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Digging in Northern Mexico’s Narcotics War Zone www.archaeology.org A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Digging in Northern Mexico’s Narcotics War Zone
www.archaeology.org
A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
July/August
July/August 2009
2012
Lost Tomb of an Egyptian Chantress
Lost Tomb
of an Egyptian
Chantress
Digging in Northern Mexico’s Narcotics War Zone www.archaeology.org A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Under London’s Olympic Park
Under
London’s
Olympic
Park
Digging in Northern Mexico’s Narcotics War Zone www.archaeology.org A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
What Sank the 17th Century’s Mightiest Warship?
What Sank the
17th Century’s
Mightiest Warship?
PLUS: Ötzi’s Illness, Butchering Mammoths, Roman Secret Cargo, Paleolithic Fire Starter
PLUS:
Ötzi’s Illness, Butchering
Mammoths, Roman Secret
Cargo, Paleolithic Fire Starter
Bill Saturno Gerardo Aldana Takeshi Inomata Peter Mathews Shawn Morton William Fash James Stemp Barbara Fash
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Gerardo Aldana
Takeshi Inomata
Peter Mathews
Shawn Morton
William Fash
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Marc Zender
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J ULY /A UGUST 2012 65, N UMBER 4

JULY/AUGUST 2012 VOLUME 65, NUMBER 4

CONTENTS
CONTENTS

features

  • 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 Th e 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 Cover: Inside a wooden coffin,

 

archaeologists found the 3,000-year-old

46 Among the graves excavated

mummy of an Egyptian chantress.

at Sidon was one containing the

COURTESY © UNIVERSITY OF BASEL KINGS

remains of a child who was buried

in a large pottery jar.

VALLEY PROJECT

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14 departments 6 Editor’s Letter 8 From the President 10 Letters An ax capable of felling
14
departments
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.
13
11
From the Trenches
A set of 1,000-year-old clay fi gurines are reunited
after nearly 40 years, Homo erectus was a fi re-
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
16
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 fi nd a young girl’s
rare gold and garnet-jeweled cross.
on the web
www.archaeology.org
Archaeological News from around the
More from this Issue To see a slideshow with
more images of the Pilling fi gurines, go to
world—updated by 1 p.m. ET every weekday. And
www.archaeology.org/pilling
sign up for our e-Update so you don’t miss a thing.
Interactive Digs Read about the latest discoveries
Stay in Touch Visit Facebook and like
at the Minoan site of Zominthos in central Crete; at
ARCHAEOLOGY or follow us on Twitter at
Johnson’s Island, a Civil War site in Ohio; and at
@archaeologymag
El Carrizal, in Veracruz.
EDITOR’S LETTER Editor in Chief The Value of Persistence Claudia Valentino Executive Editor Deputy Editor Jarrett
EDITOR’S LETTER
Editor in Chief
The Value of Persistence
Claudia Valentino
Executive Editor
Deputy Editor
Jarrett A. Lobell
Samir S. Patel
Senior Editors
Nikhil Swaminathan
Zach Zorich
Editorial Assistant
Intern
T his issue’s cover is an image of a woman’s coffi n from the fi rst unlooted tomb
Malin Grunberg Banyasz
Aldo Foe
found in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings since 1922. Her name was Nehemes-Bastet
Creative Director
and hieroglyphs on the coffi n’s side reveal that she was a shemayet, or chantress,
Richard Bleiweiss
of the sun god, Amun. In “Tomb of the Chantress” (page 28), contributing editor Julian
Smith discusses her life and the signifi cance of the fi nd.
Contributing Editors
“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
Roger Atwood, Paul Bahn, Bob Brier,
Andrew Curry, Blake Edgar, Brian Fagan,
David Freidel, Tom Gidwitz, Andrew Lawler,
Stephen H. Lekson, Jerald T. Milanich,
Jennifer Pinkowski, Heather Pringle,
Angela M. H. Schuster, Neil Asher Silberman
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
Correspondents
have been in the Mycenaean world.
The wreck of a seventeenth-century Swedish warship, pulled nearly intact more
than t an 50 years y ago from Stockholm Harbor, has long concealed a
mystery myster y about why it sank on its maiden voyage. In “Vasa’s Curious
Imbalance” Imbala (page 42), science journalist Lucas Laursen explains
that that archaeologists a are now coming up with answers thanks, in
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
part, part, to their ability to digitally render Vasa’s contours.
As A the 2012 Summer Olympics approach, journalist Nadia
Publisher
Peter Herdrich
Durrani Dur has fi led a report on the challenging archaeology of the
Associate Publisher
Olympic Ol y Park site in East London’s Lea Valley. “London 2012:
Kevin Quinlan
Director of Circulation and Fulfi llment
Archaeology Arc and the Olympics” (page 24), off ers a 12,000-year
Kevin Mullen
timeline, ti maps the location of six of the most signifi cant
Vice President of Sales and Marketing
Meegan Daly
fi fi nds, and tells us what people have been up to there from
Director of Integrated Sales
prehistoric p times until the present day.
Gerry Moss
Inside Sales Representative
Contributing editor Andrew Lawler, in “Uncovering
Karina Casines
Sidon’s S Long Life” (page 46), traces the history of the port
West Coast Account Manager
city c of Sidon in Lebanon. The extraordinary site sits directly
beneath b the modern-day city and has been under excavation
Cynthia Lapporte
Oak Media Group
cynthia@oakmediagroup.com
323-493-2754
by by a multinational team for more than a decade. Sidon has
Circulation Consultant
been been occupied for some 4,000 years, and archaeologists are only
Greg Wolfe, Circulation Specialists, Inc.
Newsstand Consultant
now beginning to trace the long history of a city so ancient that it is
mentioned in the Book of Genesis.
T.J. Montilli,
Publishers Newstand Outsource, LLC
Offi ce Manager
“Letter from Mexico” (page 53), tells a diff erent story, one in which archaeology
must proceed sporadically because of the danger to researchers often caught in the
Malin Grunberg Banyasz
For production questions,
contact production@archaeology.org
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
Editorial Advisory Board
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.”
James P. Delgado, Ellen Herscher,
Ronald Hicks, Jean-Jacques Hublin,
Mark Lehner, Roderick J. McIntosh,
Susan Pollock, Jeremy A. Sabloff ,
Kenneth B. Tankersley
ARCHAEOLOGY MAGAZINE
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Subscription questions and address
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EDITOR’S LETTER Editor in Chief The Value of Persistence Claudia Valentino Executive Editor Deputy Editor Jarrett
The Joy of Mathematics Taught by Professor Arthur T. Benjamin harvey mudd college E O M

