A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
In This Issue
On December 18, 1994, in the southern Ardeche region of France, three speleologists had climbed the cliffs above the Ardeche River and were picking their way along a mule path that led to a small opening in the cliff face. Once they squeezed through, they began to search for drafts that might indicate the presence of larger spaces. Jean-Marie Chauvet, Éliette Brunel Deschamps, and Christian Hillaire did indeed detect a flow of air. They followed a narrow passage and climbed down into an enormous chamber. What they discovered that night is now known as Chauvet Cave, site of the world's oldest paintings.
Since the discovery of Chauvet, only a handful of researchers has been able to view the extensive galleries filled with sophisticated paintings of horses, lions, and other animals dating back some 30,000 years. This spring, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, a new movie by renowned filmmaker Werner Herzog, documents the site, and will offer the public a rare and intimate view of Chauvet's masterpieces.
Herzog, whose films such as Fitzcarraldo and Nosferatu have dealt evincingly with themes of humanness and the soul, spoke with senior editor Zach Zorich. In our interview, "Werner Herzog on the Birth of Art," they discuss the new movie, his decision to film in 3-D for the first time, and his unique ties to archaeology.
In "Reading the Yellow River," Shanghai-based writer Lauren Hilgers surveys work in China's Henan Province to excavate a vast site preserved some 2,000 years ago by the capricious flooding habits of the Yellow River. For the first time, archaeologists are now uncovering signs of a prosperous Han Dynasty farming community.
The deep waters of the Adriatic have hidden hundreds of shipwrecks, dating from antiquity and more modern times, due to the decades-long prohibitions against exploration during Communist rule. In "The Adriatic's Uncharted Past," science journalist Mara Hvistendahl joins an international team aboard the R/V Hercules as they explore the Albanian coast for evidence of ancient trade routes.
In "The New Upper Class," contributing editor Andrew Curry surveys three emblematic Copper Age sites that show how metalworking created both wealth and social hierarchy in ancient Europe. At sites all across the continent, decades of dogma are being overturned as the complex nature of society more than 6,000 years ago is revealed.
Plus, microarchaeology helps detect what the eye can't see, some of Europe's oldest guns and the Wars of the Roses, ancient lessons for water conservation today, and much more. Happy reading!
Editor in Chief
Reading the Yellow River
Preserved by centuries of flood-borne silt, a rural landscape offers
a new look at the Han Dynasty
by Lauren Hilgers
The Adriatic's Uncharted Past
Once closed to exploration,
the waters off the Albanian coast begin to give up their secrets
by Mara Hvistendahl
Pieces of History
On one of Britain's most famous battlefields, early gun fragments hint at a new style of warfare
by Jarrett A. Lobell
on the Birth of Art
The famed director of more than 60 films speaks with ARCHAEOLOGY Senior Editor Zach Zorich about Chauvet Cave
The New Upper Class
Recent digs at Copper Age sites across Europe are overturning long-held beliefs about the continent's earliest cultures
by Andrew Curry
From the PresidentReady to Serveby Elizabeth Bartman
From the TrenchesThe expanding archaeological toolbox, Puerto Rican petroglyphs, and recent collapses in Pompeii
The rise and fall of ancient Egypt and squabbling over a Sumerian city
Secret message from the Civil War, a black velvet mask, a Neanderthal family's grisly end, first ground-edge tool, rock art vandals, and the oldest soup
Insider: Phoenix's Looming Water CrisisAncient irrigation systems in the Southwest point the way toward sustaining modern water supplies
by Brain Fagan
Letter from Iraq
An American soldier reflects on his experience
at the ancient city of Ur
by Michael Taylor
ArtifactA working Antikythera Mechanism—made out of Legos
January/February 2011 | May/June 2011