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Scotland: Hard Times in the Highlands

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

World of the


Mexico City

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A Viking
Final Voyage
Video Game Graveyard,
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Genghis Khans Weather
Report, The Lizard Diet


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26 Under Mexico City
Beneath the capitals busy streets,
archaeologists are discovering the
buried world of the Aztecs

34 Revisiting the Gokstad

More than a century after Norways
Gokstad ship burial was first
excavated, scientists are examining
the remains of the Viking chieftain
buried inside and learning the truth
about how he lived and died

39 Te Tomb of the Silver


Long-buried evidence of an Etruscan

noble family

44 Telling a Dierent Story

Archaeologists are revealing the dark
past of one of the Cold Wars most
celebrated sites

49 Egypts Forgotten Dynasty

Excavations at the ancient city of
Abydos have revealed the tomb of a
previously unknown pharaoh and
evidence of a long-lost royal lineage

50 At Abydos, a team led by Penn

Museum Egyptologist Josef Wenger
excavates the tomb of the previously
unknown pharaoh Woseribre Senebkay.

Cover: Head made of stone, shell, and

obsidian found in the excavations of the
Templo Mayor in the Aztec capital of
Tenochtitlan, now Mexico City








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Editors Letter
Chinese gambling in the Old West, dont take a
musket to a rie ght, and ancient Egyptian tax havens


From the President

From the Trenches
Unearthing E.T.s lost legacy, a daring Civil War
steamship, how Neanderthals really differed from
modern humans, and the skinny on an ancient
wrestling match


World Roundup
Scurvy in Columbus rst colony, the Near Eastern
lizard diet, a medieval Christian tattoo in Sudan, and
how nice weather helped Genghis Khan


Letter from Scotland

Were the residents of a Scottish hillside immoral
squatters or hard-working farmers?

68 Artifact
A 10,000-year-old wand offers a new look at the
faces of the Neolithic

on the web

More from this Issue To see more images of

Archaeological News Each day, we bring

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Interactive Digs Read about the latest discoveries

at the Minoan site of Zominthos in central Crete and at
Johnsons Island, a Civil War site in Ohio.

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editors letter

Summer Reading

editor in chief

Claudia Valentino
executive editor

Deputy editor

Jarrett A. Lobell

Samir S. Patel

online editor

Eric A. Powell
editorial Assistant

Malin Grunberg Banyasz

creative Director

Richard Bleiweiss

he streets, businesses, and residences of teeming Mexico City, one of the most
densely populated urban centers on the planet, barely conceal evidence of the
citys complex past. In Under Mexico City (page 26), contributing editor Roger
Atwood shares how archaeologists are uncovering evidence of the precolonial period when
the Aztecs ruled ancient Mexico. Here, he writes of fve of the citys most signifcant Aztec
sites and ofers important insights into their stunningly violent culture.
We think of Egypt as having been dominated by
enormous pharaonic realms. But in 1997, scholar Kim
Ryholt proposed that there might have been a smaller
Egyptian kingdom that lasted for a short period between
1650 and 1600 b.c. In Egypts Forgotten Dynasty (page
49), journalist Mary Beth Griggs shows that by tracing
evidence from papyrus fragments and tying it to recent
excavations, researchers have indeed found evidence of a
long-lost royal lineage whose role, in its day, was anything
but insignifcant.
The ancient tombs of Vulci, some 75 miles to the north
of Rome, were once considered a must-see for nineteenthcentury travelers on a Grand Tour of Europe. At a certain
point, the travelers stopped coming, and the tombs were
lost as vegetation took over. In The Tomb of the Silver
Hands (page 39), journalist Marco Merola covers archaeologist Carlo Casis search for the lost tombs of Vulci and his surprising fnds.
Contributing editor Andrew Curry writes of new evidence that is being discovered in
Berlin at the former Tempelhof Airport. In Telling a Diferent Story (page 44), we learn
that this airfeld, long associated with the Berlin Airliftwhen the Allies few in supplies
in defance of a Soviet blockadehad a darker past. Archaeologists are now uncovering
evidence that, during World War II, people were transported there from all over Europe
and forcibly set to work for Nazi Germanys war machine.
Upon excavation in 1880, a large earthen mound on the western shores of Norways
Oslofjord, long referred to locally as the Kings Hill, became one of the most important
Viking discoveries ever made. Named for the farm on which it was found, the Gokstad ship
burial contained not only artifacts, but also the remains of a Viking chieftain. Archaeologist
Jason Urbanus brings us Revisiting the Gokstad (page 34), the story of the reexamination
of the boat and its occupant, using twenty-frst-century scientifc methodologies. Much
more is now being learned about the Viking warriors life and, possibly, his last battle.
And dont miss this months lead story in From the Trenches (page 11), which shows
just how quickly our present becomes the past!

contributing editors

Roger Atwood, Paul Bahn, Bob Brier,

Andrew Curry, Blake Edgar, Brian Fagan,
David Freidel, Tom Gidwitz, Andrew Lawler,
Stephen H. Lekson, Jerald T. Milanich,
Jennifer Pinkowski, Heather Pringle,
Angela M. H. Schuster, Neil Asher Silberman,
Julian Smith, Zach Zorich

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 July/August 2014


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Game Night in Chinatown

I was particularly interested in Samir
S. Patels Americas Chinatowns in
the May/June 2014 issue, but what
really struck home for me was the
picture of the gambling pieces on page
41. I believe these so-called gambling
pieces are actually playing pieces from
the ancient Chinese game of We-chi,
which is called Go in the Western
world. We members of the American
Go Association are always on the lookout for the earliest evidence for Go in
the United States and North America.
I would be very interested in nding
a precise date when these pieces were
used by the Chinese community in the
British Columbia camp.
Samuel E. Zimmerman
American Go Association.
Lancaster, PA
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
The editors reserve the right to edit
submitted material. Volume precludes
our acknowledging individual letters.

Archaeologist Douglas Ross responds:

Those gaming pieces were very likely used
to play Go, and these objects are very common on Chinese sites overseas. This type of
black and white glass gaming piece was
also used in other games such as Fan Tan,
or as gambling tokens, so they cannot be
exclusively associated with Go alone. The
name of these pieces varies with the context in which they were used, so archaeologists tend to simply refer to them as glass
gaming pieces. Dating is nearly impossible
because they were used for such a long time
and, in fact, they turn up on Chinese sites
from the 1850s right through the 1930s
and beyond.
Gun Fight
I believe the weapons mentioned by
Eric A. Powell in Searching for the
Comanche Empire (May/June 2014)
were muskets rather than ries. The
dierence is rather more fundamental
than the dierence between a major
league baseball and a beer league
Steve List
Bristol, PA

Family Reunion
I just received my May/June issue and
was pleasantly surprised to nd my
sixth great-grandfather mentioned
in the article City Garden. Andris
Souplis was born in 1634 and came to
America in 1682, when the spelling
was changed from Souplis to either
Supple or Supplee. He is buried in
Gloria Dei churchyard cemetery,

although his grave is not marked.

Phyllis Supplee Jensen
Winslow, AZ

Earning Potential
In the fascinating article Messengers to
the Gods (March/April 2014), researchers hypothesize that the proliferation of
mummied animal votive oerings
following the collapse of Egypts New
Kingdom was due to increased income
for average Egyptians. They suggest
that this was thanks to the absence of
a centralized taxing authority, as well as
increased personal devotions without
a pharaoh to represent the people to
the gods. Might it also be possible that
the temples encouraged this practice
to replace income after losing subsidies
from a central government?
Susan Weikel Morrison
Fresno, CA

Brooklyn Museums Edward Bleiberg

Temples were mostly supported by the land
that they owned, most of which was nearby,
although sometimes temples also owned land
in other parts of Egypt. There really was
no state subsidy to temples apart from their
assigned land. Rulers were, however, important as intermediaries between the people and
the gods. When this link was lost for many
Egyptians in the Third Intermediate Period,
votive animal mummies may have created a
way for ordinary people to petition the gods
more directly. Once this link was established,
later rulers continued to support the practice
of using votive animal mummies.

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ARCHAEOLOGY July/August 2014

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Archaeology from the Sea

ariners in the past led a perilous existence, sailing in treacherous waters with
only simple instruments to aid in navigation, with no communication possible
with those left behind. All too often voyages ended in disaster as ships foundered
or went aground. Each shipwreck, though marking a tragic event, also represents a selfcontained community, and, when conditions of preservation are good, archaeologists can
reconstruct past worlds, sometimes more completely than may be possible on land.
Oceangoing vessels were frequently engaged
in trade, and their excavated cargoes offer
unique clues as to how regions across the globe
were connected. The Bronze Age shipwreck
at Uluburun off the rocky south coast of
Turkey, dating to about 1300 b.c., contained
copper and tin ingots, timber, ivory, glass,
beads, bronze tools and weapons, pottery, and
many other artifacts. These raw materials and
objects would have been taken aboard at ports
around the eastern Mediterranean, in the Nile delta, along the Levant coast, and at Cyprus.
Archaeologists had long thought that the Bronze Age cultures in those places were distinct
entities that owed little to each other, but the Uluburun wreck has effectively demonstrated
that they were regularly in touch through maritime trade.
Closer to our own time, the Mary Rose, flagship of King Henry VIII of England, sank
in 1545 off Portsmouth Harbor as the British fleet was about to engage an approaching
French armada. This vessel and its contents are remarkably well preserved. From the wreck
and from the artifacts recovered, including weapons ranging from longbows and arrows
to cannons and shot, we gain a picture of maritime warfare in transition from the Middle
Ages to the modern era, and of the crew members daily lives.
In 1686, La Belle, captained by would-be French colonist Robert de La Salle, sank in
a bay just off the Texas shore. The passengers and crew of La Belle had hoped to found
a colony on the Gulf Coast, an attempt that was thwarted by this disaster. The brass
cannons, and boxes of muskets, shot, and gunpowder onboard were needed for defense
in hostile territory. Carpentry tools, rope, trade beads, religious paraphernalia, and food
remains document many aspects of life in the planned settlement. La Belle was recovered
in an exemplary excavation by the staff of the Texas Historical Commission in 19961997,
yielding more than one million artifacts. The surviving timbers of the ship, now being
conserved for display, illuminate the shipbuilding techniques of the period.
Shipwrecks illustrate how societies in the past interactedat times successfully, and at
other times through conflict. They demonstrate how technological advancement can expand
the boundaries of human possibility. And they transform our understanding of key episodes
in the human past, even as they bring the lost worlds of our forebears vividly into the present.

Located at Boston University


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governing board
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Sheila Dillon, ex officio
Michael Galaty
Ronald Greenberg
Michael Hoff
Jeffrey Lamia
Lynne Lancaster
Becky Lao
Deborah Lehr
Robert Littman
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Maria Papaioannou
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Chen Shen
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Past President

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Trustees emeriti

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Charles S. La Follette
legal counsel

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President, Archaeological Institute of America

Archaeological Institute of America

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ArchAeology July/August 2014

Discovery of oldest Maya murals ever found at San

Bartolo, Guatemala. Photo by Heather Hurst.

. . . how you can create your legacy with the

Archaeological Institute of America

Te Charles Eliot Norton Society honors friends of archaeology who have named the
AIA as a benefciary of their retirement plan, insurance policy, will, or other estate gift.

L-R: Eric Blind with Ellen and Charles S. La Follette in

the archaeology lab in San Franciscos Presidio.

For Charles S. La Follette, creating a personal

legacy through a planned gift in his will was a
natural extension of his involvement with the
Archaeological Institute of America and his
commitment to archaeological research and
education. I joined the Norton Society to help
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With his bequest, he is confdent that AIA will
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Te Video Game Graveyard

ust as ancient cultures have founding myths, so does

todays multibillion-dollar global video game industry.
The frst titan of video games was Atari, which, in the
early 1980s, put their 2600 video game system in millions of
homesa frst computer for many American households.
The industry crashed in 1983, in part because of substandard
games, including a notorious op based on Steven Spielbergs
blockbuster E.T., thought by many to be the worst video
game ever made. (It was bad. Very bad.) Legend has it that
Atari buried millions of unsold and returned copies of E.T.,
and perhaps other titles, in a New Mexico dump as the company struggled to stay aoat. Thirty years was long enough for
the dump siteand the truth behind the storyto be lost.
In 2013, media companies Fuel Entertainment and
Lightbox acquired the rights to create a documentary about
the video game crash of the early 1980s and to dig the Atari
dump site, if it could be found. As both an archaeologist (and
Director of Publications at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens) and a child of that early video game
boom, I contacted Fuel to ask about how the archaeology
excavation, documentation, reportingwould
be handled. They invited me to take part, and I
assembled a team that included Richard Rothaus
of Trefoil Cultural and Environmental and Bill
Caraher of the University of North Dakota,
veterans of excavations in the Mediterranean
and the Americas, as well as
video game historian Raiford
Guins of Stony Brook University and historian Bret
Weber of the University of
North Dakota.
In April 2014, the
archaeological team,
flmmakers, and curious
locals converged on an
Alamogordo landfll. The
legend soon burst to life.
In Basket 5, Rothaus
recovered a boxed copy of
E.T., complete with instructions, catalogue, and Raiders
of the Lost Ark insert. Like dig-

ging in a pottery dump,

coin hoard, or shell midden, each turn of the shovel
or bucket loader exposed more
games and hardwarethousands of
cartridges representing dozens of titles. The
years worst sandstorm stopped the excavation, but the game-flled trench
was photographed and thousands
of artifacts were bagged for
analysis and cataloguing.
While many may think that
the recent past isnt an appropriate target for serious archaeologists, University of Arizona
archaeologist William Rathje once
said that archaeology seeks to fnd
items that have cultural valuevalue
that he found in the Tucson Garbage
Project, a decades-long efort to study
trends in modern trash. The Atari
project is in that tradition, and regardless of the attention it received, the


from the trenches

dig established that material produced
in the 1980s, and even more recently,
can have archaeological value. Further
research will examine the composition
of the deposit of games and hardware in
conjunction with the surrounding levels
of garbage to understand what happened, from both business and cultural
perspectives, when Atari dumped its
dead weight in the desert. Some of the
fnds have already been sent to museums
for display and conservation, and the
archaeological team is now writing a
preliminary report and a peer-reviewed
journal article.

The tiny Caribbean island of Aruba

is an ideal beach vacation spot, but
tourists who venture away from the
shore are in for a treat as well.
Arikok National Park features an
astonishing array of rock art made
by the islands first inhabitants, the
Caqueto people, who belonged to
the Arawakan language family. More
than a thousand years ago, they
canoed to the island from
northwestern Venezuela.

Early European accounts

describe Aruba as an island of
giants, as the Caqueto were
relatively tall. The Spanish were the
first Europeans to colonize the
island, followed by the Dutch, who,
in the seventeenth century, made
Aruba part of the Dutch West India
Company, and have governed it ever
since. While there are no longer fullblooded Caqueto, vestiges of their
heritage remain.


These Atari games are part of my

generations cultural heritage, and mark
a tipping point in the history of tech-

The rock art of the Caqueto

people, according to archaeologist
Harold Kelly of the National
Archaeological Museum Aruba,
includes geometric, zoomorphic,
and anthropomorphic motifs in red,
white, brown, and black. The art at
one site, Cunucu Arikok, stands out
for its complexity, variety, and
quantity. The combination of white
and red colors in a single depiction
is something that is not only unique
for rock art of
Aruba, says Kelly,
but also the rest of
the Caribbean, as
far as we know.
The site
Cunucu Arikok is located on a farm that
has been partially
restored to the time
when agriculture was
a large part of Arubas economy. Beans,
corn, millet, peanuts,
and cucumbers were
once cultivated at the
site, which also has
cactus hedges and stone walls to protect those crops from livestock. Trails
lead to the Caqueto rock art, including
drawings of marine animals and birds
that are visible on overhanging rocks
just off the trail near the parking lot.
More elaborate anthropomorphic
designs can be found a short walk
away, on the Cunucu Arikok dolerite
rock formation within Arikok National
Park. There, several complex human
fgures can be found among dozens

nology. Two years after the crash, Nintendo released its own American game
system, starting a second boom that
continues today. It is signifcant that
the documentary, Atari: Game Over, will
debut on Microsofts Xbox, a direct
descendant of the ancient culture
that created this video game midden.
Potentially millions more cartridges,
along with other artifacts such as Atari
computers, prototypes, and corporate
documents, remain at the dump site.
Future archaeologists will have their
work cut out for them.
Andrew reinhArd

of other works, including dynamic

depictions of shamans carrying out
rituals and, according to Kelly, going
on mystical journeys. One of these is

depicted in the unique red-and-white

palette, with a fgure intertwined with
geometric patterns. The works are
stunners both for their artistic merit
and the insight they provide about the
Caqueto belief system. Maps, guides,
and educational activities are all available at the parks visitor center.
While youre there
If you need a break from Arubas white
sand and blue sea, the park also offers hiking trails, unique wildlife, and
Conchi, also known as the Natural
Pool, a remote tidal pool surrounded
by jagged volcanic rock. The National
Archaeological Museum Aruba, located
in a historic home in downtown Oranjestad, chronicles the islands history,
from 2500 b.c. to the recent past. The
capital is also a great place to sample
Arubas unique cuisine, which incorporates Caribbean, Spanish, and Dutch
Malin GrunberG banyasz

ArchAeology July/August 2014

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from the trenches

Byzantine Secret Ingredient

ight hundred years ago, Byzantine monks painting the walls
of a monastery in Cyprus made
the aesthetic choice to use asbestosheat-resistant mineral fbers now
known to be highly carcinogenic
to give their work an extra sheen.
University of California, Los Angeles, archaeological scientist Ioanna
Kakoulli made the discovery while
analyzing the chemical makeup of
a painting depicting Jesus, beneath
which she found a plaster fnish con-

taining chrysotile, one of the minerals

in the asbestos group. We were not
expecting to fnd chrysotile in twelfthcentury paintings, says Kakoulli. It
has never been reported and we have
never found it on any other Byzantine
The heat-resistant properties of
asbestos were known as early as 2000
b.c., when it was used to make pottery
in Finland, and Roman artisans included it in fabrics used in funeral pyres to
keep the ashes of the dead discrete. But
scholars had believed asbestos
was not used to make materials such as plasters until the
Industrial Revolution. Kakoulli thinks the monks knew
or discovered that the mineral made their plaster easy to
smooth and able to be polished
to a mirror-like surface upon
which to paint. She plans to
return to the monastery and
examine other wall paintings
to determine how widespread
the innovation was.
eric A. Powell

A Bold Civil War Steamer

f the South Carolina coast,
archaeologists believe they
have identifed the remains of
Planter, a steamer that was associated
with one of the most daring actions of
the Civil War. Chartered by the Confederacy as a transport vessel soon after the
war began, Planters second-in-command
was Robert Smalls, an enslaved black
man. On a spring night in 1862, while
the ships white crew attended a ball in
Charleston, Smalls and the other black
crewmen commandeered the steamer.
After taking on his family, Smalls steered
Planter past several Confederate forts
and delivered the vessel to a Union


warship. Smalls was eventually appointed Planters captainthe frst African

American to serve as ships master in
the history of the United States military.
After the war, Planter hauled passengers and cotton along the South
Carolina coast, and was abandoned

after running aground during a severe

storm in 1876. Archaeologists with the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) carried out
a remote-sensing survey where Planter
was thought to have been lost. They
detected a series of magnetic anomalies
that are likely concentrations of iron
from the ships boiler. The site is in
10 feet of water and 15 feet of sand,
so excavating will be nearly impossible, says NOAA archaeologist Bruce
Terrell. But because of its historical
signifcance, well monitor the site to
ensure it isnt threatened.
eric A. Powell
ArchAeology July/August 2014

Inheritance of
or the Native Americans who
were relocated along the Trail of
Tears, disease, hunger, and stress
were constant companions. The Indian
Removal Act resulted in the forced
march in 1838 of 17,000 Cherokee from
their homes in the Appalachian and
Great Smoky Mountains to a reservation
in Oklahoma. Along the way, whooping cough, yellow fever, diarrhea, and
exhaustion claimed many lives. According to a new study, those who survived,
and their descendants, also bore the
marks of the trial.
Ann H. Ross, an anthropologist
at North Carolina State University,
examined data on the skull size of
Cherokee from the period following
their removalboth among those who
were relocated and some who had
remained hidden in the Eastern mountains. Using records of Cherokee adult
head size made in the early 1900s, she
found that both the relocated Western
Band and the hidden Eastern Band
displayed reduced cranial length and

breadth. Cranial size is determined in

infancy and childhood, and smaller size
is associated with poor nutrition and
environmental conditions during this
key developmental period. We were
surprised that there were changes in
both bands, Ross says. The Eastern
Band, hiding in the Smoky Mountains,
also sufered environmental stress.

The study has implications for

understanding the efects of humanitarian crises, large population movements,
industrial development, and contact
with outsiders, Ross says. She is also
using this type of research to examine
the impact of European arrival on
Native American populations.
MArion P. BlAckBurn

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from the trenches

Diminutive Gatekeeper
nside a 1,500-year-old shaft tomb, archaeologists from
Mexicos National Institute of Anthropology and History
discovered a ceramic fgurine of a shaman holding what
may have been a weapon, according to archaeologist Marcos
Zavaleta. The shaman was placed at the opening of the tomb as
if he were guarding the undisturbed burial, which contained the

body of one or possibly two high-status people and six pots that
might have held food for the afterlife. The burial complex is
located in the state of Colima on Mexicos west coast. According to Zavaleta, this rare intact burial could reveal much about
religion and funeral practices in ancient Colima.
ZAch Zorich

Bannockburn Booty
s the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn approaches, an archaeological
campaign is providing new details about
the famous clash, considered one of the most
important events in Scotlands history. In 1314,
Robert the Bruce defeated the forces of the
English monarch Edward II, leading to Scottish independence. Over the past three years,
researchers have reconnoitered the battlefeld
using geophysical survey, metal detectors, and


archaeological excavation. Among the thousands of

artifacts retrieved in the area is a silver coin discovered at nearby Cambuskenneth Abbey. It is
known that Bruce used the abbey as a storage
depot and returned there with his spoils immediately after victory. Archaeologists believe the
valuable coin, minted in London in the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century, may be part
of the war booty captured by the Scottish hero.
JAson urBAnus
ArchAeology July/August 2014



The Ancient Maya

In Belize and Guatemala, ancient
cities and sacred geometry

Scholar: Dr. Christopher Powell

December 716

Make Room for the

An adventure of historic proportion is waiting
for youat two living-history museums
that explore Americas beginnings. Board
replicas of colonial ships. Grind corn in a
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Its like a

whole other countr

CST 2059347-50

n a tomb in northern Sudan, archaeologists have discovered the earliest

complete skeleton of a human who
sufered from metastatic cancercancer
that has spread throughout the body.
The skeleton, which belonged to a young
man who died around 1200 b.c., was
riddled with lesions caused by cancer
of an unknown organ. A team led by
Michaela Binder of Durham University
analyzed the lesions using X-rays and
digital and scanning electron microscopy,
and ruled out alternative causes, such as
fungal infection or postmortem changes.
Cancer has been thought to be a
largely modern disease that results in
part from longer life spans, exposure to
pollutants and unhealthy food, and lack
of physical activity. Also, few ancient
skeletons bear evidence of cancer, but
this may be because the victims died
rapidly, before the disease could leave a
mark on their bones. The new fnd adds
to evidence that the disease existed,
and may even have been common,
in antiquity. The site, called Amara
West, has been studied since 2008,
with excavations in the ancient town
and cemeteries. Researchers hope that
an understanding of the surrounding
community will ofer a window into the
causes of cancer in ancient populations.
dAniel weiss

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from the trenches

Egyptian Style in Ancient Canaan

onstruction of a natural gas pipeline near Tel Shadud,

Israel, led to the discovery of a rare 3,300-year-old clay
con surrounded by pots, bronze artifacts, and animal
bones. The fnds suggest Egyptian burial rites: The cons
sculpted lid is Egyptian in style, the vessels would have held


oferings for the gods, and a gold scarab ring in the con bears
the name of the pharaoh Seti I, who conquered the region in
the thirteenth century B.c. Perhaps the remains belonged to
an Egyptian living in Canaan,
but the pottery was
locally produced. This
raises the possibility
that the interred
was a Canaanite
either employed
by the Egyptian
government or
wealthy enough
to want to emulate one of their
burials. The ruling
Egyptians exerted a
strong inuence over the
Canaanite upper class at
the time.
sAMir s. PATel
ArchAeology July/August 2014


odern humans share some

99.7 percent of our DNA
with Neanderthals. They
are our closest evolutionary cousins,
but the diferences between us run
deeper than that 0.3 percent. Much
of what distinguishes the two groups
is actually the result of how and when
genes are expressed and regulated
essentially, turned on and of. Similar,
or even identical, stretches of DNA
can produce vastly diferent traits,
such as longer limbs or smaller brains,
depending on how and when certain
genes are actively producing protein.
The study of these processes is known
as epigenetics.
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
sequenced Neanderthal DNA in 2010,
and now researchers there and at the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem are
beginning to understand some of the
epigenetic diferences between humans
and Neanderthals. Studying this is
of equal importance to studying the
genetic diferences, says Liran Carmel
of the Hebrew University.
By looking at the way that Neanderthal DNA chemically degraded over
millennia in the ground, the researchers
were able to reconstruct how certain
molecules, called methyl groups, were
attached to the DNA. Methyl groups
can help determine how much of a
particular protein a gene creates. The
research showed that certain Neanderthal genes had diferent patterns of
attached methyl groups, compared with
corresponding portions of the modern
human genome. As a result, strikingly
similar stretches of DNA could produce two very diferent hominins.
For example, two genes involved
in limb development have diferent
patterns of methyl groups, which may
be why we have longer arms and
legs than Neanderthals did. Similar

diferences were observed

in genes associated with
brain development and
susceptibility to certain
diseases. Carmel believes
that as more Neanderthal
DNA is analyzed, we will
begin to understand the
evolutionary changes that

created the modern human.

There is a huge potential, he says. Studying
epigenetic characteristics
could be of great importance for zooming in on the
properties that have shaped what we
are today.
ZAch Zorich


from the trenches

Childhood Rediscovered

housands of artifacts lie buried just out of students sight

at Rhode Island College
(RIC) in Providence. Researchers
from the Rhode Island State Home
and School Project have been piecing
together the story of the previous,
and less fortunate, young people who
inhabited the grounds on which the
campus stands. Between 1885 and
1979, more than 10,000 dependent
and neglected children left their lasting imprint on the
landscape as residents of the states frst public orphanage,
still partially visible on the campus eastern end. According
to RIC anthropologist E. Pierre Morenon, The Progres-

sive Era women who lobbied for

the creation of this place viewed it
as a temporary home, or an alternative to the almshouses, poor farms,
and asylums of the late 1800s. The
project has spent much of the past
decade documenting, preserving,
and honoring the childrens experiences. Toys were the most common
artifacts uncovered, among them
marbles, jacks, toy trucks, soldiers,
and roller skates. The objects are a sign that, despite their
unfortunate circumstances, this young population might still
have been able to experience childhood.
JAson urBAnus

Taking a Dive
roof that ancient wrestling wasnt
always on the level has been
found among 500,000 fragments of papyri discovered in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt, more than a century ago.
One fragment, recently scrutinized by
historian Dominic Rathbone of Kings
College London, concerns a wrestling
match between two teenagers, Nicantinous and Demetrius, in A.d. 267.
The contract, agreed upon by Nicantinous father and Demetrius trainers,
stipulates that Demetrius must fall


three times and yield. For his intentional submission, the loser would
be paid 3,800 drachmas. Although
match fxing is alluded to by some
ancient Greek writers, according to
Rathbone, This is the frst known
papyrological evidence for bribery in
an athletic competition. The agreement also specifes that should the
boy renege on the deal, Demetrius
party would owe a penalty equal to
18,000 drachmas.
JAson urBAnus
ArchAeology July/August 2014

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La Isabela was the first
permanent, non-Viking
European colony in the
New World. Founded
in 1494 by Christopher
Columbus and more than
1,000 settlers, the town
was haunted by sickness
and death. Twenty-seven skeletons excavated
from the site in the 1980s and 1990s were
recently reexamined and showed that most
were afflicted with severe scurvy, caused by
vitamin C deficiency. The resulting fatigue
and pain likely contributed to the colonys
dismal prospectsit lasted just four years.

