue is pictured above. 52

era military base, which was strafed by Allied warplanes during the First Gulf War, causing minor collateral damage. The city was in turn occupied by U.S. forces in 2003, which prevented the orgy of destructive looting that took place at other ancient Iraqi sites. While we were subject to mortar and Katyusha rocket attacks at the base, there does not appear to have been any significant damage to Ur itself. In 2009, U.S. military authorities turned the site of Ur over to the Iraq State Board of Antiquities and Heritage. The future of Iraq remains precarious, as sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites continues to wrack the country and the Iraqi Army begins to take over security duties. But Mesopotamian sites such as Ur represent a glimmer of

hope. If there is a dramatic reduction in violence, international tourism revenues from Mesopotamian archaeology could be substantial. Thriving archaeological activity might also help regenerate a once-vibrant Iraqi intelligentsia depleted by violence and emigration. More importantly, ancient Mesopotamia retains the potential to serve as a rallying point and common heritage for a responsible Iraqi nationalism that transcends sectarian divides. Our visit to Ur was short. Soon it would be time for another mission. We put away our cameras, suited up in our body armor, and loaded magazines into our rifles. The only way for a Westerner to visit Ur in 2008 was to come ready for war, in armored vehicles bristling with machine guns. Hopefully someday soon, people from across the world will peacefully tour what we saw as soldiers. ■ Michael Taylor served as a platoon leader in Iraq from 2007 to 2008. He is currently a graduate student in history at the University of California, Berkeley.
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(continued from page 16) transported for mile after mile by the meticulous care to avoid extremes hoenix and its surrounding forces of gravity. Omar Turney, a city of heat or cold. There was nothing communities have paved over engineer for Phoenix, mapped the the Hohokam did not know about much of the Hohokam world. ancient Hohokam irrigation systems farming in arid landscapes, and they But the long-vanished farmers reapduring the 1920s. He walked over the supplemented their crops by hunting pear with persistent frequency, under river basin and consulted old maps and gathering plant foods. the foundations of modern buildings and historical records to reveal what The canal systems began at the razed for new development, in the he called “the largest single body of river, where a weir raised the water le pathways of expanding interstates, land irrigated in prehistoric level and directed it into the c even in backyard gardens. For canal. A head gate regulated  #[WZSa  th the most part, the traces of the amount of water passing /@7H=</ in their presence are inconspicuinto the system. From there, =bVS`6]V]YO[aWbSa th ous, requiring careful dissection the water flowed along large d with spade and trowel. Only a distribution canals that were u few notable adobe structures up to 85 feet across and 20 f deep. The size of the canal feet still stand above ground, makWdS` d ing it hard to believe that the AOZb@ diminished away from the river, >V]S\Wf ;SaO5`O\RS a technique that ensured an Salt River Valley was the most /97;3: S` e populous and agriculturally even water flow. A steady flow @Wd =¸=26/; 5WZO e productive valley in the Southensured that too rapid a current d A\OYSb]e\ west before a.d. 1500. The 5WZO@WdS` did not erode the earthen sides. I land looks barren and utterly If, however, the current was too s dry, yet it has fertile soils and slow, it would deposit silt and c lies near major river drainclog the defile. Control gates lay times in North or South America.” America ” at int ages. Between a.d. 450 and 1500, the intervals along the main canals. Hohokam living near the Salt River The lower Salt River Valley, where When closed, they caused the current adapted brilliantly to this seemingly downtown Phoenix now stands, to back up, creating a head of water desolate environment, refining their supported miles of irrigated fields and and allowing the farmers to regulate agriculture and water management dozens of farming communities. The the flow down-canal. Feeder chanfrom one generation to the next. Over scale of the irrigation works boggles nels carried water through wicker and more than 10 centuries, they built vast the imagination. In the downtown stone gates along long branches of the canal networks up to 22 miles long metropolitan area alone, 300 miles of main canals, in turn leading to much and irrigated tracts of arid land up to canals formed 14 irrigation networks smaller defiles that fed gridlike field 70,000 acres in size. that watered 256,000 acres of fertile systems, each with their own water Archaeologists identify the river basin soils. The Gila River Valley supplies constrained within banks like Hohokam from their buff- to brownto the south, with its four irrigation a crowded chess board. colored potsherds that abound in the networks, watered nearly 19,000 acres The amount of communal labor river basin floors of southern Arizona. of closely packed fields a thousand required to construct and maintain If we use such vessels as a criterion, years ago. In the heart of this carefully these irrigation works was enormous. then we can trace the extent of the engineered landscape, stood the Reconstructions of ancient canals Hohokam over more than 30,000 250-acre Snaketown site, with its suggest that as much as 28.25 million square miles of southern Arizona— ceremonial ball court. Six miles of cubic feet of dirt may have been an area larger than South Carolina. irrigated land and smaller settlements excavated to construct one major In general terms, Hohokam groups lay along the river upstream and canal system alone. If a single worker shared a common ingenuity as farmdownstream of Snaketown. The removed 106 cubic feet of soil a day, it ers, a superb ability at irrigation agridense cultivation extended as much as would have taken more than 25,000 culture, and a common architecture two miles from the riverbanks. person-days to build many of the of adobe dwellings. There were none The Gila and Salt rivers received canals. of the elaborate, multistory pueblos of their water from highland watersheds. ohokam culture as Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde here, The river flow varied from season to archaeologists know it but a distinctive ceremonial architecseason and year to year, but provided appeared around a.d. 500, ture based on adobe platform mounds generally reliable water supplies for at the moment when the plazas were and ball courts, the latter apparently the Hohokam’s fields. Away from the first built, at a time when new pottery an import from Mexico. great rivers, farmers relied on both forms came into being and improveHohokam canals flow outward summer and winter rainfall. They ments in grinding technology made from the Salt River like the tentacles would trap the occasional tributary food preparation somewhat easier. of a giant octopus. They split and split flood, use terraces and small dams to More diverse cooking vessels allowed again, once full of gently flowing water trap water, and place their crops with
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54

ARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

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mothers to wean their children earlier and feed them soft foods. At this time new varieties of maize also appeared in Hohokam fields. Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport lies on the Salt River floodplain. When archaeologists surveyed the land under the runways and airport buildings, they found extensive tracts of once-irrigated land and large and small houses built alongside the fields. Here, people camped during the growing season. The larger structures

access to prime irrigated land, would have acquired wealth and status, in part because of their more productive fields. In later times, Hohokam communities varied greatly in size. Some, like those on the Gila River south of Phoenix, ranged along single canals that lay parallel to the river on either bank. Such communities may have covered 15 square miles and contained as many as 2,550 irrigated acres. Salt River communities lived amid branching canal networks that

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An archaeologist stands at the intersection of two canals at the site of Snaketown.

with hearths were the places where farmers cooked and slept, the smaller ones used for storage and other purposes. These were casual, temporary structures, rebuilt again and again over the centuries. But this very rebuilding confirms that the same households farmed the same plots of land over many generations. Early permanent villages founded along the Gila and Salt rivers coincide with the construction of the first large-scale canal system. If the O’odham people, who followed the Hohokam in this area, are any guide, those who participated in canal construction had the first pick of the best land. Later arrivals would have occupied less desirable acreage. Over time, the first comers, who enjoyed the best
56

traversed the Phoenix Basin. Suzanne Fish, who has studied Basin communities of a.d. 1100 and later, estimates that community territories averaged 15 square miles, a figure similar to that from the Gila. The household lay at the core of Hohokam irrigation works and of society as a whole. Their members built and maintained a sophisticated canal network. They provided the demanding labor needed to sustain an intensive agricultural regimen for nearly a thousand years. How did this system work, with all the close cooperation that it required? Judging from historical practice among the O’odham, individual households held claims to plots of land that passed from one generation to the
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Snaketown is famous for its Mesoamerican-style ball court, but the canals that watered fields as much as two miles away from the Gila river are even more impressive.

next. However, rights to irrigation water belonged to the community as a whole, the water being allocated to each household according to the amount of land they cultivated. Households shared water rights. Thus, they had an interest in protecting these rights and protecting their investment in the canal works that brought water to their fields. Some archaeologists believe that there must have been a dynamic tension between individual interests of the households and collective ones. The two tension points were always in play, balancing one another out over years, generations, and centuries. The resulting balance enhanced the long-term stability of a society that depended heavily on canals to bring water to soils that were otherwise useless. On this wider scale, we can think of Hohokam society as a series of what the archaeologist David Doyel once called “irrigation communities.” He imagined Hohokam irrigation in terms of canal networks branching from a single river intake. These networks connected an array of interdependent villages, whose households shared the labor of canal construction, maintenance, and management in a peaceful manner. Doyel identified at least six such irrigation communities along the longest Phoenix Basin canal network. By a.d. 1100, these larger settlements comprised a prominent
58

village with communal structures such as a ball court, a plaza, or a platform mound, with outlying smaller settlements and farms, the whole surrounded by carefully laid out and intensely cultivated farmland. A web of secular and ritual relationships united every individual in Hohokam society to a wider world.

