A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
South AfricaEarly humans might have dug for food. By comparing the carbon isotopes in the teeth of Australopithecus africanus and Paranthropus robustus with teeth of ancient and modern mole rats, researchers found the early hominin diet probably included such mole rat staples as corms and bulbs, like modern taro and shallots. The find helps explain why early humans had thick tooth enamel and broad teeth.
Central & South America and the Caribbean
BoliviaSometimes looters miss things. On the shores of Lake Titicaca, at the Akapana pyramid, which has been picked over by treasure hunters for centuries, archaeologists found an intact 1,300-year-old Tiwanaku burial. The gold, offerings, and sacrificial llama remains suggest the tomb's occupant may have been a ruler or priest.
EnglandWhile excavating a funeral pyre dating to 1900-
1700 B.C., archaeologists found a lump of jet, a hard black stone, inscribed with a mysterious pattern of lines. The geometric designs on the amulet, which was probably affixed to a garment, are so similar to those on a gold amulet found near Stonehenge that it may have been a direct copy.
FranceJoan of Arc's remains are far older than they should be. Researchers found that relics kept in a museum of the Archdiocese of Tours, including the fifteenth-century martyr's purported rib bone, actually came from an Egyptian mummy dating from between the third and sixth centuries B.C. Pieces of mummies were once used as folk remedies in Europe.
Near & Middle East
IsraelThe helmet is like a menagerie—the forehead is adorned with a peacock's tail, the eyeholes with snakes, and the cheeks with lions. Probably worn by a Greek warrior on a ship battling Persians in the fifth or sixth century B.C., the helmet was found off the Israeli coast, and is the most complete one of its kind ever found there.
MexicoNear the Toltec city of Tula, archaeologists found the bones of 24 children, aged 5 to 15, whose throats had been cut. The first evidence of Toltec child sacrifice to appease the rain god Tlaloc, the burial dates to around A.D. 950 to 1150, several centuries before the Aztecs adopted similar practices.
Asia & The Pacific
NepalYears ago, a shepherd seeking shelter from cold Himalayan rain stumbled across a cave with paintings on the walls. He recently led a team of mountain climbers and archaeologists to the site, where they encountered a complex of caves full of colorful murals depicting scenes from the life of Buddha. Limited excavations have helped date the paintings to the twelfth century.