Archaeology

Zapotec Digs in Mexico Shows Clues to Rise and Fall

Publication: National Geographic magazine   Date: March 9, 2009   View Article

When it comes to pre-Columbian civilizations, the Aztec and Maya—known for their spectacular pyramids and temples, hieroglyphic writing systems, and elaborate, violent rituals—often overshadow the Zapotec, their less familiar counterparts centered in southern Mexico.

But the Zapotec also played a vital role in ancient Mesoamerica, and archaeologists are seeking new clues to the rise and fall of their culture and civilization, which flourished and declined in the Valley of Oaxaca at roughly the same time as the ancient Maya.

Oldest Human Footprints With Modern Anatomy Found

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: February 26, 2009   View Article

About 1.5 million years ago, human ancestors walked upright with a spring in their steps just as modern humans do today, suggests an analysis of ancient footprints found in northern Kenya.

The prints are the oldest known to show modern foot anatomy.

The discovery also helps round out the picture of a cooling and drying episode in Africa that compelled tree-dwelling human ancestors to venture into the open landscape for food, said John Harris, a paleoanthropologist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

10 shipwrecks that capture our imaginations

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: February 17, 2009   View Article

The Titanic, the 46,000-ton “unsinkable” ocean liner that struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage in 1912 and sank within hours to the bottom of the North Atlantic, is the world’s most famous shipwreck. But it’s not the only wrecked ship steeped in history – if not treasure – discovered on the bottom of the sea. Learn about nine more shipwrecks that have enriched our imagination.

“Nanodiamond” Find Supports Comet Impact Extinction Theory

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: January 5, 2009   View Article

The discovery of tiny “nanodiamonds” supports a controversial theory that a catastrophic bombardment of space rocks altered the course of Earth history.

About 12,900 years ago, Earth was escaping the grips of an ice age when something triggered a sudden refreeze.

Superdirt Made Lost Amazon Cities Possible?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: November 19, 2008   View Article

Centuries-old European explorers’ tales of lost cities in the Amazon have long been dismissed by scholars, in part because the region is too infertile to feed a sprawling civilization.

But new discoveries support the idea of an ancient Amazonian urban network—and ingeniously engineered soil may have made it all possible.

Ten fossils that evolved the tale of our origins

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: October 16, 2008   View Article

Where did we come from? Many truth seekers turn to faith and religion and therein find their answers. Others approach the question through a scientific lens and the theory of evolution. They have pieced together a tale of human origins from the fossils of our ancestors. The tale is incomplete and its telling reshaped with fresh interpretation of the growing fossil record.

Ancient Amazon Cities Found; Were Vast Urban Network

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 28, 2008   View Article

Dozens of ancient, densely packed, towns, villages, and hamlets arranged in an organized pattern have been mapped in the Brazilian Amazon, anthropologists announced today.

The finding suggests that vast swathes of “pristine” rain forest may actually have been sophisticated urban landscapes prior to the arrival of European colonists.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach