Anthropology and Archaeology

Anthropology and Archaeology
▪ 2009


      Among the key developments in 2008 in the field of physical anthropology was the discovery by a large interdisciplinary team of Spanish and American scientists in northern Spain of a partial mandible (lower jaw) with several teeth still in place and an isolated lower premolar from the same individual. A combination of three different dating techniques indicated that the remains were 1.1 million–1.2 million years old, which made them the oldest-known hominin fossils in Europe by at least 250,000 years. The mandible was associated with 32 simple stone artifacts, including chert flakes, and with animal remains that clearly showed evidence of human processing. The site, Sima del Elefante, was located near Gran Dolina and several other sites in the Sierra de Atapuerca that had yielded many pre-Homo sapiens fossils. The new material was provisionally assigned to Homo antecessor, the supposed ancestor of Homo heidelbergensis. (H. antecessor was the same taxon to which previously reported remains from Gran Dolina had been assigned.) Similarities to earlier mandibular material from Dmanisi, Georgia, dated to 1.77 million years ago led to the following speculative scenario: hominins that emerged from Africa about 1.8 million years ago settled in the Caucasus and eventually evolved into H. antecessor, which in turn populated western Europe by 1.3 million years ago. Europe would therefore have been inhabited by hominins much earlier than previously thought and from migrations that originated in western Asia rather than directly from Africa.

      A new study by two American paleoanthropologists confirmed that the six-million-year-old taxon Orrorin tugenensis was the oldest upright bipedal hominin in the fossil record. These Kenyan fossils, which were discovered in 2000, had been a source of controversy in terms of their supposed hominin affinities and locomotor capabilities. Previously, the oldest certain evidence for hominin bipedalism came from the 3.9-million–4.2-million-year-old Kenyan and Ethiopian fossils known as Australopithecus anamensis. The new analysis of Orrorin demonstrated that its femur (thighbone) most strongly resembled those of the australopithecines, including specimens from Australopithecus afarensis and members of the genus Paranthropus. Orrorin also shared distinctive hip biomechanics with the australopithecines that clearly distinguished their bipedalism from the structurally and functionally distinctive bipedalism characteristic of the genus Homo. Thus, the type of bipedalism characteristic of the australopithecines persisted for a period of at least four million years until adaptations specific to Homo, such as a shorter neck on the femur and a weaker mechanical advantage for the gluteus muscle, combined to produce a new kind of bipedalism. Since Orrorin differed so much from Homo in these analyses, the direct evolutionary connection that had once been proposed for these two taxa was considered highly unlikely.

      An interdisciplinary team of Indian and American scientists discovered four tiny posterior teeth of the oldest-known Asian member of the Anthropoidea, the group that contains monkeys, apes, and humans. The fossil teeth, found in a lignite mine in Gujarat state in western India, were dated to about 54 million–55 million years ago by associated age-diagnostic marine-plankton fossils. The teeth, assigned to Anthrasimias gujaratensis, extended the fossil record of Asian anthropoids back 9 million–10 million years to the beginning of the Eocene. Anthrasimias was a very small primate, weighing only about 75 g (2.6 oz) and about the size of a modern mouse lemur. Its diet probably contained both fruit and insects. An analysis of the evolutionary history of 75 taxa and 343 craniodental and postcranial traits placed Anthrasimias at the base of the eosimiid clade (family Eosimiidae), an extinct group of primates. This analysis also supported the placement of Altiatlasius, known from 58-million-year-old Moroccan fossil teeth, in the Eosimiidae family (and Anthropoidea), contrary to previous studies. As a consequence, the authors speculated that the origin of the order Primates probably occurred much earlier than these two genera, either in the early Paleocene or—as had been indicated previously by numerous molecular genetics studies—in the preceding Cretaceous.

      A team of human evolutionary geneticists extensively revised the standardized human Y-chromosome evolutionary tree, which was first published by the Y Chromosome Consortium in 2002. The new study, published in May 2008 in Genome Research, more than doubled both the number of genetic markers (599) and the number of resulting haplogroups (311) and led to four major structural changes in the tree. Each marker was an identifiable paternal DNA variation that was inherited by the male descendents of the person in which the variation first occurred. The markers therefore revealed genetically related groupings of Y chromosomes, or haplogroups, which in turn helped show the migratory patterns of humans and how various populations were related to one another. The original standardized Y-chromosome tree had 18 major clades (branches), which corresponded to the major haplogroups designated A through R. The revised tree had two additional clades (haplogroups S and T), which were formerly part of haplogroup K. The deepest unresolved multiple branching in the tree was addressed by the discovery of a new genetic marker. The resulting supercluster of haplogroups was not typically found in sub-Saharan Africa and might have been carried out of Africa early in the modern human diaspora 65,000–70,000 years ago. The low level (about 2%) of homoplasy (marker duplication from independent identical mutations) that had been found in the Y-chromosome tree implied that it contained more accurate phylogenetic information than the maternally based human mitochondrial-DNA tree. Mitochondrial DNA had much higher levels of homoplasy owing to its frequent recurring mutations. The estimated ages for 11 major clades in the Y-chromosome tree ranged from 68,900 to 18,500 years.

Stephen L. Zegura


Eastern Hemisphere.
      Two female figurines carved out of mammoth tusk some 22,000 years ago were among the finds that came to light in 2008 at the Upper Paleolithic site of Zaraysk, 155 km (96 mi) southeast of Moscow. The figurines, unearthed from a pair of storage pits, appeared to have been ritually buried. According to archaeologists Hizri Amirkhanov and Sergey Lev of the Russian Academy of Sciences, each figurine had been placed atop deposits of light, fine-grained sand and red ochre before being covered with a mammoth scapula and buried in earth.

      An unusual carved chalk figure, thought to represent a hedgehog or a pig, was found in a child's grave that was unearthed in 2008 during archaeological excavations at Stonehenge, near Salisbury, Eng. According to Joshua Pollard of the University of Bristol, Eng., the small sculpture, which was dated to between 800 and 20 BC, might have been made for the baby or placed in the grave as an offering in memory of the child. The excavations were being conducted along a 6-m (19.5-ft)-high timber wall-and-ditch system built to the east of the Stonehenge core about 1,500–2,000 years after the well-known megaliths were erected (about 2,000 BC). The burial suggested that the site had continued to serve an important religious function later than previously believed.

      The tomb of the Roman general Marcus Nonius Macrinus, a confidant of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (ruled AD 161–180), was found during construction work on the Via Flaminia on the east bank of Rome's Tiber River. Among the ruins of the 15-m (50-ft)-long column-lined mausoleum, a team led by archaeologist Daniela Rossi documented about one dozen biographical inscriptions that detailed the career of the Brescia-born general, who had served as a police commissioner and magistrate before playing a key role in the emperor's campaigns against the Germanic tribes of the North.

      Hailed as the earliest-known temple in the world, the sanctuary complex of Gobekli Tepe in southeastern Turkey was unveiled to the public after more than a decade of investigations led by Klaus Schmidt of the German Archaeological Institute. The hilltop sanctuary, dated to about 9500 BC, contained numerous T-shaped limestone pillars that stood in circles that ranged from 10 to 30 m (33 to 100 ft) across. Twenty such circles had been located with ground-penetrating radar, and seven had been excavated to date. The pillars, up to 4 m (13 ft) in height, were thought to be highly stylized anthropomorphic figures, and many of them were carved with the images of animals, including boars, birds, snakes, foxes, lions, and scorpions. Residential architecture had yet to be found at the site, which underscored its role as a cult centre. Built by seminomadic hunter-gatherers in an age before the wheel, pottery, or domesticated plants and animals, Gobekli Tepe predated Mesopotamia's first cities by more than 5,500 years. Prior to its discovery, it was believed that such monumental sites could have been constructed only by the complex civilizations that arose after the adoption of agriculture.

      Also in southeastern Turkey, the remains of a Neo-Assyrian governor's palace were unearthed during rescue excavations at Ziyaret Tepe, where the Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II (ruled 883–859 BC) established his provincial capital of Tushhan in 882 BC. In addition to rooms with colourful wall paintings and tiled baths that would have had running water, excavations at the site revealed five cremation burials in the palace courtyard. Two of the burials were filled with opulent offerings—bronze vessels, stone and ivory objects, seals, and pearls. According to Dirk Wicke of the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Ger., the site would likely be inundated following the construction of the controversial Ilisu Dam.

      The remains of a 5,000-year-old altar found in Greece atop Mt. Lykaion, one of several mythical birthplaces of Zeus, suggested that the site was in use as a cult centre 1,000 years before worship of the Greek deity began. According to David Gilman Romano of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, the site, which was near Olympia, also yielded abundant pottery, the remains of animals that may have been sacrificed there, and a rock-crystal seal that bore the image of a bull. The seal dated to the Late Minoan period (1400–1100 BC) and suggested a possible early connection between the Minoan civilization of Crete and the mainland.

      The oldest-known sample of Hebrew writing was unearthed at Khirbet Qeiyafa, a 3,000-year-old fortified site 30 km (20 mi) southwest of Jerusalem. The five lines of script in proto-Canaanite, a precursor to Hebrew, were found on a potsherd at the two-hectare (five-acre) site and, according to project director Yosef Garfinkel, contained the words for judge, slave, king, and an early form of the Hebrew verb to do. A carbon-14 date obtained from olive pits and other pottery fragments at the site placed the writing of the text between 1000 and 975 BC—the time, said Garfinkel, of the legendary Israelite king David.

      A section of the stone wall that encircled the city of Jerusalem 2,100 years ago reemerged during excavations on Mount Zion by Yehiel Zelinger and a team from the Israel Antiquities Authority. Although the structure had been uncovered by archaeologists in the 19th century, it was soon reburied. The mortarless wall, which dated to the so-called Second Temple Period, might represent ancient Jerusalem at its greatest extent. Early fertility figurines were recovered at the site in addition to objects that were left behind by the 19th-century excavators—beer bottles, a gas lamp, and a shoe. A second wall that was built during the Byzantine period was found in the upper levels of the excavation.

      Evidence of mass killings was found at the 5,800-year-old site of Tell Majnuna, near Syria's border with Iraq and Turkey. Three mass graves were excavated by Augusta McMahon of the University of Cambridge. They contained the bones of 222 individuals—mostly young men of fighting age who were probably killed in local skirmishes or early invasions of the area by southern Mesopotamian city-states. The arrangement of the bones—skulls and long bones piled in separate heaps—and the absence of hands and feet suggested that the corpses had been left to decay for weeks or even months before they were buried, and broken pottery and cattle bones found in the upper levels of one grave were seen as evidence of a postkilling celebration.

      In April a diamond-mining company that was building a seawall along Namibia's Skeleton Coast uncovered the remains of a 16th-century Portuguese trading ship, or nau, which had been carrying a cargo of copper, tin ingots, and ivory. Among the large number of recovered artifacts from the 30-m-long ship were cannon, cannonballs, and swords to fend off pirates; Oriental ceramics; pewter plates and jugs; rare navigational instruments; and more than 2,400 gold and silver Portuguese and Spanish coins, some of which had been minted in 1525. According to chief archaeologist Bruno Werz of the Southern African Institute of Maritime Archaeology, the vessel likely foundered while attempting to navigate the treacherous currents along this area of the African coastline.

      A team of archaeologists found a 19-m (62-ft)-long statue of the Buddha in a sleeping position buried in the ground in Afghanistan's Bamiyan valley not far from where two enormous 1,500-year-old standing figures of the Buddha were destroyed by the Taliban regime in 2001. The statue—dated to the 3rd century AD—was badly damaged except for the neck and right hand. The archaeologists, led by Afghan-born Zemaryalai Tarzi, also recovered coins and ceramics that had been left by Buddhist pilgrims. Caves at the site yielded mid-7th-century-AD murals rendered in oil paint, which predated the first known use of the medium in Europe by more than 100 years.

      In Jiangxi province in eastern China, archaeologist Changqing Xu unearthed a 2,500-year-old grave that contained 47 coffins and the remains of 28 people—likely servants sacrificed to accompany a provincial potentate into the afterlife. Among the hundreds of artifacts that were found in the burials, which dated to the late Spring and Autumn Period (770–476 BC), were elaborate silk textiles, gold and bronze pieces, and a lacquer sword decorated with a painted dragon design in gold, black, and red.

Angela M.H. Schuster

Western Hemisphere.
      A report published in 2008 analyzed DNA from human coprolites (fossilized feces) that a team of excavators led by University of Oregon archaeologist Dennis Jenkins had unearthed several years earlier in the Paisley Caves of south-central Oregon. The DNA study identified genetic signatures that were associated with founding groups of Native Americans. The coprolites had been radiocarbon dated to 14,340 years ago, and they provided the earliest evidence for human occupation of the Americas. The date agreed well with the few other established dates for early settlement in North America and was more than 1,000 years earlier than the Clovis Paleo-Indian culture found throughout North America.

      Terry Jones of California Polytechnic State University and colleagues showed that early humans in the Americas might have had less of a role in wiping out species of game than was once thought. Chendytes lawi was an extinct flightless sea duck that once flourished along the Pacific coast. The duck was a defenseless creature that was easily hunted by humans, and near Daisy Cave on San Miguel Island off the southern California coast, it was hunted as early as 9000 BC. For years it had been assumed that the ducks became extinct in a relatively short time, as many large Ice Age animals in the Americas did. The researchers, however, recovered Chendytes bones that dated to as recently as 500 BC. The species managed to survive in the face of human predation for more than 8,000 years, which suggested that if large Ice Age animals in the Americas were killed off through hunting, their extermination would have occurred over an extended period of time.

      American and Russian archaeologists uncovered evidence that whaling in the Bering Strait took place 1,000 years earlier than previously suspected. The Un'en'en site, on the shore of Russia's Chukotka Peninsula, dated to about 1000 BC and was a community of semisubterranean dwellings with wooden roofs. There whale hunters watched for juvenile bowhead or gray whales in the strait and then harpooned them from open boats. An ivory carving found in one of the houses depicted men hunting whales, dragging what appeared to be a carcass to shore, and shooting arrows at a bear. This important find shed new light on the origins of northern Pacific whaling, a subsistence activity that became all-important in later times.

      Cerén in El Salvador was a small Mayan community that was buried under 5 m (16.5 ft) of ash when a nearby volcano erupted in AD 600. Payson Sheets of the University of Colorado at Boulder and co-workers excavated well-preserved houses in which they discovered furnishings, domestic artifacts, and the remains of meals that the inhabitants apparently abandoned as they fled. As in other Mayan communities, the local farmers cultivated a wide variety of crops, including maize (corn) and beans. In 2007 excavators were digging in what they thought was an ancient cornfield when they discovered perfectly preserved cassava (manioc, or yuca) roots under the volcanic ash. This unique find was the first evidence that the ancient Maya cultivated cassava—one of the basic staples of other ancient Native American farmers, especially in South America.

      A well-preserved prehistoric site with a central plaza came to light in southern Puerto Rico during preparations by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a new dam. The site, which may date between AD 600 and 1500, was used by pre-Taino or Taino Indians, Arawak people who lived on the islands before European settlement. The plaza measured 40 × 49 m (130 × 160 ft) and yielded petroglyphs that included the figure of a person with masculine features and frog legs. Archaeologists also recovered several graves in which the bodies were facedown and the legs bent at the knees.

      In AD 700 Tiwanaku was the most powerful kingdom in the southern Andes, with domains that extended throughout areas of Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. The burial of a high-status individual was found in a niche under the Akapana pyramid. Located in the vicinity of Lake Titicaca, the pyramid was one of the largest structures known from ancient South America. The corpse was buried with a llama, a fist-sized gold pendant, and a golden headband. The deceased, a 25-year-old man, had suffered from malnutrition as a child. Bolivian archaeologists believed that he had been an important member of society, perhaps a priest. The llama might have been included in the burial as a status symbol or perhaps as a source for food in a journey to the afterlife.

      In a discovery based upon laboratory studies, researchers determined that Inca children who had been selected for ritual sacrifice were fattened up with high-protein diets before their death. Andrew Wilson of the University of Bradford, Eng., and colleagues analyzed strands of hair from four child mummies that were found high in the Andes in the 1990s. Chemical tests showed what the children had eaten in the time leading up to their deaths. One of the mummies, known as the Llullaillaco Maiden, was named after the Argentinian peak on which she was found in 1999, and the remains were dated to the period AD 1430–1520. Her hair was 25 cm (9.8 in) long and represented two years of growth. The analysis of the hair indicated that at first she was raised on a protein-poor diet of potatoes. Twelve months before her death, however, her diet became much richer in protein, an indication that she might have begun to be fed a diet of llama meat and maize normally reserved for the nobility. When the time came, she embarked on an arduous journey up the mountain, was drugged, and then was sacrificed.

      A shipwreck discovered lying in 3 m (10 ft) of water off Catalina Island in the Dominican Republic was investigated by Charles Beeker of Indiana University at Bloomington and colleagues. They suggested that it was the Quedagh Merchant, which William Kidd captured in the Indian Ocean in 1698. The ship had been laden with gold, silver, silk, and other goods. Kidd, who was known as Captain Kidd, had been a British privateer—someone commissioned by Great Britain to attack enemy ships. In 1699 Kidd left the Quedagh Merchant in the Caribbean and traveled to New York City in an attempt to clear himself of piracy charges. The crew scavenged the ship and then set it afire, leaving it to drift down the Rio Dulce into the ocean. The ship was in superb condition, in water too shallow to be reached by treasure-hunter boats equipped with magnetometers. Numerous iron cannons lay stacked atop multiple anchors, an unusual layout that had been described by Kidd. Captain Kidd was eventually hanged in London for piracy, but several centuries later his ship was to become part of an underwater reserve.

      In 1864 Confederate sailors captured the Union gunboat Water Witch in a bloody midnight attack in the Vernon River south of Savannah, Ga. Divers located what Georgia archaeologists believed to be the Water Witch under 3 m of mud at the location where an 1865 map indicated that Confederate soldiers had burned the ship to prevent it from falling into the hands of Gen. William Sherman's army. At the site, in an area 60 m (200 ft) long, a magnetometer detected large iron objects, which might include the 50-m (165-ft) ship's steam engine. The Water Witch served on both sides of the Civil War, but because of the Union blockade, she never went back to sea after her capture.

Brian Fagan

▪ 2008

Researchers presented findings on the origins of human bipedalism and described an early member of the gorilla clade. Archaeologists uncovered rings of post molds at Fort Ancient and identified a pre-Inca solar observatory. Other discoveries included a Viking hoard and early evidence of winemaking and beekeeping.

      Key developments in 2007 in the field of physical anthropology included new evidence for contrasting hypotheses for the origins of human bipedalism. A research team from the United Kingdom proposed a revisionary hypothesis for the evolutionary history of human bipedalism based on an analysis of Sumatran orangutan positional behaviour and locomotion. The researchers observed that hand-assisted bipedality gave orangutans access to multiple slender, flexible supports that could not otherwise be used and that climbing orangutans adjusted to the flexibility of branches by increasing knee and hip extension just as humans do when running on a springy surface. Their study suggested that hand-assisted arboreal bipedality and upright posture provided a selective advantage by providing the greatest safety when reaching for food with one hand and in crossing from the branches of one tree to another to reach additional food resources. It also hypothesized that hand-assisted bipedality was the most likely evolutionary precursor to straight-limbed human walking. Thus, according to this decidedly unconventional scenario, human bipedalism was an evolutionary retention from a common great ape ancestor rather than a hominin innovation, whereas the quadrupedal knuckle-walking exhibited by chimpanzees and gorillas was an evolutionarily derived mode of locomotion in response to the fragmentation of Miocene forest canopies.