Households shared water rights. Thus, they had an interest in protecting these rights and protecting their investment in the canal works that brought water to their fields.

t Southwest and contributed to the t abandonment of Chaco Canyon the a its great houses and, later, large and p pueblos at Mesa Verde and in the n nearby Moctezuma Valley. In the d desert, this same period may have b a time of floods that altered been r river channels and undermined c canal systems, as well as sometimes p prolonged droughts that caused w water shortages. We know little of t these environmental perturbations, b we do know that Snaketown but o the Gila River lost population. on M Meanwhile, other communities such a Casa Grande consolidated formerly as s separate canal systems into a single ir irrigation network based on a 21-mile canal that watered 15,000 acres. Five villages, each with their own platform mounds, lay along the canal. Another irrigation community in present-day Mesa had 21 miles of canals that watered 14,000 acres of fields. By any standards, this was irrigation on a large scale, with the largest Phoenix Basin communities each supporting between six and 10 thousand people. As the social order changed, so environmental pressures appear to have intensified. Just how, we don’t know, but the massive irrigation systems no longer produced the food surpluses necessary to support the now much more elaborate Hohokam society. The collapse came around 1450, probably a rapid dispersal, household by household, as people moved away to settle with kin or farmed on a much smaller scale. Their successors were the Akimel O’odham, probably their direct descendants, who built more modest irrigation works atop those of earlier times.

I

B

etween  and , after almost a millennium of relative stability, profound changes occurred in Hohokam society. These three centuries were a time of unstable environmental conditions. The instability coincided in part with the major droughts of the Medieval Warm Period that descended on

n 1882, 400 years after the Hohokam dispersed, Smithsonian anthropologist Frank Hamilton Cushing came to the Salt River Valley. He climbed to the top of an earthen monument and was astonished to find himself in the heart of a long-abandoned Indian settlement. He wrote: “It was one of the most extensive ancient settlements we had yet seen. Before us, to the north, east, and south, a long series (continued on page 64)
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ARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

Photo Credits
SITKA, ALASKA, more than you imagine, closer than you think! Enjoy exciting wildlife and outdoor recreation in stunning Alaska scenery. Explore ancient Tlingit culture and Russian history in the museums and totem-studded national park. Shopping, restaurants, yearround events, and more, waiting to be discovered in Sitka Alaska! www.sitka.org COVER—Courtesy RPM Nautical Foundation; 2—Courtesy Varna Regional Museum of History; 3—Courtesy Nature Publishing Group/Macmillan, Courtesy Michael Taylor, Imaginechina; 4—ITI; 8—Courtesy Preservation Virginia; 9—CourtesyAren M. Maeir, Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project, Bar-Ilan University; 10—Courtesy Aren M. Maeir, Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project, Bar-Ilan University, Bowie Snodgrass/ Flickr, Alan Cressler/Flickr; 11—AP Photo/Salvatore Laporta; 12—Araldo de Luca, Courtesy University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology; 14–15—Nevada; Courtesy Bureau of Land Management; Virginia: Courtesy Museum of the Confederacy, Photo: Alan Thompson; England: Courtesy the Portable Antiquities Scheme; Israel: Courtesy Israeli Antiquities Authority; Imaginechina; Peru: Courtesy Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, Stanford University, Photo: Jyri Huopaniemi; Chile: Courtesy Diego Salazar, University of Chile; Spain: Courtesy El Sidrón research team; Egypt: Courtesy Ted Maxwell, Smithsonian; Australia: Courtesy Steve Morton, Monash University; 16—Adriel Heisey;18–23—All photos Courtesy Liu Maiwang, Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology; 24–26—Courtesy RPM Nautical Foundation; 27— Courtesy RPM Nautical Foundation, Navy Photos/George Knight; 28—Courtesy RPM Nautical Foundation; 29—Courtesy Roger Keech & Tim Sutherland/Towton Battlefield Archaeology Project, Courtesy Tim Sutherland/ Towton Battlefield Archaeology Project; 30—Private Collection/The Bridgeman Art Library International, Private Collection/Photo © Philip Mould Ltd, London/The Bridgeman Art Library International, Courtesy University of Bradford/Towton Mass Grave Project; 31—Courtesy Roger Keech & Tim Sutherland/ Towton Battlefield Archaeology Project, Courtesy Roger Keech; 33–34—Courtesy Marc Valsella; 35–37—Courtesy Jean Clottes, Chauvet Cave Project; 38—Courtesy Marc Valsella; 39—Courtesy Jean Clottes, Chauvet Cave Project; 40-41—Courtesy Kalin Dimitrov; 42—Courtesy Botoşani County Museum, Botoşani: 7558. Photo: Marius Amarie, Courtesy Varna Regional Museum of History: 1664, Photo: Rumyana Kostadinova Ivanova; 43—Andrew Curry, Courtesy DAI EurasienAbteilung (S. Hansen); 44—Andrew Curry, Courtesy DAI Eurasien-Abteilung (S. Hansen); 45—Courtesy National History Museum of Romania, Bucharest, and National History and Archaeology Museum, Constanţa: 4275, 11666, Photo: Marius Amarie; 47—Courtesy Michael Taylor; 48-49—Courtesy Michael Taylor; 50—Erich Lessing/Art Resource; 52—Photo: John Gietzen, © The Trustees of the British Museum/Art Resource; 56—Courtesy Helga Teiwes, Arizona State Museum; 58—Reprinted by permission from The Hohokam Millenium, copyright 2007 by the School for Advanced Research Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico; 64—Henry D. Wallace, Desert Archaeology, Inc.; 68—Courtesy Nature Publishing Group/ Macmillan, © Antikythera Mechanism Research Project 63

