Asia & the Pacific
Inscriptions on two bronze urns found in the Shaanxi province contain 2,800-year-old evidence of bribery. The rare unheroic story is told in first-person by a nobleman who paid his way--in jade--out of accusations of appropriating farmland and slaves.
Papua New Guinea
Scholars have long been intrigued by the stylized faces that appear on early South Pacific Lapita pottery. Now it is thought that the 3,000-year-old faces might not represent ancestors but sea turtles, which are still part of local creation myths.
Excavations on the tiny isle of Keros have revealed an unusually large cache of the modern-looking marble figurines made by the mysterious Bronze Age Cycladic culture. Many of the figurines and bowls appear to have been deliberately and repeatedly broken and jumbled up, suggesting that the small, barren island was a key ceremonial center.
On August 4, 1944, a Royal Air Force Halifax bomber with a crew of five Canadians and two Englishmen disappeared over Poland while delivering supplies to the resistance. Historians just discovered the rare plane buried in a field along with the remains of its crew. Officials are now searching for the men's families.
An idol of the Hindu deity Vishnu was found in exacavations at a remote village in the Volga region. The figure, which may be more than 1,000 years old, suggests some kind of contact between India and medieval Russia.
Near & Middle East
Let the toilets be your guide. An ancient latrine near the ruins of Qumran follows the unusual and stringent guidelines in both the Dead Sea Scrolls and historical accounts of the strict Jewish Essene sect--directly linking the sect, the scrolls, and the settlement as never before. The latrine was required to be hidden a specific distance northwest of the city, but it may have been very unsanitary, thus contributing to the poor health of Qumran's ancient residents.
Another day, another archaeologically rich region faces a massive dam project. The $6.5-billion Diamir-Bhasha Dam will inundate more than four square miles when it is completed. According to German archaeologists working there, it will imperil tens of thousands of rock carvings from the Neolithic period to the sixteenth century. Salvage plans are under consideration.