      In contrast, an American research team adopted the conventional assumption that the last common ancestor between apes and hominins was a quadrupedal knuckle walker, and they used a treadmill to test the energy efficiency of human bipedalism in comparison with chimpanzee quadrupedalism and bipedalism. Consistent with the long-standing hypothesis that bipedalism evolved to reduce locomotor energy costs, the researchers found that human walking was approximately 75% less costly in terms of oxygen consumption than either quadrupedal or bipedal walking in chimpanzees. Although the energy costs for the two forms of chimpanzee locomotion did not differ when the chimpanzees were analyzed as a group, four of the five chimpanzees in the study did exhibit statistically significant differences. For three of the four, quadrupedal locomotion was less costly; however, for one—a 33-year-old female—bipedalism was less costly than quadrupedalism. This finding was both unexpected and theoretically important. In comparison with her fellow subjects, the 33-year-old female presented a longer foot-ground contact time for each step, and her knee and hip flexion were relatively similar during both kinds of locomotion. In an evolutionary context, the authors speculated that variation in hind-limb extension, hind-limb length, foot-ground contact time, and step length among individuals in the last common ancestral population of the hominin and chimpanzee lineages could have provided the critical selection pressure for the development of the highly efficient bipedalism seen in more recent members of the genus Homo.

      Extensive fossil evidence pertaining to bipedalism in early members of the genus Homo was also recently uncovered. An international research team reported newly excavated postcranial material (consisting of 32 bones) dating to 1.77 million years ago from Dmanisi (Georgia). The remains contained a partial skeleton of an adolescent and bones from three adults, including the first complete fossil hominin tibia, which was part of the most complete lower limb of any early Homo individual. The postcranial anatomy showed a surprising combination of primitive features (such as small body size and low degree of torsion of the humerus) and derived traits (such as modern humanlike body proportions and lower-limb morphology). Long legs, a forward-pointing big toe, and the presence of both transverse and longitudinal foot arches indicated that biomechanical efficiency for long-distance walking and energy expenditure for running would have been equivalent to that exhibited by modern humans. The length of the legs, similar to that of modern humans, probably reflected selection for locomotor efficiency in Homo, since energy expenditure for locomotion is inversely proportional to leg length in bipeds.

      A Japanese- Ethiopian research team discovered nine gorilla-like teeth (one canine and eight molars) from deposits in the Afar Rift of Ethiopia. Dated at 10 million–10.5 million years old, the teeth represented at least three individuals from the newly defined extinct ape species, Chororapithecus abyssinicus. The large molars were specialized both for shredding fibrous vegetation and for chewing hard, abrasive food items. The authors proposed that Chororapithecus might have been a basal member of the gorilla clade or, alternatively, a large ape whose dental adaptations were convergent with those of modern gorillas. The protogorilla hypothesis, if correct, would push back the date for the gorilla species split to between 10.5 million and 12 million years ago, at least 2 million years earlier than indicated by recent genetic-based dates. Because no African ape fossils dated between 7 million and 12 million years ago had previously been found (with the exception of the 9.5 million-year-old Samburupithecus from Kenya), some paleoanthropologists speculated that after apes first evolved in Africa over 20 million years ago, they migrated to Eurasia and eventually returned to Africa, where they gave rise to the gorilla, chimpanzee, and hominin clades. The new dental data, however, effectively negated the need for this postulated Eurasian sojourn for the ancestors of modern African apes.

 An international research team described two African fossil hominin specimens from the Koobi Fora formation near Lake Turkana at Ileret, Kenya, that produced an unexpected chronology for the early members of the genus Homo. One specimen was a H. erectus calvaria (skullcap). It exhibited features of both Asian and African H. erectus, which thereby caused some paleoanthropologists to question whether the African specimens should continue to be placed in the separate taxon H. ergaster. The estimated age of the calvaria was 1.55 million years, and the estimated cranial capacity was only 691 cu cm (42.2 cu in), the smallest known adult cranial vault attributed to H. erectus. In overall appearance it most resembled the calvaria of an earlier Dmanisi juvenile and of a later specimen from Sambungmacan, Indon. The extremely small cranial dimensions of the new specimen indicated that H. erectus and H. habilis actually overlapped in size and that H. erectus might have displayed marked sexual dimorphism (given that the new specimen was female). The other described specimen was a H. habilis partial right maxilla that was dated at 1,440,000 years—a full 200,000 years later than any other H. habilis specimen. This date carried two extremely important evolutionary implications. First, the two species both lived in the Lake Turkana basin and overlapped chronologically for about 500,000 years. Second, H. habilis was unlikely to be directly ancestral to H. erectus through anagenesis (that is, a linear succession without branching), in contrast to numerous published phylogenies of hominins.

Stephen L. Zegura


Eastern Hemisphere.
      In January 2007 David Whelan and his son Andrew retrieved what was hailed as the largest and most important Viking hoard found in Britain in 150 years. They found the treasure as they used metal detectors to search a muddy field on the outskirts of Harrogate in northern England. Thought to have been buried by a wealthy Viking about AD 927, the treasure consisted of 617 silver coins (some of which were struck in Afghanistan, Russia, and Scandinavia) and 65 other items, including a gold armband, ingots, and pieces of scrap silver—all of which had been placed inside an early 9th-century-AD French gilt-silver vessel.

      The largest-known prehistoric ceremonial enclosure in Ireland was found at Lismullin (County Meath, Ire.) near Tara—a low hill that was the fabled birthplace of the Irish nation—according to Ronald Hicks of Ball State University, Muncie, Ind. Dated to between 1000 BC and AD 400 and measuring some 80 m (260 ft) in diameter, the enclosure was of a type known from other royal sites in Ireland. The enclosure was found during initial construction work on the controversial M3 motorway, which was being built to ease commuter traffic in Dublin. Local citizens had protested construction of the superhighway, which upon completion would cut through Tara.

      A 7,000-year-old dwelling mound was discovered during highway construction near Oberröblingen, Ger. Dwelling mounds were the result of continuous human habitation atop an ever-growing accumulation of earlier building material and domestic debris. They were well known from the Middle East, the Balkans, and even South America, but this was the first such mound to be found in Western Europe. Excavated by Robert Ganslmeier and a team from the State Museum of Prehistory in Halle, Ger., the oval-shaped mound, which measured 100 × 60 × 2 m (330 × 200 × 7 ft), yielded abundant finds. Among these were pottery vessels, the grave of a child, and the remains of two ritually sacrificed young people and of several animals, including a horse, a calf, and numerous dogs.

      Some 2,460 charred grape seeds and 300 grape skins that were discovered within the remains of a 6,500-year-old house at the Neolithic site Diliki Tash appeared to provide the earliest-known evidence for winemaking in Greece. According to Tania Valamoti of Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, Greece, analysis of the grape remains confirmed that they were the result of wine pressings and that the grapes had come from either wild plants or a very early cultivar.

      In the northern part of Athens, contractors who were digging foundations for a new building in the Menidi area came upon 13 rows of stone bleachers, which were thought to have been part of the famed 2,500-year-old amphitheatre of Acharnes. It was one of seven ampitheatres now known to have surrounded the city.

      The earliest-known evidence for the colonization of Cyprus, and—perhaps more important—for maritime activity in the Mediterranean Sea, was found at Aspros on the Akamas Peninsula. Archaeologists recovered an assortment of pre-Neolithic chipped stone tools, which were dated to 14,000 years ago; the discovery pushed back by 2,000 years the earliest-known date for human activity on the island. A subsequent rise in sea level inundated part of the ancient settlement, the remains of which stretched more than 100 m (330 ft) from shore.

 Excavations at Sagalassos, a Greco-Roman city in south-central Turkey, yielded fragments of an extraordinary white marble statue of the Roman emperor Hadrian (ruled AD 117–138) that included a head, a sandal-clad foot, and part of a leg. Discovered by Marc Waelkens and a team from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belg., the original statue was estimated to have been 4–5 m (13–16 ft) tall.

      The discovery of engraved figures—many of them of wild bulls—chiseled about 15,000 years ago into the sandstone cliffs near Qurta on the Kom Ombo Plain about 640 km (400 mi) south of Cairo pushed back the earliest-known art in Egypt by some 7,000 years. According to Dirk Huyge of the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels, the largest of the more than 160 images found to date was nearly 2 m (7 ft) wide. Prior to the discovery, the earliest-known rock art in Egypt had been found at the 8,000-year-old site of el-Hosh.

      The oldest wall painting in the Middle East was found at the 11,000-year-old Neolithic settlement of Djaʾde al-Mughara (Jaʿdat al-Magharah) in northern Syria on the Euphrates River, according to Eric Coqueugniot of France's National Centre for Scientific Research. Geometric in design and painted in red, black, and white pigments, the work was 2 sq m (22 sq ft) in area and graced the wall of what was once a large circular communal dwelling with a wooden roof.

      Amihai Mazar and a team from Hebrew University of Jerusalem recovered 30 clay-and-straw beehives at Tel Rehov, in Israel's Bet Sheʾan Valley. The hives were made some 3,000 years ago and were the earliest-known evidence for commercial beekeeping.

      A 35,000-year-old obsidian mining site on Mt. Takaharayama in Japan's Tochigi prefecture yielded hundreds of stone tools, including eight trapezoidal stones that were thought to have been used for preparing animal hides. Previously, such mining activities were thought to have begun in Japan much more recently, during the Jomon Period, about 13,000 to 3,000 years ago.

      Recent analysis of sediments from the site of Kuahuqiao at the mouth of the Yangtze River indicated that Chinese farmers began cultivating rice in the region nearly 8,000 years ago. According to Yongqiang Zong of Durham (Eng.) University, residents of the Stone Age community, who lived in wooden stilt houses perched atop the marshlands, built dams from burned and felled trees to retain seawater in rice paddies. An ancient dugout canoe and pottery made with wild rice as a binder were also recovered at the site.

      An enormous sandstone slab with 42 etched figures was found in Australia's Wollemi National Park. Paul Tacon and a team of researchers from Griffith University in Queensland who studied the figures believed that they had been carved less than 2,000 years ago and identified them as a pantheon of important and powerful Aboriginal ancestral beings. The sandstone slab was 100 m (330 ft) long and 50 m (175 ft) wide.

      More than 70 headless skeletons that were unearthed in a 3,000-year-old cemetery at Teouma on the island of Efate in the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu might reveal the mysterious origin of the seafaring Lapita, who were thought to be the earliest-known ancestors of the Polynesians. The Polynesians were known to have colonized Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa about 3,000 to 4,000 years ago. According to Matthew Spriggs of the Australian National University, Canberra, seven skulls were found. He suggested that the Lapita might have removed the heads of their dead and placed them in household shrines, a practice followed by their precolonial descendants in part of Melanesia. DNA analysis and other tests of the bones were expected to confirm whether—as many scholars contended—the Lapita originally came from Southeast Asia via Indonesia, the Philippines, and, last, Taiwan.

Angela M.H. Schuster

Western Hemisphere
      Numerous archaeological discoveries made in 2007 ranged across the Americas and spanned much of the time that those continents had been inhabited by humans. Eighteen thousand years ago a site in northeastern Nevada known as the Bonneville Estates Rockshelter lay near the high-water mark of Lake Bonneville, which was then a huge inland sea. For thousands of years from about 11,000 BC, small groups of hunter-gatherers visited the rockshelter at irregular intervals and left behind a well-preserved record of their activities. Archaeologist Ted Goebel and his colleagues uncovered bone needles, nets for trapping rabbits, and other fragile artifacts preserved in the dry layers of the site. The Paleo-Indian and Archaic inhabitants of the rockshelter were not big-game hunters as previously believed. They lived on a varied diet of game such as pronghorn sheep, plant foods, and insects such as grasshoppers and then abandoned the site between 9000 and 6000 BC during a prolonged arid period. Later occupants were more sedentary than their predecessors and relied heavily on plant foods, especially edible grasses. Human occupation at Bonneville Estates continued until as recently as AD 1350.

      Fort Ancient in southwestern Ohio was an important ceremonial complex in the Hopewell culture. A remote-sensing survey conducted in preparation for an erosion-control project at the site revealed subsurface anomalies that were investigated in 2006 and 2007. A team led by archaeologist Robert Riordan discovered two concentric rings of post molds (markings in the soil where posts once stood). The outer ring, about 60 m (200 ft) in diameter, would have been made up of about 200 wooden posts about 23 cm (9 in) thick and set in place with rocks in a shallow trench. Each post might have stood between 3 and 3.5 m (10 and 15 ft) high. The inner circle was about 3.5 m inside the outer ring, and it would have held shallower lower posts. At the centre of the circle was a fire pit that contained burned soil. The purpose of the circles was unknown, but radiocarbon dating suggested that they were made between AD 60 and 240 and that the fire pit remained in use between AD 250 and 420.

      Ancient Panamanians were eating domesticated corn (maize), manioc, and arrowroot as early as 7000 BC. Using a new technique known as starch grain analysis, University of Calgary, Alta., researcher Ruth Dickau recovered identifiable microscopic traces of plants from the stone tools used to process them. Dickau's work showed that the humid tropical areas of Panama were an important land bridge for the southward spread of corn farming from the more arid regions in Mexico and for the northward spread of manioc and arrowroot from South America.

      Human skeletons found at an archaeological site called Tecuaque, near Mexico City, provided grisly confirmation of Aztec practices of human sacrifice. The site was a flourishing Aztec community of 5,000 Zultepec Indians at the time of the Spanish conquest, and conquistador Hernán Cortés gave it the name Tecuaque, which means “where people were eaten.” Archaeologists unearthed the remains of some 550 victims who had been sacrificed and dismembered by Aztec priests. According to Mexican archaeologist Enrique Martínez, Aztec warriors briefly fought and then captured a caravan that included mestizos, mulattos, Maya, and Caribbean Indians who were serving the conquistadors. Martínez said that the prisoners were sacrificed a few at a time and that knife and teeth marks on some of the bones hinted at ritual consumption of human flesh. When the Zultepec learned that the Spaniards were coming to avenge the killings, they threw their victims' bones and possessions into wells, concealing all material evidence of the sacrifices until those items were unearthed by archaeologists centuries later.

 Ancient Andean Indians tracked the rising and setting of the sun and the movements of stars to monitor the passage of the seasons. The heavens provided a calendar for planting, harvest, and other agricultural activities. Peruvian archaeologist Ivan Ghezzi and British archaeoastronomer Clive Ruggles identified an ancient observatory in the Casma-Sechín basin of the coastal Peruvian desert 386 km (240 mi) north of Lima. Thirteen towers from 1.8 to 6 m (6 to 20 ft) high extend over a distance of 30.5 m (100 ft) along a ridge. The towers, known as the Thirteen Towers of Chankillo, are visible from a nearby complex of concentric masonry walls enclosing ceremonial buildings built in about 300 BC. Ghezzi and Ruggles determined how ancient astronomers would have measured the passage of the seasons by observing the rising and setting of the sun behind the towers from observation points on either side of the ridge.

      Iron was a valuable commodity in the American colonies, which made the early 2007 discovery of the first blast furnace in North America one of unusual importance. The site, near Richmond, Va., first came to light when amateur archaeologist Ralph Lovern spotted building timbers eroded from the banks of Falling Creek. A subsequent geophysical survey at the location revealed a large magnetic anomaly that was consistent with the remains of an iron furnace. No signs of the water wheel, bellows, and flume had come to light, however. Historical documents recorded that the ironworks were established in 1619 and that the blast furnace would have been capable of processing up to 600 tons of ore per year. Although the furnace was destroyed and its ironworkers killed in attacks by Powhatan Indians in 1622, the site marked the beginnings of heavy industry in North America.

      Some of the most interesting discoveries came from sites for which historical documents amplified the archaeological finds. A recently discovered 1830s document indicated that Abraham Lincoln owned his first property in New Salem, Ill., the log-cabin village where he initially worked as a clerk at the Offutt Store. Lincoln and another clerk, Charles Maltby, appeared to have purchased the store in 1832. In an effort to locate and learn about the property, excavations were carried out at New Salem in 2006. The excavations uncovered part of the original Offutt Store cellar and yielded several objects, including glass items and a slate pencil, that might have been part of the store's inventory. Archaeologists hoped to confirm the shape and size of this and other original buildings at New Salem, one of which may have been more than 9 m (30 ft) long.

      A long-term excavation of Hare Harbour, an archaeological site at Île du Petit Mécatina, about 965 km (600 mi) northeast of Quebec, revealed a busy seasonal harbour and shoreline workshop that were used by Basque fishers during the 17th century. Originally thought to be a whaling settlement, Hare Harbour was in fact a trading station where Basques fished for cod and traded timber. In addition to glass beads dating to between 1675 and 1750, excavators found two soapstone whale-oil lamps and a cooking pot, which suggested that the Basques may have employed Inuit women to help with the work. Additional investigations were to venture underwater, where large earthenware jugs and 18th-century gin bottles had been found.

Brian Fagan

▪ 2007

Sequencing projects decoded more than one million base pairs of Neanderthal DNA, and a nearly complete skeleton of a baby australopithecine was described. A newly recognized pyramid in Mexico City was dated to the time of Teotihuacán. Neolithic sites yielded evidence of early dentistry and plant domestication.

      In 2006 two collaborating international research teams published the first results of their attempt to decipher the nuclear genome of a 38,000-year-old Neanderthal specimen that was recovered from a cave in Croatia. One team sequenced about one million base pairs of nuclear DNA; the other, an additional 65,250 base pairs. Both teams found that the genetic difference between humans and Neanderthals was less than 0.5%. The time at which Neanderthal and human DNA began to diverge was calculated to be 516,000 years and 706,000 years ago on the basis of the larger and smaller samples, respectively. The actual human-Neanderthal population split date was estimated at 370,000 years ago, from an ancestral population with an effective size of perhaps 3,000 individuals. One of the teams found possible genetic evidence for hybridization between human males and Neanderthal females. A group from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Ger., which worked with both teams, predicted that a draft of the entire nuclear genome would be completed within two years.

 The most complete skeleton of an early hominin (hominid) juvenile ever recovered was described in September by a multidisciplinary international team of researchers. The specimen, which was discovered at Dikika, Eth., in 2000, was so thoroughly embedded in hard sandstone that portions of the skeleton had yet to be removed. The three-year-old female Australopithecus afarensis, named Selam, lived 3.3 million years ago, roughly 120,000 years before Lucy, the well-known adult A. afarensis that was recovered nearby at Hadar. Selam demonstrated mosaic evolution in that she combined African apelike features of the hyoid bone, scapula, finger bones, brain, face, nose, and semicircular canals with distinctly hominin traits of the dentition, legs, knees, and feet. Her lower-limb bones indicated that she walked bipedally while on the ground; however, her upper body seemed to have been adapted to life in the trees.

