The Roundup #92

After a long absence (and a startling illness to round out January 2018), we’re back with a weekend archaeological roundup. Enjoy!

The biggest news of the last couple of weeks – it even made the Wikipedia home page – is the discovery using LIDAR of a massive number of structures in the jungles of Guatemala. With more than 60,000 structures discovered, this suggests that the population of the region was much higher than originally thought.

Additionally, a cluster of structures have been identified in Saudi Arabia using similar technology.


The archaeological season has got off to a great start in the UK with, for example, the discovery of this Neolithic causeway in England.

A 2,000 year old building has been discovered on the isle of Lewis in Scotland during construction of a new home in the area.

A large Roman villa has been discovered along the Avon river in the West Midlands.

A gorgeous mosaic has been discovered by the Israel Antiquities Authority in Caesarea.

A Liao-era tomb with a drainage system has been discovered in China.

Evidence from Italy suggests that Neanderthals may have understood how to use fire to make wooden weapons and tools.

Analysis of ancient dice shows that they were not designed to land fairly until at least the Renaissance.

Evidence of another game – this time chess – has been identified in Norway.

A crown from Milas has been repatriated to Turkey from Scotland.

Analysis of glass beads from Nigeria suggest they were made locally rather than imported much earlier than previously thought.

New studies suggest that humans were making tools in India about 100,000 years ago.

From the Smithsonian:

Neapolitan pizza making has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status.

A remarkably well preserved tomb of a priestess has been discovered in a cemetery to the west of the Great Pyramid in Egypt.

The last known American slave ship may have been identified in Alabama.

From the CBC:

A 1.7 billion year old chunk of what is now Canada has been identified in Australia.

From the Atlantic:

A long-lost satellite has recently woken up and scientists are working to find out why.

From the Guardian:

A long-lost painting by one of Nigeria’s most important painters has been discovered in a flat in London.

A fascinating feature piece on the work archaeologists have been scrambling to do before a dam project in Turkey floods a sight entirely, not unlike the work done before the Aswan Dam destroyed such sites as Abu Simbel in the 20th century.


The Roundup #91

Two big pieces of news this week. First, researchers think they have discovered the disease that killed massive numbers of Aztecs – some estimate 80% of the population – in 1545. And second, a man-made pyramidal structure on one of the Greek islands has also been found to include other remarkable finds, including the beginnings of urban enterprise nearly 4,000 years ago.

Beyond that, here’s this week’s roundup. Enjoy!

From the CBC:

The 2016 discovery of a beautifully preserved antler arrow and bronze arrowhead found in the Yukon has been announced.

From Archaeology:

Further reporting on the disease – called “cocolitzli” in primary sources – that killed so many Aztecs in the 16th century.

Further reporting also on the pyramidal site at Dhaskalio in Greece.

Evidence of beer brewing has been identified in Greece dating to the Bronze Age. I’m not sure if this pushes the date back for brewing beer in Greece, so if anyone has any follow up to this, let me know.

From the Smithsonian:

Excavations – led by former Minister of Antiquities in Egypt, Zahi Hawass – have begun on what could possibly be the tomb of Ankhesenamun, the sister-queen of King Tut.

The Roundup #90

We’re in the final stretch to my 100th #roundup! Let’s hear it for my attention span, and a rather manic insistence that I stick to a plan.

Lots of interesting news this week, some of which has to do with prehistoric sites, as well as my other love – the Ancient Mediterranean. In addition, while I’m nursing my first cold/flu of the year, I have a box of tissues that has the Standing Stones of Callanish on it. Enjoy!


Hand axes from a 500,000 year old site have been recovered in Israel.

The best preserved wooden game board from north of the Mediterranean ever found has been discovered in Slovakia.

A 2,500 year old stone fort in Ireland has been damaged by recent extreme weather.

Several Hellenistic tombs – including one with a false door – have been unearthed near Alexandria in Egypt.

Mouth harps have been discovered in the Altai Republic in Siberia, one of which even still carries a tune.

Also in Siberia, a kurgan that looks to be undisturbed may house the remains of a Scythian prince.

A broch (a kind of roundhouse, not a piece of jewellery) has been discovered near Inverness in Scotland.

Evidence pointing to the rediscovery of the monastery where the Book of the Deer was written has been identified in Scotland.

From the Smithsonian:

A feature on the Hoxne Hoard.

From the Guardian:

Real life continues to prove the film Prometheus wrong. In this latest example, possibly the oldest depiction of a supernova has been identified in Kashmir, showing our sun, the nova, and the constellations Taurus and Orion.


The Roundup #89

Welcome to 2018, everyone! Even though Toronto has been in a deep freeze for the last two days, the rest of the world seems to be chugging along as per usual, and you know what that means? News from the archaeological world!

The highlight so far this year has to be the news that, after DNA sequencing was completed on two infant burials in Alaska, we’re being introduced to the Beringians. It’s been reported in the New York Times, the Guardian, and in Archaeology (that I’ve seen thus far), but I’m certain it’s going to be making the rounds for some time to come. And that’s lovely to see, since it’s not a straightforward idea being put forward with this news, and the general public is still interested. Knowledge may yet be catching on!

So without further ado, here’s this week’s roundup. Enjoy!

From The Toronto Star:

Possibly the oldest artifact yet discovered in Toronto – a small arrowhead – has been returned after it was lifted from Fort York on a school trip in 1935.

From the Smithsonian:

More overly dramatic video, but information gleaned from the teeth of gladiators exhumed at York suggest that poor youth were selected as gladiators and then beefed up (perhaps quite literally) to be the muscular machines of arena spectacle.


