July/August 2009 www.archaeology.

org A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America July/August 2012
Digging in Northern Mexico’s Narcotics War Zone
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Lost Tomb
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24 London 2012
Archaeology and the Olympics
BY NADIA DURRANI
28 Tomb of the Chantress
A newly discovered burial chamber
in the Valley of the Kings provides a
rare glimpse into the life of an
ancient Egyptian singer
BY JULIAN SMITH
33 Te Birth of Bureaucracy
At the site of Iklaina, excavations are
revealing new evidence of how the
Mycenaean state functioned
BY AMANDA SUMMER
40 Automated Site Mapping
Computational analysis of satellite
images detects previously
overlooked human settlements
BY ALDO FOE
42 Vasa’s Curious Imbalance
Researchers are learning new lessons
from the majestic Vasa—a warship
monumental in its ambition, its failure,
and its role in maritime archaeology
BY LUCAS LAURSEN
46 Uncovering Sidon’s
Long Life
For the first time, archaeologists are
revealing the 4,000-year history of
one of ancient Lebanon’s oldest ports
BY ANDREW LAWLER
CONTENTS
JULY/AUGUST 2012
VOLUME 65, NUMBER 4
features
46 Among the graves excavated
at Sidon was one containing the
remains of a child who was buried
in a large pottery jar.
3
Cover: Inside a wooden coffin,
archaeologists found the 3,000-year-old
mummy of an Egyptian chantress.
COURTESY © UNIVERSITY OF BASEL KINGS’
VALLEY PROJECT
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■ More from this Issue To see a slideshow with
more images of the Pilling figurines, go to
www.archaeology.org/pilling
■ Interactive Digs Read about the latest discoveries
at the Minoan site of Zominthos in central Crete; at
Johnson’s Island, a Civil War site in Ohio; and at
El Carrizal, in Veracruz.
on the web www.archaeology.org
■ Archaeological News from around the
world—updated by 1 p.m. ET every weekday. And
sign up for our e-Update so you don’t miss a thing.
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16
6 Editor’s Letter
8 From the President
10 Letters
An ax capable of felling a tree, the purpose of the
Donner Party’s westward travels, and the Nebra
sky disc.
11 From the Trenches
A set of 1,000-year-old clay figurines are reunited
after nearly 40 years, Homo erectus was a fire-
starter, a Greek murder court, and Ötzi the
iceman’s illness.
22 World Roundup
A mass grave in the South Atlantic is a grim reminder
of the slave trade, Lucy’s tree-climbing hominin
friends, scientists look for elite archers in a medieval
shipwreck, and when it snowed in Baghdad.
53 Letter from Mexico
An archaeologist’s daughter surveys the rich
cultural heritage of northern Mexico—and the
impact of violence on researchers working there.
68 Artifact
At one of the earliest Anglo-Saxon Christian burial
sites in Britain, archaeologists find a young girl’s
rare gold and garnet-jeweled cross.
14
13
5
13
The Value of Persistence
T
his issue’s cover is an image of a woman’s coffi n from the first unlooted tomb
found in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings since 1922. Her name was Nehemes-Bastet
and hieroglyphs on the coffi n’s side reveal that she was a shemayet, or chantress,
of the sun god, Amun. In “Tomb of the Chantress” (page 28), contributing editor Julian
Smith discusses her life and the significance of the find.
“The Birth of Bureaucracy” (page 33), by archaeologist and writer Amanda
Summer, focuses on the Mycenaean site of Iklaina, located in Greece’s southwestern
Peloponnese. Since the late 1990s, excavation work there has focused on the manner in
which government functioned in towns and villages, on the lives of the ordinary people
who lived at Iklaina more than 3,000 years ago, and on how widespread literacy may
have been in the Mycenaean world.
The wreck of a seventeenth-century Swedish warship, pulled nearly intact more
than 50 years ago from Stockholm Harbor, has long concealed a
mystery about why it sank on its maiden voyage. In “Vasa’s Curious
Imbalance” (page 42), science journalist Lucas Laursen explains
that archaeologists are now coming up with answers thanks, in
part, to their ability to digitally render Vasa’s contours.
As the 2012 Summer Olympics approach, journalist Nadia
Durrani has filed a report on the challenging archaeology of the
Olympic Park site in East London’s Lea Valley. “London 2012:
Archaeology and the Olympics” (page 24), offers a 12,000-year
timeline, maps the location of six of the most significant
finds, and tells us what people have been up to there from
prehistoric times until the present day.
Contributing editor Andrew Lawler, in “Uncovering
Sidon’s Long Life” (page 46), traces the history of the port
city of Sidon in Lebanon. The extraordinary site sits directly
beneath the modern-day city and has been under excavation
by a multinational team for more than a decade. Sidon has
been occupied for some 4,000 years, and archaeologists are only
now beginning to trace the long history of a city so ancient that it is
mentioned in the Book of Genesis.
“Letter from Mexico” (page 53), tells a different story, one in which archaeology
must proceed sporadically because of the danger to researchers often caught in the
ongoing drug war south of the United States border. Writer Kathleen McGuire details
the importance of the region known to some as El Norte de México, and talks with
archaeologists who are committed to studying and preserving its important heritage.
That, of course, isn’t all. Don’t miss a very special “Artifact,” and do look for a
mystery or two to be revealed in “From the Trenches” and “World Roundup.”
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 6
EDITOR’S LETTER
Editor in Chief
Claudia Valentino
Executive Editor Deputy Editor
Jarrett A. Lobell Samir S. Patel
Senior Editors
Nikhil Swaminathan
Zach Zorich
Editorial Assistant Intern
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Creative Director
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Contributing Editors
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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
Correspondents
Athens: Yannis N. Stavrakakis
Bangkok: Karen Coates
Islamabad: Massoud Ansari
Israel: Mati Milstein
Naples: Marco Merola
Paris: Bernadette Arnaud
Rome: Roberto Bartoloni,
Giovanni Lattanzi
Washington, D.C.: Sandra Scham
Publisher
Peter Herdrich
Associate Publisher
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Director of Circulation and Fulfillment
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Susan Pollock, Jeremy A. Sabloff,
Kenneth B. Tankersley
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T
HAT ARCHAEOLOGY AND human heritage are present everywhere across the
globe is amply demonstrated by the case of Easter Island (Rapa Nui). One of the
most remote places on earth, this tiny island in the Pacific is home to the famed
monolithic statues called moai. The colossal moai have near-iconic status as testaments to
humanity’s early technological achievements.
Yet not even so remote a location can protect an archaeological monument from damage
and so, in 2008, the Archaeological Institute of America proudly awarded its second-ever
Site Preservation grant to Jo Anne Van Tilburg of the University of California, Los Angeles’
Cotsen Institute of Archaeology for her conservation work on the moai of Easter Island.
A 30-year veteran of Easter Island archaeology, and director of the Easter Island Statue
Project, Van Tilburg is currently working to arrest the deterioration suffered by the statues
as a result of weathering, vandalism, mass tourism, and encroaching development.
This spring I visited Easter Island in order to see Van Tilburg and her team in action.
Working with conservators such as Mónica Bahamondez,
director of the Chilean National Center for Conserva-
tion and Restoration, and geologist Christian Fischer
of UCLA, Van Tilburg has overseen the cleaning, lichen
removal, and application of protective chemicals in an
effort to save the statues.
During my week’s visit, I also met a number of local
professionals who have been trained by Van Tilburg and
others. Living full-time on the island, they work as archae-
ologists, archaeological draftsmen, preservationists, and
conservators. They also play a vital role in educating
their fellow islanders about the importance of the moai.
Without such local support and ongoing education, most
preservation efforts will ultimately fail.
Among Van Tilburg’s principal collaborators is the talented archaeologist Cristián Arévalo
Pakarati. In addition to codirecting the Easter Island Statue Project with Van Tilburg,
Arévalo Pakarati is an artist and graphic designer. He designed a gallery several years ago
with Johannes Van Tilburg, Jo Anne Van Tilburg’s architect husband, and built it with his
own hands. While serving as project headquarters, the attractive gallery earns a modest
income by hosting exhibitions by local artists and artisans celebrating the island’s archaeology.
Along with community involvement, economic development can be critical to the success
of preservation initiatives.
The AIA’s Site Preservation Program, founded in 2007, has so far awarded funding to 19
projects around the globe. The Program funds small but significant projects that typically
include education and public outreach and also emphasize best practices in conservation.
Worldwide, the threats to archaeological monuments show no sign of abating. Support fom
the AIA will help ensure that irreplaceable monuments such as the moai continue to inspire—
and educate—future generations. For more information, visit www.archaeogical.org/sitepr eservation
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 8
FROM THE PRESIDENT
Elizabeth Bartman
President, Archaeological Institute of America
Archaeological
Institute of America
Located at Boston University
OFFICERS
President
Elizabeth Bartman
First Vice President
Andrew Moore
Vice President for Outreach and Education
Pamela Russell
Vice President for Professional Responsibilities
Laetitia LaFollette
Vice President for Publications
John Younger
Vice President for Societies
Thomas Morton
Treasurer
Brian J. Heidtke
Chief Executive Officer
Peter Herdrich
Chief Operating Officer
Kevin Quinlan
GOVERNING BOARD
Susan Alcock
Michael Ambler
Carla Antonaccio
Cathleen Asch
Barbara Barletta
David Boochever
Julie Herzig Desnick
Michael Galaty
Greg Goggin
Ronald Greenberg
Michael Hoff
Jeffrey Lamia
Lynne Lancaster
Deborah Lehr
Robert Littman
Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis
Heather McKillop
Shilpi Mehta
Naomi Norman, ex officio
Maria Papaioannou
Eleanor Powers
Paul Rissman
Glenn Schwartz
David Seigle
Chen Shen
Charles Steinmetz
Douglas Tilden
Claudia Valentino, ex officio
Shelley Wachsmann
Ashley White
John J. Yarmick
Past President
C. Brian Rose
Trustees Emeriti
Norma Kershaw
Charles S. LaFollette
Legal Counsel
Mitchell Eitel, Esq.
Sullivan & Cromwell, LLP
Archaeological Institute of America
656 Beacon Street • Boston, MA 02215-2006
www.archaeological.org
Saving Easter Island
W
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W
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AmongVanTilburg’s principal c
Gala
Archaeological Institute of America | 25 April 2012
The trustees, gala committee, and staff of the Archaeological Institute of America
extend our deepest appreciation to the following sponsors for their support of our
2012 gala, which honored Crawford H. Greenewalt, Jr. with the Bandelier Award for
Service to Archaeology, and celebrated the sights, sounds, and flavors of Turkey.
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 10
LETTERS
Crashing the Donner Party
“Letter from California: A New Look
at the Donner Party” (May/June 2012)
asserts that the Donner Party was “a
self-serving expedition for land and
wealth.” Most of the pioneers migrat-
ed west because of religious persecution
and/or economic deprivation, not greed.
David K. Rogers
Walnut Creek, CA
Author and archaeologist Julie
Schablitsk y responds:
Members of the Donner Party moved west
for a variety of reasons, including inexpen-
sive land and even a healthy climate. The
view that the pioneers migrated for greed is
not necessarily my opinion, but, as I say in the
piece, a perspective that was shared with me.
An Ax to Grind
Your recent article on “Ancient Ger-
many’s Metal Traders” (May/June 2012)
describes an ax head weighing 8 ounces
as being something you could fell a
tree with. The smallest hammer that a
carpenter uses is 16 ounces and is used
for finish work. An ax of that size, much
less an ax weighing 8 ounces, would not
be suitable for felling trees. A hatchet is
three times that weight.
Jaenia Mikulka
Cambridge, MA
Senior editor Zach Zorich responds:
We live in a world with relatively cheap and
abundant steel. That was not the case for the
people at Dermsdorf. An 8-ounce ax head was
probably a very expensive tool and was used
for a variety of jobs. It may seem unsuitable
by modern standards, but people were chop-
ping down trees with stone tools long before
metal axes were invented. Trees also come in
different sizes. It is not hard to imagine small
and medium-sized trees being cut down with
a small ax.
ARCHAEOLOGY welcomes mail from
readers. Please address your comments
to ARCHAEOLOGY, 36-36 33rd Street,
Long Island City, NY 11106, fax 718-472-
3051, or e-mail letters@arch a eology.org.
The editors reserve the right to edit
submitted material. Vol ume precludes
our acknowledging individual letters.
Sun or Moon?
I noticed the Nebra sky disc in the
sidebar to “Ancient Germany’s Metal
Traders” is described as depicting the
“sun, moon, and 32 stars.” I believe it’s
the full moon, half moon, quarter moon
phases, anchored by the strip of horizon
shown on the right. Obviously the sun
isn’t out at night, and the moon phase
representations seem straightforward.
Andi Willman
Flushing, MI
The Real Oldest Handbag
The German researchers in your story
“Dogtooth Is the New Black” (May/
June 2012) claim a reconstructed (not
preserved) probable bag that is 4,200
to 4,500 years-old may be “world’s old-
est handbag.” The Germans may not
be aware of the bags from Spirit Cave,
Nevada, dated to 9,400 years ago. The
Spirit Cave bags and the shrouds wrap-
ping corpses are the oldest complete,
preserved textiles in the world.
Alice B. Kehoe
Marquette University
Milwaukee, WI
Corrections
In “Letter from California: A New Look
at the Donner Party” (May/June 2012),
we incorrectly stated that the wagon
train set off from Springfield, Missouri.
It left from Independence, Missouri.
In “Rethinking the Thundering Hordes”
(May/June 2012), the caption accompa-
nying the map is incorrect. As indicated
in the map itself, Begash is actually in
Kazakhstan. Sarazm is in Tajikistan.
The Nebra
sky disc
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LATE-BREAKING NEWS AND NOTES FROM THE WORLD OF ARCHAEOLOGY
I
n 1973, Deseret Magazine showed a photograph of 11 pre-
historic figurines on exhibit at the Zions First National
Bank, Carbon-Emery Division, in Utah. By 1974, when
the College of Eastern Utah (CEU) Prehistoric Museum
included the figurines in their centennial celebration display,
there were only 10. What became of the 11th figurine has
been a mystery ever since.
The unfired clay figurines, created by the Fremont
culture that inhabited parts of America’s Great Basin be-
tween A.D. 400 and 1300, had originally been found by
ranchers Clarence, Art, and Woodrow Pilling, and two
ranch hands, Dusty Pruit and Tony Finn, in a rock shel-
ter in eastern Utah’s Range Creek Canyon in 1950. After
their discovery, Geneve Howard Oliver, a Pilling family
friend, brought the figurines to the Smithsonian and then
to Harvard’s Peabody Museum for examination. At the
Peabody, anthropologist Noel Morss studied the collec-
tion (which has since been dated to
A.D. 995–1000) and concluded the
figurines all had been made by the
same artist. Later that month, Oliver
returned home with the collection,
and for more than two decades, it
was displayed at the CEU museum
and in banks, courthouses, and a ho-
tel in Utah, becoming an unoffi cial
yet much beloved state symbol.
L
ast November, Utah State Uni-
versity anthropologist Bonnie
Pitblado opened a small box
that had arrived in her offi ce. Inside
she found a ceramic figurine wrapped
in leather and an anonymous typed
note expressing the sender’s wish that
the artifact be returned to its “proper
place.” Pitblado knew instantly that
it was the missing figurine. “First, my
colleagues and I went to the computer
to check the figurine against old pho-
tos of the Pilling collection when it
was complete. And then we immedi-
ately thought about what we could do
to demonstrate scientifically that he
matched at least one of the other 10
figurines so I could reunite him with
the group,” says Pitblado. “I also wanted
to be sure it wasn’t a fake,” she adds.
Pitblado assembled a multidis-
ciplinary team to test whether the
figurine was in fact the artifact that
had disappeared. First, archaeologist
and prehistoric textile expert James
Adovasio from Mercyhurst College
looked at the backs of the figurine
and his mate (the assemblage was ar-
ranged as five pairs of male and female
figures and an additional eleventh
figure). He examined impressions
made by the baskets the figurines sat
Investigating a Decades-Old Disappearance
www.archaeology.org 11
Prehistoric clay female and male
figurines (left and right) from
Utah’s famous Pilling collection.
The male figurine’s
back preserves
impressions of the
basket on which
it dried.

FROM THE TRENCHES
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 12
Located in the province of Jujuy in
northern Argentina, Pucará de
Tilcara is the site of a pre-Inca
fortification built around the
twelfth century. Situated on a hill
outside the small town of Tilcara, it
was built by the ancestors of the
Omaguaca tribe, renowned
warriors who were also experts in
agriculture, weaving, and pottery.
Though the region of Humahuaca
has evidence of occupation going
back 10,000 years, it reached its
peak around the fourteenth
century A.D., when Pucará de
Tilcara was an important
administrative military center that
covered 15 acres and housed more
than 2,000 people. In addition to
living quarters, the pucara
(Quechua for “fortress”) contained
corrals, sites for religious
ceremonies, and burials. The tribes
in the region were later conquered
by the Incas just decades before
the Spanish arrived in 1536.