IRELAND: Steps and niches for candles or lanterns

cut into the rocky coast near Baltimore, County Cork,
may point to a hive of pirates and smugglers. The area
was host to a pirate alliance that was defeated by a
Dutch fleet in 1614. Underwater archaeologists hope
that the rocky steps, one set of which leads to a cavern
accessible by water (perfect for illicit activity), indicate
that pirate ships, and perhaps the entire alliance fleet,
might be in nearby waters.

MEXICO: Plant scientists

have used four approaches
ecological, linguistic, genetic,
and archaeologicalto zero in
on the home region of the first
domesticated chili peppers. All
lines of evidence, including the
range of Proto-Otomanguean,
the oldest language thought
to have a word for chili
peppers, and the oldest known
archaeological pepper remains,
converge on north- and centraleastern Mexico. No wonder the
mole sauce in Puebla is so good.

CHILE: Inca and Chinchorro mummies have long shown

evidence of exposure to naturally occurring arsenic.
Scientists applied sophisticated optical tests to hair
from a 1,000- to 1,500-year-old mummy to determine
how she had been exposed to the toxic element.
Arsenic suffused the hair all the way through, indicating
it had been ingested in contaminated groundwater,
rather than deposited from surrounding soil after burial. Groundwater
in some parts of the Atacama Desert is still tainted with arsenic today.


According to historical
sources, people have
long eaten Arabian
spiny-tailed lizards.
According to tradition,
Muhammad did not eat them himself, but
did not condemn the practice. At the site
of al-Yamma, archaeologists uncovered
remains of lizards among those of other
food animals, and at least one bone has a cut
mark. The lizard bones appear in early layers
(4th to 7th century, before and just after the
establishment of Islam) and continue to the
18th century. The reptiles remain a source
of protein and fat in some parts of the harsh
desert today.

ARCHAEOLOGY July/August 2014

By Samir S. Patel
in Odense have
exposed the
towns medieval
bouquet. Among
the finds are
a barrel-lined well connected to a building
thought to have been a brewery. Wood at
the site, including two more barrels that had
been used as latrines, is well preserved. The
privies are going to be troves of information on
medieval diet, hygiene, and health. According to
archaeologists, they also preserve the smell of
the Middle Ages.

female mummy
in 2005 and
recently studied
in detail has
a tattoo
rare for the
period (A.D.
700), for its
subject matter, and for its placement.
The mark is a monogram that spells
out the name Michael in ancient
Greek, a reference to the Biblical
archangel. Also, the tattoo is high on
the womans inner thigh, suggesting
that it was not readily visible. Curators
suspect it may have been considered
somehow protective.

KAZAKHSTAN: Bands of nomadic herders were

stepping stones for the spread of crops between
opposite ends of Asia 5,000 years agothe seeds of
what would become the Silk Road. Archaeobotanical
analysis at their seasonal camps shows that the
pastoralists had access to both wheat from Central
and Southwest Asia and millet from East Asia. The
seeds were found only among cremation burials, so
they might have served some ritual purpose. The
nomads own agricultural tradition appears to have
started 1,500 years later.

Adverse climate
changes are
often cited in
the declines of
see the Indus,
Ancestral Pueblo, Bronze Age
Mesopotamia, Classic Maya, Tang
Dynasty, and more. Surely good
weather also made a mark on
history. According to a study of tree
rings in gnarled, ancient Siberian
pines, Mongolia was pleasant
warm and wetfrom 1211 to 1230,
coinciding with the rise of Genghis
Khan. More rain would have meant
more grass, which meant more
livestock, wealth, and warhorses
the engines of the Mongol army.

VANUATU: Most of what is known

about the Lapita, the culture that
colonized the remote South Pacific
3,000 years ago, comes from pots.
Human remains are rare. Researchers
have conducted isotopic studies on
remains from the largest known Lapita cemetery68 burialsfor
insight into their diet. They found that it was some time before
crops were established as a significant part of the menu. The
earliest colonists relied instead on a foragers diet of fish, turtles,
fruit bats, and free-range but domesticated pigs and chickens.


1524 map of Mexico City


ArchAeology July/August 2014

Mexico City
Beneath the capitals busy streets, archaeologists are
discovering the buried world of the Aztecs
by R A

1519, THE SPANISH conquistador Hernn Corts

and 400 of his men marched into the Aztec capital of
Tenochtitlan and knew at once they were in a strange
and wondrous place. Even before their arrival, the
emperor Moctezuma II had sent the Spaniards lavish jewels and ne clothes. He may have believed the
Spaniards to be the deity Quetzalcoatl, the plumed serpent,
returning to Tenochtitlan from the east, or he may have thought
he was receiving emissaries from a friendly state. According to
their own accounts, as the Spaniards
began to explore the city, they found
temples soaked with blood and human
hearts being burned in ceramic braziers.
So thick was the stench of human esh,
wrote chronicler Bernal Daz del Castillo, that the scene brought to mind a
Castilian slaughterhouse.
Yet what made an even greater
impression was Tenochtitlans bustle
and press. Streets were so crowded that
the Spaniards could barely t through
them. And the hubbub of the main
plaza, full of shouting salesman oering everything from beans to furniture
to live deer, could be heard miles away.
Among us there were soldiers who
had been in many parts of the world,
in Constantinople and all of Italy and
Rome, wrote Daz. Never had they
seen a square that compared so well, so
orderly and wide, and so full of people,
as that one.
Templo Mayor, 1978
Five hundred years later, Mexico

Citys main plaza still teems with shoppers and street hawkers,
while, only a block away, archaeologists are carefully digging up
the remains of the city Corts and his men wondered at. Today
archaeology is happening everywhere in Mexico Cityjust
o the main square, in alleys, patios, and back lots. One dig
is being conducted in the basement of a tattoo parlor. Others
are going on beneath the rubble of buildings destroyed in the
citys 1985 earthquake. Theres a site located in a subway station, and two others are under the oor of the Metropolitan
Cathedral. When city workers repave
a street, archaeologists stand by to
retrieve ceramic sherds, bones, and
other artifacts that appear from under
the asphalt. Excavation sites are often
so close to modern infrastructure that
archaeologists have to take care not to
undermine modern building foundations. Researchers regularly contend
with a bewildering network of sewers,
pipes, and subway lines. And because
the Aztec capital was built on a lledin lake bed, they often have to pump
water out when these areas ood.
In 1978, workers laying electrical
cables accidentally discovered the
Aztecs Templo Mayor, or High Temple, two blocks from the citys central
square, Zcalo. In 2011, a major ceremonial cache was discovered under
the Plaza Manuel Gamio. Since these
serendipitous nds, ongoing excavation
and research by the National Institute
of Anthropology and Historys Urban

turquoise masks, all of which attest to the

empires wealth. Other objectsmollusk
Aztec Codex, 1519
shells from the Pacic, Caribbean shark teeth,
jade from southern Mexicohave given
researchers a richer understanding of the
prosperity of trade ties forged by the Aztecs
under the emperor Moctezumas erce predecessor, Ahutzotl, who ruled from 1486 to
1502. He added lands as far away as Chiapas
to the citys sphere of inuence, conquered
rich cacao-producing areas, and opened up
trade ties with both coasts. Tribute poured in
from vassal states.
Although much has been learned about the
Aztecs, the question of how this formidable
empire fell to the Spaniards in only a few
weeks of ghting continues to vex historians,
and excavations in their capital have added
little information to the debate. Despite
new research highlighting the possible role
of disease brought by Europeans, Mexican
Archaeology Program (PAU) have changed our understandarchaeologists believe the key factor was the resentment the
ing of Aztec society. Excavations at ve sites in particular, all
Aztecs neighbors felt toward them. The Spaniards were
within short a short walk of each other, have begun to crystaljoined by thousands of indigenous people who were enemies
lize our understanding of daily life, worship, and governance
of the Aztecs. Why? Because they were sick of paying tribute.
during the height of Aztec rule.
They saw Corts as their salvation, says Matos Moctezuma.
Scholars now understand that the human sacrices that once
But before the Aztecs collapse, Moctezuma and Corts shared
shocked the Spaniards were not conceived as public horror or
a brief moment of friendship. Daz wrote: Moctezuma took
punishment, but rather as reenactments of Aztec societys own
[Corts] by the hand and told him to gaze over his great city
creation. Archaeologists have excavated stone carvings with
and the many others all around the lake. He then invited
depictions of violent myths, some featuring people being disCorts to climb the Templo Mayor to get a better view. Within
membered or thrown from great heights. And human remains
two years of that moment, Moctezumas great city was gone.
subsequently uncovered show similar wounds, suggesting
Only now are archaeologists learning how much of it actually
that the myths were played out atop the temples with actual
survived and is sitting beneath the paving stones and buildings
people. According to Ral Barrera, PAU director, The Aztecs
that make up Mexico City today.
materialized their beliefs about creation, performing them at the Templo Mayor. In ways
barely intuited by the Spaniards or even by
modern historians until recently, the Aztecs,
also known as the Mexica, believed that the
fate of the world rested on what happened
on the towering heights of their temples.
The Templo Mayor was their holiest place,
but, more than that, it was the center of the
Mexica universe. It was from there that they
made contact with the divine world and with
the underworld, says Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, archaeologist and professor emeritus
at the Templo Mayor Museum.
Throughout downtown Mexico City,
archaeologists have found some 40,000
artifacts, including mirrors made of shiny
obsidian, Pacic turtle shells that were muchSkull Wall, Templo Mayor
prized by the Aztecs, and precious jade-and28

ArchAeology July/August 2014

Templo Mayor, center of Aztec life and religion

Templo Mayor and (right) disk

depicting moon goddess

hen the Spaniards arrived

in Tenochtitlan in 1519, the
Aztec capitals main shrine stood
150 feet high. Little still stands of
that building today because the
Spaniards demolished it and used
its blocks to build their own cathedral,
known as the Metropolitan Cathedral
of the Assumption of Mary, within sight
of the remains of the once soaring temple.
Possibly unknown to the Spaniards, however,
at least six earlier versions of the Templo Mayor still
lay underneath the structure they destroyed, the result
of each successive ruler building his own temple on top of the
previous one.
Since the early 1980s, archaeologists have been delving into
those earlier layers, gaining a look at how the Aztecs worshipped

decades before the conquest. Because these remains had

been buried since the 1400s, they are giving researchers an
unprecedented look at classical Aztec society. One of the
frst artifacts they excavated was a monumental stone disk
dating from an early phase of the temples construction,
around 1400, depicting the moon goddess Coyolxauhqui,
a fgure from the Aztec creation myth. In the legend, the
goddess was decapitated and dismembered at the hands
of her brother Huitzilopochtli as punishment for disrespecting their pregnant mother. Archaeologists have concluded
from the chopped-off human limbs and heads excavated
near the temples base that the grisly scene was reenacted
regularly at Huitzilopochtlis altar on the summit. Rows of
skulls made of stone and stucco, still visible today, had their
counterparts in actual skulls excavated nearby.
The carnal nature of Aztec worship has long intrigued
researchers, in part because its focus on blood-drenched
sacrifce in the public square had few parallels in other
Mesoamerican societies. Scholars suggest that the elites
may have felt insecure in their power, and responded with
these grandiose, intimidating rituals. You get a sense of
who ran society and how they made themselves loom
large over it, monumentalizing themselves, and how they
expressed power with these acts, says Harvard University
historian David Carrasco. Sacrifce was also closely linked
to warfarethe victims were mostly battlefeld captives
and thus to economic domination over neighboring
states, explains archaeologist Eduardo Matos
The greatest Aztec conqueror of
them all, Ahutzotl, was cremated
upon his death in 1502 and his ashes
placed in an urn at the base of the
temple, according to sixteenthcentury accounts. Archaeologists
thought they might be close
to fnding his remains in 2006
when they excavated a stone
inscribed with the year 10 Rabbit in the Aztec system (which
corresponds to A.D. 1502) along
with artifacts suggesting an elite
burial. They now think that the urn with
Ahutzotls ashes had actually been dug up
in 1900 by Mexican archaeologist Leopoldo
Batres, who did not know hed struck the Templo
Mayor. At that time, the neighborhood around the buried ruins
had few houses and a reputation for bad omens and ill spirits,
likely a remnant of the sites bloody history, says archaeologist
Ral Barrera.


Plaza Manuel gamio, A ritual center in the Shadow of the high Temple
espite their reputation for violence,
the Aztecs had a finely honed
taste for the delicate, the exquisite,
and the fragrant. They adored flowers,
perfumes, brightly painted walls, and
epic poetry. In 2009, archaeologists
began uncovering artifacts and
human remains beneath a quiet
square adjoining the Templo
Mayor site, known as Plaza Manuel
Gamio. These excavations have
already yielded a great deal of
information about Aztec life,
death, and worship. Included
within the burials, beneath
a volcanic stone used for
human sacrifices similar
to those described by the
Spaniards, were five human
skulls with holes bored into
their temples. In the time of
the emperor Moctezuma I, who

in rows and showing signs of intensive use. The long, protruding

handles of some pots contained tiny pellets that, when the pots
were moved, made a sound like a rattlesnake. Aztec priests are
believed to have packed these incense pots with coal, copal,
and other aromatic substances for use in ceremonies that filled
the senses and masked the odor of death. They used incense
to sweeten the air, but also to purify the space and please the
gods, says Lorena Vzquez, a PAU archaeologist. According
to Vzquez, the pots also held some kind of protein, possibly
human blood.
A more grisly find awaited archaeologists a few feet away
the skulls, jawbones, and vertebrae of about 500 people,
including at least 10 children, in two tightly packed deposits.
Before they were buried under an altar, the bones had been
painstakingly prepared. They were stripped of their flesh and,
judging from weathering stains, dried outdoors before burial,
says Mara garca Velasco, a PAU conservator. These people
werent thrown there like garbage, she explains. They were
treated carefully, as befitting a ceremonial burial. Surprisingly,
Velasco adds, none of the skeletons analyzed thus far shows
any sign of major trauma. PAU director Ral Barrera believes
that all the remains were buried at roughly the same time, and
that they were all related to a single ceremonial
Perforated skull
event. Since both the human remains and the
sahumadores were found under a stone-andstucco floor, the event may have been a closure
ceremony in which a part of the temple was built
over and buried.
Looming over the deposit was a 40-foot-wide
circular platform carved with stone serpent heads,
their mouths agape. Historical sources speak of
the platform, or cuauhxicalco, as the place where
the remains of the Aztec rulers were publicly
Incense pot
cremated. Their ashes were then placed in
reigned from 1440 to 1469, the skulls had been placed side by
ceramic urns and buried. A few feet away from the cuauhxicalco,
side on a stake and displayed publicly in a structure known as a
Barrera found the withered trunk of an oak tree that grew in
tzompantli, or skull banner. Botanical remains demonstrated
a kind of large flowerpot.
Cremation platform
that the skulls had once been adorned with delicate cornflowers,
Spanish accounts mention
cotton blossoms, and cactus thorns. Laboratory tests concluded
ceremonial trees planted
that the five skulls belonged to three women and two men,
near the Templo Mayor
all young adults whose skulls were perforated postmortem.
festooned with strips
Analysis of the isotopic content of their teeth indicates that three
of colorful paper, and,
of them had spent their childhoods far from the Aztec capital,
according to Barrera, this
probably in southern Mexico, suggesting they were migrants to
was surely an example.

the city or prisoners of war.