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(continued from page 58) of…house mounds lay stretched out in seemingly endless succession.” Cushing was by no means the first outsider to explore the valley. In 1865, the United States Cavalry had established Camp McDowell in what is now Maricopa County. Enterprising visitors observed not only the eroded mounds of what were once adobe structures, but also the remains of extensive irrigation canals that had once brought water from the Salt River to wide tracts of nowabandoned maize fields. In 1867, Jack Swilling, a former soldier, established the Swilling Irrigating and Canal Company. The company flourished, for its canals often followed those of the ancient farmers, and the farms prospered despite the extremely hot summers. On October 20, 1871, a mass meeting of settlers appointed a committee to select a town site. After considerable debate, committee member Darrell Duppa proposed the name Phoenix, for a city rising Phoenix-like on the ruins of an ancient civilization. arther north, Mormon settlers arrived at the Great Salt Lake. Brigham Young himself declared that this was their new homeland. Within days, the brethren had a small dam and ditches irrigating a five-acre field of potatoes. Their tools were simple, their dams scraped together from earth and stones, but their willpower was inexhaustible. The pioneers lived in a close-knit society in which the church decided where to capture water and how to distribute it. Mirroring the Hohokam system, the water from the nearby Wasatch Mountains belonged not to individuals but to everyone, resulting in small communities that were sustainable over many generations. By 1910, small-scale farmers in Utah irrigated nearly 1 million acres. Small groups of farmers living in sustainable communities: The idea appealed strongly to John Wesley Powell of Colorado River fame, who spent time among the Mormons and acquired a profound knowledge of the desert West at a time when
64

An aerial view of Las Capas, a Hohokam site in southern Arizona, shows the remnants of farmers’ fields surrounded by a network of canals, outlined in white.

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few Easterners had been there. On the face of it, the obvious thing to do was to leave most of the West unpopulated except for isolated, better-watered enclaves. However, such thinking ran contrary to doctrines of progress, western expansion, and proper use of the land for agriculture. Besides, America would become two lands separated by desert. Only one weapon would suffice to master the arid lands—water. The dream was a glorious vision of fertility and prosperous farms, and a wonderful concept for ambitious politicians looking to deliver jobs in the form of water engineering projects to their constituents. oday, the southwestern U.S. faces a variety of pressures on its water supply. Temperatures are rising, while rainfall and river flows are dropping. The area is in the middle of a drought that is as severe as any that has struck in the past 100 years. At the same time, the Southwest is experiencing rapid population growth. The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by the