      An international team of paleoanthropologists reassessed key morphological features and the taxonomic placement of the Toumai cranium, which had been claimed to be the earliest hominin in the fossil record. The nearly complete cranium was discovered in Chad in 2001 and was first published in 2002 as Sahelanthropus tchadensis, with an estimated age of 6 million to 7 million years. (A later study indicated the fossil was probably 6.5 million to 7.4 million years old.) In the absence of any postcranial remains, its status as a hominin was based primarily on anatomical interpretations of a small, highly worn canine tooth and cranial features that were thought to indicate an upright stance and bipedal locomotion. The new analysis concluded that—contrary to the results of several other studies— Sahelanthropus was a late Miocene ape. Among its findings were that the size and wear patterns of the canine tooth were not exceptional for a late Miocene ape and that the rear portion of the cranium and the posterior portion of the cranial base were more compatible with a chimpanzee pattern of locomotion than with a hominin pattern of upright, bipedal locomotion. A variety of taxonomic hypotheses based on the morphological examinations were proposed for Sahelanthropus. For example, Sahelanthropus might have been an early member of the gorilla clade, closely related to the chimpanzee clade, closely related to the human-chimpanzee common ancestor, or, most likely, a member of an extinct clade of African apes.

      Researchers at the Broad Institute, Cambridge, Mass., investigated the relationship between genetic change and the speciation (species formation) process that produced the hominin lineage. Their results also brought into question the hominin status of Sahelanthropus. The data for the investigation consisted of about 20 million base pairs of aligned DNA sequence from humans, chimpanzees, orangutans, macaques, and spider monkeys. The complex speciation model that the researchers developed proposed an initial divergence date of about 10 million years ago between the proto-human and proto-chimpanzee lineages, followed by an extensive period of hybridization (interbreeding). The model suggested that during this period of interspecies gene flow, a third (hybrid) population likely formed and later became extinct as a distinct entity when the human and chimpanzee lineages completed their divergence less than 6.3 million years ago (and perhaps as recently as 5.4 million years ago). These dates implied that Sahelanthropus preceded the final hominin-chimpanzee divergence and that, rather than being the earliest hominin in the fossil record, it might instead have been the result of hybridization between the proto-hominin and proto-chimpanzee lineages. This postulated genetic exchange would effectively explain the combination of primitive apelike characteristics with more derived traits reminiscent of later hominins that led to the aforementioned discrepancies in the taxonomic placement of Sahelanthropus.

      In the neo-Darwinian evolutionary paradigm, natural selection is considered to be the most important evolutionary force. Nevertheless, many anthropologists questioned its efficacy in contemporary human populations because of the important role of culture in shaping the adjustments humans made to changing environmental conditions. Recent genome-wide and locus-specific searches for signals of positive (directional), negative (purifying), and balancing selection in the human lineage over the past 200,000 years overwhelmingly agreed in showing that natural selection had occurred in Homo sapiens from its inception to the present. In one study a team of researchers from the University of Chicago produced a map of positive selection in the human genome based on data from people of African, East Asian, and western European ancestry. The researchers identified more than 700 genetic regions of the genome that had been reshaped by natural selection within the past 5,000 to 15,000 years. These still-incomplete selective sweeps provided information about the adaptation of modern humans to differing environmental conditions. Among the genes with strong signals of natural selection were loci that involved reproduction, metabolism (carbohydrate, lipid, and phosphate), vitamin transport, skin pigmentation, bone morphogenesis, hair formation and patterning, brain function, taste, olfaction, digestion, and parts of the electron-transport chain associated with pharmaceutical agent metabolism and salt-sensitive hypertension. In East Asians especially strong signals of positive selection were found to be associated with carbohydrate and alcohol metabolism. The average date for the statistically significant selection signals in the East Asian populations was 6,600 years ago, which suggested the possibility that these genetic changes marked genetic adaptations to the Neolithic revolution as East Asians switched to a diet based on domesticated rice. In an even larger study, an interdisciplinary team from the University of California, Irvine, used 1.6 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms. The team detected approximately 1,800 genes that exhibited the architecture of natural selection, with most of the selective events having occurred in the past 10,000–40,000 years. Several predominant biological themes consistently surfaced in selected alleles, including host-pathogen interactions, reproduction, DNA metabolism, protein metabolism, cell-cycle control, and neuronal function. The researchers speculated that gene-culture interactions directly or indirectly shaped the genome of humans as they spread throughout the globe and began regional shifts from hunter-gatherer to agrarian subsistence strategies. The inescapable conclusion drawn from these and other surveys was that H. sapiens was still evolving biologically, especially in the realms of reproduction, metabolism, chemosensation (smell and taste), and defense against novel pathogens.

Stephen L. Zegura


Eastern Hemisphere.
      Natural disaster and war took their toll on archaeological sites in 2006. An earthquake that rocked Indonesia in May damaged the 10th-century Hindu complex of Prambanan. In continued unrest in Iraq, the 1,000-year-old minaret of Ana, about 320 km (200 mi) west of Baghdad, was blown up, and sites that included the 4,000-year-old cities of Isin and Larsa were looted. In southern Lebanon, Tyre, Baalbek, Chemaa, and other sites sustained damage during fighting between Israel forces and Hezbollah militants in July and August.

      The discovery of a collection of 32 flints dated to 700,000 years ago near Pakefield, Eng., on the North Sea coast pushed back the date for the earliest-known human arrival in the British Isles by some 200,000 years. The tools were attributed to a relative of the archaic human species Homo heidelbergensis and attested a relatively rapid northern expansion of early humans after their arrival in southern Europe.

      A 5,000–6,000-year-old settlement associated with the Henge people was found at a quarry site near Milfield, Eng. A number of buildings were found—including three from the early Neolithic (about 4000 BC) and three from the late Neolithic, about a millennium later—along with pieces of cooking pots, flint tools, and a grindstone. Although numerous well-known ritual centres, including Woodhenge and Stonehenge, had been attributed to the Henge people, their dwellings had remained largely unknown.

      Evidence of early jewelry making was pushed back to 100,000 years ago with the identification of perforated beadlike shells of a species of sea snail called Nassarius gibbosulus from collections held by the Natural History Museum in London and the Museum of Man in Paris. The shells—one unearthed at Oued Djebbana in Algeria and two at Skhul in Israel—were described in a study by Marian Vanhaeren of University College London and colleagues. Previously, the oldest-known jewelry had consisted of snail shells described in 2004 from a find at Blombos Cave, a 75,000-year-old site on the South African coast.

      An unfinished rock-cut chamber that was uncovered near the tomb of Tutankhamen was initially heralded as the first tomb to be found in Egypt's Valley of the Kings since the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922. The unfinished chamber, which contained seven coffins, was discovered by Otto Schaden and a team from the University of Memphis, Tenn. No mummies were found, however, and since the coffins contained only mummification materials, many Egyptologists believed that the “new tomb” was simply an embalming chamber or supply room.

      The well-preserved remains of the oldest-known seafaring vessels, together with boxes that may have held cargo, were found in a complex of 4,000-year-old rock-cut caves on the Red Sea at Wadi Gawasis, Egypt. According to site excavators Kathryn Bard of Boston University and Rodolfo Fattovich of the University of Naples l'Orientale, most of the nautical remains—mortise-and-tenon joined cedar planks, rigging, and a number of stone anchors—dated to the Middle Kingdom (about 1938–1630 BC). Two steering-oar blades recovered in the excavation, however, were dated to the New Kingdom, and the excavators speculated that they could be from ships that had plied the Red Sea as part of the legendary expedition of Queen Hatshepsut (ruled about 1472–58 BC) to the ancient land of Punt.

      A collection of figs found within the ruins of an 11,400-year-old house at the Neolithic village site Gilgal I in Israel's Jordan River valley was cited by Mordechai Kislev of Bar-llan University, Ramat Gan, Israel, and colleagues as evidence of one of the earliest-known forms of plant domestication. According to the researchers, the nine whole figs and hundreds of fig fragments were of parthenocarpic, or self-pollinating, specimens, which could have been propagated only with human intervention. Domestication was considered a stage of agricultural development that followed cultivation and entailed the favouring of plant species with more desirable characteristics.

 Five human skulls with faces sculpted in clay were found at the Neolithic site of Tell Aswad, 35 km (22 mi) east of Damascus, and excavated by a French- Syrian team led by Danielle Stordeur of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, and Bassam Jamous, head of antiquities for Syria's National Museum in Damascus. The skulls, which were found beneath the remains of an infant, had been buried some 9,500 years ago, probably in honour of an important individual.

      The mercantile wealth of the Thracians—who flourished in the region occupied by present-day Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, and northern Greece from about 4000 BC until their conquest by the Romans in AD 46—was further manifested by the discovery of two richly appointed tombs in Bulgaria, according to archaeologist Martin Hristov of the National Museum of History in Sofia. At one of the sites, near Zlatinitsa, Bulg., Hristov and his team unearthed what was believed to be the burial of a 4th-century BC Thracian king. He had been buried with two horses and a dog, a golden crown, and a suit of armour incised with scenes from Greek mythology.

      The discovery of 2,500-year-old mummified remains of a Scythian warrior in the snow-capped Altai Mountains of Inner Mongolia was reported by Hermann Parzinger, president of the German Archaeological Institute, which excavated the site. Tattooed and clad in a beaver-skin coat and felt hat, the blond warrior was interred with two horses, weapons, and vessels made of wood, animal horn, and clay. Prior to the discovery, the Scythians had been known only on the Russian side of the mountain chain.

      In Afghanistan a cluster of seven Buddhist caves carved into cliffs that overlooked the upper reaches of the Band-e-Amir River was found by Takashi Irisawa and a team from Japan's Ryukoku University. Located 120 km (75 mi) west of the Bamian valley—where in March 2001 the Taliban had destroyed two colossal 1,500-year-old Buddha statues—the caves dated to the 8th century AD and marked the westernmost expansion of Buddhism in pre-Islamic Central Asia.

      Dentists at Mehrgarh, a Neolithic site located in Balochistan province, Pakistan, had a thriving practice some 7,500 to 9,000 years ago. According to Roberto Macchiarelli of the Université de Poitiers, France, and his team, 11 teeth recovered from a graveyard had been drilled, including one tooth that showed evidence of a procedure for hollowing out a deep cavity. Until the discovery, the earliest-known evidence of dental work was from a cemetery dated to the 4th–3rd millennium BC in Denmark.

      A 7,000-year-old sacrificial altar was unearthed at Anbian in Hunan province, China, by He Gang and a team from the Hunan Institute of Archaeology. The researchers recovered the bones of deer, pigs, cattle, bears, elephants, and rhinoceroses that had been deposited in 39 pits at the 1,000-sq-m (11,000-sq-ft) site.

Angela M.H. Schuster

Western Hemisphere.
      Archaeological discovery continued at an unabated pace in 2006, helping to throw light on mysteries of the past. Roughly 12,000 years ago the mammoth and wild horse became extinct in the area that is now Alaska and the Yukon Territory. This occurred around the time that humans from Asia first appeared in the region, so one possible explanation had been that the newly arrived humans hunted the large Ice Age animals to extinction. Research published by R. Dale Guthrie of the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks indicated that although humans may have contributed to the extinction of the animals, the real culprit was a shift in climate. He studied the radiocarbon dates of 600 bones from mammoths and other mammals of the region from that time. The study showed that bison and elk were the most abundant human prey, but those species did not become extinct. He also studied pollen and other plant records and determined that as the climate became warmer and wetter, short grasses that were ideal for the now-extinct Ice Age large mammals gave way to tall grass and bushes. Bison and elk thrived on the new forage; the mammoth and wild horse did not.

      Inscriptions of 62 signs on a block of stone that was found in debris near the Olmec centre at San Lorenzo in Veracruz state, Mex., were identified as the earliest known Mesoamerican writing in a report by María del Carmen Rodríguez, Ponciano Ortíz, and colleagues. The inscribed 12-kg (26-lb) stone, called the Cascajal block, was dated to about 900 BC—some 400 years earlier than the oldest Mesoamerican writing previously known—and was attributed to the Olmec culture, which flourished along the Gulf of Mexico in the 1st millennium BC.

 Two surprising archaeological findings in Mexico City were announced during the year. In April archaeologist Jesús Sánchez and colleagues reported on their work in identifying a huge pyramid that was buried under a hill that overlooked a poor neighbourhood at the outskirts of the city. They determined that the pyramid was built between AD 400 and 500 by people related to those who constructed the well-known pyramids at the nearby ancient city of Teotihuacán. The newly discovered pyramid was 150 m (492 ft) square and stood about 18 m (60 ft) high. On one side of the pyramid, the excavators discovered a small temple with holes in the walls for offerings. In November archaeologists headed by Eduardo Matos unveiled an excavated monolith that was 4 m (13 ft) high and bore a representation of Tlaltecuhtli, the fearsome Aztec god of the earth. The stone slab came to light in October during minor work at the foot of the western face of Templo Mayor, the Aztec temple pyramid discovered in 1978 by utility workers as they dug near Mexico City's main square. Although excavations around and under the monolith were continuing, the archaeologists believed that the site of the stone might be where the Aztecs buried the cremated remains of their rulers. The god on the monolith holds a rabbit and 10 dots in her right claw, which was understood to signify the death year of Ahuitzotl (ruled 1486–1502), one of the greatest of the Aztec emperors.

      The burials of 180 African slaves were excavated from a colonial graveyard next to a church in Campeche state in southeastern Mexico. The cemetery was used from about 1550 to the late 1600s. Some of the skeletons had upper incisor teeth that had been filed at an angle, a distinctive dental mutilation commonplace in West Africa five centuries ago. The find was the earliest documentation of the African diaspora in the New World.

      Anthropologist Michael Kolb of Northern Illinois University studied a network of temples that ancient Hawaiians built on the island of Maui. Many of the temples were built into the face of cliffs. The most elaborate boasted stepped platforms, oracle towers, and sacred enclosures. He used a series of more than 90 radiocarbon dates of charcoal samples from scorched soil beneath 41 Maui temples to show that the earliest temples were built in the 13th century, more than 300 years earlier than previously thought. The findings showed that the Hawaiians built the temples over more than five centuries with four peak periods of construction that seemed to coincide with periods of major social and political change.

      Archaeologist William Saturno of Harvard University discovered the earliest known Maya mural in a buried room at a little-known Maya centre at San Bartolo, Guat., in 2001, but the final, west wall of the mural was uncovered only in late 2005. The painting, measuring 9.1 × 0.9 m (30 × 1 ft) and dating to about 100 BC, depicts the birth of the cosmos and the divine right of Maya kings. One scene of the mural shows the son of the maize god—the patron of rulers—floating along with a pair of birds attached to his woven hunting basket. He is engaged in ceremonial bloodletting and offers a sacrifice to two cosmic trees. A second scene shows an actual royal coronation. West of the San Bartolo pyramid with the mural room, Guatemalan archaeologist Mónica Pellecer Alecio found the oldest known Maya burial, dating to about 150 BC.

      The Inca of the 15th-century Andes used knotted strings, called quipu, spun from alpaca or llama wool or cotton, as a form of record keeping. The quipu keepers would use sequences of knots and colours to record state administrative records. Many quipus have knots that are arranged in a decimal system to represent numbers, but it was not clear what other information they might contain; quipus had long been one of the great mysteries of archaeology. Anthropologist Gary Urton and mathematician Carrie Brezine of Harvard University analyzed a number of related quipus and announced that they had identified a sequence of knots that was a unique signifier. They believed that the knot sequence might be a place name but said it might also be the name of the person who made the quipu, a designation of time, or the subject matter of the string.

      Archaeologists discovered a large filled-in well within the walls of the original fort of the Jamestown colony in Virginia. It was perhaps the well that Capt. John Smith, leader of the colony, ordered to be built in 1609. The well, 1.8 m (6 ft) square and 6.1 m (20 ft) deep, was several times larger than other wells known from that time and was hidden beneath the foundations of a brick fireplace that was part of a 1617 addition to a house built in 1611. William Kelso, the director of the Jamestown archaeological project, believed that the well was in the shape of a square rather than a circle because it was built by men with mining experience. In the ground below the water table were a variety of well-preserved objects, including a child's leather shoe, surgical implements, a pistol, and a halberd. The fill above the water table contained a German jug that dated to 1604, large quantities of bones from butchered animals, large oyster shells, and fish bones, including those from Atlantic sturgeon. An analysis of the shells and fish bones together with plant matter found in the well was expected to contribute to an understanding of the ecology of Chesapeake Bay at the time of the first European settlement.

Brian Fagan

▪ 2006

Scientists identified the first chimpanzee fossils and completed detailed studies of the human X chromosome. The status of a Lower Elwha Klallam ancestral village and burial grounds remained in dispute. Archaeologists discovered the oldest-known fishing boat, musical instrument, pottery, and inscribed Hebrew alphabet.

      Key developments in 2005 in the area of physical anthropology included the dating of the oldest-known fossil members of Homo sapiens, the first reported chimpanzee fossils, surprising findings about gene expression associated with the X chromosome, and intriguing genetic insights pertaining to the evolution of the human brain.

 The Omo I and Omo II specimens, H. sapiens fossils from the Kibish Formation in southern Ethiopia, were originally thought to be approximately 130,000 years old, but they were redated with argon-isotope measurements on feldspar crystals from volcanic deposits located slightly below the fossil levels. The new preferred estimate of the age of the specimens was between 190,000 and 200,000 years, which made them the earliest well-dated members of H. sapiens. Prior to this redating, the oldest reported human fossils were three crania (H. sapiens idaltu from the Bouri Formation in the Afar depression of Ethiopia) that were argon-isotope dated to between 154,000 and 160,000 years ago. The new date for the Omo specimens was in striking agreement with many recently determined mitochondrial DNA-based dates that placed the origin of H. sapiens at approximately 200,000 years ago.

      Although thousands of hominin (hominid) fossils had been reported over the last 150 years, not a single chimpanzee (Pan) fossil had been documented. A 2005 report described three fossil chimpanzee teeth (two upper central incisors and an upper first molar) that were found in the Kapthurin Formation, Kenya, and demonstrated that chimpanzees were present in the East African Rift Valley contemporaneously with an extinct species of Homo. A fourth fossil tooth (possibly an aberrant upper third molar) was also found but was not described. Argon-isotope dating bracketed the age of the specimens to between approximately 284,000 and 545,000 years old; however, stratigraphic positioning implied a date closer to the maximum age of 545,000 years. The upper incisors were nearly identical to those of modern Pan except that they had shorter roots. Both the extremely low crown of the upper first molar and the pronounced thinness of its enamel distinguished the tooth from those of known hominins. The three teeth probably came from one individual that died at the age of seven or eight years. The fossil chimpanzee remains were about 600 km (about 375 mi) east of the limit of the current range of Pan, which made it possible that chimpanzees and hominins were sympatric (lived in the same area) since the time of their evolutionary divergence.