Constanza Ceruti, the only female
high-altitude archaeologist in the
world and Director of the Institute
of High Mountain Research at the
Catholic University of Salta, made
Pucará de Tilcara her home, living
in an adobe house at the foot of
the site for five years while she
studied the Inca shrines in the
Andean peaks nearby.
The site
From the town of Tilcara, the
pucara is accessible by foot, and
you will see many llama and cacti
along the way. Just be sure to wear
good walking shoes—it can be a
rather exhausting climb. The site
was strategically chosen by the
Omaguaca to be easily defensible,
and it provides good views over the
surrounding UNESCO-listed valley,
Quebrada de Humahuaca. The
remains of many structures can still
be seen today, though part of the
site was reconstructed in the 1950s,
when excavation was taking place.
The small square stone buildings,
pirkas, were constructed without
mortar and roofed with grass, known
locally as ichu, and cactus wood. The
houses were built without windows
and with very narrow doorways
to conserve heat at night, when
temperatures drop in the high-
altitude desert. Visitors are free
to enter the houses, but be sure
to treat them with care. You can
see the highlights of the pucara—
including the ceremonial ruins
known as “the church” and some of
the reconstructed households—in a
one-hour visit. However, if you have
time, it is worth wandering beyond
the reconstructed areas and into
the necropolis and corrals.
While you’re there
The village of Tilcara is the
archaeological capital of Quebrada
de Humahuaca. There is an
archaeological museum in the
village that is considered one
of the most important for the
region, in addition to a paintings
museum, sculpture museum, and
Carnival museum. (Carnival time
is one of the best times to visit!)
The adventurous can book four-
wheel drive excursions and go
hiking, horseback riding, and even
sandboarding in the surrounding
dunes. The village is also the
starting point for pilgrimages to
nearby mountain shrines. Ceruti
says that joining one of these
modern Andean processions can be
a life-changing experience.
—MALIN GRUNBERG BANYASZ
on while they dried, and concluded
these two were from the same basket,
and that the impressions could not
have been faked. The team then used
X-ray fluorescence
to characterize the
geochemical signature
of the clay and pig-
ments of the figurine
and mate. They were
able to match trace
elements in both
figurines and found
that not only did the
clay used for all the
figurines come from
the same source, but
that the signatures of
the unknown figurine
and its mate were
more similar to each
other than they were to any other pair.
Finally, knowing that Morss had coat-
ed the figurines in an organic lacquer
called Alvar in order to stabilize and
protect them, Brigham Young Univer-
sity geochemist Steve Nelson suggest-
ed that the team use a scanning elec-
tron microscope to check if the newly
returned figurine was coated with the
substance. It was—and that was all the
proof they needed.
Now, after almost 40 years, visitors
to the recently renamed Utah State
University-Eastern Prehistoric Museum
can see the Pilling figurines displayed
together as envisioned by the Fremont
people who made them almost a thou-
sand years ago. “With all the lines of
evidence that we have, our research
team is 100 percent sure he is the miss-
ing figurine,” says Pitblado. “There is no
way that anyone could duplicate all the
elements we have found.” For more im-
ages, visit archaeology.org/pilling
—JARRETT A. LOBELL
The “missing” figurine (top row, second from left) has been
reunited with the collection for the first time in decades.
T
housands of years before the first bagpipe was
ever played in the Scottish highlands, a prehistoric
musician on the remote Isle of Skye played a type
of lyre. During excavations at High Pasture
Cave, which contains evi-
dence for 800 years of
human activity between
the Late Bronze and
Iron Ages, archaeolo-
gists discovered the wooden remains of what they believe is
the bridge of the earliest stringed instrument ever found in
Europe. According to archaeomusicolo-
gist Graeme Lawson of the University
of Cambridge, the find “pushes
the history of complex music
[in western Europe] back more
than 1,000 years.”
—JARRETT A. LOBELL
A Little Scottish Ditty
S
ome paleoanthropologists believe that people have been eating
cooked food, and therefore making fires, for millions of years.
The evidence for this, so far, has been evolutionary changes
in hominin skeletons, such as decreasing tooth and jaw sizes. But
there has been very little direct archaeological evidence of fire use
prior to 700,000 years ago—until now. Francesco Berna of Boston
University and a multinational team of researchers have uncovered
evidence that Homo erectus was using fire about one million years ago
at Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa.
Using a technique that allows researchers to conduct microscopic
analysis of the chemical composition of a sample, Berna was able to
identify burned pieces of bone and plant material in the cave’s sedi-
ments. The sediment came from an excavation unit that is roughly
100 feet inside the cave, which makes it unlikely that the material was
burned by a lightning strike or wildfire. According to Berna, learn-
ing to use fire was an important turning point for our species—both
evolutionarily and culturally. “Control of fire is a tool for adapting
to different environments,” he says. “It provides warmth, it provides
light…and it keeps away wild animals.”
—ZACH ZORICH
We Didn’t Start the Fire...
Homo erectus Did
Roman Ship’s
Secret Cargo
I
talian archaeologists have
uncovered evidence of smug-
gling between North Africa
and Italy on a third-century A.D.
shipwreck off the west coast of Sicily. The
most complete Roman ship ever found,
the 52-by-16-foot merchant vessel was
carrying amphorae filled with walnuts, figs,
olives, wine, oil, and fish sauce from Tunisia
to Rome when it sank.
Intriguingly, among the ship’s offi cial cargo were
hidden stashes of so-called tubi fittili (fictile tubes).
According to Sebastiano Tusa, Sicily’s Superinten-
dent of the Offi ce of the Sea, “Basically they are
small terracotta cylinders open at one end and
closed at the other. Rows of these hollow tiles were
used in vaulting and other construction.”
The tubes, which were used from the mid-
Imperial era to the end of the Byzantine period,
worked by fitting the narrow end, or nozzle, of
one tile into the larger end of another. Because
they were joined loosely, series of the lightweight
tiles could be arranged in curves, making it easier
to form arches and vaults.
In North Africa, especially Tunisia, the
valuable tubes were manufactured and cost a
quarter of what builders paid for them in Rome.
“To augment their poor salaries, sailors bought
these vaulting tubes cheaper in Africa, hid them
everywhere on the ship, and resold them in
Rome,” Tusa explains.
—ROSSELLA LORENZI
www.archaeology.org 13
he remote Isle of Skye played a type
avations at High Pasture
ns evi-
rs of
ween
nd
o-
Europe. Ac
gist Grae
of Ca
the
[in
th
archaeologists have
red evidence of smug-
etween North Africa
on a third-century A.D.
off the west coast of Sicily. The
plete Roman ship ever found,
16-foot merchant vessel was
mphorae filled with walnuts, figs,
e, oil, and fish sauce from Tunisia
when it sank
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 14

N
ext to the Acropolis’ south
slope, archaeologists have dis-
covered possible evidence of
one of ancient Athens’ murder courts.
During several years of excavation,
archaeologist Xristos Kontoxristos
uncovered artifacts dating from the
prehistoric through late Roman periods.
He was particularly intrigued by a ped-
estal formed of sculpted lions’ legs, upon
which sat two marble slabs forming a
very large table or podium that he dated
to the late Classical or early Hellenistic
period (about 400–300 B.C.). Near the
podium, Kontoxristos found a piece of
copper of the type that citizens may
have used to record legal verdicts.
Kontoxristos suggests that the podi-
um may be part of a complex that
includes a very large building founda-
tion and portico dating to the same
period—first identified in the 1960s
as the Palladium. According to second-
century A.D. geographer Pausanias, the
Palladium was the court in which cases
of involuntary homicide and killing of
noncitizens were tried. Kontoxristos
stresses that the identification of pedes-
tal and building is not definitive, but he
hopes to uncover additional evidence.
— YANNIS STAVRAKAKIS
Athens Murder Court
I
t’s well known that ancient hunters all over the world took down big game. Recent finds and analyses of remains of extinct
megafauna—including a massive ground sloth and juvenile mammoth—have stories to tell about how early humans secured
and butchered these long-gone species. —SAMIR S. PATEL
Butchering Big Game
FROM THE TRENCHES
AT THE SITE OF PRERESA, near Madrid,
Spain, archaeologists uncovered 82 bones
from an elephant or mammoth alongside
hundreds of stone tools. Dating to around
80,000 years ago, the bones show cut
marks and percussion fractures—the first
evidence that humans, in this case Nean-
derthals, cracked open thick pachyderm
bones to get at the fat-rich marrow inside.
NEW ANALYSIS SHOWS that
the remains of a Jefferson’s
ground sloth—which would
have weighed nearly 3,000
pounds—found in a wetland
near Cleveland, Ohio, are
the only known evidence of
humans eating ground sloths
outside of South America.
More than 40 incisions on one of the sloth’s femurs were caused by humans
filleting the overlying muscle. At more than 13,000 years old, the finds are
the oldest evidence of human occupation in the state.
PRESERVED IN
PERMAFROST
for at least
10,000 years,
the remains
of a juvenile
mammoth,
called “Yuka,”
show signs that
humans in the
region may have
stolen the car-
cass from lions
before carefully
butchering it
and then stashing the rest of the remains for cold storage. The incredibly pre-
served remains show scratches and bite marks from lions, after which humans
had removed the organs, vertebrae, ribs, and portions of the upper legs.
w
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FROM THE TRENCHES
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 16
I
t’s been more than 20 years since
Ötzi, the 5,300-year-old Neolithic
iceman, was found in the Italian
Alps. Since then, researchers have
figured out what he likely ate as his
last meal (wild einkorn wheat bran)
and how he died (an arrow to the back
that pierced an artery). They have also
sequenced his maternal DNA, deter-
mining that his lineage was genetically
rare and has since gone extinct.
Now researchers have investigated
the rest of Ötzi’s genome, thanks to
the Y-chromosome DNA found in
bone from his left hip. Ötzi’s paternal
ancestors moved into Europe from the
Near East more than 6,000 years ago.
Further, he was lactose intolerant, had
type O blood, had brown hair and eyes,
and may have had Lyme disease—his
DNA carries sequences from the bac-
teria responsible for the illness, which
is tricky to identify even today.
“We think that the iceman must
have had at least some early symptoms,
such as fever and temporary weakness,”
says Albert Zink, head of the Institute
for Mummies and the Iceman at the
European Academy of Bolzano in
Italy. “In a later stage, Lyme disease
can affect the joints and the nervous
system, but we don’t have any proof of
that for the iceman.”
In other recent work, scientists
probed thin tissue slices from the arrow
wound and a laceration on Ötzi’s hand.
They used an atomic force microscope
to trace the surface of the tissue and
create a 3-D rendering. The resulting
images included doughnut shapes that
are the hallmark of red blood cells.
Zink says finding blood cells and the
clotting protein fibrin—and no sign
of healing—at the arrow wound site
indicates that Ötzi died within minutes
of being shot.
—NIKHIL SWAMINATHAN
What Ailed the Iceman?
A
series of stones carved with images of snakes, war-
riors, and headless prisoners has been found at the
sacred Aztec site of Tenochtitlan in Mexico City’s
historic center. The 25 images,
carved from gray and red volca-
nic rock, were embedded in the
floor of the plaza in front of the
Templo Mayor complex, where
the Aztecs performed thousands
of ritual killings before the Span-
ish conquistadores
arrived. The stones
date to between 1440
and 1469, during the
reign of Moctezuma
I, and describe the
birth of Huitzilo-
pochtli, the Aztec
god of war and the
sun. Bas-relief images
of serpents with gap-
ing mouths, a warrior
carrying a shield and
dart thrower, and a
weeping captive on
his knees with his
hands bound behind
his back, all tell the
story of a cosmic war between the sun, moon, and stars
that preceded the birth of the supreme Aztec deity and the
beginning of Aztec culture. Raul Rodríguez Barrera, who is
leading the excavation for the Mexican National Institute of
Anthropology and History and the Mexican National Coun-
cil for Culture and the Arts, says, “It is a historic document
in stone, a narrative of war, sacrifice, and death.”
— JULIAN SMITH
Dawn of the Aztecs, Written in Stone
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ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012

FROM THE TRENCHES
18
P
eter Astrup’s annual family
beach vacation led to a spec-
tacular archaeological discovery,
and a new career. In the shallow water
at Horsens Fjord in Denmark, Astrup
has been finding artifacts made of flint
since 1995. The artifacts turned out to
be from a now-submerged village of
the Ertebølle people, who lived 7,300
to 5,900 years ago. In 2007, erosion
began to expose surprising finds at
the underwater site: intact artifacts
made of wood and antler. That year
Astrup, who is now an archaeology
doctoral candidate at the University of
Aarhus, teamed up with researchers at
the Moesgård and Horsens museums
to conserve the fragile artifacts and
excavate the site using dive equipment.
But erosion has done some excavating
of its own, exposing artifacts such as
a painted wooden paddle that Astrup
only had to lift off the seabed. “It is
really amazing when you are diving and
then suddenly, at the bottom, you have
a perfect, well-preserved artifact lying
totally exposed,” he says.
—ZACH ZORICH
Beachcombing
in the
Mesolithic
Ax head with shaft
Wooden paddle
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ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 20
T
he Royal Navy dive team care-
fully excavated the muck from
around the lowest section of
a V-2 rocket—German terror of the
British skies in World War II—in the
mudflats of the River Stour. Once
they determined that there was no
warhead attached, it was safe to lift the
four-foot segment and turn it over to a
local sailing club. Such finds are rare, as
there was usually nothing left of a V-2:
The ballistic missiles struck the ground
at twice the speed of sound.
— SAMIR S. PATEL
FROM THE TRENCHES
V-2 Rocket
from the
Muck
Preacher-Swordsman-Turncoat
A
rchaeologists working at Chur
Cathedral in eastern Switzer-
land are trying to confirm that
they have the remains of Jürg Jenatsch,
a seventeenth-century preacher-turned-
traitor. During the Thirty Years’ War,
Jenatsch was a Protestant political leader
and fighter who later switched to the
Catholic side, after which he was mur-
dered during Carnival in 1639, suppos-
edly by a man dressed as a bear. The
remains thought to be his were first
exhumed and examined in 1959. At
the time, it was found that they bore
the mark of the ax blow thought to
have killed Jenatsch, as well as clothing
consistent with a seventeenth-century
nobleman. Now the skull will be scanned
for facial reconstruction and DNA from
the teeth will be compared with that of
descendants of Jenatsch’s cousin.
— SAMIR S. PATEL
How Do You Say “Comb” in West Germanic?
R
unes scratched onto a
decorated comb are the
oldest evidence of writ-
ten West Germanic, the lan-
guage that gave birth to English,
German, Dutch, and a variety
of other modern tongues. Dis-
covered near the eastern Ger-
man town of Frienstedt during
a highway construction project
at least a decade ago, the deer-
antler comb is more than 1,700
years old. It was found together
with animal skulls, gold rings,
brooches, and Roman coins, and
was probably part of an offer-
ing or sacrifice. The runes,
an alphabet used before the
Latin alphabet became wide-
spread, were only noticed when
conservators finally pieced
together the comb’s fragments
this year. The letters spell out
“KABA,” which would have
been pronounced “kamba,” the
Germanic word for “comb.” A
lab in Copenhagen is studying
the antler to see if it’s possible
to determine where the deer
lived and where the ancient
comb was made.
—ANDREW CURRY
www.archaeology.org 21
E
xcavations at sites in the Near
East indicate people first domes-
ticated wild oxen roughly 10,500
years ago. Now a team of European sci-
entists has used DNA evidence to deter-
mine whether that domestication was a
region-wide phenomenon or a special-
ized pursuit practiced by a small number
of breeders. They found that all taurine
cattle (the breeds commonly found in
Europe, the Americas, and northern and
eastern Asia) are descended from a herd
of about 80 animals.
The researchers compared DNA
extracted from the bones of 15 domes-
tic cattle found at sites in Iran dating
to between 8,000 and 1,900 years ago
to that of modern animals. Specifically,
they homed in on a fragment of genetic
material where mutations tend to take
place frequently over time. They then
ran computer simulations that began
with the genetic diversity seen in cattle
today and extrapolated backward to find
the initial conditions that would have
given rise to the modern animals.
Te Origins
of Domestic
Cattle
“The computer can vary param-
eters, such as herd size. We kept only
those simulations that led to the data
we observed in the ancient samples,”
says Ruth Bollongino, a postdoctoral
researcher at the University of Mainz
in Germany. “They all showed 80 cows
at the beginning.” The relatively small
herd size derived from the simulations
indicates that cattle domestication was
not practiced widely in the Neolithic
Near East. Rather, sustained breeding
of wild oxen was likely a diffi cult task
carried out in only a few villages during
that time period.
—NIKHIL SWAMINATHAN
China’s silk road
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August 18 - September 3, 2012
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August 2013
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designing unique itineraries led by
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WORLD ROUNDUP
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 22
GREENLAND: The first migrants
to the western portion of the
massive, ice-covered island
arrived around 4,500 years ago.
Wood fragments excavated
from two of their early settle-
ments, Qeqertasussuk and Qajaa, have been identified as piec-
es of the rims from booming hoop drums, two to three feet in
diameter. The age of the finds pushes back the known origins
of Arctic drum and shaman culture, which traveled with them
across Alaska and Canada, by at least 2,000 years.
ICELAND: House mice are living artifacts of human expansion.