Nearby, researchers found a statuette of a seated woman
made entirely of copal, an intensely aromatic tree resin that,
more than 500 years later in the PAU laboratory, still emits the
sweet, eucalyptus-like aroma that perfumed the dead. And a few
feet away, in a contemporaneous deposit, archaeologists found
47 sahumadores, or clay incense pots, all meticulously arranged

Taken together, the bones,

the tree trunk, the serpents
heads, and the thousands of
smaller artifacts that have
been found are creating a
rich picture of ceremonial
life in the Aztec heyday.
ArchAeology July/August 2014

calmcac, School of the Ancient elite

n 1985, an earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter scale killed

some 10,000 people and destroyed or compromised thousands
of buildings in Mexico City. Some of those buildings happened
to have been standing over Aztec civic and holy sites. More than
two decades later, after workers demolished a building rendered
structurally unsound by the quake, archaeologists dug down and
found the ruins of an elite school near the Templo Mayor. Known
as the Calmcac, which in the Nahuatl language spoken by the
Aztecs means school, the complex was where Aztec nobility
sent their children to be trained in war and worship. The schools
proximity to the Templo Mayor shows the elites concern for
educating young men for power, says Harvard historian David
Carrasco. The emperor Moctezuma II himself was a graduate.
An enormous structure in antiquity, even larger than the
Spiral roof decoration

Templo Mayor, the school had a courtyard whose roof was

adorned with a row of spiral ornaments representing snails,
which were associated with the rain god Tlaloc. Spanish
colonial-era drawings had suggested these adornments were
small, even dainty, decorative touches. But when archaeologists
discovered them, the ornaments actually stood a monumental
eight feet tall and must have been visible from all over Tenochtitlan. Of the seven found by archaeologist Ral Barrera, all
had been removed in antiquity from their rooftop perches and
laid below a oor. By the time the Spaniards arrived, they had
been replaced with similar ornaments that the Spaniards later
destroyed, of which no traces have been found. Since their
rediscovery, the Calmcac roof ornaments have become one
of the most distinctive motifs of ancient Mexico.
Excavation at the Calmcac proved diffcult. Eighteen feet beneath the city, the site continually ooded
and had to have water pumped out, a problem that
speaks to the citys unusual geography. Tenochtitlan
was built on a group of marshy islands in the center
of Lake Tezcoco. These were gradually flled in with
lines of tree trunks and soil using an ancient landreclamation technique similar to that employed in
Tenochtitlans contemporary city, Venice. As in Venice, canals crisscrossed the city. Archaeologists have
found traces of some of them, as well as a pier that
jutted into the lake in antiquity. Lake Tezcoco has been
almost completely flled in over the centuries, but the
soil underneath the city remains porous and damp,
like gelatin, says archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma. Although the city has been gradually settling
at a rate of up to 20 feet per century into the lake bed,
not so the Templo Mayor, which was built on sturdy
landfll. It is therefore sinking at a much slower pace,
causing it to gradually rise relative to its surroundings such that it will, eventually, regain the 150-foot
height it had in antiquity.
Once the remains of the Calmcac were stabilized,
archaeologists discovered walls and wide staircases,
some with ancient footprints still in their stucco surfaces. They also uncovered dozens of artifacts that
hint at student life in A.D. 1500, including well-worn
ceramic plates, a clay spoon, and int and obsidian
knives that probably had both practical and ceremonial uses. PAU director Ral Barrera has excavated only
a small corner of the ancient school because most
of it remains beneath busy Donceles Street and its
taco stands and cantinas. Digging any further would
endanger those buildings foundations, he explains,
and then, instead of us excavating, someone would
have to come excavate us.


16 guatemala Street, Temple of ehcatl-Quetzalcoatl

Guatemala Street

rchaeological sites in Mexico City have street addresses,

not GPS coordinates, as sites tend to elsewhere. At this
particular address, behind the green door, next to the Calmcac,
archaeologists uncovered the Temple of Ehcatl-Quetzalcoatl, a
structure dating from about 1450. The temple, whose distinctive,
round shape was described by Spanish priest Bernardino de
Sahagn, was located about 80 feet north of where Spanish
colonial maps had originally shown it to be. Ehcatl was a
wind god sometimes depicted as a version of Quetzalcoatl, the
feathered serpent who had already been worshipped in central
Mexico for more than 1,000 years by the time Tenochtitlan was
founded in 1325. In fact, snake imagery abounded at the temple
in antiquity. Spanish chroniclers described the building as having
a conical roof made of straw, resembling a coiled snake. To enter,
worshippers passed through a stone arch carved to resemble a
snakes mouth, complete with fangs. The Spaniards associated

serpents with the Garden of Eden story, regarding the reptiles

as evil, and usually destroyed snake images wherever they saw
them. But, if the temples snake arch wasnt destroyed by the
Spaniards, it may still lie buried beneath a row of buildings
behind the Metropolitan Cathedral, awaiting discovery.
Excavation has shown that the Guatemala Street temple
was bordered by a long outer wall, which the modern street

Temple of Ehcatl-Quetzalcoatl
directly above it follows exactly. This is no coincidence, but
rather evidence that the Spaniards stuck closely to the original
Aztec urban grid when they built their own city on the ruins
of Tenochtitlan. Modern avenues also run along the same lines
as causeways that once connected the ancient island city to
the mainland.
ArchAeology July/August 2014

Tlatelolco, last city of the Aztecs

half-hour walk
Aztec foundations and colonial church
north of the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco
was a rival Aztec city
until it was absorbed
into Tenochtitlan in
1473. Recent excavations have shown that
Tlatelolcos ceremonial complex was once
almost as large and
impressive as that of
the main Aztec capital,
although at the time of
the Spanish conquest,
the city was known
mostly for its thriving
market. Tlatelolco was
the fnal redoubt of the
Aztec emperor Cuauhtmoc before he was
captured by Corts in
August 1521. Corts later released Cuauhtmoc and allowed him
to continue to rule but, fearing a conspiracy, had him executed
in 1525. He was the last Aztec ruler.
Just over a decade ago, archaeologists made an intriguing
discovery at Tlatelolco. Beneath a colonial church erected over
Aztec foundations, they found a seven-foot-deep, 26-footwide basin that had been built on Cuauhtmocs orders.
Known as a caja de agua, or water box, the basin was fed
with water from Chapultepec Hill, some four miles away. A
system of aqueducts ensured the citys supply of potable
water, as lake water was not suitable for drinking. This cistern
was, perhaps, the last example of Aztec civic construction.
On the basins walls, archaeologists discovered murals, once
brightly colored but now faded with age. Painted just as the
Spaniards were consolidating their power, the frescoes are a
unique hybrid of Aztec and Spanish themes. They show scenes
of canoes on a lake, people fshing, ducks, reeds, water lilies,
frogs, herons, and jaguars. In one scene, a fsherman casts a net
while, at his feet, a coiled snake tries to eat a frog. Snakes and
frogs had deep symbolic associations for the Aztecs, and were
depicted in the basin in a naturalistic, European manner. These
murals were painted at the moment of the conquest. In a way,

Jaguar fresco

they show the encounter of the European and Mexican cultures, says archaeologist Salvador Guilliem. Tlatelolco, where
the Aztec world made its last stand, was thus also the scene
of one of the initial artistic expressions of modern Mexico. n

Roger Atwood is a contributing editor at Archaeology.



Now located in the Viking Ship Museum

in Oslo, the Gokstad ship once sheltered
the remains of a late-ninth-century local
chieftain. The vessel is part of one of the
largest and best-preserved Viking ship
burials ever uncovered.

the Gokstad
More than a century after Norways Gokstad ship burial
was frst excavated, scientists are examining the remains
of the Viking chieftain buried inside and learning the truth
about how he lived and died

by Jason Urbanus

norways Vestfold, along the western shores of the Oslofjord, a team

of excavators burrows into the side of a large earthen mound. The barrow lies
approximately 1,700 feet from the shore, protruding from a woodless plain.
Armed with shovels, the diggers tunnel away with a determined resolve to reach
the center. But these are not archaeologiststhey are Viking raiders of the
mid-tenth century. And they are seeking the stern of a subterranean ship,
the fnal resting place of a bygone Viking ruler, known today as the Gokstad chieftain. As they
vandalize the grave, they leave behind clues that, centuries later, will make their intentions
clear and perhaps help identify the warrior whose tomb they have ransacked.

The Gokstad ship burial was first discovered by amateurs

in 1880 and then excavated by Norwegian archaeologist
Nicolay Nicolaysen.

n JanUary of 1880, word reached the Antiquarian Society

in Oslo about an amateur archaeological dig occurring 75
miles to the south, outside the town of Sandefjord. Two
brothers, sons of the owner of the large Gokstad farm, had
begun treasure hunting on their fathers property. Their target
was a 165-by-140-foot mound known locally as the Kongshaugen, meaning Kings Hill, as legend told of a famous king and
his treasure buried there. Although damaged
and reduced in size by centuries of plowing,
the hill still stood a formidable 15 feet high.
The following month, an emissary from the
Antiquarian Society arrived. Archaeologist
Nicolay Nicolaysen immediately suspended
the unsanctioned digging as he assessed the
situation. He soon determined that the
site had great archaeological potential, and
began a state-sponsored excavation later
that spring. It took Nicolaysens team only
two days to prove his suspicions correct
when a boats wooden stempost emerged
from the ground.
Despite the plundering more than a
millenium before, the collection of artifacts
buried within the Gokstad mound came
to be one of the most extraordinary Viking
archaeological discoveries ever made. In
addition to the enormous wooden ship,
which measures 76 by 17.5 feet and was
adorned with 32 alternating black and yel-


low shields, three smaller vessels had been buried nearby. Inside
a burial chamber behind the ships mast, a chieftain had been
interred surrounded by an impressive assemblage of objects,
including wooden furniture, riding, fshing, sailing, and cooking
equipment, and a gaming board and horn gaming pieces, all
intended to provide comfort and entertainment as he made
the voyage into the afterlife.
The archaeologists also discovered the remains of 12 horses,
eight dogs, two goshawks, and two peacocks in the mound.
However, the lack of any personal jewelry or weaponry was
initially puzzling, as was the condition of the body itself. Only
a handful of bones remained, and it eventually became clear
that the skeleton had been purposely damaged.
Recent dendrochronological analysis has dated the Gokstad burial to between a.d. 895 and 905. The same analysis
shows that the vessel itself predates the burial by as much as
half a century, having certainly been used for trade, raiding, or
exploration before it became the chieftains fnal resting place.
Although not plentiful, evidence for the burial of large Viking
ships has been found throughout northern Europe. Over the
last 150 years, notable examples have been uncovered in Sweden, Denmark, and the British Isles, but the most remarkable
and best preserved of these ships, including the Gokstad, have
been discovered in southeastern Norway.
Given the extensive labor and resources required for the
construction of such a ship, intentionally burying it would
have been a tremendous testimonial to the deceaseds wealth
and social position. The interment of Viking warriors within
ships was partly a symbolic gesture, representing the souls
journey into the afterlife. In addition, these burials were created by the dead chieftains descendants as physical reminders
of the power and prestige of the recently departed. The Viking
Age often saw contentious power struggles. Highly visible,
extravagant burial mounds such as the Gokstad aimed
to prolong the memory of a powerful chieftain,
and to help ensure the transition of power to his
heirs. Less than a century after its construction,
though, the Gokstad mound was deliberately
vandalized, possibly an attempt at desecrating
this very memory.
During Nicolaysens excavation of the ship
in the nineteenth century, the poor condition of the skeleton and the lack of valuable
metal objects led archaeologists to conclude
that the grave had been previously disturbed.
In and of itself, this is not an unusual phenomenon in archaeology. Tombs are often
discovered partially burglarized as a result of
Several wooden beds were discovered in the
burial mound, one of which bore elaborately
carved animal-head bedposts.
ARCHAEOLOGY July/August 2014

shoulder blade, a fragment of an upper arm bone, and two

skull fragments. As early as 1882, anatomist Jacob Heiberg
concluded that the individual was between 50 and 70 years
old, sufered from muscular rheumatism, and had difculty
walking. This led to the general consensus at the time that the
bones belonged to a local Viking king, Olav Geirstadalv, who
historical sources record as dying around a.d. 840 from a foot
infection. In 1928, the skeleton was sealed inside a lead cofn
and reburied in the Gokstad mound. The stone sarcophagus
containing the casket bore the inscription, In this cofn Olav
Geirstadalvs bones were placed anew.
The skeleton remained interred in the reconstructed
mound on the original site until 2007, when Per Holck,
Although most of the Gokstad chieftains skeleton was
destroyed in antiquity, scholars have studied the remaining leg
bones and skull fragments to learn what he may have looked
like and how he died.