The Joy of Mathematics

Taught by Professor Arthur T. Benjamin

harvey mudd college

E O M F lecture titles I F 1. The Joy of Math—The Big Picture 2.
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FROM THE PRESIDENT Archaeological Institute of America Located at Boston University Saving Easter Island T HAT
FROM THE PRESIDENT
Archaeological
Institute of America
Located at Boston University
Saving Easter Island
T HAT ARCHAEOLOGY AND human heritage are present everywhere across the
OFFICERS
globe is amply demonstrated by the case of Easter Island (Rapa Nui). One of the
President
most remote places on earth, this tiny island in the Pacific is home to the famed
Elizabeth Bartman
monolithic statues called moai. The colossal moai have near-iconic status as testaments to
First Vice President
Andrew Moore
humanity’s early technological achievements.
Vice President for Outreach and Education
Yet not even so remote a location can protect an archaeological monument from damage
Pamela Russell
and so, in 2008, the Archaeological Institute of America proudly awarded its second-ever
Vice President for Professional Responsibilities
Laetitia LaFollette
Site Preservation grant to Jo Anne Van Tilburg of the University of California, Los Angeles’
Vice President for Publications
Cotsen Institute of Archaeology for her conservation work on the moai of Easter Island.
John Younger
A 30-year veteran of Easter Island archaeology, and director of the Easter Island Statue
Vice President for Societies
Project, Van Tilburg is currently working to arrest the deterioration suffered by the statues
Thomas Morton
Treasurer
as a result of weathering, vandalism, mass tourism, and encroaching development.
Brian J. Heidtke
This spring I visited Easter Island in order to see Van Tilburg and her team in action.
Chief Executive Officer
Working with conservators such as Mónica Bahamondez,
Peter Herdrich
director of the Chilean National Center for Conserva-
Chief Operating Officer
Kevin Quinlan
tion and Restoration, and geologist Christian Fischer
of UCLA, Van Tilburg has overseen the cleaning, lichen
GOVERNING BOARD
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 l ’ principal l 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.
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
Worldwide, the threats to archaeological monuments show no sign of abating. Support fom
Past President
C. Brian Rose
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
Trustees Emeriti
Norma Kershaw
Charles S. LaFollette
Legal Counsel
Mitchell Eitel, Esq.
Sullivan & Cromwell, LLP
Elizabeth Bartman
Archaeological Institute of America
President, Archaeological Institute of America
656 Beacon Street • Boston, MA 02215-2006
www.archaeological.org
FROM THE PRESIDENT Archaeological Institute of America Located at Boston University Saving Easter Island T HAT

Gal a

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.