By comparing modern mouse DNA with ancient samples found
at Viking settlements, evolutionary biologists found that the
mice spread across the North Atlantic with the Vikings—from
the Faroe Islands to Iceland to Greenland. In Iceland, the mouse
population even mirrors the human one genetically—both show
low levels of genetic diversity, a result of small founding popu-
lations and little new inward migration.
WALES:
Recent
excavations
at Nevern
Castle,
an earthen and stone fortifica-
tion built and rebuilt throughout
the 12th century, have revealed a
series of slates buried under the
southern gateway. Incised with
symbols ranging from prehistoric
shapes to letters associated with
Christianity, the stones—some
older and some inscribed just
before burial (based on wear pat-
terns)—were likely deposited to
protect the castle from the entry
of evil forces.
W
R
e
a
C
an earthen and stone fo
PERU: Some pre-
Columbian South
Americans lived in
groups called allya
and buried their
dead together in
monuments called
chullpas. At the site
of Tompullo 2, scientists gathered genetic mate-
rial from six chullpas to determine how the peo-
ple in each were related. Results show that the
ancient Andeans are closely related to modern
ones, and that chullpas were family graves based
around a male lineage, suggesting allya were
structured the same way. But not necessarily—
one grave contained the remains of three related
men with different paternal lineages.
ST. HELENA: On this remote island in the South Atlantic, archaeolo-
gists have excavated a massive burial ground for slaves who died dur-
ing the brutal Middle Passage from Africa to the Americas. More than
300 of an estimated 5,000 graves were uncovered, containing mostly
children, teenagers, and young adults. Though they would have been
stripped of their possessions, some of those buried managed to save
beads, pieces of ribbon, and even bracelets. Also found were several
metal identification tags.
ETHIOPIA: Dat-
ing to around
3.4 million
years ago, foot
bones show that
Australopithe-
cus afarensis—“Lucy” and her kin—had
company. The new foot appears to be
substantially different from an A. afaren-
sis foot. Where Lucy had feet adapted
to more-or-less humanlike walking, this
new hominin would have been adept at
climbing trees. Until now, A. afarensis
was thought to be the only hominin in
the region at the time.
23
By Samir S. Patel
www.archaeology.org
ENGLAND: Sports scientists are examin-
ing the remains of sailors aboard Mary
Rose, a warship that sank in 1545 and
was raised in 1982. In particular, they
want to identify elite medieval archers,
trained from a very early age to use
longbows that required some 200
pounds of force to draw, by looking for
skeletal changes asso-
ciated with long-term
use. In one case, the
right elbow joint of a
soldier was 50 percent
larger than the left
one, demonstrating
not only that he was
an archer, but also that
he was left-handed.
IRAQ: Understanding the climate of
the past often helps with interpreta-
tion of archaeological discoveries. A
review of ancient documents written
between A.D. 816 and 1009 reveals
a pattern of unusual weather occur-
rences in Baghdad, particularly cold-
weather events such as hailstorms,
frozen rivers, and snow during a
certain period of the 10th century.
Although it
snowed in
Baghdad in
2008, such
cold snaps are
rarer today.
AUSTRALIA: Big insights often come from the humblest
places—in this case a fungus from the dung of now-extinct mar-
supial herbivores, such as the giant kangaroo and rhinoceros
wombat. Using sediment cores from a swamp, biologists
examined the timing of declines in the fungus with
changes in the environment to conclude that
neither climate change nor habitat change was
responsible for the extinction of many of these
large species around 40,000 years ago. Blame
appears to lie with the recently arrived
humans.
TAIWAN: Most people in Taiwan are of
Chinese ancestry, but the island also
has an indigenous population who are
more likely to share common ances-
try with those who migrated into the
Pacific and populated its islands, from
the Marianas to Rapa Nui. A recently
uncovered 8,000-year-old burial site on
tiny Liang Island could help researchers
understand the genetics and culture of
these early Austronesians before they
departed for distant islands.
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S
UMMER 2012, and the world’s greatest athletes
are gathering in London for the Olympics. In
advance of the Games, a square mile of semi-
derelict land in East London’s Lower Lea Valley
has been turned into a fully equipped Olympic
Park. This has transformed a run-down industrial
district into a leafy urban park containing modern amenities
including an athletes’ village, basketball arena, and the Olympic
stadium. British law decrees that archaeological assessments
must be undertaken before such developments, so between
2007 and 2009, the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA)
archaeologists set to work, digging into London’s past.
They excavated no fewer than 121 trenches, recovered more
than 10,000 artifacts, and revealed evidence of at least 6,000
years of human activity—from the area’s first prehistoric hunters
and farmers to World War II defense structures. In addition,
they recorded all of the site’s still-standing historic buildings.
Alongside this work, thousands of boreholes were sunk deep
into the earth, revealing an environmental and geoarchaeological
picture of the area over the past 12,000 years.
Completing the task was herculean. Though lying only three
miles northeast of the glitz and glamor of central London, just
five years ago this was still a neglected and largely unoccupied
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 24
by Nadia Durrani
area. The archaeologists were faced with dilapidated build-
ings, general construction waste, and a deep accumulation of
eighteenth- and nineteenth-century domestic garbage. Much
of this garbage had been imported from nearby areas by people
wishing to substantially raise the ground in order to settle on
what was then low-lying and marshy land. Added to this, an
1844 act ruled that dangerous and so-called “dirty noxious”
industries, such as printing works or chemical manufacturers,
had to be moved out of central London. Many relocated here,
an area already known for its industry. For the archaeologists,
this meant that the ground was often chemically contami-
nated, waterlogged, or indeed both.
Handheld trowels and shovels would not suffi ce. Simply
to break through the layers of city detritus, heavy construc-
tion equipment operators removed several hundred tons of
soil for each trench, often to a depth of around 15 feet, and
in one location, almost 30 feet. Only after the operators got
past this recent debris could the team begin to explore the
earlier archaeology. This was a mighty task. To avoid any risk
of collapse under the weight of the surrounding land, the
trenches had to be stepped down, with large trenches at the
top narrowing to relatively small areas at the base. “Where
trenches were particularly deep, we often had to further
LONDON 2012
Archaeology and the Olympics
The Olympic Park in East London’s
Lower Lea Valley
were certainly no exception. However, the
results have been worth it. “The archaeology
covered a huge swath of time and geography,”
says project director Nick Bateman of Museum
of London Archaeology. “We now have the
first long-term, large-scale picture of life in
this part of East London, an area first settled
in prehistory, and in more recent times, one
that became so significant to the development
of the modern city.” Had it not been for the
Olympic Park’s construction, this formerly
impoverished, waterlogged, outlying part of historic London
simply would not have been explored on this scale.
According to Simon Wright, head of venues and infra-
structure at the ODA, “Not only have we transformed the
Olympic Park into the largest urban park to be created in
the United Kingdom for more than 100 years, but we have
uncovered its past in the process.”
Some of the excavation trenches were so
deep that archaeologists ensured they didn’t
collapse by creating a series of steps to
distribute the weight of the soil around them.
secure their sides using steel supports,” explains Gary Brown,
fieldwork project manager of Pre-Construct Archaeology.
Once the sites were safe, the diggers were kitted up with
protective equipment, including disposable overalls, gloves,
rubber boots, protective glasses, and even face masks.
Digging in London, with its long and complex history, is
always diffi cult and time-consuming, and these excavations
www.archaeology.org 25
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 26

10,000 B.C.
End of the Ice Age;
flood plain of the
Lower Lea valley
formed.
4000 to 3000 B.C.
People begin large-
scale land clearance.
Neolithic ax ritually
deposited?
1400 B.C.
Field system
established.
A.D. 50
Roman road from
London to
Colchester crossed
marshes; exact
route unknown.
1135
Cistercian Abbey
exploited Lea
waterpower.
Late 12th century
Knights Templar
water mills
established at
Temple Mills.
Olympic Park timeline
0 500m
186200 5
3
8
5
0
0
Archaeological trenching Built heritage recording
Parking
Training
Broadcast
Centre
Velodrome
Stratford
City
Olympic
Village
Aquatics
Centre
Main
Stadium
Accreditation
Checking
Spectator
Transport
and Fencing
Basketball
Area






● ❷ Prehistoric lives
G
reat transformations took place in the Olympic Park dur-
ing the Middle Bronze Age, starting around 1400 B.C. It
seems that, over the course of only a few hundred years, people
divided up areas of potentially productive agricultural land into
rectangular fields, each surrounded by ditches, and possibly
lined with hedges. This transformation is vividly illustrated by
the largest trench, dug at the site of the Aquatics Centre, where
the archaeologists revealed a clear pattern of field-boundary
ditches. A bigger picture of prehistoric life emerged with the
further discovery of
eight roundhouses,
one dated to the
Bronze Age, and
seven to the Iron
Age (700 B.C.–A.D.
43). There were also several burials, including two Late Bronze
Age cremations, both radiocarbon dated to around 1000 B.C.,
an inhumation burial dated to between 110 B.C. and A.D. 60, and
three inhumations of uncertain dates, possibly spanning the
time from the Bronze Age to the early Roman era. For millen-
nia, it seems that the people in this area lived and died near
their land. Unfortunately, periodic flooding appears to have
made their waterside settlement too wet for habitation, leading
to its abandonment in the Late Iron Age.
❸ The Romans: lost and found
T
he Olympic Park lies three miles northeast of
Londinium (London), the capital of the Roman
province of Britannia Superior. During the Roman
era (A.D. 43–ca. 410), the area was crossed by a
major road connecting Londinium with the town
of Camulodunum (modern Colchester). The road,
together with the river, would have been a crucial
route into Londinium, not least to supply it with agricultural pro-
duce. The team dug numerous evaluation trenches, many in dense
overlapping arrangements, over the full likely range of the road’s
course across the valley. But no trace of the road was found, and its
precise line across the valley remains an unsolved mystery.
❶ Neolithic rituals
A
t the end of the last great Ice Age, some
12,000 years ago, glacial meltwaters surged
through an unspoiled wilderness, forming the flood plain
of the River Lea. However, the oldest evidence from the
Olympic Park comes from the Neolithic period (4000–2200
B.C.), when people began fairly extensive woodland-clearing for agri-
culture, aided by flint axes. The team discovered one such ax, dated
to between 4000 and 3000 B.C., at the edge of a river channel, but
there was no evidence the ax had been used in antiquity. According
to Andrew Powell of Wessex Archaeology, the team working on the
post-excavation analysis of the Park’s finds, its pristine condition and
riverside location hint at a possible ritual explanation. Had it been
deliberately placed in the water as an offering or votive deposit? “If
this is the case, we think it highlights the deep significance of the
river, and its valley, to prehistoric people drawn by the rich resources
of this watery environment,” says Powell.
❶❶❶❶
t the
12,0
through an unsp
of the River Lea. Ho
Olympic Park comes fr






The story of archaeology of the Olympic Park, Renewing the Past: Unearthing the
History of the Olympic Park Site, will be available soon. For further details of the
excavations, visit learninglegacy.london2012.com
www.archaeology.org 27

17th to 18th century
UK’s first porcelain
factory built here.
1858
Following an out-
break of cholera and
typhoid called the
“Big Stink,” Northern
Outfall Sewer built.
1860
Plastic invented in
the Lea Valley.
1892
UK’s first petrol
factory built here.
1904
UK’s famous William
Yardley cosmetics,
soap, and lavender
factory established
on the site.
2012
London Olympic
Games.
❹ An early industrial estate
P
art of the story of the area’s rise to become London’s industrial heart is told by the
Olympic Park’s deepest excavation, at Temple Mills, an area named after the Knights
Templar, who owned two water mills there in the twelfth century. The mills were still in
use at the end of the sixteenth century, when they were joined by a leather mill, a gun-
powder mill (until it blew up), and mills for grinding corn and rapeseed, plus calico print-
ers, flock-makers, and dye houses. From the mid-nineteenth century, industrialization in
the Lea Valley intensified. More and more industries developed farther down the valley
at Stratford, including paper, tar, and printing works, and chemical manufacturing, all of
which had been
forced out of cen-
tral London under
new cleaner-living
legislation. Digging
at Temple Mills was
hard going—this
part of the site was
particularly water-
logged, contami-
nated by industrial
waste, and deeply buried under almost 30 feet of recent landfill. However, the finds were
plentiful, and included the frontage of an entire terrace of six workers’ cottages that
were occupied in the late eighteenth and through the nineteenth centuries. Just as in the
Bronze Age (see Box 2), it seems the locals, some of whom are named in extant census
records, still chose to live near where they worked.
❻ London’s battlefield
D
uring the Second World War,
the “East End” of London
was heavily defended—and indeed
heavily bombed. This was often the
first part of London to be crossed
by enemy aircraft flying west from
Nazi Germany, and there is copi-
ous evidence of that difficult era at
the Olympic Park. Among the items
recorded and excavated is an antiaircraft battery near Temple Mills, with four gun
platforms, a room possibly used for storing cordite, a munitions magazine, and a
command center. These structures date back to 1938, a time when Britain’s military
watched and waited for war. Between 1941 and 1943, during the war years, a radar
station was built on the site, together with a number of other installations, includ-
ing a pillbox and tank blocks. Taken together, this evidence represents critical data
for those involved in modern conflict studies.
❺A 19th-century speed boat
W
ith the discovery of a nineteenth-century
row boat, preserved at almost 15 feet in
length, archaeologists have found something that
might just appeal to an Olympic athlete. Uncov-
ered in the silty deposits beside a windmill near
the head of Pudding Mill River, the boat was built
to be light, slender, and swift, rather than strong.
It was probably designed as a kind of water taxi,
perhaps for ferrying crew and goods to a larger
ship. It is of “clinker-built” construction, a method
using overlapping planks that dates back to the
Saxon period (A.D. ca. 410–1066). Only a few
other vessels using this building technique have
survived, making it a rare and important example.
The boat appears to have been converted into a
pleasure boat, and then possibly used for wild-
fowling (lead bird shot was found in a locker
added sometime later to the boat), only to be
abandoned in the mid- to late nineteenth century,
taking its riverine stories with it.
However, archaeologists did find evidence
of the Romans exploiting the river landscape, in
the form of light timber structures at two loca-
tions along its channels, one of which may be a
small jetty. “Their Roman date is now certain,”
reveals post-excavation manager Pippa Bradley
of Wessex Archaeology. “The wood from both
structures has just been radiocarbon dated to
that era,” she adds. Roman artifacts were also
found, including amphorae and ceramic building
material made between A.D. 50 and 160, plus a
worn coin of Constantine II (ruled A.D. 337–340).
Nadia Durrani is an archaeological editor and writer based in London.
O
N JANUARY 25, 2011, tens of thousands of
protestors flooded Cairo’s Tahrir Square,
demanding the end of President Hosni
Mubarak’s regime. As the “day of revolt”
filled the streets of Cairo and other cities
with tear gas and flying stones, a team of
archaeologists led by Susanne Bickel of the University of Basel
in Switzerland was about to make one of the most significant
discoveries in the Valley of the Kings in almost a century.
The valley lies on the west bank of the Nile, opposite what was
once Egypt’s spiritual center—the city of Thebes, now known as
Luxor. The valley was the final resting place of the pharaohs and
aristocracy beginning in the New Kingdom period (1539–1069
B.C.), when Egyptian wealth and power were at a high point. Dozens
of tombs were cut into the valley’s walls, but most of them were
eventually looted. It was in this place that the Basel team came
across what they initially believed to be an unremarkable find.
A wooden coffin holding
the remains of a temple
singer sat inside a tomb
undisturbed for nearly
3,000 years. It is the first
unlooted burial to be
found in the Valley of the
Kings since 1922.
At the southeastern end of the valley they discovered
three sides of a man-made stone rim surrounding an area
of about three-and-a-half by five feet. The archaeologists
suspected that it was just the top of an abandoned shaft.
But, because of the uncertainty created by Egypt’s political
revolution, they covered the stone rim with an iron door
while they informed the authorities and applied for an
offi cial permit to excavate.
A year later, just before the first anniversary of the revolu-
tion, Bickel returned with a team of two dozen people, includ-
ing field director Elina Paulin-Grothe of the University of
Basel, Egyptian inspector Ali Reda, and local workmen. They
started clearing the sand and gravel out of the shaft. Eight feet
down, they came upon the upper edge of a door blocked by
large stones. At the bottom of the shaft they found fragments
of pottery made from Nile silt, and pieces of plaster, a material
commonly used to seal tomb entrances. Those plaster pieces,
A newly discovered burial chamber in the Valley of the Kings provides
a rare glimpse into the life of an ancient Egyptian singer
by Julian Smith
Tomb of the
Chantress
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 30
of the original Eighteenth Dynasty burial, she adds, including
pottery, wood fragments, and parts of the unwrapped and dis-
membered mummy who first occupied the tomb. It also must
be noted that before the discovery of Nehemes-Bastet’s, the
last unlooted tomb found in the valley was the famous burial of
Tutankhamun, discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter.