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year 2030 the population of Arizona will grow by five million people. Glen MacDonald, a geography professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, writing in the December 14, 2010, edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, makes the point that engineering projects designed to transfer and store water cannot completely supply the increased need for water. Industrial and agricultural water use must become more efficient, and residential water use must decrease dramatically by limiting the amount of water used for swimming pools and landscaping. Humans have managed water successfully for thousands of years in ways that are often ignored by history. But their experiences tell us that it is the simple and ingenious approaches that often work best—local water schemes, decisions about sharing and management made by kin, family, and small communities. These experiences teach us that self-sustainability is attainable. ■ Brian Fagan is a contributing editor to Archaeology.
ARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

www.archaeological.org

EXCAVATE, EDUCATE, ADVOCATE

A Toast to the Past

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Ancient Culture–Themed Galas Raise Money for AIA Programs

n April , the AIA featured a unique Maya feast at its first-ever gala held at Capitale in New York City. The meal won BizBash’s New York Event Style Award for best Overall Catering. The Institute hosted a second gala in April 2010—featuring the cultures, traditions, and archaeology of Peru—and is currently planning a third event. The galas are the latest addition to a diverse array of outreach programs that the AIA organizes annually. These programs reach out to hundreds of thousands of people informing them about the importance of understanding, protecting and preserving our Attendees at the gala enjoyed Peruvian-inspired food and the extraordinary architecture at Guastavino’s in New York City. cultural and material heritage. Proceeds raised from the galas make it possible for the AIA to continue these efforts. This year, on April 26, the gala returns to Capitale and will New AIA Award, Best Practices in Site Preservation, feature the rich heritage, and goes to Professor Giorgio Buccellati traditions of Ireland. Irish Culn January  at the 112th AIA tural Ambassador and acclaimed sure to the elements causes the extremely Annual Meeting in San Antonio, actor, Gabriel Byrne, will host fragile mudbrick to deteriorate rapidly. Texas, the AIA Site Preservation an evening that spotlights both Traditionally the delicate structures Committee presented its first Best ancient and modern Ireland, and have either been reburied or encased in Practices in Site Preservation Award to includes a contemporary Celtic modern mudbrick. Buccellati and his feast, musical performances, and Giorgio Buccellati for his exceptional team have come up with an alternative archaeologically themed auction conservation work at Tell Mozan by developing protective covers that (ancient Urkesh) in Syria and particuitems including travel. A highpreserve the original mudbrick while larly for his efforts in the conservation light of the gala is the presentastill displaying the form of the walls. The of mudbrick—a notoriously difficult tion of the Bandelier Award for covers are low-cost, renewable, locally Service to Archaeology. This year material to preserve. constructed, and easily removed to allow The award is given annually to people for inspection of the walls. it will be given to George Bass and/or projects that exemplify the best for his efforts in establishing the Buccellati’s innovative approach discipline of underwater archae- practices in site preservation and concombines archaeological research with ology and for his achievements in servation as judged by a committee of creative preservation solutions. Just as that field over the last fifty years. conservation and archaeological profes- critical to the long-term preservation sionals. By recognizing and publicizing Attendees will be treated to an of the site is Buccellati’s ability to work unforgettable night of fascinating these exceptional projects, the Commit- with the local community to provide and inspiring sights, sounds, and tee hopes to encourage other archaeolo- training and income and thereby ensure gists to adopt and utilize these practices. its commitment to the project. Buctastes as the Institute celebrates Tell Mozan, dating from the third archaeology and Ireland. To supcellati is currently working to create a port the Institute and its mission, millennium b.c., was an important urban 9½-square-mile eco-archaeological park center of the Hurrian civilization. Bucjoin the AIA on April 26th at that will better protect Tell Mozan and cellati and his team have been working at its environs. Capitale. For more informathe site for over 20 years and during that tion about this event, visit www. Nominations for the award can be period their excavations have exposed archaeological.org/gala or call made at www.archaeological.org/ numerous mudbrick structures. Expo617-353-9361. sitepreservation.