Gal a Archaeological Institute of America | 25 April 2012 The trustees, gala committee, and staff
Gal a Archaeological Institute of America | 25 April 2012 The trustees, gala committee, and staff
Gal a Archaeological Institute of America | 25 April 2012 The trustees, gala committee, and staff
Gal a Archaeological Institute of America | 25 April 2012 The trustees, gala committee, and staff
Gal a Archaeological Institute of America | 25 April 2012 The trustees, gala committee, and staff
Gal a Archaeological Institute of America | 25 April 2012 The trustees, gala committee, and staff
Gal a Archaeological Institute of America | 25 April 2012 The trustees, gala committee, and staff
Gal a Archaeological Institute of America | 25 April 2012 The trustees, gala committee, and staff
Gal a Archaeological Institute of America | 25 April 2012 The trustees, gala committee, and staff
Gal a Archaeological Institute of America | 25 April 2012 The trustees, gala committee, and staff
Gal a Archaeological Institute of America | 25 April 2012 The trustees, gala committee, and staff
ARCHAEOLOGY’S SPECIAL COLLECTOR’S EDITION 17% OFF the price newsstand This special of $5.99 newsstand only collec-
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Stunning photography and
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ARCHAEOLOGY Magazine.
LETTERS Crashing the Donner Party The Nebra “Letter from California: A New Look sky disc at
LETTERS
Crashing the Donner Party
The Nebra
“Letter from California: A New Look
sky disc
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
Sun or Moon?
for a variety of reasons, including inexpen-
I noticed the Nebra sky disc in the
sive land and even a healthy climate. The
sidebar to “Ancient Germany’s Metal
view that the pioneers migrated for greed is
Traders” is described as depicting the
not necessarily my opinion, but, as I say in the
“sun, moon, and 32 stars.” I believe it’s
piece, a perspective that was shared with me.
the full moon, half moon, quarter moon
phases, anchored by the strip of horizon
An Ax to Grind
shown on the right. Obviously the sun
Your recent article on “Ancient Ger-
isn’t out at night, and the moon phase
many’s Metal Traders” (May/June 2012)
representations seem straightforward.
describes an ax head weighing 8 ounces
Andi Willman
as being something you could fell a
Flushing, MI
tree with. The smallest hammer that a
carpenter uses is 16 ounces and is used
The Real Oldest Handbag
for fi nish work. An ax of that size, much
The German researchers in your story
less an ax weighing 8 ounces, would not
“Dogtooth Is the New Black” (May/
be suitable for felling trees. A hatchet is
June 2012) claim a reconstructed (not
three times that weight.
preserved) probable bag that is 4,200
Jaenia Mikulka
to 4,500 years-old may be “world’s old-
Cambridge, MA
est handbag.” The Germans may not
be aware of the bags from Spirit Cave,
Senior editor Zach Zorich responds:
Nevada, dated to 9,400 years ago. The
We live in a world with relatively cheap and
Spirit Cave bags and the shrouds wrap-
abundant steel. That was not the case for the
ping corpses are the oldest complete,
people at Dermsdorf. An 8-ounce ax head was
preserved textiles in the world.
probably a very expensive tool and was used
Alice B. Kehoe
for a variety of jobs. It may seem unsuitable
Marquette University
by modern standards, but people were chop-
Milwaukee, WI
ping down trees with stone tools long before
metal axes were invented. Trees also come in
Corrections
different sizes. It is not hard to imagine small
In “Letter from California: A New Look
and medium-sized trees being cut down with
at the Donner Party” (May/June 2012),
a small ax.
we incorrectly stated that the wagon
train set off from Springfi eld, Missouri.
It left from Independence, Missouri.
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. Volume precludes
our acknowledging individual letters.
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.
LATE-BREAKING NEWS AND NOTES FROM THE WORLD OF ARCHAEOLOGY Investigating a Decades-Old Disappearance tion (which has
LATE-BREAKING NEWS AND NOTES FROM THE WORLD OF ARCHAEOLOGY
Investigating a Decades-Old Disappearance
tion (which has since been dated to
A.D. 995–1000) and concluded the
fi gurines 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 fi gurine 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 fi gurine. “First, my
colleagues and I went to the computer
to check the fi gurine against old pho-
Prehistoric clay female and male
tos of the Pilling collection when it
figurines (left and right) from
Utah’s famous Pilling collection.
was complete. And then we immedi-
ately thought about what we could do
I n 1973, Deseret Magazine showed a photograph of 11 pre-
to demonstrate scientifi cally that he
historic fi gurines on exhibit at the Zions First National
matched at least one of the other 10
Bank, Carbon-Emery Division, in Utah. By 1974, when
fi gurines so I could reunite him with
the College of Eastern Utah (CEU) Prehistoric Museum
the group,” says Pitblado. “I also wanted
included the fi gurines in their centennial celebration display,
to be sure it wasn’t a fake,” she adds.
there were only 10. What became of the 11th fi gurine has
Pitblado assembled a multidis-
been a mystery ever since.
ciplinary team to test whether the
The unfi red clay fi gurines, created by the Fremont
fi gurine was in fact the artifact that
culture that inhabited parts of America’s Great Basin be-
had disappeared. First, archaeologist
tween A.D. 400 and 1300, had originally been found by
and prehistoric textile expert James
ranchers Clarence, Art, and Woodrow Pilling, and two
Adovasio from Mercyhurst College
ranch hands, Dusty Pruit and Tony Finn, in a rock shel-
looked at the backs of the fi gurine
ter in eastern Utah’s Range Creek Canyon in 1950. After
and his mate (the assemblage was ar-
The male figurine’s
their discovery, Geneve Howard Oliver, a Pilling family
ranged as fi ve pairs of male and female
back preserves
friend, brought the fi gurines to the Smithsonian and then
fi gures and an additional eleventh
impressions of the
to Harvard’s Peabody Museum for examination. At the
fi gure). He examined impressions
basket on which
Peabody, anthropologist Noel Morss studied the collec-
it dried.
made by the baskets the fi gurines sat

FROM THE TRENCHES

FROM THE TRENCHES The “missing” figurine (top row, second from left) has been reunited with the

The “missing” figurine (top row, second from left) has been

reunited with the collection for the first time in decades.

X-ray uorescence

to characterize the

geochemical signature

of the clay and pig-

ments of the gurine

and mate. They were

able to match trace

elements in both

gurines and found

that not only did the

clay used for all the

gurines come from

the same source, but

that the signatures of

the unknown gurine

and its mate were

more similar to each

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

other than they were to any other pair.

Finally, knowing that Morss had coat-

ed the gurines 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 gurine 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 gurines 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 gurine,” 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

Located in the province of Jujuy in northern Argentina, Pucará de Tilcara is the site of

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.