      An international consortium of genome centres succeeded in determining almost all of the DNA sequence of the human X chromosome and documented the extent to which the human Y chromosome had decayed in its nonrecombining regions. The X chromosome contained 1,098 genes, but exons (expressed gene regions) accounted for only 1.7% of the X-chromosome sequence. Only 54 of these genes had functional homologues (similar counterparts) on the human Y chromosome. Perhaps the most unexpected finding regarding the human X chromosome was the extensive variability in X-linked gene expression in human females. In most female mammals one of the two X chromosomes becomes randomly inactivated early in development. Since males have only one X chromosome, this inactivation results in a comparable level of gene expression for X-linked genes in females and males. Some of the genes, however, escape inactivation and are expressed from both the inactive and the active X chromosomes of a female. A comprehensive gene-expression profile for a sample of inactivated X chromosomes found that about 15% of X-linked genes regularly escape inactivation to some degree. Surprisingly, an additional 10% of X-linked genes yielded variable patterns of inactivation and are thus expressed differently in different females. These differences in gene expression might help explain both sex-specific phenotypes and variations in phenotypes between females.

      Two genes that regulate brain size were shown to have undergone positive selection in human populations during the last 40,000 years. Six genetic loci were known that could lead to primary microcephaly (an abnormally small brain) as the result of recessive mutations. One of these gene loci, microcephalin (MCPHI), was thought to control the proliferation or differentiation (or both) of immature nerve cells in the formation of nervous tissue. A haplotype (haploid genotype) with a derived allele was found to have a much higher frequency than other haplotypes at this locus. Numerous statistical tests demonstrated that this haplotype was under strong positive selection. Frequencies of the favoured haplotype were found to be highest in Eurasia and the Americas and lowest in Africa. Additional calculations estimated the age of the haplotype to be approximately 37,000 years, a date that coincided with the arrival of modern humans in Europe and with the increased presence of art and symbolism that was characteristic of the Upper Paleolithic culture. The second gene locus, abnormal spindle-like microcephaly associated (ASPM), might regulate the proliferation or differentiation (or both) of neural stem cells during brain development by mediating spindle assembly during cell division. One haplotype at this locus had an unusually high frequency and differed from other haplotypes at a number of polymorphic sites, two of which were in a region that had previously exhibited particularly strong positive selection in humans. The favoured haplotype had noticeably higher frequencies in Europeans and Middle Easterners than in other populations. Additional statistical tests confirmed the indications of positive natural selection for the derived haplotype and estimated its age at approximately 5,800 years. The age and geographic distribution of this haplotype across Eurasia roughly coincided with important cultural innovations such as the domestication of plants and animals (approximately 10,000 years ago) and the development of cities and written language (5,000–6,000 years ago). As intriguing as these biocultural correlates were, their significance had not yet been established.

Stephen L. Zegura


Eastern Hemisphere.
      In 2005 the conflict in Iraq continued to take its toll on cultural treasures in the cradle of civilization, particularly at the 5,000-year-old Sumerian sites of Umma and Isin. In April the upper part of the 52-m (171-ft) 9th-century spiral minaret of Malwiya at Samarra was damaged by a mortar attack. The ongoing pillage of archaeological sites, primarily in the southern provinces, continued at an alarming rate, but few of the antiquities had yet surfaced on the international art market.

      A devastating earthquake in Iran on Dec. 26, 2003, which precipitated the collapse of the massive mud-brick citadel Arg-e-Bam, proved fruitful for archaeology by revealing layers of civilization long buried by later construction. Among the finds reported in 2005 were a series of settlements and relics that dated from the time of the citadel's founding, in the Achaemenid period (6th–4th century BC), through the Islamic period and that elucidated the chronology of the inhabitation of the fortified city of Bam, the largest mud-brick construction in the world. Also in Iran, construction of the Sivand Dam threatened numerous archaeological sites, including Paleolithic rock shelters, rock-cut tombs from the Elamite period (c. 2700–c. 650 BC), and the well-known tomb of Cyrus the Great (590/580–c. 529 BC) at Pasargadae.

      Continued excavations at the 23,000-year-old campsite of Ohalo II on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel yielded evidence for the processing of wild wheat and wild barley 10,000 years before the domestication of either grain. Dolores Piperno of the Smithsonian Institution and colleagues reported that starches and seed remains from the grains were found embedded in a grinding stone at the site. What was believed to be the earliest-known rendering of the Hebrew alphabet—22 letters carved in the correct sequence some 3,000 years ago on a 17-kg (38-lb) stone—was found by Ron Tappy of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and colleagues at Tel Zayit, a site in the Beth Guvrin Valley not far from Jerusalem.

      Elsewhere in the Near East, excavations continued at Tell Sabi Abyad in Syria, where what was believed to be the oldest pottery in the world was found. Dated to between 6800 and 6300 BC, some two centuries earlier than the previous record holders, the dozens of rough, reddish-brown earthen water pots, jars, and jugs were simple in shape and had been made without the use of a potter's wheel, according to Peter Akkermans of the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, Neth., and colleagues.

      In Niger, deep in the Sahara, archaeologist Elena Garcea of the University of Cassino, Italy, and her team unearthed seven Stone Age settlements, including a large cemetery, on an ancient lakeshore. Thought to have been occupied between 10,000 and 5,000 years ago—before the once-verdant landscape dried up following the last Ice Age—the sites contained abundant stone tools, personal adornments, pottery fragments, and the remains of mollusks and catfish.

      The remains of a 3,250-year-old glass factory, including a glass ingot and hundreds of ceramic crucibles, were found at the ancient Egyptian capital Qantir-Piramesses in the eastern Nile delta. The find attested to ancient Egypt's role as a major producer of glass ingots. Prior to this discovery, made by Thilo Rehren of University College London and Edgar Pusch of the Pelizaeus-Museum in Hildesheim, Ger., scholars believed that the primary source for glass well into the middle of the 1st millennium BC was Mesopotamia, where glassmaking was thought to have begun around 1600 BC. Zahi Hawass of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities and an international team of radiologists, pathologists, and anatomists completed a comprehensive CT scan of the mummy of King Tutankhamen (who ruled 1333–23 BC). Hawass stated that contrary to what had been previously thought, there was no evidence that King Tut had been murdered. Although Tut was only 19 when he died, the team found no evidence of either a blow to the back of the head, which many believed to have been the cause of his demise, or any disease. The researchers noted that he may have broken his left femur shortly before his death but that the injury would not have been enough to kill him.

 In the mountains of Swabia in southwestern Germany, archaeologist Nicholas J. Conard and co-workers from Tübingen (Ger.) University unearthed what was believed to be the world's oldest musical instruments, a 35,000-year-old flute fashioned out of a wooly mammoth tusk and two smaller flutes made of swan bones. The Ice Age instruments were found in a cave in the Ach Valley. In Hohle Fels Cave, also in the Ach Valley, the same team discovered what was considered to be one of the earliest-known representations of male genitalia, dated to 28,000 years ago. The researchers stated that the polished life-sized stone phallus had markings that indicated that it had been used to knap (split) flints. Also in Germany, archaeologists found a female counterpart to the Adonis of Zschernitz, an 8,200-year-old clay statuette, discovered in 2003, that was the earliest-known Neolithic male figurine.

      Excavations in Ireland and England conducted ahead of construction projects led to more than a dozen discoveries. John Kavanagh and co-workers from the National Museum of Ireland who carried out excavations at a site where construction was planned north of Dublin unearthed a 9th-century Viking burial of a 25–35-year-old woman who had been interred wearing a tweed garment with a bone comb and a gilded-copper brooch of Scandinavian origin. In eastern England archaeologists working ahead of the construction of a housing development at Colchester, Essex, the first Roman capital of ancient Britain, found the remains of a chariot racing track from the 2nd century AD and a well-preserved tiled bathhouse chamber. Also in England, a scrap of gold foil found in a Norfolk garden was identified as a Roman lamella, or magical charm, of which only a few dozen had ever been found. The charm bore an inscription that beseeches the protection of the Near Eastern god Abraxas for a soldier from the Rhineland.

      What were identified as the oldest-known noodles were found in an earthen bowl at the 4,000-year-old site of Lajia on the Huang Ho (Yellow River) in China. The noodles, discovered by Maolin Ye of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and analyzed by Houyuan Lu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and colleagues, were 50 cm (20 in) long and had been made with two strains of millet.

      Excavators from the Kimhae ( S.Kor.) National Museum found in South Kyongsang province what they purported to be the oldest fishing boat in the world. The remains of the boat were 3 m (10 ft) long and 0.6 m (2 ft) wide and dated to around 6000 BC. The boat, which was made of pine, was believed to have been originally at least 4 m long.

Angela M.H. Schuster

Western Hemisphere.
      In New Orleans archaeologists were asked to investigate a site in the French Quarter that was slated for new construction. Accounts of the investigation in early 2005 indicated that the site was originally a French colonial garden and later possibly the location of a Spanish colonial residence. A guest house or hotel stood on the property from about 1808 until 1822, when it burned down. Excavations on the site yielded fragments of earthenware thought to be French cosmetic jars known as faience rouge pots. An 1821 newspaper advertisement for the building at the site suggested that it served primarily men, so perhaps the rouge was used by employees or prostitutes at the hotel. Experts were divided as to whether the establishment might have been a brothel. The advertisement gave the name of the building as the Rising Sun Hotel, which raised speculation that it might have been the subject of a folk song that begins “There is a house in New Orleans / they call the Rising Sun” and was later popularized by a number of musicians.

      Between 5,000 and 3,500 years ago, people of what is known as the McKean complex inhabited a wide area of the Great Plains of North America. Excavations on a 4,000-year-old residential site near Parker, Colo., revealed six pithouses, which were identified from basinlike stains in the soil. The excavators believed that the partially subterranean houses, which contained hearths and storage areas, might once have been covered with hide or brush. Numerous bison-bone tools for cutting or scraping were found in the settlement. It was the first McKean-style hunting settlement found in Colorado; most were known from Wyoming.

      The Chumash Indians of the Santa Barbara Channel region of southern California were expert mariners who regularly crossed open water in their tomols—canoes built of planks of driftwood sewn together. Archaeologist Terry Jones and linguist Kathryn Klar argued that the similarity between the Chumash word tomol and the term used by Polynesians for the wood with which they built sewn-plank canoes was evidence that the Chumash had acquired planked-canoe technology from visiting Polynesians by about AD 800. Polynesians were known to have colonized Hawaii and other islands in the Pacific Ocean by that time. The theory was highly controversial, since there were no traces of Polynesian artifacts along the California coast, and many archaeologists remained convinced that the Chumash developed their own distinctive canoe technology hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago to cross to the Channel Islands close offshore.

 Waka', an important Maya centre located about 60 km (37 mi) west of Tikal in northern Guatemala, was founded as early as 500 BC and reached its peak development between AD 400 and 800. Some of the more than 650 monumental structures at the site formed a palace compound, which also served as a royal burial place. In 2005 Canadian archaeologist David Lee, a member of an international team of archaeologists that was studying and conserving the site, uncovered a royal burial chamber that contained the remains of a queen or other female ruler surrounded by 2,400 artifacts. The vaulted chamber had been built between AD 650 and 750 inside the shell of an existing building. The body had been richly adorned with greenstone artifacts, shell ornaments, and obsidian. A series of greenstone plaques formed a war helmet of a type associated with supreme Maya warlords, and a carved royal jade might have been part of the headdress. On the pelvis lay stingray spines traditionally used in royal bloodletting rites, which were believed to have been part of the rituals that Maya lords used to communicate with the spiritual world.

      A major controversy surrounded a construction site at Port Angeles, Wash. The Washington Department of Transportation had acquired the site to fabricate concrete pontoons to be used in rebuilding parts of a floating bridge across the Hood Canal. Soon after the work on the construction site began in August 2003, bulldozers brought to light wooden hut posts, charcoal pits, and thick piles of mollusk shells. When scores of human bones were unearthed a short time later, work came to a halt. The excavations had revealed a site known as Tse-whit-zen, an ancestral village of the 850-member Lower Elwha Klallam tribe. After long negotiations with the tribe, the state resumed limited construction in 2004 while tribal members and archaeologists investigated the site. By the end of the year, the remains of more than 300 individuals had been unearthed together with many thousands of artifacts, and the state discontinued the construction project. Archaeological evidence indicated that the area had been inhabited as long as 2,700 years ago and that it had been continuously occupied from 1,700 until about 200 years ago. In 2005 the tribe and the state attempted to work out a solution concerning where the excavated human remains would be reburied and what would be done with the site and with the large amount of material that had been transported from the site to landfill.

      Caral is a complex of pyramids, plazas, and staircases in the arid Supe River valley about 115 mi (185 km) north of Lima. The site had been largely overlooked until Peruvian archaeologist Ruth Shady began investigating it in the mid-1990s. Caral, which covered 67 ha (165 ac), was radiocarbon-dated to 2627 BC, which made the city contemporary with the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt and the first cities in Mesopotamia. Among the finds presented in 2005 was an artifact that consisted of a series of knotted cords of different colours and resembled the quipu that were used several millennia later by the Inca as an apparatus for record keeping. The pyramids at Caral, some standing as high as 21 m (70 ft), were built up as terraces reinforced by grass bags packed with boulders. The circular plazas nearby were performance spaces, with acoustics that amplified the sound of the condor-bone and pelican-bone flutes found in the excavations. The city had had as many as 3,000 inhabitants, who lived on anchovies, shellfish, and sardines. Caral lay in the middle of a hierarchy of smaller population centres and presided over important trade networks that handled such commodities as fish meal and cotton. More than 18 sites were known from the Supe Valley region. Aspero, another pyramid complex, lay 32 km (20 mi) to the west on the shores of the Pacific Ocean and was dated to as early as 3022 BC. Site surveys in neighbouring valleys revealed at least seven previously unknown Caral-era sites. Caral flourished for about 1,000 years before it was abandoned, perhaps in the face of competition with inhabitants of the nearby Casma Valley, but the reasons for its abandonment were still a mystery.

Brian Fagan

▪ 2005


      Key developments in 2004 in the area of physical anthropology focused on genetic comparisons between humans and their closest living relative—the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). These comparisons were made possible by the recent release of a rough draft of the whole-genome sequence of the chimpanzee by sequencing centres at Washington University, St. Louis, Mo., and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Broad Institute. In addition, the Japanese-led International Chimpanzee Chromosome 22 Consortium published a high-quality DNA sequence of 33.3 million bases of chromosome 22 in the chimpanzee and compared the sequence with its human counterpart, chromosome 21. The comparison documented nearly 68,000 insertions (gains) or deletions (losses) between the two sequences, and it revealed that 1.44% of the two sequences differed because of single-base substitutions (a value comparable to earlier estimates of 1.24% for the average genomic nucleotide difference between humans and chimpanzees). Among the significant differences between the two chromosomes are various genes that are associated with embryonic development, early brain development, heart development, cell-cycle progression, the peripheral nervous system, collagen formation, and the immune response against various pathogens.

      Preliminary results from Celera Genomics's effort to sequence most of the chimpanzee exons (DNA sequences that are translated into proteins) showed that the proteins involved in amino-acid metabolism were highly selected in human evolution, whereas those correlated with neural development surprisingly were not. The Celera findings, coupled with whole- genome sequence comparisons that yielded evidence for the possible rapid evolution of genes involved in host defense, reinforced the dictum in evolutionary biology that diet and pathogens are the dominant selective forces in the evolution of the vast majority of species, including humans and chimpanzees.

      In other studies documenting human-chimpanzee genomic differences, humans were found to have more recombination hotspots (DNA sites prone to breaking and being joined with other DNA), more extensive methylation (especially in brain tissue), and a greater rate of gene loss among olfactory receptor genes. Brain gene-expression profiles between humans and chimpanzees utilizing probes to about 10,000 human genes revealed that approximately 10% of the genes studied differed in their expression in at least one region of the brain. A majority of these genes were more highly expressed (more active) in human than in chimpanzee brains, and, contrary to expectation, no major change in expression pattern occurred in Broca's area, a part of the brain functionally correlated with the evolutionary acquisition of spoken language in humans. Another study concentrated on the gene-expression profiles of the anterior cingulate cortex from human, chimpanzee, gorilla, and macaque samples. This region of the brain had been associated with human grammar and with vocal calls in nonhuman primates. The study concluded that the chimpanzee gene-expression profile was more like the profile of humans than that of the gorilla and thereby provided another piece of evidence that chimpanzees are the primates most closely related to humans. The chimpanzee lineage showed as much regulatory gene evolution in the anterior cingulate cortex as the human lineage; however, humans exhibited some up-regulated (increased) expression of genes related to aerobic metabolism and neural functions, which suggests that increased neuron activity required increased supplies of energy.

      A team of scientists at the University of Pennsylvania found the first molecular difference between human and nonhuman primates that is potentially related to an anatomical difference of major evolutionary significance. The discovery concerned a mutation dated to have occurred approximately 2.4 million years ago in a gene for muscle protein. The gene, MYH 16, encodes the myosin heavy chain, an important protein component of muscle fibre subunits called sarcomeres. The mutation resulted in marked reductions in the size of individual muscle fibres and in entire masticatory muscles such as the temporalis, whose function is to close the jaws. The mutant gene arose from the deletion of two nucleotides, causing a premature “stop” codon, which in turn prevents the synthesis of a normal MYH 16 protein. All monkeys and apes sequenced for this locus had an intact normal copy of the MYH 16 gene and a relatively large amount of MYH 16 protein in their jaw muscles. All persons tested from six geographically diverse human populations possessed only the mutant form of the MYH 16 gene. The authors speculated that the appearance of the smaller jaw muscles in Homo erectus/Homo ergaster by 1.8 million–2 million years ago might have removed an evolutionary constraint on the development of a larger brain. Thus, a small change in a craniofacial muscle gene more than 2 million years ago may have ultimately been responsible for the increased cranial capacity that characterized later hominin (hominid) evolution.

      On October 28 Australian and Indonesian scientists published a report of one of the most stunningly unexpected finds in the history of paleoanthropology: the skeleton of a Late Pleistocene female adult hominin that they assigned to a new species of the genus Homo. The fragile partial skeleton was recovered from a limestone cave called Liang Bua on Flores Island in eastern Indonesia. Associated deposits contained stone artifacts, Komodo dragon remains, and the remains of a dwarf species of Stegodon (an extinct elephant). Chronometric dating indicated that the skeleton, together with a premolar of an individual from an older deposit, represented a hominin population that existed from before 38,000 years ago until at least 18,000 years ago. The skeleton (designated as LB1) included a fairly complete skull, right leg, and left innominate (pelvic) bone. The new species to which the scientists assigned LB1 and the premolar was Homo floresiensis. With an estimated stature of 106 cm (about 3.5 ft) and a chimpanzee-sized cranial capacity of 380 cc (23 cu in), LB1 lay outside the range of any other specimen previously placed in the genus Homo. Although these primitive features were reminiscent of australopithecine traits, the facial, dental, and postcranial anatomy exhibited derived features that supported its assignment to the genus Homo. Phylogenetically, it was hypothesized that H. floresiensis was descended from a H. erectus population that became isolated on Flores Island more than 800,000 years ago (as indicated by the presence of ancient stone tools and faunal remains reported in 1998). Thus, LB1 was claimed to be an example of island-endemic dwarfism. The Flores hominins underscored the fact that following the dispersal of Homo out of Africa, much greater morphological variation arose in the genus than had previously been documented.