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65

Excavate, Educate, Advocate

AIA in the Lone Star State

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Two thousand attend the 112th AIA Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas
he Annual Meeting is the highlight of the AIA’s academic programming and the largest event organized by the Institute. The four-day conference brings together a mix of professional and avocational archaeologists, classicists, epigraphers, heritage specialists, and members of the general public interested in learning about the latest archaeological research and discoveries. The 112th AIA Annual Meeting was held this year in San Antonio, Texas from January 6 to January 9. Over the course of a long weekend, attendees were presented with a wide range of formal academic sessions, public outreach programs, social events, and tours. While the meeting is primarily an opportunity for professional archaeologists to present new discoveries and fresh ideas to their colleagues for discussion and debate, the AIA has worked very hard over the last few years to ensure that the program has something for everyone. The 2011 program was one of the most diverse in recent years. The academic program included over 300 presentations, several workshops, special events, including an opening night public lecture on shipwrecks followed by a reception at the San Antonio Museum of Art, a two-day archaeology fair co-organized and co-hosted by the Witte Museum, a series of roundtable discussions, and several receptions hosted by various academic organizations and universities. (To see the complete program, visit archaeological. org/annualmeeting.) The program also allowed the AIA to highlight its global partnerships. Both the German Archaeological Institute and the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences hosted sessions at the conference. These international partnerships have allowed the AIA to expand its programming to include new audiences. Several AIA members who have made significant contributions to the field of archaeology and conservation were recognized for their efforts at the annual AIA Awards Ceremony. (See AIA Award Winners.) The presentations, workshops, colloquia, receptions, lectures, fairs, exhibits, and other events all added up to a very busy and successful annual meeting. Please be sure to join us at the 2012 Annual Meeting, which will be held next January in Philadelphia.

Dispatches from the AIA

Guests enjoyed themselves at the Annual Meeting’s opening night reception.

Upcoming AIA Events
■ AIA-Milwaukee Society: Second

and colloquia with topics such as a reexamination of pottery in the classical world, discovering and uncovering shipwrecks in Turkey, conservation in Egypt, and teaching archaeology to K–12 students. A day long workshop organized by the Department of Defense focused on issues related to the protection of cultural heritage in areas of conflict. In addition to the academic sessions, participants had the opportunity to tour the Gault archaeological site and attend several

Annual Milwaukee Archaeology Fair, March 11 and 12, 2011, will be held at the Milwaukee Public Museum. Cosponsored by AIAMilwaukee Society and Milwaukee Public Museum. Island Archaeology Fair, April 3, 2011, will be held at Wagner College. in New York City. Sponsored by Culture Ireland and Tourism Ireland.

AIA Award Winners
Best Practices in Site Preservation: Giorgio Buccellati Conservation and Heritage Management: Archaeological Conservancy Gold Medal: Susan I. Rotroff Joukowsky: Ava Seave Pomerance: Michael Glascock Public Service Undergraduate Teaching: Stefano De Caro Wiseman Book Award: Peter Stone and Joanne Farchakh Bajjaly Holton Book Award: Benjamin R. Foster and Karen Polinger Foster Holton Book Award (honorable mention): Patrick E. McGovern Graduate Student Paper Award: John Marston Graduate Student Paper Award (first runner-up): Stephanie Pearson

■ AIA-Staten Island Society: Staten

■ AIA Gala: April 26, 2011, at Capitale

66

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AIA Presidents Cruise: Mythical Heroes & Legendary Voyages
Retrace The Odyssey aboard Corinthian II in June 2011 (12 days) with AIA President Elizabeth Bartman and AIA immediate Past President Brian Rose.

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Venice to Athens: Exploring the Adriatic and Greece
Spring and Fall 2011 (14 days) with AIA lecturer Virginia AndersonStojanovic (spring, fall TBA)

Hidden Islands of Greece
Cruise the Aegean aboard Callisto in July 2011 (11 days) with AIA lecturer James Wright.

Athens to Athens, including Greece, the Greek Isles and Turkey
Spring and Fall 2011 (16 days) with AIA lecturers William and Suzanne Murray (spring, fall TBA)

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IRAN: The Ancient Land of Persia
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September 7-24, 2011 (18 days) with AIA lecturer David Sensabaugh

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October 12-24, 2011 (13 days) with AIA lecturer Paul Bahn

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ARTIFACT

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t took Andrew Carol  days to build a working model of the Antikythera Mechanism—the ancient Greek world’s most sophisticated astrological instrument. The original device, dating to the second century b.c., consists of bronze gears. Carol used Legos. The choice of medium limited Carol, but it illustrated the elegant simplicity of its inspiration. The Greeks could economically perform the math needed to calculate upcoming solar and lunar eclipses using 30 hand-cut gears with between five and 223 teeth—223 is the number of lunar months between eclipses. The Lego Antikythera does its calculations in a less direct manner, requiring more than 100 prefab gears assembled into several modules, each performing separate bits of math. Then seven differentials—additional gears—reconcile the computations from different modules. The original Antikythera Mechanism is not only simpler than its Lego

WHAT IS IT?