Located in the province of Jujuy in northern Argentina, Pucará de Tilcara is the site of

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

We Didn’t Start the Fire ... Homo erectus Did S ome paleoanthropologists believe that people have

We Didn’t Start the Fire... Homo erectus Did

S ome paleoanthropologists believe that people have been eating

cooked food, and therefore making res, 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 re 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 re 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 wildre. According to Berna, learn-

ing to use re was an important turning point for our species—both

evolutionarily and culturally. “Control of re is a tool for adapting

to dierent environments,” he says. “It provides warmth, it provides

light…and it keeps away wild animals.”

—ZACH ZORICH

Roman Ship’s Secret Cargo I talian archaeologists archaeologists have have uncovered evidence of smug- ed evidence
Roman Ship’s
Secret Cargo
I talian
archaeologists
archaeologists
have
have
uncovered evidence of smug-
ed evidence of smug-
gling between North Africa
etween North Africa
and Italy on a third-century A.D.
n a third-century A.D.
shipwreck off the west coast of Sicily. The
off the west coast of Sicily. The
most complete Roman ship ever found,
lete Roman ship ever found,
the 52-by-16-foot merchant vessel was
16-foot
merchant vessel
was
carrying amphorae phorae fi fi lled lled with with walnuts, walnuts, fi fi gs, gs,
olives, wine, , oil, oil, and and fi fi sh sh sauce sauce from from Tunisia Tunisia
to Rome when h i it sank. k

Intriguingly, among the ship’s ocial cargo were

hidden stashes of so-called tubi ttili (ctile tubes).

According to Sebastiano Tusa, Sicily’s Superinten-

dent of the Oce 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 tting 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

A Little Scottish Ditty

T housands of years before the fi rst bagpipe was gists discovered the wooden remains of
T housands of years before the fi rst bagpipe was
gists discovered the wooden remains of what they believe is
ever played in the Scottish highlands, a prehistoric
the bridge of the earliest stringed instrument ever found in
musician on the remote Isle of Skye played a type
he remote Isle of Skye played a type
Europe. Europe. Ac According to archaeomusicolo-
of lyre. During excavations vations at at High High Pasture Pasture
gist gist Graeme Grae Lawson of the University
Cave, which contains evi-
s
evi-
of Cambridge, the fi nd “pushes
of
C
dence for 800
years s of of
the th history of complex music
human activity between een
[in [in western Europe] back more
the Late Bronze
and nd
than th 1,000 years.”
Iron Ages, archaeolo- -
—JARRETT A. LOBELL
www.archaeology.org

13

FROM THE TRENCHES Athens Murder Court N ext to the Acropolis’ south podium, Kontoxristos found a
FROM THE TRENCHES
Athens Murder Court
N ext to the Acropolis’ south
podium, Kontoxristos found a piece of
Kontoxristos suggests that the podi-
slope, archaeologists have dis-
copper of the type that citizens may
um may be part of a complex that
covered possible evidence of
have used to record legal verdicts.
includes a very large building founda-
one of ancient Athens’ murder courts.
tion and portico dating to the same
During several years of excavation,
period—fi rst identifi ed in the 1960s
archaeologist Xristos Kontoxristos
as the Palladium. According to second-
uncovered artifacts dating from the
century A.D. geographer Pausanias, the
prehistoric through late Roman periods.
Palladium was the court in which cases
He was particularly intrigued by a ped-
of involuntary homicide and killing of
estal formed of sculpted lions’ legs, upon
noncitizens were tried. Kontoxristos
which sat two marble slabs forming a
stresses that the identifi cation of pedes-
very large table or podium that he dated
tal and building is not defi nitive, but he
to the late Classical or early Hellenistic
hopes to uncover additional evidence.
period (about 400–300 B.C.). Near the
— YANNIS STAVRAKAKIS
Butchering Big Game
I
t’s well known that ancient hunters all over the world took down big game. Recent fi nds 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
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
AT THE SITE OF PRERESA, near Madrid,
humans in the
Spain, archaeologists uncovered 82 bones
region may have
from an elephant or mammoth alongside
stolen the car-
hundreds of stone tools. Dating to around
cass from lions
80,000 years ago, the bones show cut
before carefully
marks and percussion fractures—the first
butchering it
evidence that humans, in this case Nean-
and then stashing the rest of the remains for cold storage. The incredibly pre-
derthals, cracked open thick pachyderm
served remains show scratches and bite marks from lions, after which humans
bones to get at the fat-rich marrow inside.
had removed the organs, vertebrae, ribs, and portions of the upper legs.

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FROM THE TRENCHES Dawn of the Aztecs, Written in Stone A series of stones carved with
FROM THE TRENCHES
Dawn of the Aztecs, Written in Stone
A series of stones carved with images of snakes, war-
ish conquistadores
riors, and headless prisoners has been found at the
arrived. The stones
sacred Aztec site of Tenochtitlan in Mexico City’s
date to between 1440
historic center. The 25 images,
and 1469, during the
carved from gray and red volca-
reign of Moctezuma
nic rock, were embedded in the
I, and describe the
fl oor of the plaza in front of the
birth of Huitzilo-
Templo Mayor complex, where
pochtli, the Aztec
the Aztecs performed thousands
god of war and the
of ritual killings before the Span-
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, sacrifi ce, and death.”
— JULIAN SMITH
What Ailed the Iceman?
I t’s been more than 20 years since
says Albert Zink, head of the Institute
Ötzi, the 5,300-year-old Neolithic
for Mummies and the Iceman at the
iceman, was found in the Italian
European Academy of Bolzano in
Alps. Since then, researchers have
Italy. “In a later stage, Lyme disease
fi gured out what he likely ate as his
can aff ect the joints and the nervous
last meal (wild einkorn wheat bran)
system, but we don’t have any proof of
and how he died (an arrow to the back
that for the iceman.”
that pierced an artery). They have also
In other recent work, scientists
sequenced his maternal DNA, deter-
probed thin tissue slices from the arrow
mining that his lineage was genetically
wound and a laceration on Ötzi’s hand.
rare and has since gone extinct.
They used an atomic force microscope
Now researchers have investigated
to trace the surface of the tissue and
the rest of Ötzi’s genome, thanks to
create a 3-D rendering. The resulting
the Y-chromosome DNA found in
images included doughnut shapes that
bone from his left hip. Ötzi’s paternal
are the hallmark of red blood cells.
ancestors moved into Europe from the
Zink says fi nding blood cells and the
Near East more than 6,000 years ago.
teria responsible for the illness, which
clotting protein fi brin—and no sign
Further, he was lactose intolerant, had
is tricky to identify even today.
of healing—at the arrow wound site
type O blood, had brown hair and eyes,
“We think that the iceman must
indicates that Ötzi died within minutes
and may have had Lyme disease—his
have had at least some early symptoms,
of being shot.
DNA carries sequences from the bac-
such as fever and temporary weakness,”
—NIKHIL SWAMINATHAN

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Make Room for the Memories. An adventure of historic proportion is waiting for you—at two living-history
Make Room for the Memories.
An adventure of historic proportion is waiting for
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America’s beginnings. Board replicas of colonial
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on English armor inside a palisaded fort. Then, join
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2013 TRAVEL ADVENTURES Th e Cultures and Arts of Morocco and Moorish Spain Explore medieval towns,
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BORA ÖZKÖK / Cultural Folk Tours’ 34th year TURKEY PLUS CENTRAL ASIA / SILK ROAD TOURS
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FROM THE TRENCHES Beachcombing in the Mesolithic Ax head with shaft Wooden paddle P eter Astrup’s
FROM THE TRENCHES
Beachcombing
in the
Mesolithic
Ax head with shaft
Wooden paddle
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 fi nding artifacts made of fl int
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 fi nds 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

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FROM THE TRENCHES

Preacher-Swordsman-Turncoat

FROM THE TRENCHES Preacher-Swordsman-Turncoat A rchaeologists working at Chur Cathedral in eastern Switzer- land are trying

A rchaeologists working at Chur

Cathedral in eastern Switzer-

land are trying to conrm 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 ghter 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 rst

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

V-2 Rocket from the Muck

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

mudats 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 nds 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 Preacher-Swordsman-Turncoat A rchaeologists working at Chur Cathedral in eastern Switzer- land are trying

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 oer-

FROM THE TRENCHES Preacher-Swordsman-Turncoat A rchaeologists working at Chur Cathedral in eastern Switzer- land are trying

ing or sacrice. 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

Th e Origins of Domestic Cattle

E xcavations at sites in the Near

East indicate people rst 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-

Th e Origins of Domestic Cattle E xcavations at sites in the Near East indicate people

tic cattle found at sites in Iran dating

to between 8,000 and 1,900 years ago

to that of modern animals. Specically,

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 nd

the initial conditions that would have

given rise to the modern animals.

“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 dicult task

carried out in only a few villages during

that time period.

—NIKHIL SWAMINATHAN

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WORLD ROUNDUP

ICELAND: House mice are living artifacts of human expansion. By comparing modern mouse DNA with ancient
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
WALES:
the Faroe Islands to Iceland to Greenland. In Iceland, the mouse
R Recent
population even mirrors the human one genetically—both show
e excavations
low levels of genetic diversity, a result of small founding popu-
a at Nevern
lations and little new inward migration.
C Castle,
an an earthen earthen and and stone stone fo fortifi ca-
tion built and rebuilt throughout
GREENLAND: The fi rst migrants
the 12th century, have revealed a
to the western portion of the
series of slates buried under the
massive, ice-covered island
southern gateway. Incised with
arrived around 4,500 years ago.
symbols ranging from prehistoric
Wood fragments excavated
shapes to letters associated with
from two of their early settle-
Christianity, the stones—some
ments, Qeqertasussuk and Qajaa, have been identifi ed as piec-
older and some inscribed just
es of the rims from booming hoop drums, two to three feet in
before burial (based on wear pat-
diameter. The age of the fi nds pushes back the known origins
terns)—were likely deposited to
of Arctic drum and shaman culture, which traveled with them
protect the castle from the entry
across Alaska and Canada, by at least 2,000 years.
of evil forces.
WORLD ROUNDUP ICELAND: House mice are living artifacts of human expansion. By comparing modern mouse DNA
WORLD ROUNDUP ICELAND: House mice are living artifacts of human expansion. By comparing modern mouse DNA
WORLD ROUNDUP ICELAND: House mice are living artifacts of human expansion. By comparing modern mouse DNA
PERU: Some pre- Columbian South Americans lived in groups called allya and buried their dead together
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
ETHIOPIA: Dat-
around a male lineage, suggesting allya were
ing to around
structured the same way. But not necessarily—
3.4 million
one grave contained the remains of three related
years ago, foot
men with different paternal lineages.
bones show that
Australopithe-
cus afarensis—“Lucy” and her kin—had
ST. HELENA: On this remote island in the South Atlantic, archaeolo-
company. The new foot appears to be
gists have excavated a massive burial ground for slaves who died dur-
substantially different from an A. afaren-
ing the brutal Middle Passage from Africa to the Americas. More than
sis foot. Where Lucy had feet adapted
300 of an estimated 5,000 graves were uncovered, containing mostly
to more-or-less humanlike walking, this
children, teenagers, and young adults. Though they would have been
new hominin would have been adept at
stripped of their possessions, some of those buried managed to save
climbing trees. Until now, A. afarensis
beads, pieces of ribbon, and even bracelets. Also found were several
was thought to be the only hominin in
metal identifi cation tags.
the region at the time.