People have been claiming there was nothing new left to
find in the Valley of the Kings for almost as long as they have
been digging there. The Venetian antiquarian Giovanni Belzoni
believed he had emptied the last of the valley’s tombs during
his 1817 expedition. Theodore Davis, who excavated there a
century later, came to a similar conclusion—right before Tut-
ankhamun’s burial was found. Of course, other discoveries have
been made in the valley. In 1995, a team led by Donald Ryan
of Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, was
investigating a tomb used by the family of Pharaoh Rameses
II. They found previously unknown corridors, leading to the
resting place of Rameses II’s sons, which extended to more
than 121 rooms. Unfortunately, the rooms had been looted in
antiquity and damaged by flash floods. In 2005, a team led
by Otto Schaden of the Amenmesse Project discovered an
unlooted chamber, which held seven coffi ns and 28 jars con-
taining mummification materials. The chamber, contained no
bodies, so it is unlikely that it was a tomb.
B
EFORE BICKEL’S TEAM COULD take Nehemes-Bastet’s coffi n
out of the burial chamber for further study, they had to open
it to make sure that nothing inside would be damaged when
it was moved. It took a professional restorer a day to remove the
nails that held the lid closed. Inspector Ali Reda and Mohammed
el-Bialy, chief inspector of antiquities of Upper Egypt, joined Bickel
and Paulin-Grothe for the opening. Inside they found a carefully
wrapped female mummy, about five feet tall. It was blackened
all over—and stuck to the bottom of the coffi n—by a sticky
fruit-based syrup used in the mummification process.
together with the age of other nearby sites, were the first sign
that the shaft might actually be a tomb dating to between 1539
and 1292 B.C., Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty. The large stones
appeared to have been added later.
Although stones blocked the entrance, there was a hole just
large enough to admit a small digital camera. Bickel, Paulin-
Grothe, and the chief of the Egyptian workmen each took
turns lying on the ground, head pressed against the shaft wall,
one arm through the hole, snapping pictures. The surprising
images revealed a small rock-cut chamber measuring 13 by 8.5
feet, filled to within three feet of the ceiling with debris, leaving
little doubt they had found a tomb. On top of the debris rested
a dusty black coffi n carved from sycamore wood and decorated
with large yellow hieroglyphs on its sides and top. “I’ve never
found a coffi n in as good condition before,” Bickel says.
The hieroglyphs describe the tomb’s occupant, named
Nehemes-Bastet, as a “lady” of the upper class and “chantress
[shemayet] of Amun,” whose father was a priest in the temple
complex of Karnak in Thebes. The coffi n’s color and hieroglyphs
match a style that dates to between 945 and 715 B.C., at least
350 years after the tomb was built. The coffi n shows that the
burial chamber had been reused, a common practice at the time.
The only other artifact dating to the same period as the coffi n
was a wooden stele, slightly smaller than an iPad, painted with
a prayer to provide for her in the afterlife, and an image that
is believed to be of Nehemes-Bastet in front of the seated sun
god Amun. The white, green, yellow, and red paints hadn’t faded
a bit. Bickel says, “It could have been taken from a storeroom
yesterday.” The rubble that filled the chamber held the remnants
The University of Basel team discovered the entrance to the
singer’s tomb while they were clearing debris from another
unexplored site in the valley’s southeasternmost branch (left).
About eight feet below the surface (right) the team found the
top of the tomb’s doorway.
www.archaeology.org 31
nonetheless, it lacked the elaborate inner
coffi ns found in similar burials.
More details on Nehemes-Bastet’s daily
life can be drawn from a wealth of paintings,
texts, and reliefs carved on statues and stelae
of the time, says Teeter. As a chantress, or
singer, in the temple of Amun, she probably
lived in the 250-acre Karnak temple complex
located in Thebes. Her name, translated as
“may Bastet save her,” indicates that she was
under the protection of the feline goddess
and “divine mother” Bastet, the protector of
Lower Egypt. Nehemes-Bastet’s occupation,
however, was to worship Amun, the king of
ancient Egyptian gods.
Music was a key ingredient in Egyptian religion. Teeter
explains that it was believed to soothe the gods and encourage
them to provide for their worshippers. Nehemes-Bastet was one
of many priestess-musicians who performed inside the sanctuaries
and in the courts of the temples. “The hypothesis is that these
women would sing, act, and take part in festivities and big ritual
processions that were held several times a year,” Bickel says. The
musical instruments that chantresses typically used were the
menat, a multi-strand beaded necklace they would shake, and the
sistrum, a handheld rattle whose sound was said to evoke wind rus-
tling through papyrus reeds. Other musicians would have played
drums, harps, and lutes during religious processions.
“For years people have debated what kind of music it
was,” says Teeter. “But there’s no musical notation left, and
we’re not sure how they tuned the instruments or whether
they sang or chanted.” Some scholars have suggested it may
have sounded like an ancient ancestor of rap, she adds. The
emphasis was definitely on percussion. Images often show
people stamping their feet and clapping. Examples of song
lyrics are recorded on temple walls. This one from Luxor
Even in the short time since its discovery, the tomb is
already providing intriguing insights into the life of the
woman who was buried there. The time of Nehemes-Bastet’s
burial (sometime between 945 and 715 B.C.) was long after
Egypt had reached the peak of its power and influence.
The Great Pyramid was more than 1,500 years old, and the
prosperous days of the New Kingdom were gone. Nehemes-
Bastet lived during the Third Intermediate Period, a time
when Egypt was split by intermittent wars between the pha-
raohs in Tanis and the high priests of Amun in Thebes, who
rivaled the traditional rulers in wealth and power. “It must
have been a pretty unsettling period,” says Emily Teeter, an
Egyptologist and research assistant at the Oriental Institute
of the University of Chicago. “There was fighting,” explains
Teeter, “among these factions around her time.”
Bickel says, “It’s interesting that in this period even a
wealthy girl was buried with quite simple things,” compar-
ing Nehemes-Bastet’s coffi n and stele with the elaborate
pottery, furniture, and food found in earlier tombs. “Her
wooden coffi n was certainly quite expensive,” she says, but
The coffin (left) was carved from sycamore
wood and decorated with hieroglyphs. An
inscription (below) states the name and title
of the coffin’s occupant—Nehemes-Bastet,
Chantress of Amun.
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 32
to move the mummy to their lab. After reinforcing the coffi n
and securing the mummy, Bickel’s team carefully removed
them from the burial chamber and transported them across the
Nile to Luxor, where they are being fully restored. The team
has emptied and sealed the tomb, but plans to return to com-
plete an architectural analysis so they can learn more about its
construction. The bodies from both of the tomb’s burials will
be examined in detail. Bickel hopes to find the name or at least
the title of the tomb’s original Eighteenth Dynasty occupant.
In addition, a CT scan of Nehemes-Bastet is planned for later
this year or early 2013. Preliminary reports will be published
by the end of 2012, she says, but final analyses of the tomb and
its artifacts will probably take four to five years.
As surprising as finding Nehemes-Bastet’s tomb was, archae-
ologists believe it probably isn’t the last major discovery that will
be made in the Valley of the Kings. “The valley has many nooks
and crannies,” says Otto Schaden, “so it is still premature to set
any limits on the possibility of finding more tombs.” ■
Julian Smith is a contributing editor at Archaeology.
refers to the Festival of Opet, when the cult images of the
gods Amun, Mut, and Khonsu were brought by boat down
the Nile to renew the pharoah’s divine essence.
Hail Amun-Re, the primeval one of the two lands, foremost
one of Karnak, in your glorious appearance amidst your
[river] fleet, in your beautiful Festival of Opet, may you be
pleased with it.
The title “Chantress of Amun” belonged to women of the
upper classes, Teeter says. Genealogies show multiple genera-
tions of women held the title, with mothers probably teaching
the profession to their daughters. “It was a very honorable
profession,” says Teeter. “These women were well respected
in society, which is why [Nehemes-Bastet] was buried in the
Valley of the Kings.” As was the case with the priests, temple
singers were paid from the income generated by the huge
tracts of land that Amun “owned” across Egypt. Some priests
and priestesses served in the temples only a few months out
of the year before returning home. There’s little information
about what women like Nehemes-Bastet would have done
while at home, Teeter says, but it probably wasn’t too different
from other women’s traditional duties of the time: running the
household, raising children, and supporting their husbands.
To learn more about Nehemes-Bastet, Bickel’s team needed
The University of Basel team had to open the coffin to
prepare it to be removed from the tomb. Now it resides in a
lab, where it is being restored. The coffin and mummy
will also receive a CT scan.
www.archaeology.org 33
P
YLOS, IN GREECE’S southwestern Peloponnese, is
known for its miles of soft sandy beaches, rocky
islets soaring out of the water marking the edges
of the Bay of Navarino, and the mountains that
cut it off from the rest of Greece. The surround-
ing region, known as Messenia, is also home
to dozens of archaeological sites. Since the nineteenth cen-
tury, Messenia has attracted archaeologists hoping to uncover
At the site of Iklaina,
excavations are revealing
new evidence of how the
Mycenaean state functioned
by Amanda Summer
An aerial view of the site of
Iklaina near Pylos, Greece.
remains of Greece’s Mycenaean age, the period from approxi-
mately 1650 to 1100B.C., famous for such mythical sagas as the
Trojan War. Among them have been Heinrich Schliemann, who
came from Germany to search the area in vain to locate a royal
settlement, and American Carl Blegen, who excavated the Palace
of Nestor in Pylos in 1939. Fifteen years later, in 1954, Blegen’s
colleague, Greek archaeologist Spyridon Marinatos, went hiking
in the hills above Pylos. There, near the small modern town of
The Birth of
Bureaucracy
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 34
sort of bottom-up approach. Scholars know that the state of
Pylos had a four-tiered administrative system: the palace at
the top, followed by the district capitals (the second-order
settlements), then followed by small villages, and at the bottom
by farmsteads. At Iklaina, Cosmopoulos wanted to see how
ordinary people lived outside the palaces, in the towns and
villages of the lower tiers, how their society changed over time,
and how government operated there. “Kinship systems and
elite groups are thought to have propelled power chiefdoms
to statehood,” Cosmopoulos explains. “If such groups existed
at a second-order center such as Iklaina, we would expect
appropriate architectural remains.”
It was, however, not just the promise of archaeological
remains that drew Cosmopoulos to this plateau, which rises
525 feet above the Messenian plain. There were also clues from
clay tablets discovered at the Palace of Nestor that date to
around 1200 B.C. Inscribed in the ancient Greek script known
as Linear B (see sidebar), these tablets suggest that Iklaina
may have been one of the district capitals of the Mycenaean
kingdom of Pylos.
The more than 1,000 tablets found at the Palace of Nestor
are not works of literature, but rather are records of a bureau-
cratic system, primarily economic in nature, with lists of animals,
people, and manufactured items. The tablets also give us
valuable information about the administration of the state of
Pylos. They tell us that it was divided into two provinces: the
“Hither” and the “Further” provinces, and that each province
was divided into districts—the Hither into nine and the Fur-
ther into seven. Archaeologists believe that Iklaina may have
been one of the nine districts of the Hither Province, whose
name may have been pronounced something like alphy, aphy,
or asphy. Interestingly, a corrupt form of this name may have
survived in Homer’s Iliad as “Aipy.” As Cosmopoulos explains,
“We have here a rare circumstance where archaeology con-
verges with textual evidence and possibly mythology.”
A
S SOON AS COSMOPOULOS received his permit from
the Athens Archaeological Society, he and his team
prepared to excavate—but not before receiving the
blessing of the local priest who had instructed him where to
begin digging. “Within four inches we started finding walls and
pots,” he says. “We joked about divine intervention helping us
out.” Cosmopoulos began digging test trenches in 2006, and a
full-scale excavation got under way in 2008. At that time, says
Cosmopoulos, “the dominant feature of the site was a mound,
overgrown with a jungle of bushes and trees and thickets of
grass.” Visible on the surface around the mound were segments
of ancient walls, which he anticipated might be hiding a large
tomb. “It took four workmen working full time for four weeks
to remove the thick vegetation,” Cosmopoulos remembers.
Once the overgrowth was cleared and the team was able to
start excavating the mound, instead of a tomb, they found a
giant “Cyclopean” wall, typical of Mycenaean architecture. This
type of construction, named Cyclopean because later Greeks
thought that only the mythical giant known as the Cyclops could
have built such huge walls, is made of massive blocks of roughly
Iklaina, he came upon the remains of a structure with massive
walls, surrounded by large deposits of pottery. The Iklaina site
was overgrown with olive groves and the terrain was diffi cult to
traverse, but a brief trial excavation suggested the existence of
an important site. However, other work beckoned Marinatos
and it would remain buried for decades.
W
HEN ARCHAEOLOGIST Michael Cosmopoulos of the
University of Missouri–St. Louis arrived in Iklaina
in 1998 he had an ambitious plan. Cosmopoulos
had previously directed archaeological projects at Oropos, an
ancient city-state near Athens, and at Eleusis, the Sanctuary of
Demeter and home of the famous Eleusinian Mysteries. After
learning from his colleague George Korres of the University
of Athens about the promising site in the hills above Pylos,
he jumped at the opportunity to pick up where Marinatos
had left off. Soon he had organized a team of students and
volunteers whose field survey eventually investigated more
than eight square miles. Cosmopoulos combined his results
with a survey done previously by the University of Cincin-
nati—the Pylos Regional Archaeological Project—which had
mapped the region around the Palace of Nestor in the early
1990s. Cosmopoulos also conducted an exhaustive geophysi-
cal survey, using magnetometry, electrical resistivity, and soil
phosphate analysis. It took 400 students, volunteers, and staff
eight years to determine that Iklaina was the largest site in the
region outside the Palace of Nestor.
From Cosmopoulos’ standpoint, excavating at Iklaina pro-
vided an important opportunity to take an in-depth look at
the evidence from a whole district and to examine Mycenaean
society and government not from the point of view of the main
palace, as had been done in the past, but from its districts—a
Iklaina excavation director Michael Cosmopoulos
excavating in one of the settlement’s houses with the
assistance of some of the students and volunteers who have
worked with the project for more than a decade.
www.archaeology.org 35
I
N 1899, PIONEERING British archaeologist Arthur Evans
purchased a parcel of land on the Greek island of Crete.
Evans had been drawn to the island by a collection of
ancient carved gems he believed originated there . He would
soon uncover the Bronze Age Palace of Knossos, one of the
most important archaeological finds in history. Among his
discoveries during three decades spent excavating the palace
were several thousand clay tablets containing strange markings
and pictographs. Despite being unable to read them, Evans
theorized that the tablets were an ancient writing system,
which he dubbed Linear B, after the script’s use of small line
formations. (What is known as Linear A had also been found
at Knossos, and is believed to be an earlier writing system.)
As a result of Evans’ discovery, scholars recognized that
tablets from sites on the Greek mainland, including Pylos,
Thebes, and Mycenae, were also inscribed in Linear B, indicat-
ing that the peculiar writing style was more widespread than
initially thought. Until the recent discovery of Linear B at the
site of Iklaina, near Pylos, all the previously known tablets,
which date to between 1500 and 1200 B.C., were found at
large palatial centers typical of the Mycenaean period. When
these palaces burned down, the tablets, which had been kept
Deciphering Linear B
in storerooms, were “fired,” hardening the clay and acciden-
tally preserving them. In 1953 came the announcement that
Linear B’s cryptic markings had been deciphered, and that
it was actually an early form of ancient Greek. The tablets
contain a type of syllabic script. Most of the individual
signs represent certain syllable combinations (vowel and
consonant). There are also ideograms, in which a sign actu-
ally represents the object it resembles—a picture of a jar for
the word “jar,” for example. Overall, Linear B has as many
as 200 different signs.
Once Linear B could be read, it became clear that almost
all of the known tablets contained similar content—archival
information about the large central palaces in which they
were found. Scribes had used them to keep an inventory of
the everyday goods belonging to the palaces and to docu-
ment economic transactions.
The Linear B tablet from Iklaina is unique in that it was
not found amid the remains of a palatial center. Accord-
ing to Cynthia Shelmerdine, the project’s ceramics expert,
the Iklaina tablet “opens up the whole question of how
widespread Mycenaean literacy was, and how far down the
administrative system written records extended.”
cut rectangular stones laid in horizontal courses. Iklaina’s walls
are similar to architectural features found at important Myce-
naean palace sites in Greece, including Tiryns, Pylos, Mycenae,
and Gla. “It was exhilarating and unexpected to find this,”
Cosmopoulos exclaims, recalling the day, “particularly because
the dating of the Cyclopean Terrace is early.” On the basis of
pottery from the foundations of the Terrace and the walls of
the surrounding rooms, Cosmopoulos dated the structure to
between 1500 and 1350 B.C., the first of the two major phases of
the site. While typical of Mycenaean construction style, the wall
is unusual in that it represents an early stage in the development
of Cyclopean architecture, he says.
Steven Clarke’s 3-D rendering (above) of what
the Cyclopean Terrace Building may have looked like.
A detail of the Cyclopean Terrace wall (right),
which dates to between 1500 and 1350 B.C.
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 36
The excavation has uncovered many artifacts from daily
life as well, including amulets, figurines, rings, cooking vessels,
bone tools, and clay and stone spindle whorls used in weaving.