A working Lego model of the Antikythera Mechanism
DATE

Finished in May 2010
MATERIAL

Lego Technic
NUMBER OF LEGOS

More than 1,500
ORIGINAL DISCOVERED

1901, in a shipwreck near the Mediterranean island of Antikythera

counterpart, it’s more accurate. Carol’s device can predict an eclipse to within 24 hours. The original is precise to within 12, thanks to a The original Antikythera Mechanism clever assembly that causes one of its gears to spin faster at some points in its rotation and slower at others, approximating the elliptical orbit of the moon. “Nothing on this planet was as mechanically complicated as the Antikythera Mechanism until the 1300s,” says Carol. “It’s a testament to the Greeks’ genius.”

68

ARCHAEOLOGY • March/April 2011

Archaeological Tours
led by noted scholars

Invites You to Journey Back in Time
Ancient Rome (12 days)
Examine the monuments of each historical period as a unit with Prof. Myles McDonnell, Baruch College, CUNY. Covering Republican Rome, Rome of the Caesars, the Early Empire, High Empire and Christian Rome, we spend a day at the ancient port, Ostia Antica, and another visiting Hadrian’s Villa at Tivoli, and end with the Imperial Palaces of the Later Empire.

Scotland (17 days)
Study Scotland’s prehistoric and early Christian sites with Dr. Mattanyah Zohar, Archaeologist, beginning with the monastic settlement on Iona Island and the intriguing Neolithic sites in the Kilmartin Valley. Tour highlights include the enigmatic Stones of Callanish on the Isle of Lewis, Edinburgh, the burial cairn at Cairnpapple, carved Pictish menhirs and a fairy-tale castle. The tour ends on the Orkney and Shetland Islands visiting Neolithic and Viking sites such as Maes Howe and Skara Brae.

Ancient Capitals of China (17 days) with
an Optional Yangtze River Cruise

Indonesia (20 days)
Explore the lush tropical islands of Java, Sulawesi and Bali with Prof. Richard Cooler, Northern Illinois U. Highlights include legendary Borobudur and Panataran, Indonesia’s largest temple complex, Solo’s old Javanese culture, the distinctive architecture and rituals of Tana Toraja, the magical ambiance of Bali and the musical and dance performances throughout.

Visit the major capitals of Imperial China, including Beijing, Xian, Luoyang, Zhengzhou and the garden city of Suzhou with Prof. Robert Thorp, Washington U. Tour highlights are the Forbidden City, Great Wall, Longmen Buddhist caves in Luoyang, the famous terra-cotta warriors near Xian and the worldclass museum in Shanghai. This tour is a must for those who have never visited China.

Peru (18 days)
Discover the intriguing empires of the Inca, Mochica, Lambayeque, and Chimú peoples with Prof. Daniel Sandweiss, U. of Maine. Touring includes visits to Lima’s museums, the Moche tombs of Sipán, Trujillo, Túcume, Chan Chan, the largest adobe city in the world, as well as Cuzco and the sacred Urubamba Valley. Tour highlights include Cerro Sechín, renowned for its unique stone carvings, the early temple-fortress of Chankillo and amazing Caral, the oldest city in the Americas plus two days at Machu Picchu.

2011 tours: Libya • Etruscan Italy • Sri Lanka • Syria & Jordan • Caves & Castles • Turkey • Malta, Sardinia & Corsica • Egypt Sudan • Israel • Cyprus & Crete • Burma In-Depth • South India • Greece • Korea • Bhutan & Ladakh • Provence...and more Journey back in time with us. We’ve been taking curious travelers on fascinating historical study tours for the past 35 years. Each tour is led by a noted scholar whose knowledge and enthusiasm brings history to life and adds a memorable perspective to your journey. Every one of our 37 tours features superb itineraries, unsurpassed service and our time-tested commitment to excellence. No wonder so many of our clients choose to travel with us again and again. For more information, please visit www.archaeologicaltrs.com, e-mail archtours@aol.com, call 212-986-3054, toll-free 866-740-5130. Or write to Archaeological Tours, 271 Madison Avenue, Suite 904, New York, NY 10016. And see history our way.

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