Stephen L. Zegura


Eastern Hemisphere.
      The year 2004 witnessed many exciting discoveries throughout the Old World.

      The war in Iraq continued to take an extraordinary toll on archaeological sites in the cradle of civilization. Despite the adoption in 2003 of UN Security Council Resolution 1483, which banned the trade in looted Iraqi antiquities, a lawless environment and weak border controls fomented the continued plundering of archaeological sites. Particularly hard hit were numerous 5,000-year-old Sumerian city-states—among them Umma, Isin, Adab, Zabalam, and Shuruppak—in the southern Iraqi province of Dhi Qar. Further destruction of sites came as a direct result of the war, such as the installation of a U.S. military base atop the remains of the ancient city of Babylon. The collapse of substantial portions of the Babylonian temples of Nabu and Ninmah, which dated to the 6th century BC, was attributed to helicopter activity.

      Excavations at Blombos Cave, on the southern tip of Africa, yielded a collection of 41 shell beads that were dated to about 75,000 years ago, 30,000 years before the previous earliest known examples of jewelry. According to Christopher S. Henshilwood of the University of Bergen, Nor., the beads, made of shells from a pea-size gastropod (Nassarius kraussianus, native to South African tidal waters), might have been strung together and worn as either necklaces or bracelets. Traces of red ochre that were found on several beads indicated that either the beads or the surfaces against which they were worn might have been coated with iron-oxide pigment.

      In Egypt a Polish team excavating a site not far from the Roman Theatre at Alexandria unearthed 13 lecture halls thought to have been part of that city's 5th-century AD university—the oldest in the world. Each of the halls, which were identical in size, contained several semicircular rows of stepped benches and an elevated seat at the centre, presumably for a lecturer.

      Archaeologists excavating the prehistoric cave site of Klisoura in southern Greece discovered what they believed to be the oldest known clay fireplaces. Dated to between 34,000 and 23,000 years ago, the clay hearths represented a midpoint in the transition from the stone hearths used by earlier peoples and the more fully developed clay kilns discovered at Dolni Vestonice in the Czech Republic, which dated to between 28,000 and 26,000 years ago.

      Archaeological studies of sites associated with Neanderthals led some researchers to suggest that late Neanderthals produced a more sophisticated culture than had been generally believed. (See Sidebar (Neanderthals-the Latest News ).)

      A 3,700-year-old Minoan settlement was found at Miletus in southwestern Turkey, further attesting to the mercantile expansion of a people once thought to have ventured little beyond their Cretan homeland. According to Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier of the German Archaeological Institute in Athens, the Anatolian colony, which was located on the Menderes River, might have been established to export copper, gold, and silver back to Crete. Niemeier and his team uncovered the remains of a courtyard surrounded by storage facilities and what were thought to be cult buildings as well as thousands of pottery and fresco fragments. In Israel archaeologists carrying out rescue excavations in preparation for the installation of a new sewer pipe in southern Jerusalem came upon a pool that had served as a principal reservoir in the city some 2,000 years ago. According to the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Pool of Siloam was fed by the nearby Gihon Spring.

      In Italy an Etruscan road thought to have once linked Pisa, on the Tyrrhenian coast, with the Adriatic port of Spina, three days' travel away, was unearthed at Capannori, near Lucca. According to archaeologist Michelangelo Zecchini, who found the site during rescue excavations, the 6th-century BC byway had seen significant chariot traffic, evident in the pronounced ruts still visible in the road.

      The first Viking burial ground to be found in Britain came to light at Cumwhitton, Cumbria, in northwestern England. The 10th-century cemetery—found with the aid of a metal detector—contained the graves of four men and two women buried with an extraordinary array of weapons, jewelry, fire-making equipment, and horse trappings. Prior to this discovery Viking remains had been found at Ingleby, east of Cumwhitton, but the bodies had been cremated, not buried. The Vikings, who traded with and raided much of Europe between the 9th and the12th century, conquered the British Isles in 1013.

      The year 2004 was a banner year for the discovery of ancient Chinese technological advances. Distinctive spiral grooves found on a suite of ornamental jade rings included in elite burials from the Spring and Autumn Period (770–476 BC) appear to have been incised with a complex machine, some 300 years earlier than such devices were thought to have existed, according to Peter J. Lu, a Harvard University graduate student. The jade rings, which vary in size from that of a quarter to that of a bracelet, bear what is known as an Archimedean spiral (although they predate the birth of Archimedes by several centuries), which almost certainly could have been made only by using a machine that linked rotational and linear motion. What was purported to be the earliest known blast blower used to smelt bronze was found in a tomb at Turpan in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China, according to Lu Enguo of Xinjiang's archaeological research institute. The bronze blowpipe was made during the Warring States period (475–221 BC). Thirty-one tombs, which dated from a period between the late Neolithic Period and the early Bronze Age and contained a wealth of pottery, stone tools, and jade ware, were found in Fujian province, in eastern China. The 4,000-year-old burials, each of which measures about 2 × 0.5 m (6 × 1.6 ft), were a chance find, their location having been exposed when recent drought conditions dried up the Dongzhang Reservoir in Fuqing. A well-preserved 5,000-year-old kiln—complete with kiln chamber, workshop, fireplace, and ash pit—was found during the excavation of a pair of prehistoric village sites at Puchengdian in Henan province. In addition to the kiln, archaeologists recovered numerous artifacts of bronze, stone, bone, shell, and ceramic made between the Neolithic Period and the Song dynasty (960–1279 AD), and they also uncovered building foundations from the Xia dynasty (c. 2205–c. 1766 BC). What was thought to be an imperial tomb group of the Western Zhou dynasty (1046–771 BC) was unearthed at the Zhougong Temple site in northwestern Shaanxi province. According to Lei Xingshan of Beijing University, 12 multichambered tombs had been excavated along with seven chariot pits.

      In Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu state, on the southern tip of India, archaeologists uncovered six prehistoric burial urns, or mudhumakkal thaazhi (meaning “large pots for the old” in the local Tamil language). The urns, dated to around 2,800 years ago, measured up to 172 cm (68 in) high and 170 cm in diameter. Some contained smaller earthen pots—quite possibly to hold food offerings—in addition to skeletal remains. It was the second such cache of early burial urns unearthed in the area in recent months.

Angela M.H. Schuster

Western Hemisphere
      In 2004 archaeologists reached widespread agreement that the first settlement of the Americas took place almost 20,000 years ago, though exactly when remained controversial. Many experts believed that the first Paleo-Indians traveled south along the coasts of present-day Alaska and British Columbia, moved inland, and then spread rapidly through North America.

       Canadian archaeologists recently unearthed the earliest stone spear points ever found in Quebec. Claude Chapdelaine and his colleagues discovered the points, estimated to be between 12,000 and 12,500 years old, on a terrace overlooking Spider Lake in the Lake Mégantic region. The broken artifacts had carefully fluted (thinned) bases and resembled the Folsom-style projectile points known to have been made by Paleo-Indian peoples to the south. The discovery extended the history of human habitation of Quebec back more than 2,000 years.

      The impending construction of a telecommunications tower on Tenderfoot Mountain above Gunnison, in southwestern Colorado, led archaeologist Mark Stiger to examine the top of the 2,600-m (8,500-ft) mesa for archaeological sites. Initially he found Folsom points of Paleo-Indian origin. In later surveys he identified at least 15 sites and recovered more than 50 complete or partial spearheads. In 2003 he unearthed a series of rocks and boulders set in a circle. Inside the ring lay Folsom points and some chunks of wall mud. Believing the find to have been a rudimentary house of timber, brush, and clay built between 12,000 and 13,000 years ago, he theorized it was a winter house used over a period of time by an otherwise nomadic Folsom group. This discovery extended the known range of Folsom people, who were traditionally associated with the Great Plains, to the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains.

      High-technology science of the 21st century continued to make important contributions to American archaeology. A multidisciplinary team of archaeologists, botanists, and soil scientists used tests for strontium, a trace element, to determine the origin of corn (maize) cobs found in Chaco Canyon, a major centre of Ancestral Pueblo culture in present-day New Mexico. By comparing the strontium content of the cobs with that of soil samples they obtained from adjoining regions, the team found that the cobs came from corn grown in soil more than 80 km (50 mi) away. This finding suggested that at least some of the corn consumed in the canyon was obtained through trade, an important survival strategy in an environment with unpredictable rainfall and frequent droughts. With more analyses, the corn research might show the extent to which the Ancestral Pueblo communities at Chaco Canyon depended on outsiders.

      Mound A is the largest of seven Mississippian mounds overlooking the Tennessee River within Shiloh National Military Park, Tennessee. The mound was probably built about 1,000 years ago. In excavating Mound A, archaeologists David Anderson and John Cornelison found that it was constructed in at least five stages, with each successive stage built upon previous construction. When the mound was about half its present size, the builders used red, gray, yellow, and dark brown clays to produce a “tiger-striped” layer. The clays must have come from elsewhere, and their source had yet to be identified. The base of the mound lay about 2.4 m (8 ft) below ground level; the early builders built up a surrounding plaza, perhaps to enhance the appearance of the then-incomplete monument and its precincts.

      Fort Sidney Johnston (1864) was the centrepiece of the Confederate defense works at Mobile, Ala. The site of the fort was uncovered by archaeologists working ahead of railroad construction in the area. Although the location of the fort was shown on historic maps, many details of the fort's structure were unknown. Excavations revealed a large brick wall that was part of an ammunition magazine or shelter and a massive floor of wooden planks preserved in the moist soil.

      In the Mayan lowlands of Central America, an important carved stone panel was found in a royal ball court during excavations of one of the most extensive ancient Mayan palaces ever discovered, at Cancuen, Guat. The ornate panel, weighing 91 metric tons (100 short tons), depicts Taj Chan Ank, a ruler of the 8th century AD. He wears a turtle headdress and a jaguar skin as he presides over a ceremony accompanied by two local rulers. Another marker from the same court shows the ruler playing ball against a visiting allied dignitary.

      Mayan rule presented a minefield of factional disputes, and every lord—however unimportant—had to be politically adept to survive. A reanalysis of a hieroglyphic stela from Moral-Reforma, a small Mayan capital in present-day Tabasco state, Mexico, showed how a local ruler changed sides. An inscription on the stela depicts lord Hawk Skull being crowned in AD 662, in the presence of Yuknoom the Great, ruler of the great city of Calakmul, which lay a great distance away. Thirty years later he was crowned again, this time in a ritual supervised by Lord Kan Bahlam, ruler of the city of Palenque, a strong rival to Calakmul. Moral-Reforma lay amid rich agricultural lands, which made it a rich prize for ambitious leaders eager to control food sources. In many cases Mayan rulers conquered neighbouring lands, but they also used diplomacy to dominate weaker neighbours, which seemed to have been the case with Moral-Reforma.

       Agriculture was an important topic of study for Mayan archaeology. A team of archaeologists headed by T. Patrick Culbert of the University of Arizona located more than 70 new archaeological sites in northern Guatemala's Petén rain forest. The researchers also investigated whether the dense Mayan farming population of AD 550 to 850 used the area's seasonal wetlands, known as bajos, during the dry season to increase agricultural productivity. Since bajos covered 40% of the land area, it seemed likely that they were placed under cultivation at a time when the population grew rapidly.

      The discovery of a 4,000-year-old gourd fragment from a cemetery in the Norte Chico region, some 190 km (120 mi) north of Lima, Peru, pushed back the date of the earliest-known practice of ancient Andean religion 1,000 years. The incised and painted fragment, radiocarbon dated to about 2250 BC, depicts a fanged creature with splayed feet. Its left arm ends in a snake's head, and its right arm holds a staff. Andean art experts believed the figure to be the earliest image of the Staff God, a seminal deity of Peru's Formative Period (1000–200 BC). The Staff God continued to be important in Andean belief for many centuries after that time, and it figured prominently in the divine pantheon of the highland Wari and Tiwanaku states (AD 600–1000).

Brian Fagan

▪ 2004


      In 2003 an international paleoanthropological research team described what were believed to be the oldest-known members of the human species. The fossilized crania of one immature and two adult individuals were recovered in 1997 along with an upper molar, an upper premolar, and a series of parietal fragments from the Herto Member of the Bouri Formation in the Middle Awash area of Ethiopia's Afar Depression. These fossils were argon-isotope dated to between 154,000 and 160,000 years ago. Associated layers of sediment contained a number of artifacts of similar age that exhibited a combination of Middle Stone Age and late Acheulean technology, as well as evidence for the butchery of large mammals. Because they were deemed to represent a population that was on the verge of anatomical modernity but were not yet fully modern, these fossils were classified as a new subspecies of Homo sapiens, Homo sapiens idaltu. The subspecies name (idaltu) means “elder” in the local Afar language. The more complete of the two adult crania had a combination of features characteristic of rugged archaic, early modern, and more recent human populations. The estimated cranial capacity was 1,450 cc (1 cc = about 0.06 cu in), at the high end of the modern human range (the second adult cranium may have been an even larger individual). The better-preserved specimen was interpreted as a male with the following features: high and especially long cranium, globular braincase, thick cranial vault, prominent browridges, large and heavily worn dentition, and a deep, tall, and broad face with moderate alveolar prognathism. All three of the Herto crania displayed extensive cultural modification consistent with mortuary practices rather than cannibalism. Overall, the Herto crania were placed somewhere between the more primitive morphology of earlier African specimens such as those from Bodo and Kabwe in Zambia and later anatomically modern specimens such as those from Klasies in South Africa and Kafzeh in Israel. The authors suggested that H. rhodesiensis (i.e., Bodo and Kabwe) was ultimately ancestral to H. sapiens idaltu, which in turn gave rise to H. sapiens sapiens in Africa. This would exclude Neanderthals from any significant contribution to the ancestry of modern humans and thereby strengthen the case for the out-of-Africa model rather than the multiregional model of human origins. The potential import of these Ethiopian fossils was underscored by the recently reported genetic finding that the oldest versions of human mitochondrial (mt)DNA arose some 170,000 years ago and are today found in the Sandawe people of Tanzania and !Kung San of the Kalahari, both of whom may have roots in northeastern Africa, including Ethiopia.

      Additional evidence that Neanderthals did not make a major genetic contribution to the human gene pool came from the mtDNA sequences extracted from two 23,000–25,000-year-old anatomically modern H. sapiens sapiens specimens that a Spanish-Italian research team recovered from the Paglicci cave in southern Italy. DNA was extracted from both a rib and a femur for the two specimens, and the results were consistent and clear-cut: the mtDNA of these individuals fell well within the range of modern human mtDNA but differed sharply from the four available sequences of the Neanderthals. (Neanderthals as a group probably died out sometime between 25,000 and 30,000 years ago.) These findings were also interpreted to support the out-of-Africa model, although some anthropological geneticists questioned whether contamination from modern mtDNA could be ruled out completely.

      The Paglicci specimens brought the total sample of mtDNAs extracted from ancient anatomically modern human individuals to six, the oldest of which was reported in 2001 to be the 62,000 6,000-year-old Lake Mungo 3 specimen from the Willandra Lakes region in southeastern Australia. This date proved to be erroneous (as was the 20,000–25,000-year-old date for Lake Mungo 1) according to a new analysis based on 25 dates derived from optically stimulated luminescence signals from quartz. Both Mungo burials were redated to 40,000 2,000 years ago, which would be synchronous with, or soon after, the initial human occupation of northern and western Australia some 46,000 to 50,000 years ago. Although these two Lake Mungo specimens were contemporaneous with Eurasian Neanderthals, their mtDNAs differed greatly from Neanderthal mtDNA. More perplexing, however, was the finding that three of the four Lake Mungo specimens had mtDNA closely related to the mtDNA of modern Australian Aboriginal Peoples, while the Lake Mungo 3 individual had a unique mtDNA lineage that diverged from all known fossil and contemporary human mtDNAs. Rather than supporting the multiregional model as was originally proposed, anthropological geneticists hypothesized that this was just one of many examples of an African mtDNA lineage's becoming extinct over the past 150,000–200,000 years.

Stephen L. Zegura


Eastern Hemisphere.
      The year 2003 was marked not only by discovery but by scandal and wanton destruction. In early April the Iraq Museum in Baghdad was stripped of thousands of artifacts that chronicled some 6,000 years of human history. Although an estimated 3,000 of these objects were later returned, many thousands more remained unaccounted for. Hundreds surfaced in London, Paris, and New York City; others were intercepted at the Jordanian border. Still more devastating, because the uncataloged artifacts were untraceable, was the systematic looting of Iraq's archaeological sites, particularly those in the south. At the 5,000-year-old Sumerian sites of Umma, Isin, and Adab, hundreds combed the ruins for treasures to sell on the art market.

      Considered by many to be “the find of the century” when it was discovered in 2002, the “James ossuary” was in 2003 declared a forgery by the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). The ossuary, which bore an Aramaic inscription, “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus,” was purported to be the earliest-known artifact associated with the founder of Christianity. The IAA alleged that the ossuary was the handiwork of Oded Golan, who also was associated with the so-called Jehoash inscription, purported to be a 2,800-year-old account of repairs made to Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem following its destruction by the Babylonians. Scholars were quick to point out that the text of that inscription, written in a Hebrew-Phoenician script, was riddled with grammatical errors and, like the ossuary, was clearly a fake. The report of the IAA was generally, but not universally, accepted.

      Elsewhere in Israel, excavations undertaken at Kibbutz Kfar HaHoresh near Nazareth—Jesus' boyhood home—revealed that the area was a major cult centre 9,000 years before the time of Christ. According to site investigator Nigel Goring-Morris of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, 65 enigmatic burials found in burnished lime-plaster tombs were unearthed. A headless man was interred on top of 250 aurochs (wild ox) bones, four children were buried with fox jawbones, and several other individuals were buried with flint tools. The archaeological team also found three skulls that had been defleshed shortly after death and then covered in lime plaster sculpted to resemble human facial features. Two of the plastered skulls had been painted red. Kilns used to make the lime plaster were discovered nearby.

      While widening a riverbed to prevent flash floods at the ancient Macedonian site of Dion in northern Greece, contractors discovered a previously unknown sanctuary to Zeus Hypsistos, the supreme god of ancient Greece. Archaeologists subsequently excavated the site and found a 2,400-year-old headless cult statue of the god holding a thunderbolt and sceptre and bearing an inscription of his name. They also found 14 large marble column blocks decorated with eagles, a symbol of the god.

      The most northerly Ice Age cave art and the first ever found in Britain—a suite of 12,000-year-old engravings of various creatures—was discovered at Creswell Crags in central England. The faint engravings were similar in style to those at Lascaux Grotto in France and Altamira in Spain. Archaeologists at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, announced the discovery of the largest-known hoard of Bronze Age weapons and jewelry to date. Dated to between 1550 and 1250 BC, the approximately 360 objects—including swords, axes, spearheads, sickles, jewelry, and part of a bronze helmet—were recovered from an offering pit at Moosbruckschrofen am Piller in Tirol. The helmet was of particular interest because only one other helmet of similar antiquity was known. The other, made of leather and boars' tusks, had been found in the early 1960s at Dendra, Crete, Greece. What was believed to be the finest and largest Viking hoard ever found on the Isle of Man was brought to light in March. The cache contained 464 coins of Hiberno-Norse and Anglo-Saxon type, 25 ingots, and a large silver armlet all dating to c. AD 1020. In the Meuse River southeast of Amsterdam, a cache of 4th-century AD Roman shoes was discovered. The six complete shoes had been discarded in an ancient garbage dump near the site of a Roman fort. Archaeologists working in Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli, Italy, identified a recently excavated colonnaded building as a memorial to Antinoüs, the Roman emperor's young lover who drowned in the Nile in AD 130 and was later deified. A statue of Antinoüs dressed as the Egyptian god Osiris had been found at the site when systematic excavations began there in the 18th century.

