Archaeology

Bowl of Fingers, Baby Victims, More Found in Maya Tomb

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: July 21, 2010   View Article

Reeking of decay and packed with bowls of human fingers, a partly burned baby, and gem-studded teeth—among other artifacts—a newfound Maya king’s tomb sounds like an overripe episode of Tales From the Crypt.

But the tightly sealed, 1,600-year-old burial chamber, found under a jungle-covered Guatemalan pyramid, is as rich with archaeological gold as it is with oddities, say researchers who announced the discovery Friday.

How the ancients celebrated the solstice

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: June 18, 2010   View Article

At sunrise on the Northern Hemisphere’s longest day of the year – the summer solstice– thousands of modern-day druids, pagans and partiers gather in the countryside near Salisbury, England, to cheer as the first rays of light stream over a circular arrangement of stones called Stonehenge. The original purpose of the ancient monument remains a source of academic debate. The large stones erected about 4,000 years ago are aligned with the summer solstice sunrise, leading scholars to suggest a link to an ancient sun-worshipping culture. Click the “Next” arrow above to learn about seven more ways ancient cultures marked the solstices – the longest and shortest days of the year.

Pyramid Tomb Found: Signs of Civilization’s Birth?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 18, 2010   View Article

After sheltering jeweled royals for centuries, the oldest known tomb in Mesoamerica—ancient Central America and Mexico, roughly speaking—has been uncovered, archaeologists announced Tuesday.

Apparently caught between two cultures, the 2,700-year-old pyramid in Chiapa de Corzo (map), Mexico, may help settle a debate as to when and how the mysterious Zoque civilization arose, according to excavation leader Bruce Bachand.

“Hobbits” Had Million-Year History on Island?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 17, 2010   View Article

Newfound stone tools suggest the evolutionary history of the “hobbits” on the Indonesian island of Flores stretches back a million years, a new study says—200,000 years longer than previously thought.

The hobbit mystery was sparked by the 2004 discovery of bones on Flores that belonged to a three-foot-tall (one-meter-tall), 55-pound (25-kilogram) female with a grapefruit-size brain.

The tiny, hobbit-like creature—controversially dubbed a new human species, Homo floresiensis—persisted on the remote island until about 18,000 years ago, even as “modern” humans spread around the world, experts say.

Headless Man’s Tomb Found Under Maya Torture Mural

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 12, 2010   View Article

The tomb of a headless man adorned with jade has been discovered beneath an ancient Mexican chamber famously painted with scenes of torture.

Found under the Temple of Murals at the Maya site of Bonampak, the man was either a captive warrior who was sacrificed—perhaps one of the victims in the mural—or a relative of the city’s ruler, scientists speculate.

“Lost” Amazon Complex Found; Shapes Seen by Satellite

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 4, 2010   View Article

Hundreds of circles, squares, and other geometric shapes once hidden by forest hint at a previously unknown ancient society that flourished in the Amazon, a new study says.

Satellite images of the upper Amazon Basin taken since 1999 have revealed more than 200 geometric earthworks spanning a distance greater than 155 miles (250 kilometers).

Eight ancient drinks uncorked by science

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: December 15, 2009   View Article

Throughout human history, alcoholic beverages have treated pain, thwarted infections and unleashed a cascade of pleasure in the brain that lubricates the social fabric of life, according to Patrick McGovern, an archaeochemist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

For the past several decades, McGovern’s research has focused on finding archaeological and chemical evidence for fermented beverages in the ancient world. The details are chronicled in his recently published book, “Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages.”

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach