Science

Digging Up History: The Latest Archaeology News
A 6,000-year-old lost city is found, a mysterious lead sarcophagus opened, and the tomb of the priestesses uncovered. Plus golden currency, Jerusalem's past, and more.

Prehistoric Stone Seal

This red stone seal with a deer carved into red stone was unearthed in the prehistoric town of Tell Zeidan. The stone is not native to the area, but the seal is similar to one found 185 miles to the east near Mosul in northern Iraq. The town that had remained untouched beneath the ground near Syria for 6,000 years is now revealing clues about the first cities in the Middle East prior to the invention of the wheel.

Gil Stein, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Baked Clay Carvings

This seven-inch-tall female figurine is from the Ubaid period and is made of baked clay. It was uncovered at Tell Zeidan, a prehistoric town that had remained untouched beneath the ground near Syria for 6,000 years and is now revealing clues about the first cities in the Middle East prior to the invention of the wheel.

Gil Stein, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Tell_Zeidan_Vase

This strainer-spouted pitcher is from the Halaf period and dates from about 5400 B.C. It is painted and impressed in a pattern of connected ovals that is a common motif in the Halaf culture.A prehistoric town that had remained untouched beneath the ground near Syria for 6,000 years is now revealing clues about the first cities in the Middle East prior to the invention of the wheel.

Gil Stein, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Lead Sarcophagus

A lead sarcophagus, folded over to resemble a burrito, as it was found in a tomb outside Rome. The 1,700-year-old sarcophagus was found in an abandoned city and could contain the body of a gladiator or a Christian dignitary, say archaeologists who are preparing to examine the coffin.

 

Jeffrey Becker/National Geographic

The Collapse of Nero's Palace

March 30: Italian firefighters work next to a part of the collapsed ceiling of a gallery in the complex which includes Nero's Golden Palace.

AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

Skeletons and Jewels

Archeologists discovered the remains of a high priestess and her three female protegees at an ancient necropolis in Greece -- a discovery that can shed light on the early ages. At the ancient necropolis of Orthi Petra in Crete, Greece, they found a number of female skeletons, laid to rest with jewels made from luxury materials such as gold, silver and ivory. The richness of the burial offerings show that these women were of high standing -- priestesses, healers or sorcerers. It also suggests that the women were not inferior to men, since they were buried just feet from male warriors. 

Prof. N. Ch. Stampolidis/archaeology.org

Mycenaean Warrior Medallion

Archeologists discovered the remains of a high priestess and her three female protegees at an ancient necropolis in Greece -- a discovery that can shed light on the early ages. Amid the jewels was a war medallion, another sacred adornment found at the tomb of the priestesses.

Prof. N. Ch. Stampolidis/archaeology.org

Gold Lion Pendant

Archeologists discovered the remains of a high priestess and her three female protegees at an ancient necropolis in Greece -- a discovery that can shed light on the early ages. Amid the jewels was a crescent lion gold pendant. The lion is a beloved theme on the famous bronze shields of the Idaean Cave and in the necropolis of Eleutherna.

Prof. N. Ch. Stampolidis/archaeology.org

Entrance to the Priestess Tomb

Over the past two and a half decades, archaeologists have excavated the acropolis, city, and necropolis of ancient Eleutherna under the direction of Nicholas Stampolidis. Excavations have shown that the people who lived here--descendants of the Bronze Age civilizations of both the Minoans and the Mycenaeans--controlled a vast territory, beginning around the ninth century B.C. The site is 10 miles from the so-called "cave of Zeus," where the head of the Greek pantheon was raised.

Prof. N. Ch. Stampolidis/archaeology.org

Homo Floresiensis Skull

A researcher holds a skull of a Homo floresiensis in Indonesia. The race of hobbit-like creatures may once have existed on the remote island of Flores, where an international team is trying to shed light on the fossilized 18,000-year-old skeleton of a dwarf cavewoman whose discovery in 2003 was an international sensation.

AP Photo/Puslitbang Arkenas

Bird_Fossils_2

This March 23, 2010 photo provided by the Dallas Museum of Nature & Science shows a fossilized prehistoric bird, discovered by amateur paleontologist Kris Howe,34, near Grapevine Lake near Fort Worth, Texas. The fossilized bones are about 96 million years old and from a previously undiscovered species of flightless, carnivorous bird that probably resembled a modern roadrunner, museum paleontologist Ron Tykoski said at a news conference earlier this month to announce the discovery

Egypt in New York

A 25-foot tall replica statue of the Egyptian god Anubis, with a suitcase at his feet, passes in front of the Brooklyn Bridge while taking a tour of the New York waterways, Tuesday, March 23, 2010. The statue was traveling to announce the upcoming exhibit "Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" starting on April 23 at the Discovery Times Square Exposition.

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Queen_Behenu_Burial_Chamber

This undated photo released by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo, Wednesday March 3, 2010, shows part of the unearthed burial chamber with well preserved religious texts for the more than 4,000 year old Queen Behenu from Egypt's Old Kingdom, at the ancient burial site in Saqqara, Egypt.

AP Photo/Supreme Council of Antiquities

Door to Afterlife

This undated photo taken in Egypt and released by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities on Monday, March 29, 2010, is said by them to show a nearly six-foot-tall slab of pink granite used as a false door in the tomb of User, the chief minister of Queen Hatshepsut, which has been unearthed in Egypt. The Egyptian antiquities authority says archaeologists have unearthed the 3,500-year-old false door from the tomb of the high-ranking Egyptian official near Karnak temple in Luxor.

Supreme Council of Antiquities

Alexander the Great Graces Coinage

Feb. 17: A staff member from Bulgaria's National History Museum shows a 2,300-year-old golden coin engraved with the profile of Alexander the Great.

AP

Excavations in the Old City

Feb. 22: An Israeli archaeologist said Jerusalem's ancient fortifications date back 3,000 years to the time of the Bible's King Solomon -- and offer evidence for the accuracy of the biblical narrative.

AP

Life in the Age of Byzantium

Feb. 10: The Madaba mosaic map, found in a Jordanian church, provides unprecedented evidence of what life was like in Jerusalem in Byzantine times, according to archaeologists. Red marks are placed in the area representing a recently excavated Byzantine street in Jerusalem's Old City. Archeologists said the discovery of the street confirms that the Madaba map was accurate.

AP

Rome's Lasting Stamp

Feb. 18: This tile bearing the Roman Tenth Legion stamp was discovered in an ancient aqueduct during an archeological excavation in Jerusalem's Old City.

AP

Words From the Past

Feb. 17: Archaeologist Annette Nagar of Israel's Antiquities Authority holds a fragment of a marble plaque with an Arabic inscription dated to 910 A.D., discovered in Jerusalem's Old City. The fragment of a 1,100-year-old plaque is thought to have been made by an army veteran to express his thanks for a land grant from the Caliph al-Muqtadir, who the inscription calls "Emir of the Faithful."

AP

Egypt's Golden Boy

Feb. 17: Two of Egypt's famed King Tutankhamun's golden sarcophagi are displayed at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt. Two years of DNA testing and CT scans on King Tutankhamun's 3,300-year-old mummy and 15 other mummies have provided the cause of death and the firmest family tree yet for Tut -- pointing to Pharaoh Akhenaten as Tut's father, Akhenaten's sister as Tut's mother, and Queen Tiye as Tut's grandmother.

AP

Under the Mask

Feb. 15: Tourists crowd around the golden mask of King Tutankhamun at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Egypt. Egypt's famed King Tut suffered from a cleft palate and club foot, likely forcing him to walk with a cane. He died of complications from a broken leg exacerbated by malaria, according to the most extensive study of his mummy ever completed.

AP

A Look at Ancient Israel

Feb. 15: Israeli Antiquities authority archeologist Uzi Ad, right, and his team are seen next to a 1,400-year-old wine press found near the kibbutz of Hafetz Haim, central Israel.

AP

Ancient Iraq's Hidden Treasures

Feb. 4: A stone block bears cuneiform script writing in the ancient city of Ur.

AP

The Cradle of Civilization

Feb. 4: A marvel of ancient architecture, the city of Ur's ziggurat, near Nasiriyah, Iraq, was a place of worship for Mesopotamians. Irreplaceable pieces of Iraq's ancient past exist in Ur. Thousands of artifacts, dating back to at least 2450 B.C., are believed to be buried under a dusty expanse there, an archaeological treasure billed as southern Iraq's next big tourist attraction. But money for fences, sidewalks and scientific excavation to protect the ruins are tied up in a budget process that will not be resolved until Iraq's new government is seated.

AP

Cyrus Cylinder

Feb. 8: The British Museum shows its Cyrus Cylinder, a 6th century B.C. clay tablet thought to be the world's earliest bill of rights. Iran said it will cut ties with the British Museum because of the museum's failure to lend Tehran the ancient Babylonian artifact. The spat over the loan has long festered between London and Tehran, and now continues against the backdrop of increasingly tense Iranian-British relations. The artifact gives an account, in cuneiform, of the conquest of Babylon by Persian King Cyrus the Great in 539 B.C.

AP

Aphrodite After Rome

The Roman marble statue of Aphrodite Pudica.

AP Photo/ Rupert Wace Ancient Art

Mayan Ceramic Head

Jan. 27: A ceramic head found in a newly discovered tomb near Ocosingo village in Mexico's Chiapas state. Archaeologists from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History announced the discovery of the site in Dec. 2009. The site dates from 840-900 B.C.

AP

Mayan Tomb Unearthed

Jan. 27: Skeletal remains and an artifact sit in a newly discovered tomb at the Mayan Tonina archeological site near Ocosingo village in Mexico's Chiapas state.

AP

All That Glitters

Jan. 25: A miniature gold coffin seized by police in southern city of Limassol, Cyprus. Cyprus police said they had broken up an antiquities theft ring negotiating a $15.5 million deal to sell artifacts dating as far back as 2,000 B.C. Police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos said 10 Cypriots had been arrested and another five, including a Syrian man, were being sought in the case, believed to be the largest of its kind in the Mediterranean island's history. The suspects face charges of illegally possessing and trading in antiquities. 

AP

Take a Penny, Leave a Penny

Jan. 25: Antique coins that are part of the collection rescued from black market sale by Cyprus police in Limassol, Cyprus.

AP

Urns Aplenty

Jan. 25: Stolen antique urns that were confiscated from thieves in Limassol, Cyprus.

AP

A Jumble of Jugs

Jan. 25: Antiquities seized by police in Limassol, Cyprus.

AP

Fallen in France

Jan. 30: Australian soldiers carry the coffin of a fellow comrade, killed in World War I, during a ceremony of re-burials in Fromelles, France. Archaeologists have begun excavating a cluster of mass graves in northern France that contain the remains of hundreds of Australian and British soldiers who perished during the Battle of Fromelles in July 1916.

AP

Last Rites

Jan. 30: Almost a century after they fell in the Battle of Fromelles, the first of the Australian and British soldiers is buried with full military honors at a ceremony in France.

AP

Walking on History

Feb. 4: A youth walks on top of the glass-covered renovated monks quarters, part of the completed restoration works at the Monastery of St. Antony, near Suez city, Egypt. Egypt's antiquities chief unveiled the completion of an 8-year, $14.5 million restoration of the world's oldest Christian monastery, touting it as a sign of Christian-Muslim coexistence.

AP

Neanderthal Tooth Fairy

Feb. 1: Szczecin University's Department of Archaeology displayed one of three Neanderthal teeth a team of Polish scientists discovered in the southern part of the country. Mikolaj Urbanowski, an archaeologist and the lead researcher, said Neanderthal artifacts have been unearthed in Poland before, but the teeth are the first remains of Neanderthals themselves discovered in the country.

AP

Pyramid Builders

 Jan. 11: Bones, believed to belong to the pyramid builders, are seen in a tomb near the site of the Pyramids, in Giza, Egypt. Egyptian archaeologists discovered a new set of tombs belonging to the workers who built the great pyramids, shedding light on how the laborers lived and ate more than 4,000 years ago, the antiquities department said. 

AP

'Princess Diana' of Her Day

The sculpture from the 13th century assumedly represents the ruling pair King Otto the 1st and his wife Queen Editha, formerly Princess Eadgyth, left. More than 1,000 years after she was sent to Germany to marry the ambitious Saxon king, experts believe they have identified the body of Princess Eadgyth or Editha, a well-loved English royal one archeologist called the Diana of her day. 

Should scientific tests on her bones prove conclusive, they would make Eadgyth the oldest member of the English royal family whose remains have survived. 

AP

Ancient Cat-Goddess Bastet

Jan. 19: The ancient cat-goddess Bastet found among the temple's ruins in the Kom el-Dekkah area of the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria. Egypt says its archaeologists have unearthed a Ptolemaic temple dating back more than 2,000 years and which may have been dedicated to the ancient cat-goddess. 

AP

Adamic Limestone Head

Jan. 19: Egypt's supreme council of antiquities shows an Adamic limestone head found among the temple's ruins in the Kom el-Dekkah area of the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria. Egypt says its archaeologists have unearthed a Ptolemaic temple dating back more than 2,000 years and which may have been dedicated to the ancient cat-goddess Bastet. 

AP

New Tombs

 Jan. 10: Egyptian archaeologists have discovered a new set of tombs of the workers who built the great pyramids, shedding new light on how the laborers lived and ate more than 4,000 years ago, the antiquities department said Sunday. Zahi Hawass, the director of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, says the tombs are significant because they show that the pyramids were not built by slaves, but rather free workers. 

AP

Pottery

Jan. Pottery and bones in a tomb, in Giza, Egypt. Egyptian archaeologists have discovered a new set of tombs of the workers who built the great pyramids, shedding new light on how the laborers lived and ate more than 4,000 years ago, the antiquities department said.

 Zahi Hawass, the director of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, says the tombs are significant because they show that the pyramids were not built by slaves, but rather free workers.

AP

Kebash Road

Jan. 24: Egyptian workers in Luxor, Egypt, restore the Alley of Sphinxes, known as the "Kebash Road." The ruins were originally lined with 1,200 sphinxes and were built by Amenhotep III in the 12th century B.C. Luxor is set to become the world's largest open-air museum as a multi-million dollar project to restore the Alley of Sphinxes begins in the south of Egypt, said the governor of Luxor Sunday. 

AP

Warring States Period

Jan. 16: Chinese archeologists and workers move away planks that cover an ancient coffin at a tomb dating back to the Warring States Period (481-221 BC) in Yancang village, Jingmen city, in central China's Hubei province. 

The main tomb, which is called Huanzizhong, is 33.2m long, 30.6m wide and 19.1m deep. According to archeologists, the tombs may belong to a noble of the Chu Kingdom, which occupied vast areas of central and southern China in the Warring States Period.

AP

Alley of Sphinxes

Jan. 24: Egyptian workers in Luxor, Egypt, restore the Alley of Sphinxes, known as the "Kebash Road," which was originally lined with 1,200 sphinxes and was built by Amenhotep III in the 12th century.

AP

Ancient Coffin

Jan. 16:  Chinese archeologists and workers lift a plank that covers an ancient coffin at a tomb dating back to the Warring States Period (481-221 BC) in Yancang village.

AP

Mirror, Year 240

Jan. 4: A fragment of a bronze mirror was among 81 that Kashihara Archeological Institute said were found at a tomb mound in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture. The mirror the piece belongs to has an inscription of an era name and year that suggests it is from the year 240, the same year the emissary to China of legendary Japanese ruler Queen Himiko is believed to have returned home.

AP

Editha Casket

Textile pieces taken from the "Editha Casket" are under a microscope at the state office for the preservation of monuments and archeology in Halle, eastern Germany. Experts say they may have found the body of England's Princess Eadgyth, more than 1,000 years after she was carted off to Germany to marry an ambitious Saxon duke. 

AP

Ancient Beads

Jan. 4: Cylindrical bead made of glass and jasper beads were unearthed at a tomb mound in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture. The Kashihara Archeological Institute said 81 copper mirrors were also found at the tomb mound believed to have been created between the end of the 3rd century and beginning of the 4th century to bury a great king. 

AP

Artifacts

Jan. 22: Various artifacts taken from an excavation site in Indiana in the mid-1970's sit on a tray waiting to be organized as part of the Veterans Curation Project in St. Louis. 

The project, funded with federal stimulus money, utilizes U.S. veterans to process and archive some of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' collection of treasures discovered at levee, dam and reservoir sites from the late 1930s to the mid-1980s. 

AP

Veterans Curation Project

Jan. 22: U.S. Army veteran Sean Box organizes artifacts as part of the Veterans Curation Project  in St. Louis. 

The project, funded with federal stimulus money, utilizes U.S. veterans to process and archive some of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' collection of treasures excavated at levee, dam and reservoir sites from the late 1930s to the mid-1980s. 

AP

Prehistoric Building

Jan. 11: Israeli archaeologists work at an excavation site of the Neolithic period in Tel Aviv. Israel's Antiquities Authority say the remains of a prehistoric building as well as ancient flint tools have been discovered in the modern city of Tel Aviv. 

AP

Ptolemy Temple

Jan. 19: The remains of Ptolemy temple unearthed in the Kom el-Dekkah area of the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria. Egypt says its archaeologists have unearthed a Ptolemic temple dating back more than 2,000 years and which may have been dedicated to the ancient cat-goddess Bastet. 

AP

American Indian Ruins Destroyed

Jan. 18:   Jacksonville State University professor of archaeology and anthropology Harry Holstein holding a topographic map showing the new oxford recreation complex while standing at the location where the remnants of an American Indian village used to be in Oxford, Ala.

The professor says the ancient site that Oxford city officials agreed not to disturb has been destroyed, but he does not know by whom. 

AP

Digging Up History: The Latest Archaeology News

A 6,000-year-old lost city is found, a mysterious lead sarcophagus opened, and the tomb of the priestesses uncovered. Plus golden currency, Jerusalem's past, and more.

More From Our Sponsors