A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
ZambiaMineral pigments discovered at the Twin Rivers cave site might be evidence that the human ancestor Homo heidelbergensis used paint 200,000 years ago. Researchers suggested that the red, black, pink, and purple ochers probably had some ritual significance. If so, heidelbergensis must have been capable of abstract thought, which would push back the earliest known example of such thinking by 100,000 years.
Asia & the Pacific
Central & South America
PeruScotland Yard's Art and Antiquities Squad has tracked down and seized an ancient Peruvian headdress in London. The embossed-gold artifact--depicting an eight-tentacled, cat-faced sea-god--dates to A.D. 700 and comes from the Mochica civilization. It was looted from the La Mina site in north Peru and disappeared into the black market in 1988.
GreeceThe massive eruption of the volcanic island of Santorini in 1650 B.C., which may have contributed to the downfall of Minoan civilization, was nearly twice as large as previously thought. New seismic data show that the eruption spewed out 14 cubic miles of searing ash and molten rock, or more than six times the amount produced by the 1883 eruption of Krakatau in Indonesia.
IrelandIn a peat bog, a construction worker discovered a Book of Psalms which dates between A.D. 800 and 1000. The 20-page book, written in Latin, quickly became a source of controversy among the apocalyptically inclined. The manuscript was found open to Pslam 83, which some interpret as referring to the destruction of Israel.
SpainAuthorities recently recovered a second-century A.D. statue of a Roman senator. It had been brazenly stolen from a park near the Colosseum in 1986 and wound up in Barcelona.
CanadaIn the suburbs of Quebec City, archaeologists recently unearthed charred timbers, a piece of Italian porcelain, and other artifacts they say are evidence for a long-lost fort established in 1541 by French explorer Jacques Cartier. The colony, Charlesbourg-Royal, predates Samuel de Champlain's permanent settlement there by more than 50 years. Although it lasted only two years, it was the first French outpost in the Americas.
MexicoIn Calpulálpan, near Mexico City, evidence has emerged that the Aztecs did not always hail Spanish conquistadors as gods, but rather tore out their hearts and boiled their bones. Human skulls and bones with knife and teeth marks suggest Aztecs ritually sacrificed and partially ate more than 500 members of a Spanish caravan in 1520 as revenge for the murder of the Aztec king Cacamatzin.
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