either ancient or modern treasure seekers. However, in the case

of the Gokstad, researchers have recently confrmed that the
reason for the break-in was more sinister than a simple desire
for richesit was personal.
To access the burial chamber, the ancient raiders dug extensive trenches measuring about 60 feet long, 15 feet deep, and
several feet wide. This undertaking was too large to be a secretive mission obscured by the cover of darkness, but rather was
a deliberate and highly visible act. Fortunately, the intruders
left behind evidence of their conduct, in the form of a dozen
wooden spades. Using new, nondestructive techniques of dendrochronological analysis, researchers from the Museum of
Cultural History at the University of Oslo dated these artifacts,
potentially identifying the culprit(s). The evidence shows that
the break-in of the Gokstad mound occurred between a.d.
950 and 1000. In conjunction with other dendrochronological
data from sites including the Oseberg ship burial, which had
been discovered in the early twentieth century some 15 miles
away, archaeologists concluded that during the tenth century, a
systematic campaign of mound-breaking was directed toward
the monumental burials of eastern Norway. And that the man
likely responsible was the Danish king Harald Bluetooth.
As the Dane sought to extend his power over the region
in the second half of the tenth century, he aimed to undermine the authority of the local ruling dynasties. Because
burial mounds such as the Gokstad represented the legacy and
authority of these dynasties, both symbolically and physically,
they were purposely and systematically wrecked. By destroying the previous rulers remains, memory of him could be
destroyed. The Gokstad chieftains skeleton was intentionally
dismembered, his valuables plundered, and the symbolic transition of power was complete.

arly examinations of the Gokstad chieftain never

arrived at defnitive proof of who he was, what he looked
like, or how he died. When Nicolaysen discovered the
body in 1880, he found only a handful of broken bones from
the original skeleton, including pieces of four leg bones, a

In 2007, researchers exhumed the Gokstad chieftains skeleton

and removed it from the potentially damaging lead coffin in
which it had been reburied in 1928, providing the opportunity
to use modern forensic techniques to examine his remains.

professor emeritus from the Department of Anatomy at the

University of Oslo, led a team of scientists urging that the
remains be exhumed. Holck was particularly worried that
the lead cofn in which the bones had been sealed may have
trapped damaging moisture. I expressed my concern about
the skeleton, as the moist conditions could have destroyed it
completely. I also pointed out that the former examinations
had not mentioned several sorts of pathology at all, and no
X-rays had been taken, says Holck.
The exhumation allowed for a modern forensic investigation of the Gokstad remains and provided results that

New investigations identified serious injuries the Viking suffered in the battle that killed him. (Left to right) A knife cut to the
inside of the right femur, a deep gash to the left tibia, and an ax cut to the right fibula.

contrasted with the earlier conclusions. Most importantly,

the new examination ofered clues as to what the Gokstad
chieftain may have looked like and how he died. One of the
frst things that Holck noticed was the mans abnormally large
stature. Using the surviving long bones as a guide, he estimated
that the Gokstad chieftain was nearly six feet tall, almost half
a foot taller than the average ninth-century Viking. The lack
of wear on his joints indicated that he was probably in his 40s
when he died, younger than previously thought. Although
most of the chieftains skull was missing, making it impossible
to reconstruct his facial features, Holcks close examination
of an X-ray of one of the skull fragments has provided some
details of the mans physical characteristics. For example, the
base of his skull, where the pituitary gland is located,
showed damage, likely resulting from a tumor. The
abnormal massiveness of his skeleton was in accordance with acromegaly, a syndrome which appears
due to a hypophyseal [pituitary gland] tumor in
adult age, says Holck. He would have had a big
and coarse-limbed body, enlarged nose, ears, and
lips, big and sweaty hands and feet, and a deep and
toneless voice.
The Gokstad chieftain likely sufered other painful
side efects of this disease, including difculty moving the vertebral column, relatively weak muscular
strength, limited motor skills, and frequent
migraines. These symptoms, especially the
constant headaches, may have made him illtempered, says Holck, which certainly was a
bad situation at that time! Holck also noted that
the chieftain must have had difculty walking, a
circumstance that had led earlier investigators to
associate the Gokstad skeleton with Olav Geirstadalv.
Examination of his knee joint indicated that, at one
point, the chieftain had sufered severe ligament
damage and fractures of the left leg, likely from
a bad fall. This may have caused him to limp,
Ornate gilt bronze and lead medallions, once
attached to leather straps, were found among the
chieftains personal grave goods.

although the injury had occurred several years before his death
and was partially healed when he died.
Somehow the chieftains true cause of death had been missed.
Says Holck, The former examination of the skeleton did not
comment on the chieftains [fatal] injuries. In his recent study,
Holck was able to better detail extensive wounds that were
almost certainly received in battle, and to identify the injuries
that the Gokstad chieftain could not have survived. The results
tell a more vicious story than had been previously written. He
certainly did sufer a violent death, Holck says. The man had
been severely slashed in both legs, likely by two individuals using
diferent types of weapons. A distinct cut from a thin-bladed
weapon, such as a sword, was evident along his left shinbone.
This would have sliced through the patellar tendon, rendering his left leg useless. The direction of the mark
indicated that the chieftain was likely already lying
on his back when this occurred, perhaps with his legs
in the air. Although severe, this probably was not
the fatal blow. A second kind of weapon, probably
a knife, gave him a deep cut mark on the inside of
his right thigh bone. This may have penetrated the
femoral artery and perhaps caused his death, explains
Holck. These blow marks on his lower limbs did not show
any new formation of bone, and thus indicated that he
was killed in battle.
Although scholars cannot yet connect the burial
with any particular historical fgure, and attempts
to retrieve DNA have been unsuccessful thus
far, they now know that it is certainly not Olav
Geirstadalv. Nonetheless, the Gokstad chieftain
and the circumstances of his burial are representative of a singular moment in Viking historyone
defned by power, exploration, and wealth, thanks in large
part to advances in shipbuilding technology. Extraordinary ship burials like the Gokstad were important
symbolic landscape markers, but even they were
unable to avoid the repercussions of local power
struggles and territorial disputes.
Jason Urbanus has a Ph.D. in archaeology from
Brown University.
ARCHAEOLOGY July/August 2014

The Tomb
of The
Long-buried evidence of an Etruscan noble family

by Marco Merola
n the nineteenth century, the ancient

tombs of Vulci, some 75 miles northwest

of Rome and 25 miles west of Viterbo,
were a stop on travelers Grand Tour of
Europe. Since the late eighteenth century, when the frst ofcial excavations
were undertaken on the orders of Cardinal Guglielmo Pallotta, numerous burials, ranging from
the simple to the spectacular, had been found in
the area. In the Necropoli dellOsteria, roughly
translated as the Necropolis of the Pub, travelers encountered impressively built and richly
decorated burials dating from the seventh to
fourth centuries b.c. belonging to the Etruscan
culture that had once inhabited the region. Some
of the tombs had evocative names given to them
in contemporary times in order to attract more
visitors. There was the Tomb of the Sun and the
Moon, the Tomb of the Inlaid Ceiling, and the
Tomb of the Panathenaica, named after the sacred

athletic and literary games held every four years in

Athens to celebrate the goddess Athena.
Despite their popularity 150 years ago, however, the tombs were abandoned as a tourist
destination and, ultimately, lost. The Tomb of
the Sun and the Moon was the most important
funerary complex in the area, and we know the
area was open for visitors until the middle of the
nineteenth century, says archaeologist Carlo
Casi, who manages the Vulci archaeological park
on behalf of the local archaeological superintendency of Etruria Meridionale. But since then it
has literally been swallowed up by nature.
Three years ago, Casi and his team set out to
rediscover the Tomb of the Sun and the Moon using
topographic maps of the area, some of which were
drawn in the nineteenth century. Unfortunately,
we werent able to fnd the tomb again, probably
because the people who drew the maps of the area
made some errors in locating it, says Casi. But

Archaeologists working in a
large necropolis 75 miles from
Rome recently discovered the
impressive tomb of an Etruscan
noble family dating to the 7th
century B.C.

as is often the case in archaeology,

although they began looking for
one thing, Casi and his team found
something else entirely: more than
twenty small graves and tombs and
two larger funerary complexes, the
most spectacular of which, both in
contents and in namethe Tomb
of the Silver Handsrivals anything
found previously at the site.

n A Wintry DAy in 2012,

Casi and his team were digging a 30-foot-long corridor. Eventually their excavations led them straight
into a large tomb with three separate chambers. Based on


In one of the tombs chambers,

archaeologists uncovered several
small cups, as well as large storage
jars called pithoi.

its size and its location within the

necropolis, which is known to contain other rich Etruscan burials,
they believed the tomb must have
belonged to a noble Etruscan family. One room on the right side of
the corridor, which they called Chamber C, was completely
empty, having been, like so many Etruscan tombs, ransacked
by looters either in antiquity or more recently. But the other
ArchAEoLogy July/August 2014

two rooms, Chamber A in the center and Chamber B on the

left, were full of artifacts: large storage jars called pithoi, cups,
and examples of bucchero, a distinctive, shiny black type of pottery made by the Etruscans beginning in the seventh century
b.c. In Chamber B, Casis team also uncovered the remains of
a chariot wheel and bronze horse harnesses.
While excavating Chamber A, Casi noticed something
unusual lying on the ground among a variety of artifactstwo
well-preserved silver hands with traces of gold on the fngers
and gold-plated fngernails. I knew immediately that these
In Chamber A, excavators discovered a pair of finely made
silver hands (above, right) that once belonged to a type of
wooden funerary dummy and, in Chamber B, examples of a
distinctively Etruscan fine pottery called bucchero (right).


The silver hands were taken to a nearby laboratory. There (top row, left to right) researchers X-rayed them, fit the pieces of the
right hand back together, and (bottom row, left to right) carefully cleaned the more intact left hand. The result: two completely
restored and conserved hands.

hands had once been part of a sphyrelaton, a kind of wooden

funerary dummy that represented the dead and guarded his or
her soul after the body had been cremated, says Casi. Most
often the dummy represented a warrior or a nobleman, but in
this case the fgure was probably a woman. Casi thinks this
may demonstrate that the Etruscans granted equal status to
high-ranking members of society regardless of gender. Near the
hands on the ground, the archaeologists also recovered some
purple threads that they believe were used to tie gold studs to
a brightly colored garment that once clothed the dummy. They

also found iron and bronze fbulae, little gold balls, pieces of
faience, and amber and bone beads that likely were once part
of several very fancy necklaces.
When Casi and his team completed last seasons excavation,
they took the artifacts from the tomb to a restoration and conservation laboratory in Montalto di Castro, near Vulci. There
conservators cleaned and restored the iron, bronze, and gold
jewelry, horse trappings, pieces of the chariot, and, of course,
the silver hands. According to Teresa Carta, who is in charge
of the lab, the silver hands are a unique fnd. Although other
ArchAEoLogy July/August 2014

examples of funerary dummies hands have

been discovered in Vulci, and in the town
of Pescia Romana near Viterbo, these
were rough and made of bronze, never
anything as refned as these, Carta says.
Casi hopes to resume excavations in
the necropolis in the near future and
uncover more of its long-hidden secrets.
My dream would be to fnd the tombs
of people who had business relationships
with this noble family, says Casi. That
might be the only chance we have to
know more about this powerful woman
and her relatives. n
Marco Merola is a freelance journalist
living in Rome. For more images, go to

Chamber B also contained the remains of a

chariot, including at least one wheel (left),
and hundreds of small pieces of bronze
(below) that once were part of the vehicle
and its trappings. These are now being
painstakingly pieced together.


Telling a
DifferenT STory

oday, most Berliners remember the citys

Tempelhof Airport for its role in the post
World War II Berlin Airlift, when tons of vital
supplies were fown into the city in defance
of the Soviet blockade. But until a recent
archaeological excavation, a darker side of
Tempelhofs history had been almost forgotten: In the early
days of the Nazi regime, a corner of the airport served as one
of Germanys frst concentration camps. And between 1941 and
1945, thousands of men and womenpart of a vast system of


slave labor that kept the German war machine runningworked

and lived in the shadow of its now-iconic runway canopies.
Since Tempelhof closed in 2008, it has been turned into
a massive park, its empty runways and wide felds playing a
part in revitalizing the citys center. On a sweltering Friday in
August 2013, Reinhard Bernbeck, head of the Institute for
Near Eastern Archaeology at the Free University of Berlin,
stood on the grass between a pair of baseball diamonds built
by American GIs after World War II. Not far away, trafc
rushed along the Columbiadamm, the street that runs past
ArchAeology July/August 2014

Archaeologists are revealing

the dark past of one of the cold
Wars most celebrated sites
by Andrew Curry

Three years after World War II ended, residents of Berlin anxiously

watch the arrival of a plane (left) carrying much-needed supplies
to Tempelhof Airport. Archaeologists have excavated a part of the
now-closed airport (right), uncovering evidence of a forced-labor
camp that existed there throughout the course of the war.

the inner-city airports northern periphery. A few hundred

yards to the west, the airports taxiway and terminal building
shimmered in the sun. Directly in front of Bernbeck was a
trench, 200 feet long and about 10 feet wide, revealing a very
diferent aspect of the airports past. Just a few feet down,

the outlines of concrete foundations and a single strand of

taut barbed wire, its ends disappearing into the soil on either
side of the trench, were all that remained of a double row of
more than a dozen wooden barracks. Since 2011, Bernbeck
and archaeologist Susan Pollock of the Free University of
Berlin and Binghamton University have been using historical documents, blueprints, and wartime aerial photography
to locate and excavate whats left of this barracks complex.
It is believed to have housed the workers who were forced
to build some of Nazi Germanys most fearsome weapons.