On the basis of plant remains recovered by the project’s bota-
nists, Susan Allen and China Shelton, it seems the inhabitants’
diet consisted of olives, fruits, nuts, wheat, and barley. The
bones of fish, pigs, sheep, goat, and cattle also have been found
among the remains, demonstrating not only the variety of the
inhabitants’ diet, but also their diverse economy. According to
Deborah Ruscillo, the project’s zooarchaeologist, the inhab-
itants also relied on hunting, mostly wild boar and deer, for
food. Intriguingly, a large percentage of wild boar bones bear
the gnaw marks of dogs, perhaps the same hounds that hunted
the boars as depicted in Mycenaean frescoes.
To the north of the Cyclopean Terrace, Cosmopoulos has
identified a large town consisting of multiple small dwellings.
There is evidence that these dwellings, along with the Cyclo-
pean Terrace Building, were destroyed by enemy action around
1350 B.C. In a display of superiority as they established their
authority, the town’s new rulers never rebuilt the monumental
building on the Cyclopean Terrace and constructed their own
The purpose of this massive terrace was to support a monu-
mental building (dubbed the “Cyclopean Terrace Building”),
which would have served as the administrative center for the
area, suggesting that Iklaina at that time was the capital of
an independent chiefdom. According to excavation architect
Michael Nelson, the terrace was substantial enough to sup-
port two or three stories. The section of the building that
once stood on top of the terrace is gone forever, but other
parts of this building complex survive. These include rooms
to the south, southwest, and southeast, and possibly a central
open space that was a garden or courtyard. An enormous wall,
the edge of which was uncovered in the last days of the 2011
season, may have served as a fortification wall.
The building has all the elements one would expect to
find in a Mycenaean administrative center. In addition to its
monumental size, unusual for this early period, it contained
multiple storage rooms for foodstuffs, offering tables, and a
rich assemblage of pottery. The walls of some of the rooms
were decorated with elaborate figural frescoes painted in blue,
white, and red. The building’s upper levels had collapsed into
its lower storage rooms, in which Cosmopoulos’ team has
found more than 1,000 fresco fragments to date. After sev-
eral seasons of study, two major themes have been identified
on the frescoes—naval imagery, which is stylistically similar
to Minoan frescoes found on the islands of Thera and Keos,
and another theme depicting females, possibly in procession,
with long black hair and arms covered in bracelets.
Th i h d if f d
Project conservator
Stefania Veldemiri’s
reconstruction of
the fresco fragments
from the Cyclopean
Terrace Building
(above left and right),
and (right) one of
the actual fragments,
showing a female
figure bringing her
hand to her chest.

,
of
s,
le
er
est.
A fragment of a spindle whorl (below
left), dozens of which were found,
is evidence of textile manufacture
at the site. Ceramic figurines (right)
were found in most buildings on
the site. Zooarchaeologist Deborah
Ruscillo studies the animal bone
evidence, such as this pig radius
(bottom) to discover more
about the Mycenaean diet.
www.archaeology.org 37
houses directly on top of the houses of the previous phase,
but with a different orientation. Cosmopoulos believes this
is evidence that the new rulers made an effort to erase the
memories of the previous authority and that these new rulers
were those of the Palace of Nestor, now the major power in
the area. One of the dwellings representing the second phase
in the site’s history, from 1350 to about 1200 B.C., included a
megaron, a great hall central to a Mycenaean house, containing
a hearth surrounded by four pillars. Cosmopoulos is not certain
if the megaron was used for administrative purposes, or simply
indicated that this had been a wealthy house. He hopes further
excavation in the area will establish its function.
In the past several seasons the team has uncovered addi-
tional finds that offer more clues about the site’s significance
and changing role over time, and reveal new information about
the settlement’s industrial, religious, and political practices.
These include an intriguing network of drains, a possible open-
air shrine, and a tiny inscribed tablet that may put Iklaina on
the map as the oldest state bureaucracy in Europe.
A
T 6:30 A.M. on a hot July day, halfway through the 2011
season, students and volunteers straggle in to the site.
They’ve been dropped off by the bus a quarter mile
away, as the area’s remoteness makes it diffi cult for anything
larger than a car to make its way along the narrow dirt road.
Early morning light is starting to evaporate dew that has col-
A plan of part of the site shows the original megaron, an
architectural unit central to many Mycenaean houses. At
some point in the building’s life the main room was divided
into smaller spaces (green), and industrial and storage
rooms were added (also green). A system of drains (yel-
low) was built to drain the industrial rooms. The walls
(black and white) belong to the site’s earliest period.
Team members set a new trench (above) near the
Cyclopean Terrace wall and the ancient drain, which is
visible at the lower left.
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 38
may have supported up to an astonishing 225 smiths. Numer-
ous metal objects including bronze nails, saws, and rings
were found at the site, as was a unique head of a bronze male
figurine with no known parallels.
In the last weeks of the 2011 season, the team uncovered
another significant building, aligned along one side with an
upright rectangular stone known as a stele. At some Myce-
naean sites such markers indicate a sacred space. However,
in this case, Cosmopoulos believes the building may have
been unfinished and that the post was a construction marker.
“Neither I nor any of my colleagues have seen anything like
this before,” Cosmopoulos explains. Although no artifacts
were found in the building’s interior, he believes that the
structure’s size and construction suggest a special function.
At almost 50 feet long, with ashlar masonry, carefully chis-
eled blocks of stone known as orthostates, and a large paved
lected on plastic tarps covering the trenches. A group of
students selects hand axes and other tools stored overnight
in buckets and heads off to work with a team from the lab.
Today’s job is to remove a large section of plaster surrounding
an ancient drainage system that runs throughout the site. Head
conservator StefaniaVeldemiri has fashioned a large metal tray
to slide underneath the plaster, in hopes of removing it intact.
Once the metal sheet is lifted, the team moves in unison, carry-
ing the plaster and surrounding soil like a litter to a waiting van
that will take it back to the lab in downtown Pylos, some nine
miles to the east. The job of gingerly transporting the plaster
seems not unlike moving a very large wedding cake.
The presence of this extensive drainage system and clay
pipes, originating from a series of rooms that were most
likely used as industrial installations, points to a great need
for running water. With a large amount of flaxseed found in
those rooms, it’s probable that the industry of the site’s new
inhabitants was flax production. The building had a cement
floor and a system of five drains feeding into a main drain in
what Cosmopoulos believes was the industrial center of Iklaina
during the second period in the site’s occupation.
Another possible industry Iklaina supported was metal-
working. The Linear B tablets from Pylos mention the Iklaina
site as a metallurgical center. According to John Chadwick,
the English linguist who helped decipher Linear B, the site
Remains uncovered in a pit may be evidence of the earliest Mycenaean open-air shrine, dating to between 1450 and 1300 B.C.
Many metal artifacts were found
at Iklaina, including this
bronze nail and ring,
suggesting the presence
of a substantial metal-
lurgical production
center at the site.
may hav
ous me
were fou
b.
ding
Head
tray
tact.
arry-
van
nine
aster
Many metal a
at Ik
br
su
o
lur
cen
www.archaeology.org 39
of commodities. In addition, most tablets are dated to around
1200 B.C., and one from Mycenae dates to the late fourteenth
century B.C. But the Iklaina tablet dates to between 1450 and
1350 B.C., making it the earliest known bureaucratic record
found on the Greek mainland.
“Because Linear B tablets were, as far as we know, used
exclusively as state records, the discovery of the Iklaina tablet
implies state structure and state bureaucracy. Its early date
indicates that bureaucracy and literacy in Greece appeared
earlier and were more widespread than we had thought until
now,” says Cosmopoulos. He is confident the tablet will offer
insight into an area of history that is still little understood.
“The discovery of the tablet is important because, according
to what we had known until now, records were not kept in
second-order settlements and all known tablets from the
Greek mainland are dated later. This may change the way
scholars understand how Mycenaean bureaucracy developed
over time.” Cosmopoulos adds with obvious excitement, “In
the grand scheme of things, Iklaina may shed new light on
how Mycenaean states were formed.”
The finds at Iklaina will keep Cosmopoulos and his team
busy for years to come. He is working to purchase and exca-
vate the land adjacent to the site in future seasons— where
there is one Linear B tablet, there is always the hope of
finding more. In the meantime, Iklaina’s uniquely stratified
settlement makes it the ideal laboratory, and Cosmopoulos
is eager for the opportunity it offers not only to learn about
life in the palaces and in the surrounding farmlands, but also
to investigate for the first time in one site how Mycenaean
society developed on all levels in between. ■
Amanda Summer is an archaeologist and writer who lives in
St. Louis, Missouri.
courtyard, this may have been an administrative building
used in the second period of Iklaina’s occupation, according
to Cosmopoulos. It may also have been the residence of the
mayor who is mentioned in the Linear B tablets from the
Palace of Nestor archive.
The 2011 season also marked the discovery of a pit that
may be the first known Mycenaean open-air shrine. These
types of shrines are known from artistic representations, but
none has been excavated to date. At Iklaina, the area contained
evidence of fire, including burned soil and ashes, along with
offering tables made of plaster, fragments of frescoes, numer-
ous animal bones, and drinking vessels, as well as a rare sheet
of lead. It is still being excavated, but if the area turns out to be
an open-air shrine, this will provide new avenues for the study
of Mycenaean religion. Further excavation in conjunction with
analysis of the bones may determine the rituals practiced here.
In references to the Iklaina site in the Linear B tablets from
Pylos, there is mention of temple servants and temple bronze,
suggesting the existence of a religious structure there. One tab-
let also mentions a man, Pythias, who is possibly named after
a god, indicating some sort of religious belief and, indirectly,
worship associated with the shrine.
Perhaps the most remarkable and important find at the
site to date is also one of the smallest. In 2010, archae-
ologists found a suspicious artifact encrusted in soil inside a
3,400-year-old refuse pit. They then bagged it and sent it to
the museum for study. Noticing what appeared to be inscrip-
tions, the student who washed the artifact brought it to the
attention of the project’s chief ceramicist and Linear B expert,
Cynthia Shelmerdine of the University of Texas at Austin. She
instantly recognized the markings of Linear B. Shelmerdine,
who was the first to read the fragment, believes it is part of a
personnel record. On one side is what is likely a list of male
names and numbers, and the other preserves part of the head-
ing for what might have been a list of manufactured products.
“Until now, tablets found in stratified contexts had been
known only from a handful of major palaces, such as Pylos,
Mycenae, Tiryns, Knossos, and Thebes,” says Cosmopoulos.
Finding a tablet is evidence that the site at Iklaina had the
scribes necessary to sustain a bureaucracy. It also suggests a
high level of political organization and a need to keep track
The Linear B tablet found at Iklaina is believed to be the
earliest known example of a bureaucratic record in Europe.
Side A (left) shows the ending of the participle of a verb
which may mean “manufactured” or “assembled.” The top
line of Side B (right) shows a male name followed by the
number “1” and the second line preserves part of what
appears to be a second male name.
S
ince the early twentieth century, archaeologists
have relied on aerial photography as a technique
to locate possible sites without having to physi-
cally survey vast areas. Signs of human habita-
tion in aerial photos derive from the presence
of habitation mounds and from changes in soil
color tied to the presence of anthrosols—soil that has been
modified by human activity.
While inarguably useful for finding sites, this type of remote
sensing analysis is time-consuming and tedious, requiring
researchers to pore over hundreds of images to identify poten-
tial candidate sites for excavation. Further, only large mounds
are discernible in aerial photos. Thus, smaller sites are tough to
detect, the relationships between different settlements are hard to
decipher, and the expanse of a civilization is diffi cult to determine.
In order to fill in the blanks, archaeologist Jason Ur of
Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology
computer scientist Bjoern Menze have now turned the job of
image analysis over to computers. Their method uses images
taken by ASTER, the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission
and Reflection Radiometer instrument aboard NASA’s Terra
satellite, originally launched in 1999 to observe changes in the
Earth’s climate. This approach takes advantage of the fact that
anthrosols and the soil around them reflect light differently.
As a starting point, Ur and Menze focused on ASTER images
of the Early Bronze Age city of Hamoukar in northeastern Syria,
which Ur had surveyed intensively from 2000 to 2001. The
researchers identified and differentiated between “sites” and
“non-sites” in the ASTER images of the area. Thanks to the pres-
ence of anthrosols in what had once been inhabited areas, sites
in the images had a different spectral signature than non-sites.
Ur and Menze then developed a computer program that
was able to distinguish between sites and non-sites. “Every
pixel in any given satellite image,” says Ur, “is compared to the
two possible signatures and assigned to one of the classes.” In
addition, the spectral signature of a site is the same regardless
of the elevation of the terrain, allowing Ur and Menze to pick
up small mounds as well as large ones.
This computer analysis results in faster and more objective
assessment of terrain than can be done with the human eye.
When given images of an area of 8,500 square miles in north-
eastern Syria to analyze, a cluster of 50 computers required
only a single day to classify each pixel. The analysis uncovered
more than 14,000 potential sites; only 1,000 sites in the region
were previously known to archaeologists.
Computational analysis of satellite images detects new evidence of
previously overlooked human settlements
by Aldo Foe
So far, this approach has been used to recognize seden-
tary agricultural settlements that incorporated mudbrick
architecture in the kind of semiarid floodplains found in
Mesopotamia, where Ur conducts his research. Nicola
Masini, a senior researcher at Italy’s Institute for Archaeo-
logical and Monumental Heritage and coauthor of the book
Satellite Remote Sensing: A New Tool for Archaeology, believes
its application could easily be expanded to areas such as
the mounds built by pre-Inca civilizations in parts of Peru.
Ur agrees, noting that many of the centers of early world
civilizations share the arid environments and archaeological
features that would allow his and Menze’s method to reveal
sites within them. ■
Aldo Foe is an intern at Archaeology.
Researchers Jason Ur and
Bjoern Menze used computers
to analyze an ASTER image (far
left) of the Bronze Age city of
Hamoukar (ca. 2600 to 2000
B.C.), located in northeastern
Syria’s Khabur Basin, to find
areas of human occupation
(middle, indicated by orange
clusters). Their method allows
them to find smaller sites, in
addition to ones that form large
mounds. By locating a greater
variety of sites, Ur and Menze
were able to chart possible
networks (left) of interactions
between each of the sites in the
Khabur Basin over an 8,000-year
period, both before and after
Hamoukar was established.
T
HE WARSHIP SURVIVED the first blast of wind
it encountered on its maiden voyage in Stock-
holm Harbor. But the second gust did it in.
The sinking of Vasa, on August 10, 1628, took
place nowhere near an enemy. In fact, it sank
in full view of a horrified public, assembled to
see off their navy’s—and Europe’s—most ambitious warship to
date. The 220-foot, triple-deck, 64-gun leviathan, elaborately
adorned, had been rush-ordered for King Gustav Adolf’s war
against Poland. But before it faced an opposing ship or fired a
single shot, Vasa slipped beneath the waves.
Gustav angrily demanded an inquest into why his expensive
new flagship lay at the bottom of the harbor. At the time,
investigators found several clues. Compared with previous
ships, Vasa had a thicker deck and held more and larger guns
on its upper deck, making it top-heavy. When it embarked,
Vasa carried almost none of the cargo and ballast that keep
ships low in the water and help them resist listing. And when
Vasa did list, open gun bays allowed the sea to rush in. The
inquest blamed the ship’s proportions for the sinking, but
without modern blueprints or measuring techniques, investiga-
tors offered few details. Still, Swedish shipbuilders appeared
to have learned from the experience: Vasa’s subsequent sister
ships sailed without problems.
The cold, oxygen-poor water of the Baltic Sea protected
Vasa from the bacteria and worms that usually digest wooden
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 42
As their focus shifts from
preservation to documentation,
researchers are learning new
lessons from the majestic Vasa—a
warship monumental in its
ambition, its failure, and its role in
maritime archaeology
by Lucas Laursen
The wreck of Vasa, a 17th-century Swedish warship,
now resides in a custom-built museum in Stockholm. Laser
surveys and digital models are helping determine why
the ship sank on its maiden voyage in 1628.
VASA’S
Curious Imbalance
www.archaeology.org 43
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 44
T
oday VASA rests in an updated cradle in a
vast space in the temperature- and humidity-
controlled museum in Djurgården, a leafy
island in central Stockholm. The ship’s dark brown
timbers and intricate carvings glisten in low light as
tourists move around it. “Everybody wants to know
why the ship sank,” Hocker says, “but to me that’s not
the most interesting question. Instead, I’d ask, ‘How
did the human process of building the ship fail?’”
Hocker recruited colleagues, including Batchvarov
and a survey team from East Carolina University in
Greenville, North Carolina, to create a detailed digi-
tal model of the ship using laser-surveying methods.
They hope to use it to untangle the choices made by
the ship’s builders and apply modern mathematical
analysis to calculate Vasa’s structural behavior and
handling characteristics.
During four visits, the archaeological team used
tripod-mounted survey devices to measure the dis-
tance from the devices to points along the edges and
corners of the ship’s timbers. Hocker then integrated
their data points—80,000 in all—into his digital model, and wrecks. Perhaps 95 percent of Vasa’s wood
was intact when Sweden finally raised the wreck in 1961. The
ship’s waterlogged wood could not support its own weight,
so experts crafted a steel cradle to hold the ship, first in a
temporary structure and then in a custom-built museum.