By Samir S. Patel

ENGLAND: Sports scientists are examin- ing the remains of sailors aboard Mary Rose, a warship that
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
TAIWAN: Most people in Taiwan are of
he was left-handed.
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
Pacifi c 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.
By Samir S. Patel ENGLAND: Sports scientists are examin- ing the remains of sailors aboard Mary
IRAQ: Understanding the climate of the past often helps with interpreta- tion of archaeological discoveries. A
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.
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The Olympic Park in East London’s Lower Lea Valley
The Olympic Park in East London’s
Lower Lea Valley

LONDON 2012

Archaeology and the Olympics

by Nadia Durrani

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 rst 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

ve years ago this was still a neglected and largely unoccupied

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 suce. 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

Some of the excavation trenches were so deep that archaeologists ensured they didn’t collapse by creating

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.

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

rst long-term, large-scale picture of life in

this part of East London, an area rst settled

in prehistory, and in more recent times, one

that became so signicant to the development

of the modern city.” Had it not been for the

Olympic Park’s construction, this formerly

secure their sides using steel supports,” explains Gary Brown,

eldwork 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 dicult and time-consuming, and these excavations

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.”

❶ Neolithic rituals ❶ A t the end of the last great Ice Age, some t
❶ Neolithic rituals
A t the end of the last great Ice Age, some
t th
12,000 years ago, glacial meltwaters surged
12,0
through an uns
through an unspoiled wilderness, forming the fl ood plain
of the River Lea. H
of the River Lea. However, the oldest evidence from the
Olympic Park comes from the Neolithic period (4000–2200
Olympic Park comes fr

B.C.), when people began fairly extensive woodland-clearing for agri-

culture, aided by fl int 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 fi nds, 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 signifi cance of the

river, and its valley, to prehistoric people drawn by the rich resources

of this watery environment,” says Powell.

❷● Prehistoric lives G reat transformations took place in the Olympic Park dur- ing the Middle
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 fi elds, 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 fi eld-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 fl ooding appears to have
made their waterside settlement too wet for habitation, leading
to its abandonment in the Late Iron Age.

Olympic Park timeline

The Romans: lost and found

T he Olympic Park lies three miles northeast of

  • together with the river, would have been a crucial

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,

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. Parking Training Area ❹ ● ● ❻
precise line across the valley remains an unsolved mystery.
Parking
Training
Area
❹ ●
● ❻
Olympic
Village
Velodrome
and Fencing
Broadcast
Centre
Stratford
City
Basketball
Aquatics
Centre
❷ ●
❸ ●
Main
Stadium
● ❺
Spectator
Transport
❶ ●
Accreditation
Checking
186200
0
500m
Archaeological trenching
Built heritage recording
538500

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

10,000 B.C. End of the Ice Age; fl ood plain of the Lower Lea valley formed.
10,000 B.C.
End of the Ice Age;
fl ood plain of the
Lower Lea valley
formed.
4000 to 3000 B.C. People begin large- scale land clearance. Neolithic ax ritually deposited?
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.
A.D. 50
Roman road from
London to
Colchester crossed
marshes; exact
route unknown.
1135 Cistercian Abbey exploited Lea waterpower.
1135
Cistercian Abbey
exploited Lea
waterpower.
Late 12th century Knights Templar water mills established at Temple Mills.
Late 12th century
Knights Templar
water mills
established at
Temple Mills.
However, archaeologists did fi nd evidence
However, archaeologists did fi nd 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).

A 19th-century speed boat

However, archaeologists did fi nd evidence of the Romans exploiting the river landscape, in the form

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.

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, fl ock-makers, and dye houses. From the mid-nineteenth century, industrialization in

the Lea Valley intensifi ed. More and more industries developed farther down the valley

at Stratford, including paper, tar, and printing works, and chemical manufacturing, all of

However, archaeologists did fi nd evidence of the Romans exploiting the river landscape, in the form
which had been forced out of cen- tral London under new cleaner-living legislation. Digging at Temple
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 landfi ll. However, the fi nds 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 battlefi eld ● D uring the Second World War, the “East End” of London
❻ London’s battlefi eld
D uring the Second World War,
the “East End” of London
was heavily defended—and indeed
heavily bombed. This was often the
fi rst part of London to be crossed
by enemy aircraft fl ying west from
Nazi Germany, and there is copi-
ous evidence of that diffi cult 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 confl ict studies.

