Archaeology Magazine Archive

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from the trenches
World Roundup Volume 60 Number 2, March/April 2007

Europe Asia and the Pacific Africa South America North America


Inside a cave, next to a python-shaped rock, archaeologists may have found the remains of humankind's oldest known ritual. Researchers report evidence for what appears to be the ceremonial destruction of spearheads some 70,000 years ago--30,000 years earlier than the first ritual sites in Europe--but others are skeptical of the interpretation.

Asia & the Pacific

Inscriptions on two bronze urns found in the Shaanxi province contain 2,800-year-old evidence of bribery. The rare unheroic story is told in first-person by a nobleman who paid his way--in jade--out of accusations of appropriating farmland and slaves.

Papua New Guinea
Scholars have long been intrigued by the stylized faces that appear on early South Pacific Lapita pottery. Now it is thought that the 3,000-year-old faces might not represent ancestors but sea turtles, which are still part of local creation myths.

Central & South America

The time the archaeologists beat the looters. In 900-year-old pre-Inca graves, researchers have found hundreds of artifacts, including 12 tumis, a type of ceremonial knife that is now Peru's national symbol. It is the first time decorated tumis have been found by archaeologists instead of thieves.


Excavations on the tiny isle of Keros have revealed an unusually large cache of the modern-looking marble figurines made by the mysterious Bronze Age Cycladic culture. Many of the figurines and bowls appear to have been deliberately and repeatedly broken and jumbled up, suggesting that the small, barren island was a key ceremonial center.

On August 4, 1944, a Royal Air Force Halifax bomber with a crew of five Canadians and two Englishmen disappeared over Poland while delivering supplies to the resistance. Historians just discovered the rare plane buried in a field along with the remains of its crew. Officials are now searching for the men's families.

An idol of the Hindu deity Vishnu was found in exacavations at a remote village in the Volga region. The figure, which may be more than 1,000 years old, suggests some kind of contact between India and medieval Russia.

Near & Middle East

Let the toilets be your guide. An ancient latrine near the ruins of Qumran follows the unusual and stringent guidelines in both the Dead Sea Scrolls and historical accounts of the strict Jewish Essene sect--directly linking the sect, the scrolls, and the settlement as never before. The latrine was required to be hidden a specific distance northwest of the city, but it may have been very unsanitary, thus contributing to the poor health of Qumran's ancient residents.

Another day, another archaeologically rich region faces a massive dam project. The $6.5-billion Diamir-Bhasha Dam will inundate more than four square miles when it is completed. According to German archaeologists working there, it will imperil tens of thousands of rock carvings from the Neolithic period to the sixteenth century. Salvage plans are under consideration.

North America

The world's most famous archaeologist is back. Filmmakers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg announced that they are finally beginning production on the long-delayed fourth Indiana Jones film with 64-year-old star Harrison Ford. No word yet on what coveted artifact he'll be after.

© 2007 by the Archaeological Institute of America