Despite the cradle, Vasa began a slow-motion collapse, and
preservationists scrambled to improve the cradle. They also
strengthened Vasa’s wood by spraying it with polyethylene
glycol continuously for 17 years, followed by nine years of
drying. These challenges meant that, for decades, preser-
vation took precedence over archaeological investigations
into why the ship sank so suddenly. “Archaeologists had
their hands on the ship only in the initial excavation phase:
two months, for a 1,200-ton ship,” says Kroum Batchvarov,
a marine archaeologist from the University of Connecticut
Avery Point, and a former student of Fred Hocker, who has
led the Vasa Museum’s study of the ship since 2003.
During the initial excavation in the 1960s, Vasa Museum
curator Eva Marie Stolt found clues that the ship had an
asymmetric structure that contributed to its instability. But
archaeological recording methods are more suited to right
angles than to Vasa’s curves, and the museum only budgeted
time to record one side of the ship, despite her suspicions.
“Stolt was perfectly aware that she was not getting the right
sort of information. It’s clear from her notes,” Batchvarov
says. Among the 45,000 artifacts removed from the ship
was another suggestion of an uneven construction process:
Both Swedish and Dutch carpenter’s rulers, which employed
different feet, were found aboard. Perhaps cultural barriers
between the men under the direction of master builder Henrik
Hybertsson (a Dutch-born Swede) were responsible for Vasa’s
potentially crippling imbalance. Hocker’s new research at the
museum, built around precise measurement and the interac-
tion of different shipbuilding methodologies, might finally
address Gustav’s demand for answers.
isla
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their data wrecks. Perhaps 95 percent of Vasa’s wood
The waterlogged Vasa emerged from Stockholm Harbor in
1961 (above left). Decades of preservation work have slowed
the deterioration of its detailed carvings (below). Digital
modeling of the ship will help with this ongoing effort.
www.archaeology.org 45
“There’s a lot to be learned from a detailed analysis of how all
the pieces of wood that constitute Vasa have been put together
and how two cultures of shipbuilding interacted with each other,”
says marine archaeologist Thijs J. Maarleveld of Southern Den-
mark University in Esbjerg, who is not involved in the Vasa study.
With such information, together with estimates of the
density of each timber, engineers at the nearby Royal Insti-
tute of Technology in Stockholm should be able to calculate
the ship’s center of gravity and how its weight is distributed.
The former will help to quantify the degree of Vasa’s imbal-
ance before the ship put to sea, and determine if the captain
could have corrected for the asymmetry, using ballast, intu-
ition, and experience. The latter will help the museum design
a new cradle for the ship’s uneven shape. The more precise
the cradle can be made, the longer Vasa will endure intact.
“We started the documentation for archaeological reasons
and then realized that this was exactly the same data we were
going to need for preservation,” Hocker says.
Maintaining Vasa’s remarkable and rare state of preservation
will allow Hocker and others to learn things about northern
European shipbuilding that are impossible to ascertain from
other, less complete, wrecks. And all the lessons from the
preservation and digital modeling of Vasa will be useful on
other wrecks, which raise similar questions about construction
techniques and preservation. “Understanding the process is
interesting because it gives us a better insight into the overall
technology, on the solutions that were arrived at, and provides
material for comparison to other wrecks,” Maarleveld says.
Armed with a detailed understanding of not just Vasa’s final
shape, but how it blended shipbuilding philosophies, how the
building process evolved, and what its critical flaws were, Hocker
and colleagues might be able to answer both the engineering
question of whether Vasa could have been made seaworthy and,
more importantly, the human question of why it was not. ■
Lucas Laursen is a science and technology journalist based in
Madrid, Spain.
connected the points so that each beam had a digital counterpart.
That resulting wireframe model reveals not just the shape of the
ship, but how each of its individual components fits together.
With this first detailed digital model of the ship, which was
completed earlier this year, Hocker and others are confirming
some theories about Vasa’s construction and debunking others.
“We’re finding virtually no evidence of change during construc-
tion,” Batchvarov says, for example, contradicting old theories that
the king had meddled with the design. What the team is finding
are clues that at least two kinds of construction coexisted on Vasa.
At the time of Vasa’s construction, several shipbuilding
philosophies existed in Europe. The Dutch, for example,
worked from the bottom up, without detailed formal plans.
Their method allowed shipbuilders to work quickly, plunking
in timbers wherever they fit, saving both lumber and the time
it took for carpenters to hew timbers with precision. English
and Mediterranean shipbuilders, on the other hand, built much
more tidy, symmetrical structures based around frames with
well-defined mathematical relationships.
The model showed that Vasa’s lower framing and beams were
constructed in the Dutch style, reflecting the builder Hyberts-
son’s Dutch origin. But Hocker and Kelby Rose, a graduate stu-
dent at Texas A&M University, were surprised to discover precise
mathematical relationships between the keel and timbers in the
upper hull, Hocker says, a characteristic archaeologists associate
with Mediterranean shipbuilders. Perhaps Hybertsson grafted
Mediterranean or English techniques onto a Dutch foundation
and in his ambition lost a sense of the resulting center of gravity.
Or the imbalance could have a more mundane cause: Hocker is
analyzing the model to see if the beams on one side of the ship
are consistently longer or wider than those on the other, perhaps
because different construction gangs were working on different
sides. “It may be that one side of the ship is much heavier than
the other side, which would have created challenges in ballasting
the ship, and predisposed it to being more stable heeling to one
side than the other,” says Hocker.
The wireframe model of Vasa based on laser surveys shows
how individual timbers fit together, and might reveal whether
cultural differences among work crews contributed to the
ship’s catastrophic instability in the water.
Several carpenter’s rulers
were found aboard Vasa. The top three rulers employ the
Swedish foot, with 12 inches, while the last one is based on the
Dutch 11-inch foot. Measurement differences might have resulted
in one side of the ship weighing much more than the other.
W
EDGED BETWEEN A ROAD and decay-
ing old houses perched on a hill,
sits a massive excavation site. A
century ago, this was the location of
an American school and, after that,
until a decade ago, was simply a
vacant lot. But Lebanese archaeologist Claude Doumet-Serhal
and her multinational team have transformed this apparently
unremarkable spot into a window on the rich ancient history
of the port city of Sidon. “In this little piece of land we have
everything, a slice of civilization,” she says. “It’s very exciting.”
The reason for Doumet-Serhal’s enthusiasm is easy to
see. In the shade of nearby bushes are piles of Roman bases,
columns, and capitals. Crumbling houses sit atop the remains
of a medieval wall within view of a ruined Crusader-era
castle. Just beyond lies another thirteenth-century castle,
overlooking the rocky shore of the Mediterranean Sea along
Lebanon’s coast. Sidon is so old that, according to the Book
of Genesis, it was named after the great-grandson of Noah.
In antiquity, the city attracted an impressive array of visitors,
both welcome and unwelcome, including the first-century
B.C. king of Judea, Herod the Great; Jesus and St. Paul; the
armies of Alexander the Great in the fourth century B.C.; the
twelfth-century A.D. Norwegian king Sigurd; and the Mongols
of Central Asia a century later.
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 46
For the first time, archaeologists are
revealing the 4,000-year history of one
of ancient Lebanon’s oldest ports
by Andrew Lawler
Several other ancient Lebanese coastal ports such as Tyre
and Byblos were excavated long ago, but this modern-day
sleepy fishing town completely covers ancient Sidon, mak-
ing it largely inaccessible to archaeologists. All that has been
known of the city comes from occasional mentions in ancient
Egyptian, Assyrian, Greek, and biblical texts—it is named 38
times in the Old Testament alone. These documents suggest
that Sidon was the earliest home of the ancient Phoeni-
cians—both the Bible and Homer refer to Phoenicians as
“Sidonians.” Beginning around 1500 B.C., these seafaring
people spread out from the region, establishing wealthy, inde-
pendent city-states across the southern coast of the Medi-
terranean and in Sicily, and dominating the region for more
than a thousand years. They were famed in particular for
their expertise in extracting precious and valuable purple dye
from murex snail shells. The very term “Phoenician” appears
to be from the classical Greek word for purple. They did not
call themselves Phoenicians, however, sometimes identifying
themselves in contemporary texts as “Canaanites.”
The fifth-century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus com-
ments in his Histories that the Phoenicians were known “to
adventure on long voyages, freighting their vessels with the
wares of Egypt and Assyria.” This mercantile people carried
hunting dogs, glass, wine, and textiles from Spain to Somalia,
according to other texts. Their great impact on civilization,
Uncovering
Sidon’s
Long Life
Although the modern town of Sidon sits directly
on top of the ancient one, a multinational team has
been working for more than a decade to uncover the
many layers of the city’s rich history.
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 48
region in an effort to control
Jerusalem and the surrounding
Holy Land. Just below and to the east
are the remains of a low curved stone wall that may be part of
a long-lost theater dating to the early centuries A.D., possibly
a remnant of Roman rule of the city.
A few steps to the north, archaeologists are looking for
artifacts and architecture dating to Sidon’s Phoenician hey-
day, between the twelfth and fourth centuries B.C., but so far
Doumet-Serhal has found only potsherds. Although the pot-
tery does confirm that Sidon was indeed a Phoenician city,
definitive archaeological evidence of its centrality to Phoeni-
cian life has yet to come to light. “So much has been added
and destroyed,” Doumet-Serhal notes.
The team has, however, found clear evidence supporting
the biblical implication that Sidon is a city of great
antiquity. A few yards farther north, they have
discovered the remains of a large stone temple
dating to about 1300 B.C., along with pottery
made in Mycenae, one of the most powerful
Greek cities at the time. Nearby, the excavators
also uncovered several Egyptian imports, including
pottery, scarabs, and a jar incised with the name of
Queen Twosret, who briefly ruled Egypt around
1190 B.C. as the last pharaoh of the Nineteenth
Dynasty. They also found the remains of a sistrum,
a bronze musical instrument often associated with
worship of the Egyptian goddess Hathor, who is
depicted on the handle. As Hathor is often seen
as the personification of love, joy, and dance, the
sistrum, says Doumet-Serhal, indicates that the
temple was a place of feasting and celebration.
And the connections with faraway Greece and
Egypt attest to the cosmopolitan nature of Sidon
in particular, and the land of Canaan in general, in
the Late Bronze Age.
Close by is an even older portion of the complex
dating to about 1750 B.C., centered on a large win-
dowless room with 500 scattered pottery lamps,
numerous plates, and the knucklebones of animals,
possibly evidence of an ancient game or ritual.
Another important find from this era is a Minoan-
style cup, which Doumet-Serhal says comes from
however, was the development of a phonetic alphabet. Along
with their wares, they spread this writing system across the
Mediterranean, where it was assimilated and adapted by other
cultures, including the Greeks.
Starting in the sixth century B.C., attacks on Phoenician
settlements by Persians and Alexander the Great in the Near
East and Greeks in Sicily eventually put the Phoenicians
on the defensive and began their long decline. The Roman
destruction of the colony of Carthage in modern Tunisia in
146 B.C. may have been the final blow. By the first century
A.D., mentions of the Phoenicians almost cease, although
the first-century A.D. Roman geographer Strabo reports that
they continued to gather tin from Britain and copper from
Cyprus to produce fine bronze. By then, Sidon was a Roman-
controlled port with only limited regional reach.
Though much is known about the Phoenicians in their
heyday, the archaeological evidence of their origins, how
they lived, and the critical role of Sidon in that story has
been sorely lacking. Beyond a few mentions in old texts, says
Doumet-Serhal, “we knew zilch.”
Now in their fourteenth year, her excavations, sponsored
by the British Museum and contributions from Lebanese
banks and foundations, are beginning to fill in that
gap. “During the first season, we found noth-
ing, and I thought it was the end of the project,”
Doumet-Serhal recalls. But in the last days they came
across a few sherds of pottery dating to the third
millennium B.C., and that discovery inspired her to
keep going. Her tenacity proved to be a smart move,
and the excavation has since uncovered remains that
range from Sidon’s bloody days of the Crusades to its
origin as a port when the first civilizations were taking
root almost 5,000 years ago.
I
N THE SOUTHERN, SHALLOWER END of the
100-yard-long trench, Sidon’s story takes
place in the days of the Crusades. The British
Museum’s Sarah Collins care-
fully examines the skeleton
of a thirteenth-century
man who was beheaded
and chopped to pieces.
The bones are part of
one or possibly two
mass graves containing
the remains of nearly
two dozen young adults.
There archaeologists
also found an Italian
coin dating to 1245
and a belt buckle that
may have been made
in medieval England,
all evidence of a Euro-
pean presence at a time
when soldiers flocked to the
The team has uncovered impressive evidence
of Sidon’s Roman period, including a marble
torso of the god Hermes (far left) and a
statuette of the goddess Aphrodite found
in the fill of a well (left).
A Minoan cup dating to around
1900 B.C., from the island of Crete,
was found in the excavation’s
Middle Bronze Age layers. It is
the earliest known import from
the Aegean world to Lebanon.
The team h
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mortars and pestles, as well as evidence for
fires made beside graves for funeral gather-
ings. The finds were puzzling at first. “It
took years for us to understand that they
were feasting on lentils, chickpeas, barley,
and meat,” says Doumet-Serhal. These
funeral feasts are a common feature of
later Phoenician culture and religion.
Perhaps most intriguing, however, is
what lay below the clean white layer of
sand at the dig’s northern end. Here the
team found exciting evidence that Sidon’s
history predates the Phoenicians’ rise, and
that it was a thriving port town at the same
time that the first cities appeared in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Iran,
and the Indus Valley. These lowest levels provide some of the
best and earliest evidence of Early Bronze Age life in the Levant.
They contain not only sherds from modest bowls, plates, and
cups, but also large containers used for transporting wine, oil, or
perhaps other commodities meant for trade. Bronze fishhooks
and the bones of deep-water tuna found at the site testify to the
Sidonians’ familiarity with the open sea.
As early as 2800 B.C., they had also built a large structure
with as many as ten rooms, a great number for this early date,
and two centuries later a sturdy oak and olive wood roof was
added. There is no evidence for use of the famed cedars of
www.archaeology.org 49
Phaistos on Crete and dates to about 1900B.C. It is the earliest
known import from the Aegean world to Lebanon, and the first
tangible connection between Sidon and the Minoan civiliza-
tion on Crete and the coast of the Mediterranean.
A
LONG WITH THE TEMPLE COMPLEX, the team has found
more than 100 burials: some male warriors with weap-
ons, some women buried with their fine jewelry, and a
number of children’s graves. The cemetery’s first use dates to the
Middle Bronze Age, just after 2000 B.C., when Sidonians cov-
ered the area with a thick layer of fine sand. Scattered around are
large ovens, piles of butchered animal bones, food remains, and
Thus far archaeologists have excavated
more than 100 graves dating from the
second millennium B.C. These include
the remains of a child who was buried in
a large pottery jar (top left), as well as
several belonging to warriors buried with
their weapons (middle left). A spearhead
shows traces of the twine that once
bound it to the shaft (bottom left), and
an ax head (above) was found near a
warrior’s shoulder.
i h h fi i Ph i C d d b 1900 I i h li
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 50
Sidon. For the upcoming season, she wants to probe the
extent of the early-third-millennium B.C. building, further
excavate the second-millennium B.C. temple, and look for
more clues in the funerary courtyard. But she has already
demonstrated conclusively that Sidon led a very long life of
nearly continuous occupation from its early origins, and that
its existence was deeply intertwined with the entire history
of the eastern Mediterranean and the Levant. “We can now
show the evolution of Sidon’s people and traditions,” she
adds. “This place is a gift.” ■
Andrew Lawler is a contributing editor at Archaeology.
Lebanon, which Doumet-Serhal says may have been reserved for
export to Egypt and Mesopotamia, where they are frequently
mentioned in contemporary texts. Inside the building’s ancient
storerooms, built of stone and not the usual mudbrick, the team
uncovered a cache of more than 350 pounds of burnt barley as
well as a quantity of burnt emmer, one of the oldest domesti-
cated types of wheat, first found in Syria as early as the Neolithic
period. Why and how they were burned remains unclear.
In addition to grain, the diet of the ancient Sidonians
included sheep and goat, which was typical for the region. The
team also uncovered a surprising amount of evidence for the
consumption of wild game, including bones from lions, bears,
deer, wild boar, hippopotamus, and wild cattle. Since this wild
diet is quite different from what’s known from that of other
towns on the coast, Doumet-Serhal suspects that hunting here
may have been an elite activity, hinting at the possible presence
of a king and court in these early days. By the middle of the
third millennium B.C., however, Sidon appears to have been
abandoned, although the reasons for this are uncertain and
there are, as yet, no signs of violent destruction.
Though they have reached what may be some of the
oldest layers, Doumet-Serhal’s team is far from done with
In the third millennium B.C., the Sidonians built a large
structure with many storerooms (below). One of these rooms
contained a great deal of burned barley and burned wheat (far
right). Another room contained a small gypsum figurine of a
worshipper or deity wearing a long dress (right).