Nadia Durrani is an archaeological editor and writer based in London.

17th to 18th century UK’s fi rst porcelain factory built here.
17th to 18th century
UK’s fi rst porcelain
factory built here.
1858 Following an out- break of cholera and typhoid called the “Big Stink,” Northern Outfall Sewer
1858
Following an out-
break of cholera and
typhoid called the
“Big Stink,” Northern
Outfall Sewer built.
1860 Plastic invented in the Lea Valley.
1860
Plastic invented in
the Lea Valley.
1892 UK’s fi rst petrol factory built here.
1892
UK’s fi rst petrol
factory built here.
1904 UK’s famous William Yardley cosmetics, soap, and lavender factory established on the site.
1904
UK’s famous William
Yardley cosmetics,
soap, and lavender
factory established
on the site.
2012 London Olympic Games.
2012
London Olympic
Games.

O N JANUARY 25, 2011, tens of thousands of

protestors ooded Cairo’s Tahrir Square,

demanding the end of President Hosni

Mubarak’s regime. As the “day of revolt”

lled the streets of Cairo and other cities

with tear gas and ying stones, a team of

archaeologists led by Susanne Bickel of the University of Basel

in Switzerland was about to make one of the most signicant

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 nal resting place of the pharaohs and

aristocracy beginning in the New Kingdom period (15391069

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 nd.

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 ve 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

ocial permit to excavate.

A year later, just before the rst anniversary of the revolu-

tion, Bickel returned with a team of two dozen people, includ-

ing eld 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 wooden coffin holding the remains of a temple singer sat inside a tomb undisturbed for
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.

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

together with the age of other nearby sites, were the rst 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, lled 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 con carved from sycamore wood and decorated

with large yellow hieroglyphs on its sides and top. “I’ve never

found a con in as good condition before,” Bickel says.

of the original Eighteenth Dynasty burial, she adds, including

pottery, wood fragments, and parts of the unwrapped and dis-

membered mummy who rst 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

nd 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 Pacic Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, was

together with the age of other nearby sites, were the fi rst sign that the shaft
together with the age of other nearby sites, were the fi rst sign that the shaft

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.

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 con’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 con 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 con

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 lled the chamber held the remnants

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 ash oods. In 2005, a team led

by Otto Schaden of the Amenmesse Project discovered an

unlooted chamber, which held seven cons and 28 jars con-

taining mummication materials. The chamber, contained no

bodies, so it is unlikely that it was a tomb.

B EFORE BICKELS TEAM COULD take Nehemes-Bastet’s con

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 ve feet tall. It was blackened

all over—and stuck to the bottom of the con—by a sticky

fruit-based syrup used in the mummication process.

nonetheless, it lacked the elaborate inner

cons 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.

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.

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 inuence.

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 ghting,” 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 con and stele with the elaborate

pottery, furniture, and food found in earlier tombs. “Her

wooden con was certainly quite expensive,” she says, but

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 denitely on percussion. Images often show

people stamping their feet and clapping. Examples of song

lyrics are recorded on temple walls. This one from Luxor

refers to the Festival of Opet, when the cult images of the gods Amun, Mut, and

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] eet, 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 dierent

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.

to move the mummy to their lab. After reinforcing the con

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 nd 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 nal analyses of the tomb and

its artifacts will probably take four to ve years.

As surprising as nding 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 nding more tombs.”

Julian Smith is a contributing editor at Archaeology.

An aerial view of the site of Iklaina near Pylos, Greece.
An aerial view of the site of
Iklaina near Pylos, Greece.
The Birth of Bureaucracy
The Birth of
Bureaucracy
At the site of Iklaina, excavations are revealing new evidence of how the Mycenaean state functioned
At the site of Iklaina,
excavations are revealing
new evidence of how the
Mycenaean state functioned
by Amanda Summer

P YLOS, IN GREECES 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 ofrom 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

remains of Greece’s Mycenaean age, the period from approxi-

mately 1650 to 1100 B.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

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 dicult 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 o. Soon he had organized a team of students and

volunteers whose eld 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 sta

eight years to determine that Iklaina was the largest site in the

region outside the Palace of Nestor.

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.

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

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 nding 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

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 nd 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 rst 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.

cut rectangular stones laid in horizontal courses. Iklaina’s walls are similar to architectural features found at

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.

cut rectangular stones laid in horizontal courses. Iklaina’s walls are similar to architectural features found at
 

Deciphering Linear B

  • 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

in storerooms, were “red,” hardening the clay and acciden-

tally preserving them. In 1953 came the announcement that

Linear B’s cryptic markings had been deciphered, and that

ancient carved gems he believed originated there . He would

it was actually an early form of ancient Greek. The tablets

soon uncover the Bronze Age Palace of Knossos, one of the

contain a type of syllabic script. Most of the individual

most important archaeological nds in history. Among his

signs represent certain syllable combinations (vowel and

discoveries during three decades spent excavating the palace

consonant). There are also ideograms, in which a sign actu-

were several thousand clay tablets containing strange markings

ally represents the object it resembles—a picture of a jar for

and pictographs. Despite being unable to read them, Evans

the word “jar,” for example. Overall, Linear B has as many

theorized that the tablets were an ancient writing system,

as 200 dierent signs.

