A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
EgyptThe granite quarry at Aswan holds one of the largest obelisks ever attempted, estimated at 1,100 tons and unfinished due to cracks. Researchers may have discovered how the ancient Egyptians moved such massive monuments to their final destinations--an ancient trench around 8 feet deep, potentially part of a canal system to float or slide obelisks out during the Nile's annual flood. Groundwater in the now-filled trench, however, contributes to damaging salt deposits.
ArgentinaNew analysis of hair from the startlingly well-preserved "Llullaillaco Maiden," a 15th-century child mummy found on a high peak in the Andes, shows that her sacrifice was planned in advance. A year before she died, her diet changed to include foods consumed by the elite, such as maize and llama meat, suggesting her social status was raised to make her fit for sacrifice. Then she was led on a grueling hike up the mountain and either killed or left to die.
Czech RepublicIn south Moravia, archaeologists found half of a 7,000-year-old statue of a woman, according to local reports. The two-foot-long ceramic fragment is unusual because it is hollow and, if complete, would be the largest statue from the Moravian Painted Ware culture, noted for its pottery. The researchers named it "Hedvika" because the day it was found--October 17--is a Czech holiday for all people who bear that name.
NorwayIn 1904, excavators at the Oseberg farm found a 65-foot Viking ship buried in 834 with the body of a high-status woman. Her remains were reinterred (minus the vessel, now in an Oslo Museum) in 1948, only to be dug up again in 2007. Researchers exhumed the body for DNA tests to determine if another woman buried in the same mound was her daughter or a maid sacrificed to serve her in the afterlife.
Near & Middle East
SyriaRecently discovered 11,000-year-old paintings--the earliest known decoration on a man-made wall--at Djade al-Mughara look like modern art. The geometric shapes were painted with burnt hematite, crushed limestone, and charcoal.