Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Editor's Letter: A Life's Work

What sometimes gets overlooked in our coverage of archaeology is the nature of the connection that archaeologists can have to their areas of study, especially as that relationship evolves over the years they devote to particular sites.

In "Archaeology of Titanic," underwater archaeologist James P. Delgado, who first dived the wreck and subsequently wrote about it for us more than a dozen years ago, speaks of revisiting the ship as part of a new expedition in 2010, and details the considerable changes, since then, in underwater archaeology. He also shares his view that Titanic, at last, can become an archaeological site in the truest sense.

In "Excavating Tel Kedesh," archaeologists Andrea Berlin and Sharon Herbert recount their more than 10 years of work at a tell in the rural interior of Israel's Upper Galilee region. This site, which lies along the Israeli-Lebanese border, yielded a richer story than they ever could have imagined.

Julie M. Schablitsky, in "Letter from California: A New Look at the Donner Party," reveals the ways in which archaeology is allowing a clearer interpretation of the situation that these doomed migrants faced. She also reflects on the ways in which it brought her own practice of archaeology into sharper focus.

Also in this issue you will find the latest analysis of Central Asia's more than 4,000-year-old nomadic culture. "Rethinking The Thundering Hordes," by contributing editor Andrew Lawler, challenges the long-held view that the peoples who lived in the areas covered by modern countries including Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan were destroyers of civilization. Rather, they may have helped to advance it.

Contributing editor Andrew Curry, in "Ancient Germany's Metal Traders," writes of an astonishing find made during the course of building a highway on-ramp in Dermsdorf, Germany: a jar filled with 100 bronze ax heads. This hoard, and the remains of Bronze Age structures, settlements, and burial sites discovered in the area, add up to significant evidence of a culture that maintained trade networks with places as far-flung as Denmark, Poland, and Scotland some 3,000 years ago.

Of course, even millennia ago, people knew that all work and no play was no way to live. In "Games Ancient People Played," Barbara Voorhies examines the discovery of circular patterns of holes in a clay floor in Mexico, and how archaeology may have determined that they are some of the earliest evidence of game-playing in the Americas.

And don't miss "From the Trenches," "World Roundup," and "Artifact," where you'll find our very own blend of everything that archaeological discovery has to offer.

Claudia Valentino
Claudia Valentino
Editor in Chief


Archaeology of Titanic
One hundred years after it sank, the wreck of Titanic has finally become what it was always meant to be: an archaeological site
by James P. Delgado

Excavating Tel Kedesh
More than a decade after they began working at an enormous mound in Israel's Upper Galilee region, two archaeologists reflect on their work
by Andrea Berlin and Sharon Herbert

Ancient Germany's Metal Traders
A post-Cold War construction boom is exposing evidence of a powerful Bronze Age culture
by Andrew Curry

Rethinking the Thundering Hordes
How pastoralist nomads carried civilization across Central Asia more than 4,000 years ago
by Andrew Lawler

Games Ancient People Played
An intriguing discovery in a Mexican swamp provides evidence of the earliest form of amusement in the Americas
by Barbara Voorhies


From the President
Open Access
by Elizabeth Bartman

From the Trenches

World Roundup
Excavating a Mormon tabernacle, cursing the local greengrocer, the world's earliest popcorn, and did Bantu-speaking farmers reshape central Africa's landscape?

Letter from California
A new look at the nototious Donner Party

A Roman figurine is the first depiction in bronze of an African child charioteer ever found

March/April 2012 | July/August 2012