which he dubbed Linear B, after the script’s use of small line

Once Linear B could be read, it became clear that almost

formations. (What is known as Linear A had also been found

all of the known tablets contained similar content—archival

at Knossos, and is believed to be an earlier writing system.)

information about the large central palaces in which they

As a result of Evans’ discovery, scholars recognized that

were found. Scribes had used them to keep an inventory of

tablets from sites on the Greek mainland, including Pylos,

the everyday goods belonging to the palaces and to docu-

Thebes, and Mycenae, were also inscribed in Linear B, indicat-

ment economic transactions.

ing that the peculiar writing style was more widespread than

The Linear B tablet from Iklaina is unique in that it was

initially thought. Until the recent discovery of Linear B at the

not found amid the remains of a palatial center. Accord-

site of Iklaina, near Pylos, all the previously known tablets,

ing to Cynthia Shelmerdine, the project’s ceramics expert,

which date to between 1500 and 1200 B.C., were found at

the Iklaina tablet “opens up the whole question of how

large palatial centers typical of the Mycenaean period. When

widespread Mycenaean literacy was, and how far down the

these palaces burned down, the tablets, which had been kept

administrative system written records extended.”

 

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 fortication wall.

The building has all the elements one would expect to

nd in a Mycenaean administrative center. In addition to its

monumental size, unusual for this early period, it contained

multiple storage rooms for foodstus, oering tables, and a

rich assemblage of pottery. The walls of some of the rooms

were decorated with elaborate gural 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 identied

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.

Project conservator Stefania Veldemiri’s reconstruction of the fresco fragments from the Cyclopean Terrace Building (above left
Project conservator
Stefania Veldemiri’s
reconstruction of
the fresco fragments
from the Cyclopean
Terrace Building
(above left and right), ,
and (right) one of f
the actual fragments,
s,
showing a female
le
figure bringing her er
hand to her chest.
st.

A fragment of a spindle whorl (below

left), dozens of which were found,

The purpose of this massive terrace was to support a monu- mental building (dubbed the “Cyclopean

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.

The purpose of this massive terrace was to support a monu- mental building (dubbed the “Cyclopean
The purpose of this massive terrace was to support a monu- mental building (dubbed the “Cyclopean

The excavation has uncovered many artifacts from daily

life as well, including amulets, gurines, 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 sh, 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

identied 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

Team members set a new trench (above) near the Cyclopean Terrace wall and the ancient drain,

Team members set a new trench (above) near the

Cyclopean Terrace wall and the ancient drain, which is

visible at the lower left.

houses directly on top of the houses of the previous phase,

but with a dierent orientation. Cosmopoulos believes this

is evidence that the new rulers made an eort 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 nds that oer more clues about the site’s signicance

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 oby the bus a quarter mile

away, as the area’s remoteness makes it dicult 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
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.

lected on plastic tarps covering the trenches. A group of

students selects hand axes and other tools stored overnight

in buckets and heads oto work with a team from the lab.

b. ding ead tray act. rry- van nine may hav ster ous me r f
b.
ding
ead
tray
act.
rry-
van
nine
may hav
ster
ous me
r
f

Many Many metal metal artifacts a were found

at at Iklaina, Ik including this

bronze br nail and ring,

suggesting s

the presence

Today’s job is to remove a large section of plaster surrounding

of o a substantial metal-

an ancient drainage system that runs throughout the site. Head

lurgical lu production

conservator StefaniaVeldemiri has fashioned a large metal tray

center cen at the site.

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

may have supported up to an astonishing 225 smiths. Numer-

miles to the east. The job of gingerly transporting the plaster

ous metal objects including bronze nails, saws, and rings

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 axseed found in

those rooms, it’s probable that the industry of the site’s new

inhabitants was ax production. The building had a cement

oor and a system of ve 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

were found at the site, as was a unique head of a bronze male

gurine with no known parallels.

In the last weeks of the 2011 season, the team uncovered

another signicant 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 unnished 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

Remains uncovered in a pit may be evidence of the earliest Mycenaean open-air shrine, dating to between 1450 and 1300 B.C.

courtyard, this may have been an administrative building used in the second period of Iklaina’s occupation,

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 rst 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 re, including burned soil and ashes, along with

oering 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 nd 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 rst 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 stratied 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

courtyard, this may have been an administrative building used in the second period of Iklaina’s occupation,

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.

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 condent the tablet will oer

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 nds 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

nding more. In the meantime, Iklaina’s uniquely stratied

settlement makes it the ideal laboratory, and Cosmopoulos

is eager for the opportunity it oers not only to learn about

life in the palaces and in the surrounding farmlands, but also

to investigate for the rst 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.

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

modied by human activity.

While inarguably useful for nding 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 dierent settlements are hard to

decipher, and the expanse of a civilization is dicult to determine.

In order to ll 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 Reection 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 reect light dierently.

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 identied and dierentiated 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

S ince the early twentieth century, archaeologists have relied on aerial photography as a technique to
S ince the early twentieth century, archaeologists have relied on aerial photography as a technique to

in the images had a dierent 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.

So far, this approach has been used to recognize seden-

tary agricultural settlements that incorporated mudbrick

architecture in the kind of semiarid oodplains 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