Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

Special Introductory Offer!
latest news
Archaeology Magazine News Archive

Visit for the latest archaeological headlines!

Friday, December 7
by Jessica E. Saraceni
December 7, 2012

Archaeologists are searching New Zealand for Maori ovens that can be reliably dated because the superheated stones that line the ovens can help scientists learn how the Earth’s magnetic field has changed over the past 10,000 years. “We have very good palaeomagnetic data from across the world recording field strength and direction – especially in the Northern Hemisphere. The southwest Pacific is the gap, and in order to complete global models, we’re rather desperate for good, high-resolved data from our part of the world,” explained Gillian Turner from Victoria University. In fact, the volcanic boulders chosen by the Maori for use in their ovens contain a high concentration of magnetite, which is ideal for the scientists’ measurements.

Some 150 grape seeds dating to the first century A.D. have been unearthed at the Etruscan site of Cetamura del Chianti in Italy. The seeds were found in a waterlogged ancient well, so their DNA may have been preserved well enough for study. “We don’t know a lot about what grapes were grown at that time in the Chianti region. Studying the grape seeds is important to understanding the evolution of the landscape in Chianti. There’s been lots of research in other vineyards but nothing in Chianti,” explained Nancy Thomson de Grummond of Florida State University.

Thirty-two intact graves have been found in a 3,000-year-old cemetery in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. Most of those graves contained two skeletons, one male and one female, facing each other. Artifacts such as hairpins, spindles, pots, copper and bronze ornaments, and pieces of iron have also been found. “So these graves were opened, reopened, reburied and filled and emptied and refilled several times because [they belonged] to families who were using it for more than one generation,” explained Italian archaeologist Luca Maria Olivieri. The worked iron may be some of the oldest in the area.

A mass grave in Queensland holds the remains of 29 Pacific Islanders, some of the thousands of people who worked as indentured laborers  in Australian sugar cane fields and on fruit plantations between 1863 and 1904. “Indentured labor is a term people use to soften the reality of what happened. Australia had an era of slavery,” said local leader Matthew Nagas.

Comments posted here do not represent the views or policies of the Archaeological Institute of America.

Comments are closed.