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Wednesday, November 14

Sixteenth-century infant skeletons uncovered on Mexico’s east coast show signs of malnutrition and acute anemia. Grave goods found with some of the children, including small figurines, suggest that what had been an important trading center before the arrival of the Spanish became an impoverished society. “The conquest was different from the rest of Mesoamerica because there were many scattered cities. It took the Spanish 20 years to conquer them all and when they did, they settled in the west. All the eastern part of Mesoamerica suffered the consequences of severed Mayan trade routes,” explained Velazquez Morlet of the National Institute of Anthropology and History.

An illegal construction site in Sicily’s Valley of the Temples  has been seized by the authorities. The seven Greek temples, which date to the fifth century B.C. and are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, sit on a ridge on the edge of the city of Agrigento.

A skeleton discovered in 1991 near Rome has been identified as that of a young man who stood six feet, eight inches tall. Simona Minozzi of the University of Pisa says the man, who lived during the third century A.D. and would have been more than a foot taller than his contemporaries, suffered from gigantism, a condition caused by a malfunctioning pituitary gland. His skull shows signs of a pituitary tumor. Only two other partial skeletons from antiquity have ever been diagnosed with the disease.

Archaeologist Bradley T. Lepper of the Ohio Historical Society explains how archaeologists approach questions  of the populating of North America and the transition from hunting and gathering to farming. How can you tell if the site you’ve just discovered is the oldest one in existence? You can’t, he explains. “Instead of looking for revolutionary moments in the past, we should be studying the evolutionary processes that led to these big changes,” he writes.

A series of rocks placed across a tidal creek in West Australia could be the remains of an ancient fish trap. Wooden stakes on the rocks would have held netting that would snag the fish as they moved with the tides. “It is difficult to determine how long these traps have been used, but we guess at least over the last 500 to 1000 years,” said archaeologist David Guilfoyle.

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