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A
s the young daughter of
an archaeologist in the
late 1990s, I was raised to
understand that Indiana Jones is no
more real than Luke Skywalker. I
had been on digs and spent hours in
my father’s lab where I concluded
that, no matter what my classmates
thought, my father was just another
boring scientist, even if he did wear
cowboy boots and skipped the lab
coat. Adolescent that I was, I was
similarly unimpressed with his work
south of the U.S. border in northern
Mexico. I knew nothing of the law-
less Mexico that people saw on tele-
vision because my own visits were
graced with warm tortillas, birthday
piñatas, kind faces, and Coca-Cola
in tiny glass bottles. It was at the
Thanksgiving table, then, when I was
14, that I first discovered my father’s
job might actually be dangerous.
During the holiday season, my
family always hosted the many
archaeology graduate students from
Binghamton University in upstate
New York, where my father, Randall
McGuire, was and still is a professor.
After the dinner of turkey with all
the trimmings was cleared, my father
would go to the liquor cabinet and
produce a bottle of fine tequila. Then
he and his students would share sto-
ries from the field long into the night.
This particular evening, in 1997,
they were enthusiastically recounting
the story of my father’s Mexican col-
league Elisa Villalpando’s confronta-
tion with a drug lord from the Sinalo-
an cartel, Mexico’s largest organized
crime operation. Villalpando is an
archaeologist with Mexico’s National
Institute of Anthropology and His-
tory (INAH) who has co-led several
excavations with my father at the
Cerro de Trincheras site in the north-
west Mexican state of Sonora since
the 1980s. According to the story, the
narco (drug trafficker) had planned
to level a section of a site called La
Playa, located six miles north of
Cerro de Trincheras, to grow buffel
grass for a cattle ranch. Villalpando
had sent word to the narco through
one of his workers that he needed to
leave the site alone, in short, to pro-
Archaeology, Interrupted
An archaeologist’s daughter surveys the rich cultural heritage of northern
Mexico—and the impact of violence on researchers working there
by Kathleen McGuire
LETTER FROM MEXICO
www.archaeology.org 53
Paquimé (also called Casas Grandes) is one of
northern Mexico’s largest and most well-studied sites.
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 54
american culture area, which extends
from central Mexico to Costa Rica’s
Pacific coast. El Norte de México, as
Mexican archaeologists sometimes
call it, extends from Mesoamerica’s
northern fringe to the U.S. border,
encompassing the northern reaches
of Sinaloa and Durango, and almost
the entirety of Chihuahua and
Sonora. While located in Mexico,
archaeological sites in these states
are considered part of the Southwest
culture area, which also includes
New Mexico, Arizona, southeast
Utah, southwest Colorado, and Texas
west of the Pecos River.
Paul Minnis, an archaeologist from
the University of Oklahoma, who has
been working for 25 years in Chihua-
hua (which borders New Mexico and
trans-Pecos Texas), says the disparity
between researchers in the American
sections of the Southwest culture area
and those in the northern Mexican
states is stark. “In Chihuahua, you can
usually count all the project directors
on one hand. In New Mexico and Ari-
zona, there are hundreds of archae-
ologists. In the state of Durango,
which is a large state directly south
of Chihuahua, there are exactly two
Ph.D. archaeologists working.”
El Norte de México’s inclusion
in the Southwest may be partly to
blame for its lack of study. Mexi-
can archaeologists tend to focus
on Mesoamerica, as its civiliza-
tions and massive monuments are
dramatically more central to the
country’s cultural identity. The sites
in northern Mexico, by contrast,
are less grand and were inhabited
primarily by bands of foragers, some
of which developed into 10 loosely
connected agricultural communities
and cultural groups. According to
Villalpando, “In northern Mexico,
evidence of past societies is subtle.
In general, Mesoamerican archae-
ologists don’t analyze plain ceramics
or lithic debris, which are abso-
lutely essential in our study area. It
is hard to recognize a campsite or
even a village if your training is with
mounds or planned settlements.”
years following as the
drug trade heated up. In
December 2006, upon
assuming the presidency
of Mexico, Felipe Calde-
rón declared war on the
drug cartels operating
within and across his
country’s borders. As
cartels jockeyed for con-
trol of Mexico’s borders
with U.S. states, the
Mexican army struggled
to maintain order. Con-
sequences of the combat included
an escalation of violence among drug
traffickers, who joined up to form
factions, such as the Zetas. Since
then, American news coverage of the
region has been replete with images
of dead bodies and men in ski masks.
Reports of executions, kidnapping,
and extortion surface daily. According
to a June 2011 report by the United
States Senate Caucus on International
Narcotics Control, nearly 35,000
people have been killed by organized
crime since Calderón took office,
with more than 15,000 deaths in
2010. The Mexican government esti-
mated that roughly 1,400 lives were
taken each month from January to
September 2011, as reported by the
private intelligence company Stratfor.
Researchers have not been
expressly targeted in outbreaks of
violence, but the environment is a
perilous one. Many find themselves in
proximity to danger, fearful of being
caught in the crossfire. Despite this
situation, a few archaeologists are
continuing with the projects they
began decades ago. They have, how-
ever, had to adapt to the new rules
of their surroundings. The violence
is having an impact on the archaeol-
ogy of a part of North America that
already has a history of being ignored.
N
orthern Mexico remains
largely unstudied despite
being situated between two
of the most intensively researched
areas in North America—the south-
western United States and the Meso-
tect Mexico’s heritage. Days later, the
narco showed up with a gunman at
Villalpando’s dig house in the town of
Trincheras, roughly 100 miles south
of the Arizona border. His message
was simple—he would do what he
wanted with the land.
La Playa is the site of one of the
earliest agricultural communities in
the southwestern United States and
northern Mexico. It covers roughly
half a square mile and dates back
4,000 years to the Archaic period,
when people first made the transi-
tion from hunting and gathering to
agriculture. In Mexico, archaeologi-
cal sites are owned by the federal
government. The students said Vil-
lalpando informed the narco of this
fact and also appealed to the Mexi-
can courts to issue an injunction.
In addition, she cleverly courted
media attention from both Mexican
and American outlets, which helped
ensure the safety of her and her
team. After a legal process that took
more than six months, La Playa
became the first archaeological site
in Mexico without the presence of
pyramids or large monuments to
receive federally enforced protec-
tion. My father recalled the drug
lord going on television to “mag-
nanimously” turn the land over to
the Mexican people.
Archaeologists working in north-
ern Mexico have always maintained
an uneasy truce with the narcos, a
reality I only became aware of that
Thanksgiving in 1997. The situa-
tion deteriorated markedly in the
The author’s father, Randall McGuire (above, right),
and Elisa Villalpando chat at Cerro de Trincheras, a site
where they have worked since the 1980s.
www.archaeology.org 55
people of the
so-called Chi-
huahua culture
(also referred
to as Casas
Grandes cul-
ture), including
elites, artisans,
and farmers.
Di Peso’s team
made several
finds that are
typical to Meso-
america, includ-
ing I-shaped
ball courts—the
only ones of
their kind found
in Chihuahua
culture—and
evidence of the breeding of scarlet
macaws, which are native to Meso-
america. Further, small quantities of
copper bells, which were produced in
Mesoamerica, and several ceramics
featuring Mesoamerican iconography
were also found.
Paquimé peaked during the Medio
period, which ran from 1250 to 1450
and was characterized by the con-
struction of continuous, multistory
adobe apartments and the manufac-
ture of pottery with black and red
paint on off-white to brown back-
grounds. But later research disputes
Di Peso’s claim that it was the epicen-
ter of Chihuahua culture. “While no
one doubts that
Paquimé eventu-
ally became a
powerful center,
it seems to have
done this only
after most of
the region had
already adopted
cultural elements
emblematic of
the Medio peri-
od,” says Jerimy
Cunningham,
an archaeologist
from the Uni-
versity of Leth-
bridge in Alberta,
The evidence in the area, however,
along with the remains in Mesoamer-
ica, is important to the pre-Hispanic
history of Mexico, Villalpando adds.
The research she and others conduct
in northern Mexico offers the public
a better understanding of the diver-
sity that existed in the country’s past,
as well as in its present. My father
adds, “Our attempts to understand
prehistoric developments on a con-
tinental scale and the relationships
between the Southwest and Meso-
america are severely compromised by
this lack of research.”
M
uch of what is known
stems from work begin-
ning in the late 1950s by
archaeologist Charles C. Di Peso of
the Amerind Foundation, a private,
nonprofit museum dedicated to pre-
serving Native American cultures and
history. He characterized northern
Mexico’s largest site, Paquimé (also
called Casas Grandes), as an indis-
putable link between the Southwest
and Mesoamerica. Located in north-
western Chihuahua, it was one of
the area’s preeminent pre-Hispanic
towns. Di Peso believed it had been
established by Mesoamericans who
had traveled northward.
Paquimé’s Puebloan-style apart-
ments typified sites found in the
American Southwest and are believed
to have housed several thousand
Canada. Evidence of polychrome
pottery in the region surrounding
Paquimé prior to the height of its
power, for instance, suggests that the
site may not have been the Meso-
american trading post Di Peso had
thought, but rather a product of the
culture that surrounded it.
Jane Kelley, an archaeologist from
the University of Calgary, began the
Chihuahua Archaeology Project
(PAC) 20 years ago, digging at sites
due south of Paquimé, between the
Santa Maria River Valley to the west
and the Santa Clara River Valley to
the east. Her work suggests there was
widespread occupation in the area
prior to the city’s ascendance. Using
ground-penetrating radar at various
sites in the region, she and her team
revealed the presence of numerous
pithouses dating back to the Viejo
period (600 to 1250), which imme-
diately preceded the Medio. Further,
Kelley reports that her work found
little evidence of Mesoamerican
goods at larger sites in west central
Chihuahua, which casts doubt on
speculated trade routes from Meso-
america to Paquimé and into the
American Southwest. A copper bell
found at the Rancho San Juan site in
the Babícora Basin, approximately 75
miles south of Paquimé, is one of only
three reportedly found in the area.
SONORA
SINALOA
Cerro de
Trincheras Paquimé
(Casas
Grandes)
DURANGO
CHIHUAHUA
SOUTHWEST CULTURE AREA
M
E
S
O
A
M
E
R
I
C
A
C
U
L
T
U
R
E

A
R
E
A


El Norte de México, as Mexican archaeologists sometimes call
it, comprises the southern section of the Southwest culture
area and includes almost all of Sonora and Chihuahua, and the
northernmost points of Sinaloa and Durango.
The site of Cerro de Trincheras, in Sonora, consists of 900
terraces built into a hill of black basaltic rock. It once was
inhabited by up to 2,000 people.
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 56
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O
ver the
course of
three decades
working at Cerro de
Trincheras, my father
and Villalpando have
attempted to determine
how the Trincheras and
Hohokam people coex-
isted during the so-called El Cerro
phase of Trincheras culture, from
1300 to 1450, when the site was first
constructed. Cerro de Trincheras
consists of more than 900 terraces
built on the face of an isolated hill
of black basaltic rock overlooking
the small, dusty, modern-day town of
Trincheras. Spanish military captain
Juan Mateo Manje named the site,
which means “fortified hill,” when he
visited it in 1694.
Cerro de Trincheras was likely
continuously occupied by 1,000 to
2,000 people over those 150 years.
My father and Villalpando’s excava-
tions have turned up more than 3
million artifacts, including ceramic
sherds and pieces of shell. Remains of
corn, corn pollen, squash and cotton
seeds, charred beans, and agave rem-
nants indicate the inhabitants were
irrigation agriculturalists who dug
canals three to four feet deep from
the Magdalena River about a half-
mile to the north in order to sustain
their crops. The Trincheras people
were major suppliers of shell jewelry
in the Southwest culture area as evi-
denced by finds such as ground and
chipped stone that was used to cut,
polish, and shape shells. They prob-
ably traveled more than 60 miles to
collect 20 or more types of marine
shell from the Gulf of California.
In 2006, my father and Villal-
pando used geographic information
systems (GIS) technology to conduct
might have been constructed
as defensive housing rather
than for continuous
domestic occupation.
The unpredictable
nature of the violence
in 2010 caused Chi-
ykowski to reconsider
her thesis subject. That
summer there was a shooting
on the main street of Namiq-
uipa, about 15 miles north
of Oscar Soto Maynez. The
police forces in two nearby
towns had disbanded and
fled. “I realized that if I went
forward, I was really committed,”
she says. “I didn’t want to risk making
bad safety decisions because I had left
myself no other options.” She decided
to start her thesis work from scratch
and soon shifted her focus 350 miles
west to the site of Cerro de Trinch-
eras in Sonora, where my father and
Elisa Villalpando have worked for
more than 20 years.
Chiykowski is now unraveling
a mystery involving two types of
simple, everyday-use pottery found
by my father and Villalpando during
their excavations. In the late 1200s,
a community of Hohokam, who lived
primarily in what is now southern
Arizona, moved into the neighbor-
ing Altar Valley, just northwest of
the site, tripling the population of
the region. The ceramics were made
using two distinctive techniques,
from both the local Trincheras cul-
ture and the immigrant Hohokam.
Interestingly, there is a complete
absence of Trincheras tradition
ceramics in the Altar Valley after the
Hohokam occupation in the late
1200s, which indicates that these
two communities were not trading
with each other. Chiykowski’s new
research aims to determine if the
Hohokam pottery found at Cerro
de Trincheras was actually made
by female captives, by examining
whether the Hohokam-style ceram-
ics were made with clay composed of
Trincheras soil. If so, it is likely the
Hohokam potters were prisoners.
K
elley speculates that there
may have been an alter-
nate trade route along or
through the Sierra Madre Occi-
dental mountain range that edges
Chihuahua’s western border with
Sonora and Sinaloa. The escalating
violence in Chihuahua, however, is
limiting archaeologists’ access to
sites and thus a way for Kelley to
confirm her hypothesis.
“In many ways, I think we’re on
the verge of a really productive period
in Chihuahua archaeology, but it’s
being stifled by the violence,” says
Cunningham, who has worked in the
PAC region since 1992. He originally
wanted to study the highlands west
of the Santa Maria River Valley, but
he settled on focusing his research
on the comparatively safer Santa
Clara River Valley where, he explains,
“up until 2010, there hadn’t been a
north-south road, so it was relatively
untouched by trafficking.”
Kelley, however, pressed on in the
Santa Maria River Valley, keeping her
in relative proximity to danger. Upon
arriving in the town of Oscar Soto
Maynez, 120 miles south of Paquimé,
for the 2010 dig season, her crew
discovered that several houses had
been firebombed, reportedly by two
cartels vying for control of the town.
Soon after, Kelley was warned by
locals that sicarios, or hit men often in
the employ of the narcos, would be in
town for municipal elections looking
for women both “willing or unwill-
ing.” She chose to send her female
crewmembers to Cunningham’s camp
in the Santa Clara River Valley.
O
ne of the crewmembers in
the field with Kelley that
season was Tanya Chiykows-
ki, one of my father’s current gradu-
ate students at Binghamton Univer-
sity. Violence in the region caused
her to alter her Ph.D. dissertation
plans to investigate a series of three
hilltop settlements in the Santa Maria
River Valley. When surveying the
area indicated there were markedly
few artifacts, she theorized the sites
ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 58
Chihuahua pottery (left) is
identified by its tricolor motif
of red and black on an off-
white or brown background.
Trincheras ceramics (below)
are relatively plain.
wo
T
an
at
how
Hoho
ucted
her
oting
amiq-
th
The
rby
d
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ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012 60
undisturbed sites that archaeologists
have identified for excavation. So
archaeologists take precautions to
avoid being caught in the crossfire
between narcos and the military:
Field seasons are often planned for
the winter months, when the mari-
juana harvest is over and drug activity
is minimal. In Chihuahua, research-
ers such as Kelley and Cunningham
drive small Toyota trucks that won’t
be easily mistaken for the American-
made white SUVs that narcos favor.
In Sonora, archaeologists frequently
place magnetic signs with the INAH
logo on the roofs of their trucks so
that military helicopters circling
above them can easily identify them
as nonthreatening civilians.
Whereas foreign archaeologists
lament the difficulties that impact
their work, they ultimately have a
choice as to whether to conduct their
projects in northern Mexico or else-
where. Their Mexican counterparts
and the community members who
help with their excavations, however,
do not have that luxury. “They’re
the real victims of the violence,”
says Cunningham. “They’re the ones
whose family members are caught
in the crossfire and who perpetually
have to live in fear of not just the nar-
cos, but also the measures taken by
the Mexican and American govern-
ments to counteract them.”
Archaeology at its best fosters the
inclusion of the community that lives
around sites where work is ongoing.
“The economy, especially the tour-
ist economy, is just dead,” says Paul
Minnis, depriving the people who
live in the area of an economic life-
line and often pushing them into the
drug trade. Excavations offer another
option. “We can’t stop doing the
things that need to be done because
of the drug dealers—that will make
it a more difficult situation for the
whole of Mexico,” Villalpando says.
“If we stop doing archaeology, we let
them take control of everything.” ■

Kathleen McGuire is a freelance writer
based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
a survey of Cerro de Trincheras.
