LOUISIANA: After Hurricane Katrina damaged the garden of St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, one of the nation's oldest Catholic churches had an opportunity to excavate some of its history. Archaeologists discovered the foundation of a hut dating to the city's first days in the early 18th century, in addition to clay pipes, marbles, and a small crucifix that may have belonged to Père Antoine, rector of the cathedral in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. (Photo: Shannon Lee Dawdy)
VIRGINIA: This summer's dig at Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in the country, turned up several spectacular finds. Inside James Fort, the team uncovered a gold ring and an extremely rare copper pendant depicting what may be a Powhatan Indian. The ring bears a skull, the Latin inscription Memento Mori ("remember thy death"), and the initials "CL," maybe for Captain Christopher Lawne, a member of the first Virginia General Assembly. (Photos: Courtesy APVA Preservation Virginia)
UNITED KINGDOM: At the London construction site of a new theater, archaeologists believe they have unearthed the foundation of an old one, "The Theatre," which in the 1590s played host to Shakespeare's drama company and probably debuted several of his plays. After a dispute with the landlord, the company dismantled and moved the entire building, leaving behind only the foundation. You might have heard of the rebuilt version--they called it the Globe. (Photo: Courtesy Museum of London)
ITALY: Using a form of mass spectrometry, scientists determined that the hides worn by Ötzi, the 5,300-year-old body found in a glacier in 1991, came from sheep and cattle. The discovery indicates the so-called Iceman came from a herding culture, rather than a hunter-gatherer one. Perhaps he was murdered for his herd.
TURKEY: An analysis of leftover fats in more than 2,000 ceramic vessels shows that dairy consumption began 8,500 years ago, or about 2,000 years before the next oldest direct evidence of milk use. Bones found near some of the pots suggest it was cow milk, and experiments indicate it had been processed into something like yogurt, butter, or cheese. Good thing, too--back then nearly everyone was lactose intolerant and couldn't stomach raw milk. (Photo: Courtesy R. P. Evershed)
HAWAII: Off the remote Kure Atoll, maritime archaeologists located the remains of Gledstanes, a British whaling ship that foundered in heavy seas in 1837. Among other things, divers located a trypot for boiling down whale blubber and three massive anchors scattered across the reef. After wrecking, the waterlogged crew salvaged what they could and built a smaller boat, Deliverance, to seek help. (Photo: Courtesy NOAA)
PERU: He has a metal plate over each eye and one in his mouth, scarlet paint on his face, and a tattoo on his knee. This newly unraveled mummy from the little-known Chancay culture (A.D. 1000-1400) was found in the center of an ancient adobe-walled compound. Artifacts in the elite burial include whole ceramic vessels, a bag of fruit, and a wooden figurine dressed the same as the mummy. (Photo: Courtesy Kit Nelson)
AFGHANISTAN: Google Earth can be a fun way to pass the time--cruising around to find satellite images of your home or famous landmarks--but it is also a potentially groundbreaking archaeological tool. Using the free global map program, Australian researchers identified nearly 450 undiscovered possible sites across 500 square miles of the Registan desert region. They have shared the information with the Afghan Institute of Archaeology. (Photo: Google Earth)
CHINA: Archaeologists in Yunnan uncovered a veritable forest of 2,000 wooden poles driven 15 feet into the ground. Chinese researchers say the 3,000-year-old poles may have been the foundation of a communal dwelling that was part of the largest Neolithic community in China.
TASMANIA: The "overkill" theory--that humans hunted late Pleistocene animals to extinction--is out of favor for North America, but may still apply to islands. Scholars thought the large animals here were gone before humans arrived about 43,000 years ago. But the discovery of later remains suggests marsupials resembling giant sloths, leopards, and rhinos survived long enough to be wiped out by the spear. (Photo: Courtesy Peter Schouten)