      In China's Henan province archaeologists discovered a 2,500-year-old royal tomb, the largest ever found in China. The 35-m (115-ft)- long tomb, which dated to the Spring and Autumn Period (770–476 BC) of the Eastern Zhou dynasty, was composed of more than 18 pits that contained the remains of elaborate horse-drawn carriages, the bones of horses, and numerous ornate jade and metal objects. The quality of the tomb's contents, as well its location in an area thought to have been a royal cemetery, led archaeologists to posit that the burial was likely that of a king of the Zheng state. The tomb predated by some 300 years the famous tomb of China's first emperor, Shi Huangdi (c. 259–210 BC), in Xi'an. Beijing officials in the summer of 2003 enacted the first laws to protect China's Great Wall. A series of defenses built between the 7th century BC and the 16th century AD, the Great Wall, which stretched some 6,700 km (4,160 mi) across the Chinese landscape, was ravaged not only by time but by development, uncontrolled tourism, and outright vandalism. Unfortunately, the new laws protected only the famed section of the wall just outside Beijing. Following completion of the second phase of construction of the Three Gorges Dam, some 1,200 sites of historical and archaeological importance that once lined the middle reaches of China's Yangtze River (Chang Jiang) vanished as floodwaters rose. Live on national television, archaeologists in Mongolia opened a Liao dynasty (AD 907–1125) coffin from Inner Mongolia. The bright red coffin, the first of its kind to have been found in a Liao tomb, contained the remains of a nobleman wrapped in a silk blanket and wearing a necklace, bells around his ankles, and a studded metal helmet and mask.

      Excavations undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) revealed what was purported to be evidence of a 10th-century Hindu temple at the site of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh. The 16th-century mosque had been demolished in December 1992 by Hindu fundamentalists who believed that it stood atop the birthplace of Rama, one of the most revered deities of the Hindu pantheon. The ASI findings, which were called into question, only fueled what was already a highly charged political atmosphere.

Angela M.H. Schuster

Western Hemisphere
      A broad spectrum of archaeological discoveries absorbed the attention of archaeologists in 2003. It had long been suspected that people lived in the Americas before the well-known Clovis hunter-gatherers of 10,000 BC. A series of human skulls found in central Mexico in 1959 and stored in the National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City, were radiocarbon dated by a team of British and Mexican researchers. The craniums date to about 13,000 years ago, to the earliest centuries of human occupation, which occurred soon after the Ice Age, perhaps as early as 15,000 years ago.

      Ancient native American society was more highly developed than once suspected. For instance, it is now known that Double Ditch, a Mandan Indian site in North Dakota, was one of the largest prehistoric settlements on the Great Plains, with more than 3,000 inhabitants in the late 1300s AD. University of Arkansas archaeologist Ken Kvamme discovered hitherto-unknown earthen fortifications that once surrounded the settlement, incorporating earthen mounds and steep-sided ditches about 3 m (10 ft) deep along the defensive line. This important discovery served as eloquent testimony to the sophistication of the Mandan long before European contact.

      More evidence of sophistication came from the Grossmann site in southern Illinois, a ceremonial centre of the Mississippian culture occupied in the 12th century AD. University of Illinois archaeologist Timothy Pauketat excavated a large Grossmann house with limestone flooring that contained deposits of limonite and ochre, often used as pigments for body paint. Pauketat believed this was a ceremonial structure associated with the Green Corn Ceremony, a harvest festival. Nearby lay pits containing charred seeds, cordage, and quartz crystals that may have come from Arkansas. The cordage and associated matting may have been containers for corn burned in the pit, part of the rituals and feasting that coincided with harvest.

      The Olmec people of lowland Mexico contributed much to Mesoamerican civilization. It has been shown that they were pioneers of written script. The San Andrés site on the Gulf of Mexico was occupied by Olmec in about 650 BC. Archaeologist Mary Pohl of Florida State University uncovered the remains of a feast, which included some cylinder seals used to imprint objects. One of the seals depicts a bird, perhaps commemorating a royal leader. Symbols that resemble later Maya hieroglyphs emerge from the figure's mouth. One of them depicts the ajaw glyph, which was a name for a king and a name for a day in the Maya calendar. Pohl believed that these symbols represent words or ideas, the first stages of writing. The San Andrés symbols may be the earliest writing known from the New World.

      The great city of Teotihuacán on the edge of the basin of Mexico continued to yield spectacular discoveries. Some of them testified to the city's complex relationship with Maya civilization. Three seated burials from the depths of the Pyramid of the Moon dating to the 4th century AD lay with shells, obsidian (volcanic glass), and jade ceremonial objects, including some in the Maya style. The new Moon Pyramid burials were clearly those of important people. All the previously discovered skeletons had been those of sacrificial victims. Archaeologists had long known that there were extensive contacts between the people of Teotihuacán and the cities of the Maya lowlands, documented from pottery, architectural styles, and religious imagery. The newly found burials provided confirmation from their jade beads and ear spools, as well as a jade figurine that may be of Maya origin.

      High-technology archaeology and newly deciphered hieroglyphs on painted pots provided new clues about ancient Maya history. Such vessels were often formal gifts exchanged between lords. Hieroglyphic texts dedicate the vessel and list the contents—chocolate, tamales, or corn gruel, for example. The scenes on the pot contain glyphs that record the names of the individuals in the scene, their titles, and the event depicted, as well as, sometimes, its date. Using chemical fingerprinting of the clay, it is sometimes possible to trace the place of origin of the vessel. In one recent case, Smithsonian Institution scientists studied a vessel of unknown origin that depicts a red-painted building decorated with images of supernatural beings. Inside, six nobles participate in a rite of enthronement. A lord sits on a throne covered with decorated cloth and a plaited mat, his back supported by a pillow. At right, a kneeling figure, perhaps the artist, presents a tray to the lord. His signature frames his head. Chemical fingerprinting of the clay placed the vessel at the Maan site in the little-known La Florida region of Guatemala. The pot inscription suggests that the vessel may have been a formal gift from the lord of Maan to the Ikí lord Chuy-ti-Chan, an official representative of the Ik state, southwest of the city of Tikal in Guatemala's Petén.

      The dry climate of Peru's desert coast continued to yield unusual discoveries. Peruvian archaeologists reconstructed a human sacrifice conducted on a beach 200 km (120 mi) north of Lima in the late 14th century AD. The skeletons of 200 men bound with ropes at the ankles and wrists lay under a thin layer of sand. The victims had knelt and then had been stabbed through the heart, toppling over forward or onto their sides into the sand. Larvae from several generations of flies infested the victims' hair, which showed that the bodies had been watched over for several days by relatives to keep away carrion-eating animals until the corpses vanished under blowing sand. A large fishing net, ropes, and clay vessels with food lay at the other end of the beach, perhaps offerings for the afterlife left by surviving family members. Textiles covering several of the victims' faces were in the Chimú style. The research team believed that the Chimú ruler Minchancaman sacrificed the fishermen in gratitude to the sea god Ni after a successful campaign of conquest in the area.

      Finally, new diving technologies resulted in important underwater discoveries in the Western Hemisphere. The paddle steamer Portland foundered in a gale off the coast of Massachusetts in 1898 with the loss of 190 passengers and crew. Using remote diving apparatuses, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists found the ship standing upright on the sea bottom. Farther south, NOAA specialists working 32 km (20 mi) off the coast of North Carolina raised the turret of the USS Monitor, which lay 72 m (240 ft) below the surface. Navy divers recovered the 150-ton revolving turret, the first of its kind on any ship. It rested in a tank of chilled water at the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Va. Conservation of the turret, which contained the remains of some of the 16 seamen who perished in the wreck, was expected to take as long as 15 years.

Brian Fagan

▪ 2003



Physical Anthropology.
      In 2002 an international paleoanthropological research team announced a monumental discovery: the remains of the earliest hominid (or hominin) in the fossil record. Both the date and the location of the finds astonished experts. The associated fauna suggested that the fossils found in Chad, central Africa, were between six million and seven million years old. The six specimens included a cranium, a mandibular fragment, and two isolated teeth (an incisor and a molar) collected during 2001, as well as a partial right mandible containing a premolar and three molars and an isolated canine collected in 2002. The nearly complete cranium exhibited a heretofore unknown mix of apelike and hominid features. This specimen was formally named Sahelanthropus tchadensis and dubbed Toumai, which means “hope of life” in the local Goran language. Sahelanthropus's unique combination of primitive and derived traits was exemplified by the large continuous and extremely thick browridge (exceeding even the gorilla's in thickness) coupled with small, hominid-like canines. The braincase was also relatively small for a hominid, with an estimated cranial capacity of 320–380 cc (1 cc = about 0.06 cu in), similar to that of a chimpanzee. The back of the skull was shaped like that of an ape, and the widely spaced eyes resembled the gorilla's. More derived hominid traits included the short, vertical face with the lower face showing less prognathism (forward protrusion) than that in the chronologically later australopithecines; the dentition (especially the small canines and lack of a space between the upper second incisor and canine); and the basicranium (base of the skull). The cranium probably was that of a chimpanzee-sized male who lived near a lake but not far from a sandy desert in the Late Miocene Epoch. Thus, Sahelanthropus flourished close to the ancestral split between the evolutionary lines that eventually led to modern chimpanzees and humans, respectively. As the oldest and most primitive known member of the hominid (hominin) clade, Sahelanthropus may have been the sister group of Ardipithecus, the Ethiopian genus that in 2001 was discovered to date to as early as 5.2 million–5.8 million years ago.

      A second astonishing hominid (hominin) discovery was a superbly preserved skull from the fossil-rich approximately 1.75-million-year-old deposits from Dmanisi, Georgia. The Transcaucasian site had previously yielded two partial crania provisionally assigned to Homo ergaster (also called H. erectus by many experts) with estimated cranial capacities of 780 cc and 650 cc, respectively. The new, far more complete skull represented the smallest-brained (600-cc cranial capacity), most primitive hominid (hominin) ever found outside Africa. Although the international research team led by Georgian paleoanthropologists assigned the new specimen to H. erectus (= ergaster), numerous craniofacial features resembled the earlier taxon H. habilis. The skull carried four maxillary teeth and eight mandibular teeth. Ten isolated teeth were also recovered, of which six easily fit into the maxilla. This specimen was that of a young individual—perhaps female, but the relatively massive canines cautioned against making a definitive sex designation. The rather diminutive face was surmounted by thin but well-defined browridges. The palate was shallow, while the rear of the braincase displayed a low and transversely flattened appearance characteristic of H. erectus specimens. The extreme morphological variation evidenced among the finds at Dmanisi caused experts to call for the reassessment of both the sex and existing taxonomic designations of the early Homo fossils from other localities. It was now deemed possible that a relatively small-brained population with simple flake and chopper tools exited Africa soon after the first appearance of the genus Homo, a theory that ran counter to earlier expectations. Indeed, one iconoclastic proposal that would upset orthodox scenarios had H. erectus deriving from this primitive Dmanisi stock somewhere in Asia and H. erectus (= ergaster) subsequently moving back to Africa. This scenario also raised the possibility of multiple hominid (hominin) migrations back and forth between Asia and Africa beginning about 1.75 million years ago.

      Recently published genetic evidence from mitochrondrial DNA, the Y chromosome, the X chromosome, and six autosomal regions supported a model of multiple out-of-Africa migrations to Eurasia dating back 1.7 million years by members of the genus Homo. Both the Y-chromosome and the ß-hemoglobin locus also suggested hominid movements from Asia back to Africa later than the proposed origin of H. sapiens. These results came from the application of a novel methodology known as nested clade phylogeographic analysis devised by the geneticist Alan Templeton and implemented with the GEODIS computer program written by Templeton and his associates. This method distinguished statistically significant associations between patterns of genetic variation and geography in terms of underlying causal mechanisms such as population structure processes (i.e., recurrent gene flow restricted by isolation by distance) and population history events (for example, contiguous range expansions, long-distance colonizations, or genetic fragmentation into two or more populations). The most ancient genetic signals were all recurrent gene-flow episodes that followed the Dmanisi expansion to Georgia but predated the first genetic-based signal for an out-of-Africa expansion that occurred between 420,000 and 840,000 years ago. A second genetically defined expansion from Africa took place between 80,000 and 150,000 years ago and most probably marked the initial colonization by H. sapiens of non-African locales. Templeton's major conclusion was that humans expanded from Africa on multiple occasions, but these expansions resulted in interbreeding (gene flow) rather than population replacement, which thereby makes suspect any model of human origins that demands complete replacement without any interbreeding (the traditional out-of-Africa replacement model).

Stephen L. Zegura

Cultural Anthropology.
      In 2002 much was written about the events of Sept. 11, 2001, in popular and academic literature alike. These events prompted cultural anthropologists to bring their talents to bear on contemporary problems of violence and globalization and to look at these problems in new ways. The anthropological study of violence was not new. The relationship between violence and human evolution, both biological and cultural, had long generated heated debate in the four fields of anthropology: sociocultural, linguistic, physical, and archaeological. While classical anthropological treatises on violence and war had focused largely on the exotic violence of “the other” in the form of small-scale tribal societies (for example, Napoleon Chagnon's 1968 study, Yanomamö, the Fierce People), scholars were increasingly turning their attention to the problems of violence in so-called complex societies.

      The dramatic scholarly response to September 11 pointed to lines of research that had been percolating within anthropology for at least a decade. Rigorous and nuanced inquiries into the cultural and structural dimensions of violence, war, and peacemaking in the postcolonial, globally connected, industrialized, and/or urbanized regions of the globe led to the formation of what some had termed an “anthropology of violence.” Groundbreaking anthropological work in the 1990s complicated and broadened definitions of violence to include structural violence caused by economic deprivation and inequality, genocide, state terror, and social suffering. It also raised important questions about the sociocultural conditions of peacemaking. New, post-September 11 inquiries into the basic structural conditions that give rise to terrorism were expected to build on these seminal works.

      Despite the fact that some scholars questioned the ability or legitimacy of anthropological comment on the events of September 11, the program of the 2002 annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association included dozens of sessions on violence and globalization or the globalization of violence—for example, the AAA public policy forum “Violences Legitimate and Illegitimate: Playing with ‘Terrorism,' the Word” and other presentations entitled “Memories of Terror: Dialogue on Public Issues,” “New York City (and Beyond): Before and After 9/11,” “Bioterrorism, Epidemics, and the Future of Public Health: Anthropological Perspectives,” and “Violence, Terrorism and the New World (Dis)Order.”

      In September 2002 the professional journal American Anthropologist dedicated a special issue to anthropological work on September 11. The articles ranged from discussions of the history of factionalism and war in Afghanistan to the impact of global violence in Indonesia. In her article “Making War at Home in the United States: Militarization and the Current Crisis,” Catherine Lutz argued that war and terrorism are not abnormal states of crisis but indicative of a highly militarized U.S. population. She also analyzed the trend in American media toward the commodification of tragedy and violence in a “brand name” such as “September 11” or “9/11.” These brands are metonymic, allowing a single word or phrase to encapsulate the incomprehensible destruction, violence, and subsequent nationalism produced by the events. Lutz argued that brand names of violence circulate as commodities and nationalist rallying cries.

      Karin Andriolo's article, “Murder by Suicide: Episodes from Muslim History,” attempted to trace the history of the idea “Muslim terrorist” beginning with the historical figures of the 13th-century assassins. While there is much to be gained from interrogating the terminology “Muslim terrorist,” several problems arise with this type of “archeology of knowledge.” Using the assassins as a starting point seems arbitrary, given that their goals were not global in scope, not part of a transnational production of terror. The terror generated by the assassins lay in their anonymity. The fear generated by modern terrorists is international in scope and resides in the virulence of circulated images of destruction. If anthropologists conceptualize terrorism as the ritualized production of power, the power of the terrorist acts of September 11 rests in the spectacle that could be broadcast live from the scene of the violence to the rest of the world.

      In contrast to Andriolo, Mahmood Mamdani argued in the same issue of American Anthropologist that terrorism is a unique product of the modern world system and should not be conflated with Islam. He questioned the connection between Islam and terrorism based on a detailed analysis of the effects of the Cold War on Afghanistan. In a similar vein, Lila Abu-Lughod confronted the question “Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving?…” Like Mamdani, Abu-Lughod took anthropologists to task for “complicity in the reification of cultural difference.” She questioned the “rhetoric of salvation” in which women of colour, in this case Afghanis, are protected from men of colour by violent intervention. She placed this rhetoric in the context of a long history of colonial rule in which colonizers justified their actions in the name of saving women.

      While Lutz lamented the use of the date September 11 as a symbolic partition of history into before and after, the events of that date provided an opportunity for cultural anthropologists to reflect on important developments in the anthropological study of violence, terrorism, war, and peace. The discipline as a whole would have to continue to confront these issues if it was to remain relevant for the 21st century.

Kimberly L. Mills


Eastern Hemisphere.
      The year 2002 yielded a number of stunning archaeological discoveries. A 50-cm (20-in)-long limestone ossuary, or box for storage of bones, bearing a text in Aramaic, was hailed as the first archaeological evidence for the historical Jesus. The ossuary, found near Jerusalem, was carved with a single line of text reading, “Ya'akov bar Yosef akhui diYeshua,” or “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” Although James (Jacob or Ya'akov), Joseph (Yosef), and Jesus (Yeshua) were common names at that time, scholars noted that the appearance of that particular combination of names and kinship order would have been rare. If it proved authentic and did indeed refer to Jesus of Nazareth, said French epigrapher André Lemaire of the Sorbonne, who analyzed the inscription and dated it to c. AD 63, it would be the first documentation of the founder of Christianity outside the Bible. Until this discovery the earliest-known mention of Jesus had been that found on a papyrus containing a fragment of the Gospel of John, written in Greek and dated to c. AD 125. Unfortunately, the ossuary was damaged while being transported from Israel to Canada, where it was to go on exhibition.

      Considered the oldest-known art in the world, two 77,000- year-old pieces of decorated red ochre found in a South African cave prompted a major rethinking of the emergence of “modern behaviour” in the human line, according to an international research team led by the Iziko Museums of Cape Town, S.Af. Discovered at Blombos Cave on the southern Cape, the ochre pieces had been ground down to produce a smooth work surface and then engraved with an intricate crosshatch design. Scientists had been unclear as to just when “modern behaviour” emerged—that is, the development of the cognitive abilities necessary to create art, to modify objects beyond a pure utilitarian function. The earliest heretofore known art comprised depictions of an animal and a humanlike creature executed in red ochre on several stone slabs dated to between 32,000 and 36,000 years ago, discovered near Verona, Italy.