They found that the terraces and
walls were placed in a way that would
have funneled attackers, possibly
the newly arrived Hohokam, into a
few routes blocked with defensive
walls. “We have no direct evidence of
violence,” my father says. “This is in
part because the Trincheras people
cremated their dead, so we would not
find evidence of it on the bones.” In
order to fully understand the relation-
ship of the people of Cerro de Trin-
cheras and the Hohokam culture, fur-
ther research needs to be conducted
in the Altar Valley.
Unfortunately, in January 2009,
the valley became impassible dur-
ing a standoff between the Sinaloa
and Beltrán-Leyva cartels that lasted
until around February 2011, when the
Mexican army was able to regain con-
trol. Only recently have my father’s
longtime friends who live in the area
told him that he will now be able to
visit with relative safety. However,
while the area continues to improve,
it is still too unstable for him to be
able to begin a dig season.
T
he violence does not inun-
date the whole of northern
Mexico; rather, it ebbs and
flows through the region over time.
Cartels primarily assert their domi-
nance in urban areas. The actual busi-
ness of producing and transporting
drugs largely takes place on back
roads where military checkpoints
are less likely to be located. These
remote areas, however, often host
Archaeologists drive trucks bearing
Mexico’s National Institute of
Anthropology and History decals so
they can be easily identified.
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www.archaeology.org 63
Photo Credits
COVER—Courtesy © University of Basel
Kings’ Valley Project; 3—Courtesy Claude
Doumet-Serhal; 5—Courtesy F. Latreille/
Mammuthus/MCE, Courtesy Historic
Scotland Crown Copyright, Courtesy INAH/
CONACULTA; 6—Courtesy Randall McGuire,
Binghamton University; 8—Courtesy Jo Anne
Van Tilburg; 10—Courtesy State Office for
Heritage Management and Archaeology Saxony-
Anhalt; 11—Courtesy Bonnie Pitblado (2);
12—Courtesy Bonnie Pitblado, Niels Elgaard
Larsen/Wikimedia Commons; 13—Courtesy
M.Chazan, Courtesy Sebastiano Tusa, Courtesy
Historic Scotland Crown Copyright; 14—
Courtesy Xristos Kontoxristos, Courtesy Jose
Yravedra, Universidad Complutense de Madrid;
Courtesy Brian Redmond, Cleveland Museum
of Natural History; Courtesy F. Latreille/
Mammuthus/MCE; 16—Courtesy INAH/
CONACULTA (3), © South Tyrol Museum
of Archaeology/Eurac/Samadelli/Staschitz;
18—Courtesy Peter Astrup; 20—Courtesy
Manuel Janosa and Archäologischer Dienst
Graubünden; Crown Copyright/MOD 2012,
Photo: Petty Officer Airman Gaz Armes, Hendrik
Schmidt/DPA/Landov; 21—iStockphoto; 22—
Shutterstock, Courtesy Bjarne Grønnow, National
Museum of Denmark; Courtesy Christopher Caple,
University of Durham; Courtesy Mateusz Baca,
Instytut Genetyki i Biotechnologii, University of
Warsaw; Courtesy Andrew Pearson, University
of Bristol; Courtesy Yohannes Haile-Selassie,
Cleveland Museum of Natural History; 23—
Courtesy Nick Owen, Swansea University;
Courtesy Jonas Chun-yu Chen, Academia
Sinica, Shutterstock, Copyright Natural History
Museum, London; 24-25—Courtesy Olympic
Delivery Authority; 26—Courtesy The Museum
of London and Pre-Construct Archaeology
(2), map Courtesy Gary Brown; 27—Courtesy
The Museum of London and Pre-Construct
Archaeology; 28-32—All Courtesy © University
of Basel Kings› Valley Project; 33-38—All
Courtesy of the Iklaina Project; 39—Courtesy
National Geographic Society; 40-41 —All Courtesy
Jason Ur, Harvard University, and Bjorn Menze,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (4);
42-43—Courtesy Fred Hocker, Swedish National
Maritime Museums; 44—Courtesy Swedish
National Maritime Museums, Archive; Swedish
National Maritime Museums, Photo: Karolina
Kristensson; Courtesy Swedish National Maritime
Museums, Photo: Photo Anneli Karlsson; 45—
Courtesy Fred Hocker, Swedish National Maritime
Museums; Courtesy Swedish National Maritime
Museums, Photo: Photo Anneli Karlsson; 47—
Courtesy Mahan Kalpa Khalsa; 48-50—Courtesy
Claude Doumet-Serhal; 53—Courtesy Randall
McGuire, Binghamton University; 54—Courtesy
Randall McGuire, Binghamton University; 55—©
Adriel Heisey; 58—Courtesy Randall McGuire,
Binghamton University; 60—Courtesy Randall
McGuire, Binghamton University; 68—Courtesy
University of Cambridge
Easter IsIaod
kueIap
Machu Ficchu
ßiscover the æost aæatiog sites oI
Latio Aæerica. IocIudiog airIare
6aII. 1-800-321-0080
www.taratours.coæ
F
rom November 1862 to June
1863, Stafford County, Virginia,
was home to over 130,000 Union
soldiers housed in military encamp-
ments that occupied thousands of
acres of the Virginia countryside.
Te soldiers spent their time in the
encampments recovering from injuries
and sickness; building roads, fortifica-
tions, and winter huts; digging latrines;
collecting firewood; and drilling in
preparation for future battles. Most of
the soldiers (more than 3,500 troops
died in these camps) left for Gettys-
burg in 1863, after which the Union
Army abandoned Stafford County.
Today the sites of many of these
encampments lie within the bound-
ary of a regional landfill that is jointly
owned by Stafford County and the
City of Fredericksburg. In 2006,
the Friends of Stafford Civil War
Sites (FSCWS), in response to the
encroaching landfill, began work-
ing with local offi cials to preserve
the sites through the creation of a
publicly accessible park with roads
and trails linking the historic features
contained within. In the years that
followed, archaeological studies to
determine the extent of the historic
sites were conducted, some prelimi-
nary engineering work was under-
taken, materials were secured, and the
all-important process of raising funds
for the project was initiated. In July
2011 construction of the park began
with the help of a federally approved
“Innovative Readiness Training Exer-
cise” proposed by the FSCWS to
the Virginia Army National Guard’s
276th Engineer Battalion.
EXCAVATE, EDUCATE, ADVOCATE www.archaeological.org
Site Preservation grant benefits Civil War sites
in Stafford, Virginia
64
AIA fourth annual Spring Gala a huge success;
celebrates Turkish archaeology and culture
T
he Archaeological Insti-
tute of America held its
fourth Spring Gala at Capitale
in New York City on April 25, 2012.
Te event, hosted by National Pub-
lic Radio’s Brooke Gladstone and
attended by nearly 300 friends of the
AIA, celebrated Turkish archaeol-
ogy and culture. Te highlight of the
evening was the presentation of the
In March 2012, the Archaeological
Institute of America (AIA) Site Pres-
ervation Program awarded FSCWS
a grant to assist with the preservation
of these sites and the creation of the
park. Te AIA grant will be used to
protect the site from development,
as well as to educate local residents
and visitors on the rich history of the
area. As a part of this process, eight
interpretive signs will be installed at
strategic points around the park to
inform visitors about the sites and the
history of the area.
Te Stafford Civil War Park Site
includes visible remains of the win-
ter encampments and huts, three
large Union artillery batteries, ruins
of a pre–Civil War bridge, an old
sandstone quarry, and roads built by
soldiers of the Union’s 11th Corps,
Army of the Potomac. By opening
the park during the Civil War Ses-
quicentennial celebrations, FSCWS
plans to remind visitors about an
important chapter in United States
history and shed light on the lives of
the more than 130,000 Union sol-
diers who spent a winter and spring
in Stafford County during the Civil
War. To learn more about the AIA
Site Preservation Program and to
read about the other projects that we
support, please visit
www.archaeological.org/
sitepreservation
events. Trough table and ticket
sales, silent and live auctions, and
targeted pledge drives, the AIA uses
the Galas to raise funds for its vari-
ous outreach programs. At this year’s
event, a special pledge drive was held
to raise funds for the AIA Site Pres-
ervation Program. A portion of the
money raised will be used to support
a project that is working to conserve
the wreck of Queen Anne’s Revenge—
flagship of the notorious pirate Black-
beard. Queen Anne’s Revenge now
rests off the coast of North Carolina
in an area that is threatened by fre-
quent hurricanes and severe storms.
Te funds will be used to assist with
the conservation of the thousands of
artifacts recovered from the wreck
and to create educational programs
that will inform the public about the
site and shipwreck.
To read more about the 2012 Gala,
please visit www.archaeological.org/gala
65
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Bandelier Award for Public Service
to Archaeology to renowned archae-
ologist Crawford H. Greenewalt, Jr.,
for his exemplary work at the site of
Sardis in Turkey.  Greenewalt, one
of the world’s leading authorities on
the archaeology of Asia Minor, was
field director of the Sardis project for
more than 30 years. He joins previous
Bandelier Award recipients George F.
Bass, Martha Sharp Joukowsky, and
Harrison Ford. 
Te Turkish theme was highlight-
ed in the decor and through an exqui-
site dinner created by Capitale’s chefs
in collaboration with archaeologists
familiar with the cuisines of ancient
Lydia, the Ottoman Empire, and
present-day Turkey. Te unique dish-
es created for the Gala incorporated
traditional Turkish ingredients, both
ancient and modern, and were paired
with Turkish wines and raki—an
unsweetened, anise-flavored liqueur
popular as an aperitif in Turkey.
While the Galas are opportunities
to celebrate archaeology, archaeolo-
gists, and ancient cultures, they are
also the Institute’s largest fund-raising
AIA President, Elizabeth Bartman and
AIA CEO, Peter Herdrich.
Crawford H. Greenewalt, Jr., given Bandelier
Award for outstanding work at Sardis, Turkey
S
ardis was the capital of
ancient Lydia and home to King
Croesus. For more than half a
century, Crawford H. Greenewalt,
Jr., worked on the Archaeologi-
cal Exploration of Sardis, a project
cosponsored by Harvard University
Art Museums and Cornell Univer-
sity. Greenewalt started at Sardis in
1959 as the site’s first offi cial photog-
rapher and eventually became its field
director—a position he held for over
30 years, from 1976 to 2008. Trough
his tenure at Sardis and other sites in
Turkey, Greenewalt, or “Greenie,” as his
many friends and colleagues came to
know him, became one of the world’s
leading authorities on Lydian culture.
At the 2012 AIA Spring Gala, the
Institute honored Greenewalt with the
Bandelier Award for Public Service to
Archaeology for his exemplary work
at Sardis. His exceptional scholarship,
mentoring abilities, and generosity have
The AIA’s Spring Gala featured Turkish-
themed food (left). Guests mingled at New
York’s Capitale, site of the festivities.
made him an ideal recipient for this
honor. Tree distinguished AIA mem-
bers, who worked and studied with
Greenewalt, offered words of tribute at
the award presentation. Following are
some excerpts from their remarks.
C. Brian Rose, AIA Past President
and James B. Pritchard Professor
of Archaeology at the University of
Pennsylvania: “I first met Greenie
when I was a very young graduate
student. But Greenie, to my surprise,
treated me as a senior scholar in the
field. It is this unusual altruism that
has marked Greenie’s career at Sardis,
as well as his contributions to archae-
ology in Turkey …he was willing
to use the enormous breadth of his
knowledge and vision to bring our
scholarship to a level that it would
otherwise not have reached. And he
would often put aside his own work
in order to do it.”
George F. Bass, 2011 Bande-
lier Award Winner and Professor
Emeritus at Texas A&M: “In spite
of his accomplishments, he remains
unassuming and modest. He has the
special gift of making you feel that
you are the one person he is most
delighted to see at that moment.”
Fikret Yegul, member of the Sardis
Archaeological Expedition and Profes-
sor in the Department of Art History
at the University of California, Santa
Barbara: “Greenie’s connection to Ana-
tolian archaeology was not limited by
his obvious contributions to Lydian
art and culture as the primary excava-
tor of Sardis. Rather, it was shaped
by his deep and genuine interest in
and appreciation of Turkish/Anato-
lian culture as a totality—its history,
literature, music, its simple everyday
sensibilities and humor—archaeology
representing only a part of his broad,
humanistic contextual perspective.”
It is with great sadness that we must
report that Professor Greenewalt
passed away just days after this trib-
ute to his work and career. Te AIA
extends its condolences to his family,
friends, and colleagues.
66
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AIA partnerships and collaborations—SAA and EAA
P
lans for the second National
Archaeology Day (October 20, 2012)
are well under way, and interest in
the event is growing. More than 30 orga-
nizations have signed on as Collaborating
Organizations—a significant increase from
the 14 that joined last year. Once again, col-
laborators range from large national orga-
nizations to smaller regional museums and
local archaeological organizations. A major
participant in this year’s event is the National
Park Service, which is encouraging its almost
400 facilities to mark the day with public
programming. Overall, planners expect the
2012 event to be significantly larger than last
year’s inau-
gural events,
with many
more oppor-
tunities for
people to
participate in
archaeologi-
cal activities
and events.
We have also
increased National Archaeology Day’s digital
presence. You can now “like” us on Facebook
and follow us on Twitter and Pinterest. You
can read more about National Archaeology
Day at www.nationalarchaeologyday.org
NATI ONAL
ARCHAEOLOGY
DAY
OCTOBE R 2 0 , 2 0 1 2
Archaeological Institute of America
www. nati onal archaeol ogyday. org
T
he AIA is prioritizing the creation of partnerships and col-
laborations with other like-minded organizations, and in the
past few years the Institute has increased cooperative actions
and efforts with groups such as the Society for American Archaeol-
ogy (SAA), the American Anthropological Association (AAA),
the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA), and the World
Archaeological Congress (WAC).
In April, representatives from the AIA attended the 77th Annual
Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (April 8–11,
2012) in Memphis, Tennessee. Ben Tomas, AIA Director of Pro-
grams, and Meredith Anderson Langlitz, AIA Senior Programs
Coordinator, presented papers titled, “National Archaeology Day
and Public Outreach” and “Sustainable Preservation: Te Future
of Saving the Past.” Te paper on National Archaeology Day was
presented in a symposium called “Public Archaeology in the 21st
Century” and focused on using large-scale events like National
Archaeology Day to raise public awareness of archaeology. Te site
preservation paper was presented in a session called, “Papers about
Heritage and Management of Cultural Property” and discussed the
compilation of best practices in site preservation based on the find-
ings of the AIA Site Preservation Program. AIA representatives
serve on several SAA committees and the Institute has a presence in
the Annual Meeting’s exhibit hall.
From August 30 to September 1, 2012, AIA representatives
will attend the 18th Annual Meeting of the European Association
of Archaeologists in Helsinki, Finland. At last year’s meeting in
Oslo, Norway, AIA and EAA representatives met to discuss greater
cooperation between the two groups. Subsequently, efforts have
been made to cross-promote events and encourage members of each
organization to participate in the other’s events. In Helsinki, AIA
representatives will present academic papers and will have an exhibit
in the book room. We encourage all AIA members to participate in
the 18th Annual Meeting of the EAA in Helsinki.
Second National
Archaeology Day is
October 20, 2012
call: 800-748-6262 • web site: www.aiatours.org • email: aia@studytours.org
Fascinating itineraries with expert lecturers
Ephesus, Turkey
India • China • Greece • Turkey • Egypt • Italy
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ARTIFACT
68 ARCHAEOLOGY • July/August 2012
A
t a time when Christianity was first starting to take root in England, a
teenage girl was buried still wearing the stunning gold and jeweled cross
she had sewn to her clothing during her short life. She was laid to rest on
an ornamental bed covered with a straw mattress, where she remained
for more than 1,300 years, preserving evidence not only of the extremely unusual practice
of bed burial, but also of her high status and her faith. In fact, the girl’s grave is one of
the earliest Anglo-Saxon Christian burial
sites in Britain. It dates from a brief
period—a century at most—when particular
traditions of pagan religion, such as the bed
burial and the inclusion of
grave goods, coexisted
with the Christian belief
in the continuation of
the soul, but not the
body, after death.
According to Alison
Dickens of Cambridge University,
who led the excavation, to find a bed
burial is remarkable—only 15 have been
uncovered in the United Kingdom—but to find one
in combination with a gold pectoral cross, of which
there are only five known, is extraordinary. “We think
there’s only been one other such burial, which was
found in nearby Suffolk,” explains Dickens, “but it was
uncovered in the nineteenth century and the records are
very unclear.” With the application of modern scientific
techniques, archaeologists hope to tell more of the girl’s story.
“The mysteries of who she was, why she was here, and why her
grave merited such lavish treatment,” says Dickens, “have certainly
captured our imagination!”
WHAT IS IT?
Pectoral in the shape
of a cross
DATE
7th century A.D.
MATERIAL
Gold and garnet
FOUND
Trumpington
Meadows,
Cambridgeshire,
England
DIMENSIONS
1.4 inches in diameter
Christian burial
om a brief
t—when particular
on, such as the bed
f
niversity,
o find a bed
y 15 have been
e

s story.
why her
ve certainly
Gujarat India (19 days)
Join Prof. Mark Kenoyer, U. of Wisconsin, as
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