During the war, forced laborers built and repaired the German aircraft manufacturer Weserflugs war planes, including the infamous
Stuka dive-bombers, in Tempelhofs hangars.

ery soon after the war began, the departure of

millions of German men for the front created a labor
shortage, sending German employers scrambling for
workers. When all the men went to the front, the Germans
needed a labor force and had a choice between women and
foreigners, Bernbeck says. Ideologically, [German] women
were out of the question. Instead, Germany turned to
recently conquered territories and immediately put in place
a system to import laborers. Germany invaded Poland on
September 1, 1939. Two days later, on Sunday, September 3, the frst ofces opened to register
Poles with the intention of bringing them
to Germany as forced labor, according
to historian Bernhard Bremberger,
who has spent years researching
the history of forced laborers in
Berlin as part of a recent efort
to compensate aging survivors.
As the Wehrmacht pushed
east and west across Europe, the
system continued to grow. Initially, most forced laborers were
put to work on Germanys farms. At
the time, authorities were concerned


about concentrating too many foreigners in cities, or assigning

them to the German armaments industry, for fear of sabotage.
But need soon outstripped these concerns, and forced laborers were to be found everywhere: tidying up ofces, working
for the post ofce and the subway system, in stores and on
assembly lines, and even in German churches as gravediggers.
Says Bremberger, Who else would clean the streets or take
away corpses after bombings?
While forced laborers werent technically prisoners, as
concentration camp inmates were, elements of the system
amounted to a form of slavery, according to Bremberger.
In the countries Germany conquered or occupied,
workers were sometimes recruited with promises
of good jobs in the Fatherland, only to be kept
in prisonlike conditions once they arrived.
In some cases, local ofcials would be
instructed to fnd volunteers for relocation to Germany on short notice
or face repercussions. In other
instances, men and women were
simply rounded up in raids at their
Among the recently excavated artifacts at the
Tempelhof site is a plate bearing a Nazi swastika.
ArchAeology July/August 2014

local movie theaters or bus stations and taken to Germany.

Over the course of the war in Europe, a span of nearly six
years, Germany imported between eight and 10 million forced
laborers. By 1944, an eighth of Berlins population of four million was comprised of forced laborers. Late in the war, trains that
sent Jews and other undesirables to concentration and extermination camps in the east were loaded with men and women
from Poland and the Soviet Union on the return journey.

ot long after the war began in 1939, and for nearly

four years, Tempelhof served as a factory site for
Weserfug, a now-defunct company that was once
Germanys fourth-largest aircraft manufacturer, and Deutsche
Lufthansa. Weserfug produced the Luftwafes signature Stuka
dive-bomber at the Berlin airfeld, while Lufthansa used forced
laborers to install radar and repair planes.
The Tempelhof barracks being excavated were home to
nearly 2,000 forced laborers, mostly from Poland, France,
and the Soviet Union. Early analysis of the fnds is showing
how these airport workers may have been part of the life
of the city, and is contradicting the claim, common in the
decades after the war, that the average German wasnt aware
of the crimes perpetrated by the Nazi regime. For example,
the team has uncovered precision tools from local Berlin
manufacturers and broken bottle tops from milk and beer
bottles, which may help trace the relationship between the
camp and its surroundings. Bottle tops and such show you
how connected the camp was to the local communitywhere
else were they getting supplies and food? Bernbeck asks.
There was a whole network of camps woven throughout
Berlin, thousands of them. That means theres no way Berliners didnt know what was going on.
The Tempelhof excavations are also demonstrating that
diferent nationalities were not treated equallysome were
accorded more privileges than others. Early analysis seems to

show the presence of larger numbers of personal objects in

the barracks where French workers lived. One area had a high
concentration of locks and keys, leading Pollock to believe
that its French inhabitants might have had footlockers or
cupboards in which to keep their belongings. French forced
laborers were much better treated than Eastern Europeans
and were permitted to keep things under lock and key, she
says.Depending on where people fell on the ladder of racial
superiority, their treatment could be very diferent. Several
barracks in the center of the camp housed Soviet men. These
were surrounded by an extra ring of barbed wire, bearing out
the Nazis loathing for Soviets and other Eastern Europeans,
whom they considered racially inferior.
Bernbeck and Pollocks work is also illuminating how
some of the forced laborers may have died. As the war
turned against Germany, and Allied bombers ranged deeper
and deeper into German airspace, workers at Tempelhof
were at particular risk. Living at Tempelhof, you would be

Concrete-reinforced ditches were the only protection the laborers

had from the Allied bombs that rained down on Berlin.

Locks, keys, bottle tops, and cutlery are beginning to tell the story
of how Tempelhofs laborers experienced their day-to-day life.

in constant danger from bombing raids, tortured by a fear

you wouldnt make it, says Pollock. While most of Berlins
population was protected by underground bomb shelters
and aboveground concrete bunkers, often built by forced
laborers, those living at Tempelhof had to take shelter in Splitterschutzgraben. These shrapnel trenches were essentially
concrete-reinforced ditches that might protect people lying
inside from fying metal, but not from direct hits.
The Tempelhof Splitterschutzgraben were narrow, just six
feet deep, and not nearly large enough to ft all the labor camps
inhabitants easily. Yet despite the trenches small size, they have
yielded a surprising number of artifacts, most of which were
found jammed in the cracks between the concrete slabs that
lined the bottom of the air-raid trenches, or buried underneath
the slabs edges. Unlike the utilitarian objects uncovered in and
around the barracks, those from the trenches are largely of a
personal naturea brooch and other jewelry, along with ID

Archaeologists have found a few personal items, including

handmade ID tags and rosary beads (above), in and around
the ditches in which the laborers sheltered during bombing
raids. Theyve also uncovered items, such as dog tags (below),
left behind by U.S. GIs working to get Tempelhof functioning
again after the war.

tags issued by Weserfug and Lufthansaor

painstakingly handmade. When they took
shelter, people brought things that were
most valuable and then either lost them or
didnt survive, Pollock says.
In fact, the barracks complex
was hit by a bomb and burned,
an event shown in aerial photographs taken at the time, which
has now been confrmed by the
archaeological evidence. Personal
efects, including a pocketknife and
metal ID tags, were found scattered.
When the team uncovered the posts that

had supported some of the barracks, they found that they

were mostly made of wood, rather than sturdier concrete,
that had been charred in a fre, likely from the bombing. (The
bathrooms were the only areas with concrete foundations.)
By the spring of 1945, the barracks were no longer standing,
although work for Weserfug went on among half-assembled
bombers in the airports high-ceilinged hangars. We know
there was an attempt to keep building these Stukas until
literally the last days, says Pollock, and in the last gasps of
the war there were still forced laborers living in the airport.
In May 1945, Berlin surrendered, and after a few months of
Soviet occupation, control of Tempelhof Airport was transferred to the U.S. Army. Whatever remained of the barracks
was quickly cleared as the Americans raced to get the facility
back up and running. Rubble and airplane parts were bulldozed
to the north edge of the airport, covering the camps foundations, then slowly cleared away.
Today, even as developers rush to build around the former
airport, Bernbeck and Pollock hope to continue their work.
They want to add more to the history of Tempelhof so that
its full complexity can be understood. And they hope that
the site will no longer be known only as a Cold War symbol
of freedom and resistance, but also as a place of coercion
and sufering. Working at Tempelhof is a departure for the
researchers, who live in Berlin but have spent most of their
careers excavating Stone and Bronze Age sites in Turkey,
Iran, and Turkmenistan. In todays Germany, the
impact of WWII-era excavations has political,
social, and personal implications beyond what
most archaeological digs promise. What you
interpret and what you say have a distinct possibility of touching people who are still alive, says Pollock. Thats completely diferent from something
from the ffth millennium B.C.
Andrew Curry is a contributing editor at Archaeology.

Secret History

empelhof s dark history actually began more than a

decade before the start of World War II. A military
prison on the site was shuttered in 1928 when the
area was turned into an airport. When the Nazis took power
fve years later, one of the prison buildings was reopened
as Konzentrationlager Columbia, Concentration Camp
Columbia, a shadowy, semiofcial site where political opponents, Jews, and homosexuals could be detained. People
were kept here for one to three weeks and tortured, says
local historian Bernhard Bremberger. It was a way to terrorize the opposition in Berlin. For more ofcial interrogations,
prisoners might be bused to the Gestapo headquarters, then
brought back at night.
In 1936, Concentration Camp Columbia, which was close


to central Berlin, and thus to public scrutiny, was shut once

again and its remaining prisoners moved to a new camp on
the edge of the city called Sachsenhausen. Two years later,
Columbia was razed. With this rare opportunity to work on
a known concentration camp site, archaeologists Susan Pollock and Reinhard Bernbeck had hoped to uncover evidence
of the camp facility in a narrow trench they opened near the
modern-day street. However, they were able to fnd only the
faintest traces of the prisons foundations. Disturbed soil and
bits of rubble, including a three-by-four-foot piece of foundation, were all that was left. [The Nazis] removed the building
down to the foundations, and beyond. Everything was dug out
of the ground, Bernbeck says. We think there was a reason
for thisto remove the traces of its existence.
ArchAeology July/August 2014

The sun-disc and goose in this hieroglyphic

inscription found in a recently discovered tomb in
Abydos, Egypt, together mean Son of Ra. The
hieroglyphs in the oval frame spell the name of a
newly identified pharaoh, Woseribre Senebkay.

Forgotten Dynasty
excavations at the ancient city of Abydos have revealed the tomb of a
previously unknown pharaoh and evidence of a long-lost royal lineage
by M B G


A team led by Penn Museum archaeologist Josef

Wenger excavates the burial chamber of the
pharaoh Senebkay, thought to be one of the first
kings of the Abydos Dynasty.

gyptologists have long believed that around

3,600 years ago, power in Egypt was divided

between two rival dynasties. To the north, ruling
the Nile delta from approximately 1650 to 1550
b.c., were the Hyksos, Semitic-speaking warriors who invaded Egypt from Lebanon. To the
south, a royal Egyptian line based in Thebes and known as the
16th Dynasty came to the fore to counter the foreigners. But
this understanding was challenged in 1997, when University of
Copenhagen Egyptologist Kim Ryholt proposed that the two
The Turin King List, a fragmentary 13th-century b.c. papyrus
listing pharaohs chronologically, has several entries that
Egyptologist Kim Ryholt has identified as belonging to the
long-forgotten Abydos Dynasty.

ArchAeology July/August 2014

A painted scene in the newly discovered tomb of the pharaoh Senebkay depicts the goddesses Neith
and Nut. Faded blue hieroglyphs are visible throughout the panel.

dynasties shared the stage with a third, which

rose to power temporarily in Abydos.
One of the largest cities in ancient Egypt
and home of the Osiris cult, Abydos is situated
between the Nile delta and Thebes. After the
Hyksos invasion, it would have been left in a
power vacuum. Ryholt proposed that the local
nobility, uneasy that no divine king ruled the
countrys most important religious center and
unwilling to submit to a foreign power, took
matters into their own hands and established
an independent, local dynasty.

Ryholt developed his theory after seeing fragments of a stela at Abydos that referenced three
pharaohs who werent recorded anywhere else in
Egypt. At the same time, he was studying the Turin
King List, a fragmentary thirteenth-century b.c.
papyrus that contains a chronological list of Egyptian rulers. On the papyrus, he identifed entries
for 15 kings who followed the 16th Dynasty, but
whose names vanished from later royal lists. Ryholt
thought the names on the Turin List and the stela
could be the only traces left of a short-lived dynasty
that ruled Abydos from about 1650 to 1600 b.c.

The tomb of Senebkay was constructed of

locally available mudbrick, in stark contrast to
the lavish tombs of pharaohs who preceded
the relatively poor Abydos Dynasty.

such as cedar that were necessary to outft their

tombs in the proper style. Both, in fact, were
forced to steal from the neighboring necropolis
to furnish their burials. Inside the unnamed
pharaohs tomb, Wegner discovered a 60-ton
red quartzite sarcophagus chamber that had
originally belonged to a pharaoh named Sobekhotep, possibly Sobekhotep I, who ruled Egypt
around 1780 b.c. In Senebkays tomb, Wegner
found a gilded cedar chest from Sobekhoteps
burial that still had his name inscribed on the
side. Other signs, such as the humble mud brick
and paint that were used to decorate Senebkays
tomb, point to the limited resources of the
Abydos kings. [The discovery] confrms that
His theory helped explain why, after the Hyksos conquered the north, they had no known confrontations with the Theban kings for at least two
decades. If the two rival powers were physically
separated by a third, reasoned Ryholt, no immediate clash would be possible until the power of
the Abydos Dynasty waned. Still, some experts
had their doubts and argued that the names he
identifed could have belonged to Theban kings.
Ryholt himself remained cautious. It was all very
tentative, and it certainly wasnt a given, he says
of his theory. But this winter, archaeologists led by
Penn Museum Egyptologist Josef Wenger made
an unexpected discovery at Abydos that proves
Ryholt is correct.
Digging near a royal necropolis known to
hold the remains of 12th and 13th Dynasty kings,
who ruled from ca. 1900 to 1650 b.c., the team
unearthed a limestone tomb containing the skeletal remains of a previously unknown pharaoh.
Texts in the burial chamber identifed him as
Woseribre Senebkay. Two of the fragmentary
The imposing sarcophagus chamber of Sobekhotep, perhaps Sobekhotep I,
names at the head of the group on the Turin who ruled ca. 1780 b.c., was found near Senebkays tomb, and was probably
List begin with Woser, leading Wegner to the reused by a later pharaoh of the Abydos Dynasty.
conclusion that his team had found one of the
the dynasty was relatively poor if not impoverished, Ryholt
earliest kings of the Abydos Dynasty. Near Senebkays tomb they
says. Still, in a troubled time, these pharaohs managed to keep
unearthed another royal burial of a still-unknown pharaoh who
the ofce of divine kingship alive at Egypts most important
Wegner suspects also belonged to the dynasty.
ritual center, no small achievement.
The state of Senebkays tomb, and that of the unnamed
Having unearthed the frst physical evidence for the strivpharaoh, speaks volumes about the Abydos Dynastys urge to
ing pharaohs of Abydos, Wegner and his team plan to return
prove itself in the shadow of two more powerful dynasties.
to the site this summer and continue excavating the royal
Both kings were buried near the tombs of earlier pharaohs
necropolis, where more evidence of the mysterious dynasty
who ruled all of Egypt. They appended their royal necropolis
may still be waiting to be discovered. n
to these earlier, symbolically important kings. Wegner says.
The Abydos pharaohs likely aspired to the luxurious afterlife
Mary Beth Griggs is a freelance science journalist based in New York.
of their predecessors, but they couldnt aford imported goods

ArchAeology July/August 2014

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Letter From SCotLAND

University of Aberdeen excavations
in the hills of Bennachie are revealing
the daily struggles of an unusual
19th-century peasant community.