A wood henge has been discovered near the North Sea coast in Yorkshire, England, along with several other sites that suggest ritual activities went on here.

The site of Tel Al-Pharaeen is yielding a large variety of artifacts from Egypt’s Late Period.

A seal dating to the First Temple Period in Jerusalem has been discovered under the Western Wall plaza.

From the Tongtiandong Cave in northern China, layers of artifacts going back 45,000 years have been discovered.

Similar to last year’s news that a ritual bath had been discovered in Jerusalem following private renovations, a Song Dynasty tomb has been discovered under a house in China.

Archaeologists may have identified a ritual shrine of the Aztecs near an extinct volcano in Mexico.

A naturally mummified body of a child from Italy has been shown to have likely suffered from Hepatitis B, causing scarring and eventually death.


Best of 2017 Roundup

There’s been a lot in the news this year – not all of it great (mostly the gameshow antics coming out of the US) – but there have been some great discoveries this year that will reinforce your love of the world and all the history in it. One thing I noticed while going back over my posts from this year is that I apparently only started regular weekly roundups in July. The routine has turned out to be a good one, and there’s lots to look back on and enjoy again.

This “Best of” list has nothing to do with clicks, likes, celebrity, or star-power. Rather it’s a selection of the stories from this past year that I found particularly endearing. Enjoy!


My ongoing love of very old votive objects – particularly Venus figurines – was well fed this year with this discovery from Turkey.

The seat of the ancient kingdom of Rheged has been identified in Scotland.

The ongoing construction of Metro Line C in Rome has yielded some fantastic finds, including the barracks of the Praetorian Guard.

New evidence suggests that Greek theatres had moveable sets.

Evidence that Phoenicians manufactured disposable figures of gods makes for an all new dimension to this commercial, seafaring people.

What is being called “Little Pompeii” has been discovered near Lyon in France.

The USS Indianapolis has been discovered in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the Philippines.

Connections between the Viking and Arab worlds are becoming more clear following the identification of Arab text on Viking silk.

A possible inscription by the mysterious Sea Peoples is being translated from Luwian.

One of many stories of repatriation this year, marble from the Nemi ships is being returned to Italy.

Previously classified documents regarding President John F. Kennedy have been released and are being reviewed.

Better late than never, Ovid’s exile has been overturned.

Excavations have identified Caesar’s original landing site in Britain.

Archaeologists are releasing images of the items discovered in the Griffin Warrior tomb at Pylos.

And my person favourite of the year: wolves have been seen around Rome again for the first time in decades.


It seems like a long time ago, but ISIS/ISIL/Daesh destroyed much of the ancient site of Palmyra, including the famous Tetrapylon back in January.

Also from January is a rather appalling story of plans to build a freeway under Stonehenge. Paving paradise and putting up a parking lot seems positively ideal in comparison.

A live cannon ball discovered in Quebec City during routine construction dates back to the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in the 1700s.


The history of citrus fruit is ever changing, most recently due to the work of archaeobotanist Dafna Langgut.

A watercolour painting of a bird has been discovered in Antarctica.

A triceratops was discovered during construction work in Denver, Colorado.

What appears to be a figure with a feathered headdress was unearthed in Siberia.

Possibly the oldest original manuscript of the 100 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade has been saved from auction after France declared it a national treasure.

The oldest known compound eye has been identified from a fossil more than 500 million years old.


The Roundup #88

I hope you enjoy my last weekly roundup of 2017. As suggested by a rather astute friend, I will also be doing a Best of 2017 post before the year is out, so stay tuned!

From the Smithsonian:

The principia of the fabled Sixth Legion has been identified in Israel near Tel Megiddo (apparently also known as Armageddon). An earlier post by can be found here.

Have you cleaned out your attic recently? Westminster Abbey is doing so and, in the process, have found thousands of pieces of stained glass as well as (for all Monty Python fans out there) the oldest known stuffed parrot. also reports on it here.

I’m not a fan of the melodrama in this video, but evidence of gladiator burials in England is causing a stir for its similarity to burials at the other end of the empire.


A fortress in the Nile Delta near Wadi Tumilat has been identified. I had the pleasure of working on a Wadi Tumilat project, albeit tangentially, so this kind of news always interests me.

Childrens’ toys from the Bronze Age have been discovered at a gravesite in Russia.

A blockhouse from the Tudor period has been identified at Hull in the UK (I had to look up what a blockhouse was, but as soon as I saw the images in this Wikipedia article, I remembered).


The Roundup #87

This is my second last roundup of the year, because 2017 can go die in a fire. But archaeology was fun!


Military structures from the Bronze Age have been identified in Syria.

A mid-eighth century tomb has been discovered in Mongolia.

An extremely well-preserved 1,500 year old monastery has been discovered in Israel.

A basalt door with a menorah relief has been identified in Tiberias after it was reused in later building construction.

Sweden has repatriated 2,500 year old textiles to Peru after they were removed and donated to the Gothenburg Ethnographic Museum in 1935.

Artifacts are being recovered from the Clapham Coffeehouse under St. John’s College in Cambridge.

Marble objects have been repatriated to Lebanon by the Met in New York City.

From the New York Times:

Considered possibly the oldest original manuscript of The 100 Days of Sodom by the Marquis De Sade, this scroll was saved from auction when France declared it a national treasure.

In the ongoing hilarity that is Rome’s attempt to build its Metro Line C, wonderful things are being pulled from the earth detailing the history of this mighty city.

From The Long Now Foundation:

What appears to be the oldest evidence of timekeeping by human beings, a 10,000 year old lunar calendar has been identified in Scotland.