Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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[image] UTAH: By studying DNA from coprolites from the Turkey Pen Ruins, bones from dozens of other archaeological sites, and museum specimens, scientists have determined that turkeys were domesticated twice. The big birds were probably first tamed in Mexico around 800 B.C., and researchers had assumed that the Anasazi and other cultures of the American Southwest got their turkeys from the same stock. But the DNA shows that the Anasazi used a different lineage of gobblers, perhaps obtained from the east through trade around 200 B.C. (Photo: Courtesy Amerind Foundation)

[image] CALIFORNIA: If humans ever colonize the moon, then surely Tranquility Base, where Apollo 11 landed, will be its most iconic archaeological site. Heritage officials in California, home to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, have unanimously voted to declare the 106 items left behind by the mission, including the lander, U.S. flag, tools, space boots, and even bags of human waste, as a State Historical Resource. While no nation can claim sovereignty over space, the items left there are still property of the United States. New Mexico, home to the White Sands Missile Range, is considering a similar declaration. (Photo: Courtesy NASA)

[image] GREENLAND:From a 4,000-year-old tuft of hair, geneticists—the same team that reconstructed the mitochondrial DNA of a wooly mammoth—have resurrected the nuclear genome of a man from the Saqqaq culture that settled the New World Arctic. It is the first genome sequence of an extinct human lineage, and shows that the Saqqaq migrated from Siberia between 6,400 and 4,400 years ago, independent of the ancestors of Native Americans and Inuits. There were some personal genetic details as well: he had A-positive blood and dry earwax, and would eventually have gone bald. (Image Courtesy Eske Willerslev, University of Copenhagen; Illustration: Nuka Gotfredsen)

[image] UNITED KINGDOM: While we prefer popcorn with butter-flavored goo, the groundlings of 17th-century London ate a variety of berries, nuts, and shellfish (including cockles, mussels, and oysters), according to excavations at the sites of the Globe and Rose theaters, where Shakespeare and Marlowe put on their plays. The work also turned up many drinking vessels in the stage areas. Props or evidence of tippling actors? "O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains!" (Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

[image] SWEDEN: Wooden shipwrecks in the Baltic Sea, such as the 17th-century warship Vasa, now in its own museum in Stockholm, have it easy. The sea's low temperature and salinity preserve wood well, in part because they keep shipworms—actually wood-boring clams—at bay. But climate change appears to be causing warmer water temperatures, which might help these "termites of the sea" invade the sea's 100,000 well-preserved wrecks. As scientists try to think of protection strategies, the mollusks have already infested 100 of them. (Photo: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

[image] MONGOLIA:Think of it as early globalization. DNA from remains in a 2,000-year-old Xiongnu Empire (209 B.C.ľA.D. 93) grave show that its occupant had European or western Asian genes. The structure and location of the tomb suggest that he was friendly with the elites of what is considered a linguistically and ethnically diverse empire. Meanwhile, mitochondrial DNA from bones around the same age, found at Vagnari in southern Italy, indicate that their owner was of East Asian descent, possibly a worker or slave in the Roman Empire. (Photo: Courtesy Kyung-yong Kim, Chung-Ang University, Seoul, South Korea)

[image] NEW ZEALAND:A 24-foot-long waka—a native Maori canoe carved from a single log—emerged from a creekside near Auckland when a passerby saw a bit of it sticking out of the ground. It was later excavated from the soft mud by hand to avoid accidental damage. Based on the design, it might be a rare example of a waka ama, or outrigger canoe. (Photo: Courtesy Robert Brassey, Auckland Regional Council)

[image] ANTARTICA:In this space last issue, we brought you news of the discovery of butter in doomed explorer Robert Falcon Scott's base. This issue's bottom-of-the-world exploration update? Ernest Shackleton's booze. Crates of Scotch and brandy were recently removed from ice under his base at Cape Royds, where he and his crew spent the winter of 1908 during the aborted Nimrod expedition to the South Pole. Whyte and Mackay, the Scottish company that supplied the whisky, has requested a sample in the hopes of re-creating the blend for modern whisky lovers with a taste for adventure. (Photo: Courtesy New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust,

[image] GHANA:A recently unearthed collection of 80 terracotta statues, some depicting animal forms with human facial features, will tell archaeologists more about a little-known culture in the Koma region that preceded the rise of the first West African empires and the arrival of Islam from the east. Dating to between 1,000 and 1,400 years ago, the figures appear to have been part of shrines. But mysteries persist—such as why the culture suddenly disappeared. Did the people move, quickly convert to Islam, or fall victim to slave traders? (Photo: Courtesy Benjamin Kankpayeng, University of Ghana)

[image] SOUTH AFRICA:Expansion of Lovedale College in Eastern Cape Province was halted when workers found a huge cache of rifle barrels, bayonets, and swords from a period spanning nearly 150 years of the British military presence. They were destroyed and buried by soldiers in 1913, following the Boer Wars. In these bloody conflicts, Dutch and German settlers (the Boers) used guerilla tactics against the British Army, which in turn imprisoned Boer civilians in concentration camps, where thousands died. (Photo: Courtesy Amathole Museum, King William's Town, South Africa)