Living on the Edge

Were the residents of a Scottish hillside immoral squatters
or hard-working farmers?

by Kate Ravilious

t had to have been one of the

most defeating days of Alexander
Littlejohns life. After 40 years of
living in a home hed built by hand,
the 85-year-old was unceremoniously
carried out, still lying on his bed, as his
family looked on. Local folklore tells
of how he was made to watch as bailifs removed all his furniture, smashed
his walls, and burned his roof.
It was Scotland, 1878. There was
little compassion for landless peasants. The Littlejohns lived on the
slopes of Bennachie, a prominent

rounded hill in northeastern Scotland.

Years before, Littlejohn had been
lured to the hilla patch of common
land, where local people had traditional rights to use its resources to support themselvesbecause it ofered a
small opportunity to build a life of his
own. But eventually local landowners
decided to revoke the lands common
status and claim ownership. When the
elderly Littlejohn became unable to
pay the rent, he was evicted in front
of his wailing grandchildren.
Standing on the slopes of Ben-

nachie today, next to the knee-high

ruins of Littlejohns croft, it appears
idyllic. Sunshine bathes the southfacing slopes, which ofer splendid
views of rolling hills and open skies. A
freshwater spring gurgles behind the
remains of the house, and a hillfort,
built in the late Iron Age by the Celtic
people known as the Picts, stands
sentinel above. But it is a misleading
picture. Living up here would have
been really harsh, particularly during the cold, snowy winters, says Jef
Oliver, archaeologist at the University

One of the peaks of the Bennachie range is Mither Tap, which has the remains of an
Iron Age fort on its peak.

of Aberdeen. The land is marginal

and windswept and would have been
covered in scrub and small trees at
that time. Water runof down the hillside was a huge issue. It was hardly an
ideal place to set up a smallholding.
Despite these challenges, at its peak
in the 1850s, the hillside supported a
colony of some 70 settlers10 familieswho came from all over Scotland
to try to make an independent living.
Since the early eighteenth century
Scotland had been undergoing what
was known as improvement. Before
then, landless peasants were able to
support themselves by farming small
plots of land as tenants of wealthy
landowners. But those landowners
were determined to bring Scotland
into the modern age by transitioning from arable and mixed farming, which supported a large tenant
population, to sheep farming, which
was proving more proftable. History
records brutal evictions and forced
emigration of the surplus farmers as
aristocratic landowners instituted an
agricultural and social revolution.
Many people who were cleared
of their land emigrated to North
America, Australia, and New Zealand.
Among those who could not emigrate
or chose to stay, some toiled on the
new sheep farms. Others were tasked
with farming marginal land in new
crofting townships. And a large

proportion became migrants, perpetually traveling around the country

in search of work. They constructed
temporary dwellings from turf
and heather thatch and moved on
when work dried up. Some of these
migrants ended up at Bennachie, where they found
a stability few others did.
It is one of the few sites
that we are aware of
where this pool of
landless people
could form a settled community.
People arrived
here from all
over the north
and east of
Scotland, explains
Oliver. Unlike other
landless folk, the Bennachie
people settled down long enough
to have left a mark. And
a rare mark it is. Historically, there are no other
colonies known in Scotland quite like this one.
Seldom do such marginalized people leave much in
the archaeological record.
To some extent, the story
of Bennachie is the story of marginalized people everywherean important story rarely preserved or told.
The daily struggles of the Ben-

nachie community were recorded

in census records, diaries, and farm
accounts, but these sources came
from outside the community. For the
most part, the people who lived here
provided very little in the way of written evidence about their own lives.
By digging their homesteads we are
beginning to give these people a voice
and paint a more nuanced picture of
rural life in Scotland at this time,
says Oliver, who is leading the Bennachie excavations.
Beginning in 2011, Oliver and his
team, which includes a local conservation society called the Bailies of
Bennachie, carried out systematic
test pitting across the site. During
summer 2013 they carried out their
frst full-scale dig, opening trenches
at two of the homes. One of these
was Shepherds Lodgethe former
residence of Alexander Littlejohn and
his wife, Elisabeth. Littlejohn, a local,
was one of the founders of the colony,
but this did not protect him
from the prejudices of nearby
villagers, who
viewed the entire
colony with suspicion, as backward
and uncivilized.
A diary of a local
man known only
as Johnny describes
a visit he made in 1841
to the house of one of the
colonists, Willie Jamieson:
The interior of this humble
and solitary habitation had a very
gloomy appearance. Its furniture

Pottery fragments found in shovel

tests at Bennachie reveal that, though
neighbors thought them backward,
the settlers appreciated craftsmanship
and utility.
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This photomosaic depicts the layout of Shepherds

Lodge, the home from which Alexander Littlejohn
and his family were evicted in 1878.

were remarkably scant and of the

meanest description. The only window
it had was on the skylight principle, a
hole through the apex of the roof serving the combined purpose of window
and lum [chimney]. Meeting with
rather indiferent reception from these
mountaineers we understood we were
no altogether welcome guest.
Historian James Allan wrote an
essay in 1927 that describes life on
Bennachie as technologically behind
the times. In the Deeside Field, he
writes that their houses were similar to his fathers, stone clay with a
thatched roof of broom and heather.
He continues to say that the land was
not drained with tiles, a more contemporary practice, but that this was
done with ridges and furrows, which
decreased the lands productivity. Furthermore, he concludes that modern
reaping machines were impossible to
use on such an uneven surface.
Historical sources about the
colony paint a picture of a society living on the edge: at best as squatters
of limited intelligence scratching
an existence from poor-quality agricultural soils. At worst, as licentious
and morally reprehensible, says Oliver. Indeed, Littlejohns third child,
Elisabeth Littlejohn, is mentioned
scornfully in the parish records on
numerous occasions for her extramarital relationships and illegitimate
children. A typical record from the
Chapel of Garioch Kirk-Session

Records from September 25, 1846,

reads, compeared Robert Minty,
from Daviot and Elisabeth Littlejohn
from which it appeared
they were guilty of the sin of fornication and their decisions of absolution.
The Session after deliberation on this
case resolved to rebuke them and
dismiss them from censure which
was accordingly done. Such behavior
probably wasnt unusual, but it might
have been more remarked upon in
parish records because of prejudices
about the colony people. The mortal
sins of the colonists have long since
been washed from the soil, but a
little digging has provided a wealth of
information on other aspects of their
lives, including the quality of their
homes and farmsteads.

versity of Aberdeen archaeologist and

site director at Shepherds Lodge. A
cart track runs in front of the house
and a patchwork of small felds covers the slope below. A kitchen garden,
known locally as a kaleyard, wraps
around the back, resplendent today
with wild-cherry trees, most likely
descendants of ones planted by the
To the side of the house lies one
of the best preserved, and most
important, elements of Shepherds
Lodgethe well. A carefully constructed stone alcove, three feet high
and two feet across, is set into the
hillside, with an arched roof to pro-

oday all that remains of Shepherds Lodge are tumbledown

stone walls. It appears to have
been a long, thin building, consisting
of a single-room dwelling (approximately 30 by 15 feet, possibly partitioned by curtains) and three adjoining enclosures (roughly 15 by 15 feet
each), most likely animal sheds and
a cart house. The fallen stone suggests that the house had gable ends
and half-height stone walls, probably
topped with turf and roofed with
thatch. The house, barns, and wall
systems are well built and must have
taken a huge number of person hours
to construct, says Aoilfe Gould, Uni-

The sturdy, protected well of Shepherds

Lodge reflects then-modern ideas of
hygiene and construction, ideas that
were not attributed to the Bennachie
settlers in their time.

tect the wells water from debris, as

well as fagstones in front to prevent
the ground from becoming a muddy
mess. It is much more than just a
hole in the ground, and demonstrates
good knowledge of hygiene and
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improvement-era ideassomething
that these so called mountain people
were not supposed to know about,
says Gould.
Artifacts have been thin on the
ground, but the few that have been
found speak of a family that appreciated craftsmanship, despite economic
hardship. We might expect them to
have the cheapest of everything, but
that isnt the case, says Gould. The
archaeologists found fragments of
willow-pattern pottery, transfer-printed
ware, and, perhaps most surprising of
all, gilt-edged china. Although they
may not have been able to aford full
sets, they still had one or two pieces of
fancy tableware, says Gould. Personal
fnds include a glazed clay marble,
which was probably a toy of one of the
Littlejohn children, and a broken clay
pipestem with tooth marks in the end.
We can probably narrow it down to
just one or two Littlejohns who might
have smoked that pipe, says Gould.
Downhill from the house, a network of
sturdy dry stone walls and deep ditches
demarcate the felds and signify communal work. The sheer level of work
involved in making these agricultural
improvements couldnt have been
carried out by the Shepherds Lodge
residents aloneit must have been a
community efort, explains Gould.
And details of the walls, such as buttress structures, carefully positioned so
that hurdles could be attached to create
sheep pens, reveal that the colonists
were able farmers.
Soil samples gathered from a
nearby farmstead in 2012 confrm that
they embraced then-modern ideas
to maximize the productivity of the
land. In an untended state, the slopes
of Bennachie are not well suited for
farming: A thin layer of topsoil above
compact glacial till prevents good
drainage. But on tended parts of the
slope, the soil reveals the measures
the colonists took to improve their
felds. We can see that they removed
stones, constructed drainage ditches
and subterranean feld drains, plowed
in glacial till to improve soil depth
and drainage, and fertilized by adding

The ruins of Hillside, another Bennachie dwelling, reveal a home that was among
the most sophisticated in the township.

domestic waste, says Karen Milek,

geoarchaeologist at the University of
Aberdeen. They must have invested a
great deal of time and labor to build up
their kaleyards and felds in this way.
Despite the fundamental poverty
of the land, the Bennachie colonists
appear to have, for a time, maintained
a reasonable living. However, things
went dramatically downhill during the
latter half of the nineteenth century.
One of the triggers for the downturn
was a controversial appropriation of
the common land by wealthy local
landowners in 1859, who wanted to
rid themselves of the troublesome
settlers, ensure their own claims to
the land, and start making money by
planting trees for lumber. Suddenly
all the colonists became tenants and
either had to pay rent or be forced
of, explains Oliver. Often landlords
wasted no time making the land
proftable. As soon as people were
evicted, [the landowners] started to
plant trees. But occasionally a newly
empty croft was rented again, as in
the case of Hillside, home of either
the Christies or Coopers, and one of
the best plots on the hill.

n 1860, new paying tenants moved

into HillsideJohn McDonald and his daughter Margaret,
originally from Sutherland in the far
north. They were some of the last

settlers to arrive at the colony, and

most likely they would have heard
about the colony by word of mouth,
says Oliver. Excavations at Hillside in
2013 revealed that the McDonalds
may have been a cut above the other
colonists. Inside the house, which
measures 35 by 15 feet, Oliver and
his colleagues uncovered a cobbled
foor and a well-preserved hearth surrounded by fagstones. By contrast,
Shepherds Lodge had a beaten-earth
foor and only a small freplace in a
niche in the wall. Meanwhile, shards of
thin Victorian glass were found in two
places at Hillside, suggesting the croft
had multiple windowsa luxury. And
at the back of the croft it seems that
the McDonalds constructed a rather
sophisticated dump.
A shallow dish-shaped area, 20
feet in diameter, is covered in tightly
packed cobbles. Stones run around
the outside and at one side there is a
little ramp. A lot of efort must have
gone into making this beautiful midden, and someone was very proud
of their handiwork, says Oliver.
Analysis of the midden is ongoing,
but the assumption is that it was used
as a place to heap animal manure
and household waste to create fertilizer. The fact that the midden is at
the back of the house is very much
(continued on page 64)
ArchAeology July/August 2014

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(continued from page 60)

in keeping with the improvement
regime of the time, and shows that
these guys had good knowledge about
hygiene, says Oliver.
The McDonalds moved in and
appear to have thrived just after the
1859 landgrab, the full economic and
social impacts of which were not felt
immediately because of events occurring on the other side of the Atlantic.
During the 1860s the American Civil
War was raging and the United Kingdom was exporting large amounts of
food to support the Confederacy in
North America. As a result the U.K.
economy was buoyant and laboring
work on local estates would have
been in plentiful supply, says Oliver.
For the Littlejohns, however, the
1860s saw the start of their run of
bad luck. A harsh winter in 1860
meant that employment was hard,
if not impossible, to come by. Then
in 1862, Littlejohns daughter Sarah
died of cervical cancer and her husband James fell into poor health and
was unable to work. In 1863 Elisabeth (Littlejohns wife) died, and later
that year James died too, leaving fve
orphans. Three of the children were
admitted to industrial school and
two were placed with the recently
widowed Littlejohn. The pressure
to pay rent to the new landlords and
provide for his new dependents took
its toll. Parish records show that
Alexander frequently had to request
poor relief.
Despite all these setbacks, the
Littlejohns continued to live on the
hill until 1878. The McDonalds,
though they were among the most
prosperous families in the colony, also
struggled. Parish records record that
McDonald died of exhaustion and
gastric derangement in 1870. There
were some very bad winters during
the latter half of the nineteenth century, and once the American Civil War
was over these people felt the impact
of the massive economic downturn,
says Oliver. By the 1880s most of the
crofts had been abandoned.

Textile and metal fragments at Hillside

may be the remains of a trunk left
behind during one of the settlements
forced evictions.

