Archaeology Magazine Archive

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World Roundup Volume 59 Number 6, November/December 2006

Europe Asia and the Pacific Africa South America North America


Mineral pigments discovered at the Twin Rivers cave site might be evidence that the human ancestor Homo heidelbergensis used paint 200,000 years ago. Researchers suggested that the red, black, pink, and purple ochers probably had some ritual significance. If so, heidelbergensis must have been capable of abstract thought, which would push back the earliest known example of such thinking by 100,000 years.

Asia & the Pacific

(Michael Amendolia)
Ancient Australians made tracks--in more ways than one. A new study of the world's largest collection of Pleistocene footprints at Mungo National Park shows that the 700 prints include the tracks of a family of five, a one-legged man who hopped, and a hunter running 23 miles per hour--as fast as an Olympic sprinter.
At an intact Scythian burial mound in the remote Altai Mountains, archaeologists discovered a 2,500-year-old mummy. Buried deep in the permafrost, the 40-year-old male warrior went to his death ready for a cold eternity, wearing a marmot fur coat lined with sheep wool and decorated with sable, along with knee-high felt boots.
(Courtesy German Archaeological Institute)

Central & South America

Scotland Yard's Art and Antiquities Squad has tracked down and seized an ancient Peruvian headdress in London. The embossed-gold artifact--depicting an eight-tentacled, cat-faced sea-god--dates to A.D. 700 and comes from the Mochica civilization. It was looted from the La Mina site in north Peru and disappeared into the black market in 1988.


The massive eruption of the volcanic island of Santorini in 1650 B.C., which may have contributed to the downfall of Minoan civilization, was nearly twice as large as previously thought. New seismic data show that the eruption spewed out 14 cubic miles of searing ash and molten rock, or more than six times the amount produced by the 1883 eruption of Krakatau in Indonesia.

In a peat bog, a construction worker discovered a Book of Psalms which dates between A.D. 800 and 1000. The 20-page book, written in Latin, quickly became a source of controversy among the apocalyptically inclined. The manuscript was found open to Pslam 83, which some interpret as referring to the destruction of Israel.

Authorities recently recovered a second-century A.D. statue of a Roman senator. It had been brazenly stolen from a park near the Colosseum in 1986 and wound up in Barcelona.

North America

In the suburbs of Quebec City, archaeologists recently unearthed charred timbers, a piece of Italian porcelain, and other artifacts they say are evidence for a long-lost fort established in 1541 by French explorer Jacques Cartier. The colony, Charlesbourg-Royal, predates Samuel de Champlain's permanent settlement there by more than 50 years. Although it lasted only two years, it was the first French outpost in the Americas.

In Calpulálpan, near Mexico City, evidence has emerged that the Aztecs did not always hail Spanish conquistadors as gods, but rather tore out their hearts and boiled their bones. Human skulls and bones with knife and teeth marks suggest Aztecs ritually sacrificed and partially ate more than 500 members of a Spanish caravan in 1520 as revenge for the murder of the Aztec king Cacamatzin.

[image] New York City
The building at 337 West 20th Street has been dubbed the "Muffin House" because Samuel Bath Thomas, of Thomas' English Muffins fame, once had a bakery there. When two residents recently pulled up floorboards on the first floor, they found proof: his old oven. Unfortunately, it doesn't smell much like freshly baked muffins anymore.

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Insider: Unfair Fairways?"

© 2006 by the Archaeological Institute of America