Archaeology News for the Week of September 15th, 2013

September 15th

Ghosts in the Nation’s Attics?

Like cemeteries, old homes, and sunken ships, even museums may not be beyond the domain of investigators who specialize in detecting and documenting paranormal activity, experiences or events that lie outside the range of normal experience or rational explanation. After all, museums, sometimes called “the Nation’s attics”, contain artifacts that could date anywhere from several millions of years BP to recent history, and it seems, at least based on the literature of recorded events, ghosts and such like to hang out around things old or dead. (Popular Archaeology)

Dating of beads sets new timeline for early humans

An international team of researchers led by Oxford University has new dating evidence indicating when the earliest fully modern humans arrived in the Near East, the region known as the Middle East today. They have obtained the radiocarbon dates of marine shell beads found at Ksar Akil, a key archaeological site in Lebanon, which allowed them to calculate that the oldest human fossil from the same sequence of archaeological layers is 42,400–41,700 years old. This is significant because the age of the earliest fossils, directly and indirectly dated, of modern humans found in Europe is roughly similar. (

Laser Technology Reveals Mysterious New Features at Angkor

You can’t always tell a book by its cover, as the saying goes. Scientists are now discovering that the same principle applies to ancient cities that have been shrouded for centuries beneath jungle canopies. And Angkor, the famous capital of southeast Asia’s largest ancient empire and thought by many to have already long revealed its secrets, is apparently no exception. (Popular Archaeology)

Beheaded Maya Massacre Victims Found

Two dozen Maya war captives were beheaded, dismembered, and buried unceremoniously some 1,400 years ago at the site of Uxul, an international team reported on Tuesday. The victims were likely rulers of nearby towns at war with Uxul, located in southern Mexico, or the dethroned rulers of the town itself, according to the researchers. The discovery of the mass burial in an artificial cave adds to the evidence that the brutal warfare, torture, and sacrifice of captives widely depicted in ancient Maya artwork were real practices, says discovery team archaeologist Nicolaus Seefeld of Germany’s University of Bonn. (National Geographic)

Study Confirms Ancient River Systems in Sahara 100,000 Years Ago

Evidence from past research has suggested that, sometime during the period between 130,000 and 100,000 years ago, the Sahara desert region we know today was wetter, featuring rivers and lakes, providing an environment that many scientists theorize permitted the earliest modern humans to migrate northward from points southward in Africa toward the Mediterranean coastline and areas eastward into the Levant. (Popular Archaeology)

Archaeologists Uncover Hidden Structures in Ancient Maya City Through New Technology

El Pilar. The name means “watering basin”, reflecting its rich water resources. Spread across the border between western Belize and northeastern Guatemala, this ancient Maya city center is considered the largest site in the Belize River region, boasting over 25 known plazas and hundreds of other structures, covering an area of about 120 acres. Monumental construction at El Pilar began in the Middle Preclassic period, around 800 BCE, and at its height centuries later it harbored more than 20,000 people. (Popular Archaeology)


A Sarmatian burial mound excavated this summer in Russia’s Southern Ural steppes has yielded a magnificent but unusual treasure. The artefacts contained within the mound are helping to shed light on a little-known period of the nomadic culture that flourished on the Eurasian steppe in the 1st millennium BC. The archaeological study of this remarkable ancient tomb, or kurgan, was carried out by the expedition of the Institute of Archaeology (Russian Academy of Sciences), led by Professor Leonid T. Yablonsky. (Past Horizons)

Archaeologists Recover Ancient Boat Near Great Pyramid in Egypt

It was like looking at wood planks and timbers that were cut from their trees and shaped just a few decades ago. But these pieces were thousands of years old. About 4,500 years old, in fact. With a sense of urgency, a team donned in special white hazmat-like suites, gloves and face-masks, like surgeons, swiftly yet methodically removed, handled and examined scores of carefully and artfully cut pieces of wood. (Popular Archaeology)

Land of the tomb raiders

Real-life vampires, ancient sites to rival those of Greece and Rome – Bulgaria’s archaeologists are putting their country on the map of world history, but first they have to stop the mafia stealing its treasures. The illegal diggers come at night with shovels and sacks, hunting through the places where they know the professionals have been. They’re looking for the tonnes of ancient artefacts that lie hidden in Bulgaria’s soil. (The Independent)