The 1871 census shows McDonalds

daughter Margaret and her son John
residing at Hillside, but after that the
paper trail dries up. Excavations hint at
their fate. Under the fallen gable ends
of Hillside, Oliver and his colleagues
found large quantities of crushed
household items (many in fragments,
but complete), including two large
dairy bowls, a Rockingham teapot, and
numerous pieces of decorated whiteware. In one corner they recovered
iron pins, metal fttings, and pieces of
textilepossibly the remnants of a
storage trunk. The impression is that
the occupants left their possessions
behind in a hurry, perhaps during a
forced eviction, one that culminated in
the rapid razing of the building, removing the possibility for the subsequent
looting of the structures contents, or
the reuse of the structure for any purpose, says Oliver.
On the other hand, Littlejohns
dramatic eviction story, passed faithfully down the generations, has so far
failed to be supported by the archaeology. Compared to Hillside, Shepherds Lodge has ofered up a paucity
of fnds. A few ceramic sherds were
recovered from a midden, but no
complete pieces were found. If there
had been a sudden forced eviction,
we might have expected a few more
things to have been left behind, says
Gould. If the Littlejohns roof had
been set ablaze, as the accounts state,
there should be a continuous burn
layer across the original foor of the
building. Instead Gould and her team

found a burn layer atop a later occupation of the croft, perhaps when it
was used as shelter for domestic animals. The evidence from Shepherds
Lodge indicates that the burning of
the structure likely occurred sometime after the celebrated eviction,
possibly many years afterward, suggesting the way the story has been
remembered has itself undergone
change, says Oliver. And quite possibly the story was exaggerated and perpetuated by the landlords, as a scare
tactic to discourage new residents.
Certainly the landlords contributed to the demise of the colony,
but there were other factors, including harsh winters, poor health, and
the lure of employment elsewhere
for the children. By the 1880s, the
colony had faded away. The landlords
turned the hillside into a coniferous
plantation, though one determined
residentGeorge Esson, born and
bred on Bennachieclung to his
tenancy until his death in 1939. By
all accounts he seems to have been a
character, a keen recorder of local history and folklore, who wanted to see
Bennachie become a granite quarry.
Essons wish never came to pass,
and today the forested slopes (owned
by the Forestry Commission) are
silent, barring the odd bird call. But
the stones hidden beneath the undergrowth have retained snippets of the
lives of their original occupants. Contrary to their reputation as backward
and immoral mountain people, the
people of Bennachie comprised a
hardworking, skilled, close-knit community. These guys were singled out
because they were diferent. Perhaps
the closest analogy we have today is
the common prejudice against the
traveling Romany community, says
Oliver. It has taken 150 years, but
fnally there is a feeling of respect and
sympathy for the original Bennachie
settlerspeople who had the courage
and resourcefulness to make the best
of a difcult lot in life. n
Kate Ravilious is a science journalist based
in York, United Kingdom.
ArchAeology July/August 2014

ExcavatE, EducatE, advocatE

aIa announces Winners of 2014 cotsen Excavation Grants

(Left to right) Parkinson and Galaty, codirectors of the
project in Diros Bay, Greece; a view of the promontory that
will be the focus of the 2014 season in Diros Bay; Totten,
codirector of the Salapia Exploration Project

illiam Parkinson, Associate

Curator of Eurasian Anthropology at the Field Museum
of Natural History in Chicago, and
Darian Marie Totten, Assistant Professor in the Department of Classics at
Davidson College in Davidson, North
Carolina, are the winners of the 2014
Cotsen Excavation Grants. Each will
receive an award of $25,000 to support
their excavations and research.
Parkinson was awarded the Cotsen
Grant for mid-career project directors to support the fnal season of a
multiyear project in Diros Bay on the
Mani Peninsula of the southern Greek
mainland. Te 2014 feld season will
focus on the Neolithic settlement of
Ksagounaki Promontory, located just
outside the entrance to Alepotrypa
Cave. Together, Ksagounaki and Alepotrypa formed the largest agricultural
settlement in the region at the end of
the Neolithic Period. Parkinson and
his colleagues Anastasia Papathanasiou (Ephoreia of Paleoanthropology
and Speleology for Southern Greece),
Michael Galaty (Mississippi State University), and Giorgos Papathanasso-

poulos (Greek Ministry of Culture,

retired) are exploring how early agricultural villages such as Ksagounaki
grew and expanded in the Neolithic.
Understanding the dynamics of village
organization in southern Greece will
enable them to better understand the
cultural background of the important
political and economic transformations
that occurred during the subsequent
Bronze Age, which eventually paved
the way for the emergence of the Mycenaean states.
Te grant for frst-time project directors was awarded to Darian Marie Totten for the Salapia Exploration Project.
Totten and her colleagues Roberto
Gofredo and Giovanni de Venuto of
the University of Foggia will examine
the complex environmental and human
history of the coastal lagoon of Lago
di Salpi, on the Adriatic coast of Italy.
While the precarious and changeable
coastal landscape posed challenges to
habitation during the Roman, Late
Antique, and Medieval periods, it also
ofered benefts, such as a natural harbor and productive salt pans. Tottens
research program includes two excava-

tions, one at Salapia and the other at San

Vito, and a rigorous geomorphological
study of the lagoon environment. Te
excavation at Salapia, an ancient urban
center and port, will ofer insights into
the inner workings of a Mediterranean
trading center, while work at San Vito,
a coastal villa on the southeastern side
of the lagoon, will ofer a rural counterpoint to Salapia.
Cotsen Grants are made possible
through the generous support of
Lloyd E. Cotsen, former AIA Board
Member and chairman of the Cotsen
Foundation for the ART of TEACHING and the Cotsen Foundation for
Academic Research. Two grants of
$25,000 each are available annually,
with one providing seed money to an
archaeologist organizing his or her frst
excavation, and the other assisting a
mid-career archaeologist moving forward with an excavation in progress.
Te next deadline to apply for the Cotsen Excavation Grants is November 1,
2014. To read more about the Cotsen
Excavation Grant and other AIA
grants and fellowships, please visit

Excavate, Educate, advocate

dispatches from the aIa

Society outreach Grant Winners

Programs included ancient games,

IAs Local Societies, spread
a name that myth challenge, and
across the United States, Canopportunities to learn about fotaada, and Europe, ofer intertion, Inca mummies, and writing
esting, informative, and innovative
systems. Also on hand in full regalia
archaeological programming to their
were reenactors representing Roman
communities. Each year, through the
legionaries, Celtic warriors, Greek
Societies eforts, thousands of people
hoplites, and Renaissance knights.
have opportunities to experience
AIA Rochester Local Society for
archaeology frsthand right in their
Classroom Visit with Alex the Archaeown backyards. Since 1997, the AIA
ologist: As a pre-visit supplement
has supported the programs ofered
to Passport to the Past, the most
by Local Societies through the Socipopular school tour ofered at the
ety Outreach Grant Program. To
Memorial Art Gallery, area teachers
date the AIA has awarded almost
could invite Alex the Archaeologist
$120,000 to more than 80 programs.
to visit their classroom. Alex presentWinners in the last round of grants
ed an interactive, illustrated talk on
(fall 2013) were:
the basics of archaeology, conducted
AIA Akron-Kent Local Society
a sample excavation, and provided an
for A Taste of Ancient Greece and
object-based hands-on activity for
Rome: A symposium in the classithe students.
cal sense, the program included a
AIA Stanford Local Society for
banquet, entertainment, and short
Archaeology MemoryHeritage Preslectures. By hosting and publicizervation: In an efort to preserve the
ing events like these, the Society
history of archaeology, the program
maximizes its exposure to the wider
invited archaeologists to answer a
community in Akron, Kent, and
set of questions and relate personal
neighboring areas and promotes
experiences, anecdotes from the feld,
membership in the AIA while prorecollections of mentors and archaeviding participants with an enjoyologists from previous generations,
able and entertaining educational
and advice for future generations.
AIA Staten Island Local Society
AIA Central Arizona Local Socifor Staten Island Archaeology Fair: A
ety for Apples + Archaeology: Tis
joint efort between the Society and
innovative and dynamic public outWagner College, the fair featured
reach program, now in its ffth year,
informative, fun, and interactive prowas created to connect faculty memgrams presented by archaeologists,
bers from local colleges and unihistorians, museum educators, and
versities with K12 educators and
interpreters from organizations in the
students in the metropolitan Phoenix
greater New York City area.
area. Faculty members present lecAIA Toronto Local Society for
tures and creative projects to diverse
Archaeology Student Publication Workgroups of students across the Valley
of the Sun.
Each year AIA Local Societies offer a variety of pro- shop: Students presenting papers at
AIA Houston Local Society for grams including (top to bottom) an Archaeology Fair the workshop had the opportunity to
an Educational Residency on Texas in Houston, Ancient Toolmaking in Western Illinois, practice their presentation skills, see
their work in a professional context,
Archaeology: Te Local Society part- A Day in the Field in Western Massachusetts, and
and receive valuable critiques and
nered with educators and archaeolo- Classics Day in Lubbock.
advice in a supportive setting that
gists from the Shumla Archeological
Research & Education Center to pres- its Fifth Annual Milwaukee Archaeol- promoted dialogue and interaction.
To learn more about these and other
ent a week of events focused on the ogy Fair: Te two-day fair included
history of Paleolithic Texas at several two dozen presentations and displays Local Society programs and the grant
featuring archaeology and culture from program, please visit
local elementary and middle schools.
AIA Milwaukee Local Society for Wisconsin and around the world. societies.

Journey Down the Ganges:

Indias Holiest River
February 10 - 23, 2015
aboard an elegant riverboat
with 28 staterooms

call: 8007486262 web site: email:

Iran Egypt Tunisia Jordan Scotl and Irel and
I ta l y F r a n c e S p a i n C r o at i a C y p r u s G r e e c e
T u r k e y M e x i c o G u at e m a l a C u b a P e r u & M o r e


here are moments in history when major cultural shifts occur, and these

are often accompanied by dramatic changes in the way artists choose to

depict humans. One such moment occurred in the early Neolithic period. At
the site of Tell Qarassa, in what is now Syria, archaeologists have found an

extraordinary example of artistic expression created at the time when the regions inhabitants



Pre-pottery Neolithic

Late 9th millennium B.C.


Rib bone, probably from

an aurochs

were making the transition from hunter-gatherers to farmers.

The carved bone artifact was found in a grave and has been interpreted as a kind of
wand used in funerary rituals. Although there are


Tell Qarassa, Syria


other examples of carved bone wands, none display

human faces. Only two faces remain on this example,
but it is clear that the wand was deliberately broken

About 2 inches long,

two-thirds of an inch
wide, and a quarter of an
inch thick

or cut, and that, at one time, there were probably

more faces on the bottom.
It is the quality of the faces on the wand, not just
their existence, that is revolutionary. According to Tell
Qarassa project archaeologists, the artifact is of great
signicance for the study of the origins and meanings
of human representation. Previously, humans were
portrayed in a stylized way, but on the wand and other
contemporaneous artifacts from the Neolithic Near
East, faces start to be portrayed more naturalistically.
The artist clearly wanted to focus attention on the
closed eyes and mouth, as these are the most deeply
engraved features. While no individual person is
represented, there is a deliberate attempt to stress facial
traits and, according to the archaeologists, concepts
of personhood. This represents a major innovation in
the way the rst farming communities conceived of
the human image and a new way of perceiving human
identity, says archaeologist Juan Jos Ibaez Estevez.


ARCHAEOLOGY July/August 2014

Archaeological Tours
led by noted scholars

Invites You to Journey Back in Time

Caves and Castles (14 days)

Northern Chile & Easter Island

(15 days)
plus an Optional 5-day Patagonia

Discover the enigmatic giant statues on

Easter Island and the mysterious geoglyphs
of northern Chile with Dr. Jo Anne Van
Tilburg, U. of California and Prof. Calogero
Santoro, U. of Trapac. This unusual tour
will take us to pre-Inca fortresses, fine
museums and the lovely colonial city of
Santiago. Lastly, we study the fascinating
prehistoric Rapa Nui culture during our
seven-day stay on remote Easter Island.

Southern India (23 Days)

Visit eight UNESCO World
Heritage Sites including the
rock-cut cave temples at Ellora
and Ajanta, the shore temples at
Mahabalipuram and the extraordinary
Vijayanagara ruins at Hampi with Prof.
Kathleen Cummings, U. of Alabama. We
also see the temples and palaces of Trichy,
Madurai and Mysore. After viewing the
wildlife at Periyar Lake, we will cruise
the backwaters of Kerala to Cochin. We
will attend classical dance performances,
explore bazaars and sample exotic foods.

Sri Lanka (17 days)

Travel this mystical Buddhist kingdom
with Prof. Sudharshan Seneviratne, U. of
Peradeniya. We will have a glimpse
of life under kings who created
sophisticated irrigation systems,
built magnificent temples with huge
dagobas and carved 40-foot-tall
Buddhas. Our journey will take us
to six World Heritage Sites, as
well as wildlife sanctuaries,
tea plantations, hill stations
and monasteries. Colorful
rituals and festivals occurring
during our visit will add to
our understanding of
Sri Lankan culture
and history.

Explore the Paleolithic cave art of northern

Spain and southwestern France with Prof.
Roy Larick, Cleveland State U. Highlights
include Atapuerca, the caves of Tito Bustillo,
El Castillo, Gargas, Altamira II, Le Mas
dAzil, Lascaux II, Pech Merle and Bilbaos
Guggenheim Museum. During our five-day
stay in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac we will visit the
Dordogne Valleys castles and medieval
villages. By good fortune, these sites are
found in an area of fabulous food and wine.

Khmer Kingdoms (23 days)

Myanmar, Thailand, Laos &
Study the history and beauty of these four
countries with Prof. Richard Cooler,
Northern Illinois U. Beginning in Myanmar,
visits include the ancient royal cities,
pagodas and golden temples in Yangon,
Mandalay and Pagan. We continue to
remote northeastern Thailand and Laoss
magnificent 7th-century Khmer temples
at Wat Phou. The tour ends in Cambodia,
where we will visit its capital and spend
five days at Angkor Wat. Our tour will be
enhanced by traditional music and dance

2014-2015 tours: Gujarat India Ireland Northern Chile & Easter Island Israel Turkey Peru Sicily & Southern Italy
Central Asia Ghana, Togo & Benin North India Korea Maya Mexico Japan Great Museums: Paris ...and more
Journey back in time with us. Weve been taking curious travelers on fascinating historical study tours for the
past 39 years. Each tour is led by a noted scholar whose knowledge and enthusiasm brings history to life and adds
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For more information, please visit, e-mail, call 212-986-3054,
toll-free 866-740-5130. Or write to Archaeological Tours, 271 Madison Avenue, Suite 904, New York, NY 10016.
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