From February 29 to March 2, 2024 an online, free workshop on “Bioarchaeology in Mesopotamia” will showcase state-of-the-art bioarchaeological research in Mesopotamia.
“Bioarchaeology” is a broad umbrella term for research on biological remains recovered from archaeological contexts. Bioarchaeologists provide information on human health, diet, workload, mobility, and more. They reconstruct past ecologies and reveal ancient changes in climate. They illuminate economies and social structures, revealing how foods were produced, homes were furnished, and cities were cleaned (or not). They contribute information vital to understanding why people in the past settled where they did, and why they abandoned settlements.
The archaeological site of Toro Muerto, one of the largest assemblages of rock art in the world, lies in a small desert valley to the west of the Andean foothills. Much of it is decorated with petroglyphs (rock engravings) created by representatives of several local cultures who, over many centuries (probably from the beginning of our era until Inca times), came to this unique site to take part in ceremonies.
Watch the video describing the research at the site
Seventy-three intact burials in burial bundles, some with carved masks, have just been discovered at Pachacámac. The site of the find is an extensive complex of cemeteries from different periods at the foot of the Painted Temple. Nearby, wooden staff with images of dignitaries of the Wari Empire were also discovered.
The burials date from the second half of the Middle Horizon, that is, the time of the Wari Empire. The burial bundles were initially deposited individually and later also in groups. The state of preservation for most of them is spectacular.
Imagine an ancient Maya city in its heyday. You will probably see its ceremonial core, with lofty pyramids, elevated palaces, extensive plazas, and everything is either painted bright red, or blinding white. You notice courtiers strolling along private patios, and servants rushing in all directions with their daily tasks. Perhaps there you can catch a glimpse of the ruler, sitting on his cushioned throne somewhere in the guts of a complicated maze of corridors in his palace. There is a sound of a gentle breeze blowing through the roofcombs, and a murmur of indistinguishable conversations. Faint smells of food mix with those of flowers… Then you step outside of the core, and everything changes. Perishable architecture intertwines with small houselot gardens, there are people everywhere, and they all seem to be shouting. Dogs are barking, some turkeys block your way, kids play in a muddy puddle, and you feel nauseous because of the ever-present smell of human waste mixed with odors of organic decay…
Hang on, hang on! Is that really a plausible picture?
Metal objects from Mycenae are some of the most famous in the archaeological world. Homer memorably described Agamemnon’s Mycenae as “rich in gold”, proven accurate in 1876 when Henrich Schliemann uncovered tombs filled with astonishing gold artefacts, amongst many other valuable treasures.
Trudging through field notes kept in an obscure archaeological notebook for the 1939 archaeological excavations at Mycenae led to an unexpected discovery: a cache of metal artefacts from a rubbish pit near the monumentalTreasury of Atreus tomb, the so-called “Atreus bothros”. Yet the objects are unpublished and almost all are missing from the official finds catalogue! What happened to them? The mystery could only be solved by travelling back to 1939…
I opened the first box with fragments of pottery vessels. I took out, one by one, the artefacts kept in paper bags bearing still visible, but already faint labels written by professor Chmielewski nearly a quarter of a century earlier. I looked at the fragments and then had an idea!
“It was a paper envelope with bones inside” – remembers one professor when we ask him about child bones from Bramka Rockshelter. “It was somewhere among documents in professor Chmielewski’s office”. The office was closed after his death. I hold the documentation in hands, but the envelope is missing. This is how the story began.
I turn a tiny flint fragment in my hands. I can see that one of its sides was very accurately shaped with small percussions in order to make a triangular tool. It is slightly more than a centimetre long. I need to use a magnifying glass to see its details. Who made it? When? Was it made by the last European hunters? Why did they leave it in a cave?
From April 2nd to April 6th, 2023, the 50th International Conference on Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology was held in Amsterdam. Polish archaeology was represented by a strong interdisciplinary group, which prepared two sessions and presented 10 presentations and 2 posters.