      A 2,600-year-old Etruscan settlement found near the shores of Lake Accesa on Italy's Tuscan plain, the largest found to date, was expected to provide a window on Etruscan civic life in the late 7th to early 6th century BC. The town, spread over some 30 ha (75 ac), yielded the well-preserved remains of stone house foundations, streets, and tombs. The town was believed to have been a mining community, with the iron, copper, and tin it produced exported to Greece in exchange for polychromed ceramics found in abundance in Etruscan tombs.

      What was believed to be the richest Bronze Age burial ever found in Great Britain was discovered at Amesbury, near Stonehenge. There a team recovered the 4,300-year-old remains of an archer buried with nearly 100 artifacts, including three copper knives, gold earrings, beaker pots, numerous stone arrowheads, and stone wrist guards. A Roman iron factory found near Brayford in southwestern England included furnaces, slag, and smelting equipment and apparently had been used to supply markets throughout the Roman Empire during the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. A hoard of 4th-century AD Roman coins buried in Somerset and found by an off-duty policeman wielding a metal detector proved that counterfeiting had been alive and well in the ancient world; 56 of the 670 coins were forgeries. An early 6th-century AD trading post discovered in 2001 at the mouth of the River Avon in the south of England revised thinking about the commercial relationship between Britain and the Late Roman Empire. The site yielded abundant remains of Eastern Mediterranean amphorae and North African tableware among shards of Cornish gabbroic coarseware. The intermingling of finds suggested that trade with these distant regions had continued well after the Romans' withdrawal from the British Isles in AD 410.

      A Danish National Museum team was excavating the manor house and outbuildings at that country's most important archaeological site, the Viking complex at Lake Tissoe, west of Copenhagen, where some 10,000 high-quality artifacts had already been removed. The Swedish navy discovered the well-preserved remains of an 18th-century brig sitting upright on the seafloor in 90 m (300 ft) of water in the Baltic Sea. The identity of the ship and the reason it sank remained a mystery.

      In China the analysis of a suite of 20,000 newly discovered bamboo strips bearing some 200,000 characters was expected to shed light on the evolution of Chinese calligraphy. The strips, excavated in June at Liye village, Hunan province, appeared to be court documents of the Qin dynasty (221–206 BC). Qin Shi Huangdi, founder of the Qin dynasty and China's first emperor, standardized the country's many writing styles, demanding that his subjects write in Xiaozhuan, or the Lesser Seal Style. According to Li Jiahao of Beijing University, the newly discovered documents were drafted in Qin Li, a derivative of Xiaozhuan valued for its simplicity and clarity. Some 75 km (45 mi) to the south, archaeologists unearthed the tomb of an early Ming dynasty (AD 1368–1644) tribal leader. Discovered in Hunan province, the tomb was composed of a long passage lined with stone statues of lions, horses, and human figures and a large main hall. The tomb's occupant was believed to have been a Tusi, or minority ethnic administrator. Other recent Chinese finds included the 2,000-year-old remains of 30 beacon towers, two fortified castles, two ancillary defensive buildings, and a series of deep trenches situated just east of Jiuquan in northwestern Gansu province. According to the archaeologists working on the site, trenches 3–4 m (10–15 ft) deep rather than walls were the preferred defensive structure of the Han dynasty (ruled 206 BC –AD 220).

      Two sandstone slabs, recovered during excavations in the east Indian state of Orissa, were expected to shed light on the life of the warrior-king Ashoka (ca. 269–ca. 232 BC), who took the Mauryan empire to its apogee only to renounce the violence of conquest in favour of Buddhism and a more liberal code of conduct that espoused human dignity and encouraged socioreligious harmony. One slab bore what was believed to be the first known portrait of the king; the other showed a royal figure embraced by two women, perhaps his queens.

Angela M.H. Schuster

Western Hemisphere.
      New archaeological discoveries in 2002 ranged over the entire spectrum of American history. The redevelopment of downtown Tucson, Ariz., involved large-scale archaeological excavations on the Santa Cruz River floodplain. Excavations revealed a number of irrigation canals constructed over at least 2,500 years as well as corn (maize) fragments dating to about 2000 BC—the earliest yet found in the American Southwest. The same settlement also contained storage pits and pit houses.

      Even older, well-investigated sites sometimes yielded surprises. In 2001 two students from Ohio State University, using a fluxgate gradiometer (an instrument that identifies fluctuations in the Earth's magnetic field), discovered a hitherto unknown circular shallow ditch about 27 m (90 ft) in diameter inside the great D-shaped enclosure at the Hopewell Mound Group near Chillicothe, Ohio. Their discovery was detailed in 2002 in American Archaeology. Spiro in eastern Oklahoma was a major religious centre for the Mississippian culture between about AD 1100 and 1450. In 1935 in a tunnel dug into Craig Mound, the largest at the site, amateur archaeologist J.G. Braeklein unearthed a stone scraper made of a green obsidian (volcanic glass). Every obsidian source contains its own distinctive trace elements, and these can be identified by using spectrographic analysis. Alex Barker of the Milwaukee (Wis.) Public Museum found that the trace elements in the Spiro flake were virtually identical to those from a source at Pachuca in central Mexico. Pachuca obsidian was greatly prized by many Central American civilizations and was traded as far south as Guatemala. The discovery at Spiro was the first find of Pachuca obsidian north of the Rio Grande. For many years archaeologists speculated about contacts between the great Mississippian centres and Mexican civilizations, and now they had the first firm, if tenuous, link.

      A beautiful Maya mural dating to about AD 100 was found in a small room by a 25-m (80-ft)-tall pyramid at San Bartolo in the Petén region of northern Guatemala. The frieze depicts a mythical scene known as the dressing of the Corn God. A male figure, perhaps the Corn God, looks over his shoulder at two kneeling women who may be dressing him before he leaves the Underworld. Only an estimated 10% of the mural was exposed, but once fully excavated, the frieze would likely extend more than 18 m (60 ft) around the room. It would be the most important early Maya painting ever found.

      Working 4,250 m (14,000 ft) up Pico de Orizaba, Mexico's highest mountain, Polish and Mexican archaeologists unearthed an Aztec stone shrine that served as an astronomical observatory. The lines formed by the observatory and two nearby peaks point to the rising Sun on February 9 and 10 and November 1 and 2. It was thought that Aztec priests built the shrine to the rain god Tlaloc, who was honoured on mountain peaks.

      The Inca empire extended far beyond its Andean homeland to the arid Pacific coast of present-day Peru, one of the driest environments on Earth. Little was known about life in the outlying Inca provinces, but a recent discovery on the outskirts of Lima, Peru, shed new light on the subject. The Puruchuco-Huaquerones cemetery, which dates to Inca times (AD 1438–1532), lies under the Tupac Amaru shantytown on the outskirts of the city. Over the years, shantytown inhabitants had unearthed a number of Inca mummies but burned them for fear that the squatters would be relocated. Guillermo Cock of Peru's Institute of Culture started work in the cemetery in 1999 and in three seasons recovered more than 2,200 mummies of all social ranks, buried within a 75-year span. Interred in graves sealed with sand, rubble, and potsherds, the funereal bundles survived virtually intact in the arid soil. Many bore false heads of textiles and cotton, and some were adorned with magnificent woven garments or elaborate headdresses of bird feathers with ear flaps and a long panel draped down the back of the neck. Sometimes as many as seven people were wrapped in one bundle. Nearly half the burials in the cemetery were those of children who had died from anemia. One spectacular mummy bundle, wrapped with more than 135 kg (300 lb) of cotton, contained the bodies of a man and a baby, perhaps one of his children. They were buried with food and 170 exotic and everyday artifacts, together with a mace and sandals of a type worn by the Inca elite. Exotic spondylus shells from distant Ecuadoran waters lay with the bodies, eloquent testimony to their social status.

      The wreck of what might prove to be one of Christopher Columbus's lesser ships was discovered near Portobello, on the coast of eastern Panama. The vessel lay close to where Columbus scuttled the Vizcaina in 1503. Preliminary excavations recovered cannon similar to those used on Columbus's vessels, and the hull of this vessel was held together with wooden pegs and not lead sheathed, as was common practice after 1508. The wreck was not positively identified as the Vizcaina, however, and could also be that of one of conquistador Francisco Pizarro's ships, wrecked a quarter century after the Vizcaina.

      One hundred fifty years ago, a forest of derelict sailing ships lined the San Francisco waterfront, abandoned by their crews during the Gold Rush. One was the triple-masted General Harrison. The merchantman was converted into a floating warehouse in 1850 but burned to the waterline during the great San Francisco fire of 1851. The General Harrison lay in landfill under San Francisco's financial district, where she was unearthed during foundation work for a new hotel. Excavator Alan Pastron found that the ship was buried still holding numerous crates of imported red wine and bolts of cloth. Nearly a dozen bottles of wine were still intact, likely the last survivors of the Bordeaux or Burgundy vintage of 1849. The cargo also included quantities of tacks, nails, and other hardware; wheat; and large numbers of Italian trade beads aimed at the Indian trade. The General Harrison's cargo was sure to provide archaeologists with valuable information on life during the Gold Rush days.

      Excavations under a car wash at the corner of Front and Parliament streets in Toronto revealed Upper Canada's original Parliament building. Built in the late 1790s and burned down by invading U.S. troops during the War of 1812, the structure was not rebuilt. Some years later the Parliament of a unified Upper and Lower Canada moved to Ottawa. A prison and a gas-processing facility occupied the site during the 19th century. Recent excavations by Ron Williamson based on an early 19th- century map uncovered ceramics and a siltstone floor and even intact bricks from the historic building; further digging might reveal more of the foundations. Hopes for a museum on the site were voiced, but a Porsche dealership was currently planned for that location.

Brian Fagan

▪ 2002



Physical Anthropology.
      The year 2001 turned out to be an extraordinary period for the study of human origins. An Australian research team published a molecular analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) extracted from 10 southeastern Australian skeletal remains dating from approximately 2,000 to 60,000 years before the present (BP). Six specimens came from Kow Swamp, while four were from Lake Mungo in the Willandra Lakes region. The Lake Mungo 3 individual yielded a consensus date of 62,000 (± 6,000) years BP and was considered to be the oldest accurately dated anatomically modern human from which DNA had been successfully recovered. The key finding was that the Lake Mungo 3 mtDNA differed greatly from the mtDNA of all living humans as well as from all other fossil mtDNA sequences, including those from three recently analyzed Neanderthal individuals from Germany, Russia, and Croatia. Unexpectedly, the Lake Mungo 3 mtDNA fragment did survive as a geographically widespread remnant inserted on chromosome 11 in the modern human nuclear genome. Although the four Lake Mungo individuals spanned the entire aforementioned time range, they all displayed a modern (gracile) form, while the anatomically more robust Kow Swamp people lived from approximately 8,000 to 15,000 years ago. Five of the six Kow Swamp specimens and the other three Lake Mungo specimens had mtDNA closely related to the mtDNA of living Aboriginal Australians.

      The authors proposed that the aberrant Lake Mungo 3 mtDNA lineage probably diverged before the most recent common ancestor of all contemporary mtDNA. Thus, the earliest known human mtDNA lineage occurred in Australia, rather than in Africa, as had been inferred from studies of mtDNA from living populations. Even though this finding did not prove that modern humans originated in Australia, according to one of the authors it provided support for the multiregional theory of human origins rather than for the more widely held out-of-Africa replacement theory.

      Also during the year, two new genera of African hominins (a taxonomic grouping that includes modern humans and fossil species more closely related to Homo sapiens than to any other living species) were proposed, and additional, older specimens of a previously named genus (Ardipithecus) were described. First, a joint French and Kenyan research team published a report based on 13 fossils representing at least five individuals from the Lukeino formation in the Tugen Hills region of Kenya. An isolated molar was described in 1975. Newly discovered fossils found in October and November 2000 included two mandibular fragments (containing a total of three molars), five isolated teeth, three partial femora, the shaft of a humerus, and a finger bone. Volcanic tuffs in the Lukeino formation were radiometrically dated at 5.9 (±0.3) million years, which made these remains the oldest-known reputed hominins in the fossil record. They were named Orrorin tugenensis (“original man” from Tugen). The femora indicated that Orrorin was about the size of a female chimpanzee and walked bipedally when on the ground; however, the humerus and finger bone suggested arboreal adaptations and good climbing ability as well. The teeth exhibited a complex mixture of humanlike, apelike, and intermediate characteristics. The small, thickly enameled molars confirmed that this condition was an archaic feature for the lineage that eventually led to H. sapiens and implied that the vast majority of the large-molared australopithecines did not have a direct ancestral-descendant relationship with the genus Homo.

      The second new African hominin taxon was named Kenyanthropus platyops (“flat-faced man” from Kenya). An almost complete, though distorted, cranium (WT 40000) was found at Lomekwi on the western side of Lake Turkana. Although more than 30 skull and dental fragments were discovered in 1998 and 1999 at various Lomekwi localities by an international team of researchers, only this 3.5-million-year-old cranium and a 3.3-million-year-old mandibular fragment (WT 38350) were placed in the new taxon. The cranium exhibited derived facial and primitive craniodental features unlike those of its only hominin contemporary, Australopithecus afarensis, or of any earlier hominin. The transverse facial contour was flat below the nasal bones, which resulted in a comparatively flat face with only moderate subnasal prognathism. The malar (cheek) region was particularly tall, and there were no large depressions behind the brow ridges. On the other hand, WT 40000 possessed a small chimpanzee-sized brain and had a small, thickly enameled molar, reminiscent of the primitive condition found in Orrorin. Of all the subsequent hominin specimens, WT 40000 most closely approximated the overall facial morphology of ER 1470, the 1,870,000-year-old East Turkana specimen currently placed in the taxon H. rudolfensis. The authors suggested that in light of the new Kenyanthropus material, Homo rudolfensis should now be named Kenyapithecus rudolfensis.

      Eleven new specimens (representing at least five individuals) of Ardipithecus from 5.2 million to 5.8 million years BP were discovered between 1997 and 2001 in the Middle Awash area of Ethiopia. This material was associated with a wet woodland paleoenvironment and was thought to represent a new bipedal hominin subspecies, Ardipithecus ramidus kadabba. The chief evolutionary lesson provided by the new Ardipithecus specimens combined with the discovery of Orrorin and Kenyanthropus was that the substantial hominin taxonomic diversity characteristic of the time period from 1.5 million to 3 million years ago might also extend back to just after the human and chimpanzee lineages diverged, which thereby made the drawing of clear-cut evolutionary connections within the 6-million-year-old hominin lineage an even more difficult endeavour. (See also : Zoology (Life Sciences ).)

Stephen L. Zegura

Cultural Anthropology
       The year 2001 was significant for U.S. anthropology, as it marked both the 100th anniversary of the birth of Margaret Mead and the 100th annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association (AAA), November 28–December 2 in Washington, D.C. To commemorate both, an exhibition entitled “Margaret Mead: Human Nature and the Power of Culture” was organized at the Library of Congress to document Mead's life and works and the events that shaped them. Exhibit curators selected some of the letters, photographs, artworks, films by and about Mead, and field notes to convey to the wider public the scope of Mead's accomplishments and insights. The exhibit was scheduled to run until May 2002. Numerous other exhibits and programs were organized around the world to remember Mead, the best-known and most-engaged and public American anthropologist of the 20th century.

      The AAA honoured Laura Nader, a social and cultural anthropologist from the University of California, Berkeley, with its highest honour by inviting her to deliver the Distinguished Lecture at its November 2000 meeting. Nader gave an overview of anthropology by discussing issues concerning ethics, ethnography, and fieldwork. This emphasis continued the effort to redirect American anthropology to its empirical foundations as well as to public and world issues.

      In June 2001 a conference was held in Agrigento, Italy, on “Children and Young People in a Changing World: A Holistic Approach.” The meeting was cosponsored by the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnographical Studies and the University of Florence's International Institute for the Study of Man, which produces the International Journal of Anthropology. The Agrigento conference discussed the effects on children and young people of such developments as the rise of new nationalisms and cultural diversity. Some stressed the environments in which children are raised, focusing on such subjects as high stress levels among single mothers in Australia, adolescent children of divorced parents in Mexico, and women in the U.S. caught between raising children and caring for aging parents. One study compared children's stages of physical development in New Guinea and in the U.S. and challenged claims that child development is the same everywhere. For example, despite claims by some physicians and researchers, this study argued, an infant's crawling stage is not universal.

      Overall, presentations warned against hegemony of models from a few countries or international organizations and the imposition of social programs without prior careful studies that take into account local practices and knowledge. It was strongly recommended that youths be involved in social programs intended for them. From Egypt a visual ethnographic study of a birth ceremony showed how the family functions as the locus of identity and as the basis of the cultural construction of childhood through which the transmission of values and ideals takes place.

      A different situation was presented regarding postcommunist southeastern Europe as well as postapartheid South Africa. Remedies for the social crisis in southeastern Europe are not readily available, since key cultural institutions lay dormant for many years under communism. In what could be described as a transitional situation there, children had to work because of low family incomes, so the social structure changed from children-oriented to non-children-oriented. Consequently, children spent more time in the streets and exhibited new patterns of aggression, including sexual abuse and other dysfunctional behaviours, such as involvement in the male sex industry and the trafficking of young women and drugs. A shift in the Balkan countries from coexistence of ethnicities to nationalism and a new focus on homogeneity of ethnic groups had implications for inclusion and exclusion in societies, presenting conflict for people with local identities and displaced children who as a result do not develop a sense of belonging to their new nation.

      In New York City in September, the 54th Annual DPI/NGO Conference for nongovernmental organizations associated with the United Nations Department of Public Information heard an anthropological paper on “Roots of Volunteerism in Arabo-Islamic Society & Culture: Insights from the Bottom Up,” read by Fadwa El Guindi. She made the point that the notion of “civil society,” which had been adopted by international institutions, was merely a new name for age-old practices in traditional societies and that the notion of “diversity” must be accompanied by the established fact of “a common humanity.” In their work UN organizations and committees could and should benefit from voluntary participation of local citizens already part of their traditional practices—i.e., establish volunteerism from the bottom up.

      Renewed scholarly energy—and a resurgence of old concerns—in visual anthropology was manifest in the increase in book-length publications and in a recent international conference. “Beyond Picturing Culture: A Critique of a Critique,” published in the American Anthropologist in June, included all prominent founders and theorists in the field of visual anthropology and practitioners of ethnographic film and photography worldwide. Discussions ranged from personal narratives, to the role of ethnographic film, to photography as a research tool. Plans were made to publish the proceedings of this seminal meeting.

Fadwa El Guindi


Eastern Hemisphere.
      The dawn of the new millennium proved bountiful for Old World archaeology. Nauticos, a deep-ocean exploration firm hired to recover an Israeli submarine that had sunk in the eastern Mediterranean, found instead the remains of a 2,300-year-old shipwreck that had foundered in 3,000 m (1 m = 3.28 ft) of water. Located between Alexandria, Egypt, and the Greek island of Rhodes, the ship, an estimated 26 m long and 16 m wide, challenged a long-held assumption that ancient mariners lacked the navigational skills necessary to sail great distances over open water and were thus restricted to coastal sailing.

      Neolithic rock paintings and carvings found on the Greek island of Andros showed a level of Stone Age art previously unknown in the Aegean. The petroglyphs, believed to date to between 4500 and 3300 BC, included images of six ships, measuring between 20 and 30 cm (7.8 and 11.8 in), geometric shapes that may represent the Aegean, and 17 animals, including deer. Archaeologists believed they collectively constituted a larger composition, the earliest complex rendering ever found in the Cyclades. A 5th-century BC gold wreath was discovered by a farmer plowing his fields in Apollonia, near Thessaloniki, Greece. Composed of 30 hammered gold ivy leaves and two bunches of molded berries, the well-preserved wreath was similar to two gold wreaths previously discovered in the region.

      A memo signed by the Egyptian queen Cleopatra VII was discovered among hundreds of documents recycled for use in the construction of a mummy case found by a German expedition at Abusir in 1904. Now in the collection of Berlin's Ägyptisches Museum und Papyrussammlung, the two-column text was dated to Feb. 23, 33 BC. The excavation of some 3,000 mid-2nd-century BC bullae, or clay document seals, within an administrative building that was destroyed by fire in c. 145 BC at Tel Kadesh in Israel's northern Galilee suggested that the Phoenicians had continued to exercise their cultural and religious authority in the region much longer than previously thought.

      In Great Britain a number of Roman finds came to light, including two waterwheels dating to between AD 63 and 108, which were unearthed within ancient wells in London and were the first of their kind to be discovered in the U.K. The waterwheels apparently had been powered by slaves walking on treadmills. More recently, a contractor outside the village of Lopen happened upon a Roman mosaic; it measured 6 × 10 m and featured a dolphin, wine urns, and twining vines. The floor had apparently been made by craftsmen based at Cirencester in the late 4th century AD. This area previously had borne no hint of Roman occupation. Exploration of a medieval manor complex at Wetwang, east Yorkshire, revealed a chariot burial dating from the 3rd or 4th century BC, the earliest Iron Age burial of its kind ever discovered in England. This was the seventh chariot burial found in the area, thought to have been a tribal centre of a Celtic people—known by the Romans as the Parisi.

      Among the most ancient relics discovered recently were stone tools, animal bones, and an incised mammoth tusk unearthed at a 40,000-year-old campsite at Mamontovaya Kurya, Russia, near the Arctic Ocean. The finds predated the oldest documented evidence for human activity in the far north by more than 20,000 years. Researchers believed that the date of the site implied either that Neanderthals had expanded much farther north than previously thought or that modern humans were present in the Arctic only a few thousand years after their appearance in Europe. If the toolmakers were modern humans, the timing was significant; the period corresponded to the transition from the Middle to the Upper Paleolithic, a turning point in the history of human evolution in Europe heralded by the arrival of the rich culture associated specifically with modern humans.

      Mammoths, rhinoceroses, deer, horses, bison, birds, and unknown animals with elongated muzzles and open mouths were among the more than 200 newly discovered Upper Paleolithic engravings found in Cussac Cave in southern France. Also depicted were line drawings of women and schematic vulvas. Most of the figures appeared to have been engraved with stone tools; there were no paintings. The archaic nature of the figures, some of which were more than four metres in height, suggested that they were done during the Gravettian period (c. 26,000–20,000 BC). Hundreds of fine ceramic vessels used for drinking, feasting, and fertility rites—possibly of an orgiastic nature—were discovered along with a phallic-shaped stalagmite in a cave near the abandoned village of Nakovana, Croatia, on the Adriatic Sea. According to site excavators Tim Kaiser of the Royal Ontario Museum and Staso Forenbaher of the Institute for Anthropological Research in Zagreb, Croatia, the cult site should clarify previously hazy theories about the religious beliefs of the Illyrians, warriors and neighbours of the Greeks, who lived in the area during the 1st and 2nd centuries BC.

      A number of important finds were unearthed in China, including 20 carts and the remains of dozens of horses found during rescue excavations at a Zhou dynasty (770 BC –AD 221) site in the central Chinese city of Xicheng. Within a tomb belonging to the Yangshao culture (c. 5000–3000 BC) in northwestern Shaanxi province, archaeologists found the remains of numerous adults and children, who had been buried separately. A large site thought to have been used by the royal family for sacrificial rituals 3,000 years ago was discovered in Yanshi, onetime capital of the Shang dynasty (1600–1046 BC) in western Henan province. The sacred site lay within one of the largest Shang sites discovered to date. After toiling for more than a year, Chinese archaeologists discovered a large pit adjacent to that containing the well-known terra-cotta warriors and horses buried with Qin Shihuangdi, China's first emperor (reigned 221–210 BC). Rather than warriors, however, the newfound pit contained terra-cotta statues representing civilians, quite possibly horse trainers.

      A nine-year excavation at the site of Dholavira in the western Indian state of Gujarat yielded a walled Indus Valley city dated to the middle of the 3rd millennium BC and covering nearly 50.6 ha (125 ac). The Archaeological Survey of India team uncovered a sophisticated water-management system with a series of giant reservoirs—the largest 80 × 12 m wide and 7 m deep—used to conserve rainwater.

      For all of the richness of these new discoveries, the field of archaeology had suffered setbacks in terms of site destruction, mainly through flooding. Emerging nations—e.g., Turkey, India, and China—needed to balance their requirement for hydroelectric power with heritage management. Conflict was running a close second in destroying the collective heritage, particularly in Afghanistan, as witnessed by the deliberate destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in the spring of 2001. In addition, much of that country's heritage was in peril from the pillaging of sites, and numerous ancient objects had already appeared on the art market.

Angela M. H. Schuster

Western Hemisphere
      Recent discoveries shed new light on ancient Maya civilization. Arthur Demarest and Tomás Barrientos excavated and surveyed an important Maya centre named Cancuén, the “Place of Serpents,” in a remote area of Guatemala. Cancuén was first located in 1905 by Harvard University archaeologist Teobert Maler, but it was largely forgotten until Demarest deciphered Maya glyphs at the nearby Dos Pilas site that told of a great lord's conquest of Cancuén. Demarest and his colleagues mapped approximately 13 sq km (5 sq mi) of the site, identifying a three-story limestone palace with 170 rooms grouped around 11 courtyards. The ruling dynasty of Cancuén dates back to the 2nd or 3rd century BC. Its lords flourished by forming alliances with other states such as Teotihuacán on the Mexican highlands and the Maya cities of Calakmul, Dos Pilas, and Tikal. Cancuén boasted a palace close in size to that in Tikal, surrounded by workshops where artisans laboured on jade plaques, pyrite mirrors, and obsidian artifacts. A nearby and still unexplored cave complex may have been the ritual centre for Cancuén. This important site would fill major gaps in the understanding of Maya history.

      Archaeologist Norman Hammond of Boston University uncovered a 2,900-year-old sweat house at Cuello in northern Belize. Cuello was the oldest Maya settlement in the lowlands, with occupation beginning perhaps as early as 2000 BC and continuing for 16 centuries. Elite residences or public buildings surrounded a courtyard enclosed on three sides. When the excavators investigated the fourth side, they unearthed a structure, about 2.4 2.5 m (8 9 ft), that had a domed roof and an outside firebox chamber. Hot embers and stones were pushed down a channel into the house through an opening in the wall. As many as six bathers could sit on benches with their feet stretched above the channel. Hammond compared the Cuello sweat house to the elaborate royal bathhouses at Tikal and other later Maya cities.

      Archaeology continued to make important discoveries concerning more recent American history. Tainter Cave near La Crosse, Wis., yielded the most comprehensive set of Native American rock paintings in the Upper Midwest. Found by an amateur archaeologist in 1998 but announced only in 2001, the paintings included images of birds, humans, deer, and numerous geometric shapes. There were also scenes of an infant bound to a cradle board and nine hunters with bows taking six or seven deer in late winter. This panel lay below a group of birds, bird feet, and feathers, representing the classic Native American separation of earth and sky. Rolled birchbark torches and a 500-year-old moccasin fragment lay on the cave floor. One of the drawings was radiocarbon-dated to AD 900, but some could be considerably earlier. The style of the paintings linked them to the Late Woodland Effigy Mound Culture, which was ancestral to the present-day Ho-Chunk Nation.

      In 1863 an African American named William A.G. Brown went to Virginia City, Nev., hoping to profit from the gold and silver boom at the nearby Comstock Lode. He opened the Boston Saloon, which catered to the small black population in the region, and operated it until 1875. The saloon burned to the ground soon after he closed shop. In mid-2000 a team of archaeologists excavated portions of the Boston Saloon. They recovered thousands of artifacts, including bottle fragments, crystal and glassware, and clay pipes. This was the fourth bar to be excavated in Virginia City, among them Piper's Old Corner Bar, which catered to an upscale clientele attending the nearby opera house. Virginia City was reasonably well integrated for the day, but its black population nonetheless lived under severe social constraints. A preliminary examination of the Boston Saloon artifacts suggested, however, that the African Americans were drinking the same drinks and using similar glassware to what passed over the counters at the upscale Piper's bar.

      In 1864 a group of Confederate volunteers under Lieut. George Dixon manned the submarine H.L. Hunley and torpedoed the Union sloop USS Housatonic off Charleston (S.C.) harbour. The missile hit the sloop's torpedo magazine, and the ship exploded with a massive roar. The H.L. Hunley never returned to port and sank 6.4 km (4 mi) offshore. In 1995 a dive team located the sunken vessel with sonar and global positioning technology. The submarine was finally raised on Aug. 8, 2000. An intricate structure of suction piles and nylon slings combined with a polyurethane foam cushion protected the fragile hull during its eight-hour journey to the surface. The archaeologists then attempted to X-ray the steel plates, but sediment blocked the radiation. Eventually they excavated the hull by removing individual steel plates. By late 2001 the partial skeletal remains of eight crew members had been found, all of them at their proper stations.

      Dos Cabezas (“Two Heads”), a 32-m (105-ft)-high Moche pyramid, lies in Peru's lower Jequetepeque Valley, close to the Pacific Ocean.Three richly decorated tombs of nobles dating to AD 450–550 were excavated from the south side of the pyramid. The three men were remarkable for their exceptional stature. Average Moche males stood between about 1.5 m (4 ft 10 in) and 1.7 m (5 ft 6 in) in height. The Dos Cabezas men, however, towered between 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in) and 1.8 m (6 ft) and died between the ages of 18 and 22 years. Biological anthropologists suspected that they may have suffered from a chronic genetic disorder such as Marfan syndrome, which causes thin, elongated bones. The three appeared to have died within a few weeks of one another. The most important of them lay in Tomb 2, cocooned in clay and wrapped in textiles with his ceremonial possessions. The man had a copper funerary mask with shell eyes, golden eyebrows and nose ornament, and beardlike bangles. He wore a tunic adorned with a cloth human figure with gilded head, hands, and feet. He was buried with an exquisite ceramic bat (an animal sacred to the Moche), a headdress adorned with gilded copper bats, and a nose ornament of solid gold—also a bat. He lay with numerous clay vessels, gold and silver nose ornaments, and 18 headdresses. The lord held metalworking chisels and lay with a funerary bundle crammed with war clubs, spear throwers, and gold-plated shields. Sacrificial offerings, a llama and a young woman, lay at a slightly higher level. The excavators believed that the three men were related to one another, but their exact role in early Moche society remained a mystery.

Brian Fagan

▪ 2001



Physical Anthropology.
 In 2000 an international research team published a molecular analysis of mitochondrial DNA extracted from the rib of an approximately 29,000-year-old Neanderthal infant. (Mitochondria are DNA-containing cytoplasmic components of cells that play an essential role in the conversion of the energy of foodstuffs into the energy used for cellular activities.) The specimen was recovered from Mezmaiskaya Cave in the northern Caucasus region of Russia, one of the easternmost Neanderthal sites. When the DNA fragment, consisting of 345 base pairs, was compared with the same region sequenced in 1997 from a specimen found in the Feldhofer Cave in Germany, only 12 differences (3.48%) were found. This close genetic relationship provided invaluable corroboration for the authenticity of the previously reported, but undated, Neanderthal sequence from Germany. The infant's DNA exhibited 22 differences from the standard human (Anderson) reference sequence for modern human mitochondrial DNA, whereas the Feldhofer Cave specimen contained 27 differences with respect to the Anderson sequence. Nineteen of these differences were shared by the two Neanderthals, and subsequent analysis placed them in a clade (lineage) distinct from modern humans. The age of the most recent common ancestor of the mitochondrial DNA molecules of the two Neanderthal specimens was estimated to be 151,000–352,000 years, a range concordant with dates derived from the paleontological record for the emergence of the Neanderthal lineage. Overall, the results supported the out-of-Africa theory for the origin of modern humans rather than the multiregional hypothesis.

      The surprisingly recent radiocarbon date (29,195 [ 965] years ago) on collagen derived from the Neanderthal infant lent credence to the assertion that Neanderthals and modern humans overlapped throughout much of Europe for thousands of years. An international team also recently redated two important Neanderthal specimens from Vindija Cave in Croatia. The new radiocarbon dates of 29,080 ( 400) and 28,020 ( 360) years ago from a mandible and a parietal bone of different individuals provided additional confirmation of previous claims, based on sites in Spain and Portugal, that some Neanderthal populations were still present less than 30,000 years ago, well after the first definitive evidence of modern human skeletal structure in Europe (at approximately 32,000 years ago).

      Dmanisi, Georgia, captured the paleoanthropological spotlight when two partial hominid crania dated to about 1.7 million years ago documented what may have been the first migration of the genus Homo out of Africa. The site had previously yielded a hominid mandible in 1991 and a metatarsal bone in 1997; however, the taxonomic affinities of the two specimens as well as their dating were uncertain. The new skeletal material, along with more than 1,000 simple stone artifacts and new geochronological and paleomagnetic data, were combined by an international group of scholars to suggest the following scenario. Shortly after the first appearance of Homo ergaster (also called African Homo erectus) about 1.9 million years ago, a population of these hominids moved out of Africa via the Levantine corridor (near the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea) and continued in a northeasterly direction, eventually arriving in Dmanisi between the Black and Caspian seas.

      Structurally, the Dmanisi remains closely resembled the 1.6 million-year-old Kenyan fossil known as the Nariokotome boy. The larger of the two Georgian specimens was an almost complete adult male calvarium (skullcap) with a cranial capacity of 780 cc (47.6 cu in), while the slightly smaller but more extensively preserved cranium, thought to be from an adolescent female, yielded an estimate of 650 cc (39.7 cu in). Perhaps the biggest surprise came not from the African morphology of the specimens but rather from the extreme simplicity of the associated artifacts. The tools consisted of flakes, scrapers, and choppers made entirely from local basalt sources, using a technology similar to that employed in East Africa as early as 2.4 million years ago. Consequently, a major implication of the cultural remains was that biological changes rather than new tools may have prompted early global colonization by Homo. Once H. ergaster achieved larger body size and once brain size exceeded that of the australopithecines, the forests of Africa were quickly left behind. It is possible that after Dmanisi these hominids moved eastward to Asia, where simple chopping tools predominated for more than a million years and where their descendants gave rise to Asian H. erectus.

      The apolipoprotein (a complex molecule that combines fat and protein) E locus provided a clear example of natural selection in action during the last 300,000 years of human evolutionary history. An American-Finnish collaboration traced the genealogical history of a potentially deadly human gene. Although humans exhibited three different alleles at this locus (designated E2, E3, and E4), their closest living relative, the chimpanzee, had only the medically dangerous E4 allele. (An allele is any one of two or more genes that may occur alternatively at a given site [locus] on a chromosome.) The E4 allele was already known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease in humans. The ancestral E4 allele associated with elevated lipid levels was detected in only 13.5% of the chromosomes taken from an ethnically diverse set of four human populations, whereas the much more favourable E3 allele had a frequency of 79.7% among the 96 individuals sequenced at this locus on chromosome 19. Thus, the E4 allele inherited from humans' apelike common ancestor with the chimpanzee was hypothesized to be undergoing a rapid replacement throughout the world's populations by the medically far less dangerous E3 allele under the influence of natural selection.

      June 26, 2000, was a historic day in the annals of human biology and physical anthropology. It marked the joint announcement—by Francis Collins (see Biographies (Collins, Francis )), leader of a publicly funded international consortium of genome scientists, and by J. Craig Venter, president of Celera Genomics—of the final assembly of two working drafts of the human genome sequence. The actual data were posted on the Internet as a public database ( (See Life Sciences: Special Report (Human Genome Project:Road Map for Science and Medicine ).)

Stephen L. Zegura

Cultural Anthropology.
      As it entered the new millennium, cultural anthropology, after a decade of questioning its subdisciplinary character (specifically versus physical anthropology) and its role in understanding major trends in the contemporary world, had undergone changes that culminated in clear directions for the future. Among current concerns were ethnographic methods in anthropology, violence and war, race and ethnicity, the public face and role of anthropology, cross-national immigration and identity, the anthropological code of ethics, the environment, and human rights. In addition, core topics such as kinship were being revisited.

      The shift from an earlier focus on discourse, gender, and postmodernist writing was reflected in American Anthropological Association Distinguished Lectures (for example, Sidney Mintz) and in major publications (most prominently, Handbook of Methods in Cultural Anthropology, edited by H. Russell Bernard, an updating of the 1970 methodological “bible” edited by Raoul Naroll and Ronald Cohen). The Sidney Mintz distinguished lecture of 1996 was published in Current Anthropology in 2000, and the Handbook of Methods, a major 1998 hardcover reference volume of 19 chapters by anthropologists actively engaged in research, was reissued in paperback during the year and was thus made more accessible for classroom teaching and research.

      Both publications were trendsetting and pathbreaking. This was welcomed in a field that had become saturated with nonempirical works on, among other subjects, women and gender (especially on women in the Middle East)—works that were influenced more by premises from area, women's, and cultural studies than by anthropology. Some had adopted strong anticulture postmodernist postures that questioned ethnographic authority and stressed multiple “voices.” Discourse scholarship (originating in art, literary, and cultural studies) examined text without understanding its context and words without ethnography.

      Reaction against this trend was strong, some of it ironically by non-Western scholars who challenged its fundamental humanist claim and objected to its implications of Western superiority. Most prominent was the discussion by Ziauddin Sardar, who wrote: “Colonialism has already drained much of the wealth of the ‘Third World,' [and now] postmodernism appropriates the last resources . . . its traditions, spiritualities, cultural property, ideas and notions . . . the new imperialism.” This challenged the presumed claim that a humanistic quality inheres in certain human domains, such as oratory and dance performance, but not in others, such as alliance and kinship practices. Mintz's lecture-publication reaffirmed field-gathered ethnographic data. Beyond this, it recalled earlier anthropology with its applications and impact beyond academia, adopting unpopular postures in defense of the legitimacy of traditional ways of life and cultural practices.

      The recent posture against culture and generalization, which denied people's individuality and the particularity of cultures, was compellingly critiqued in the above-mentioned Handbook of Methods. Stripped of identity, people become homogenized and globalized actors in a large machine of economy and postmodernity. The volume was timely in topic and current and comprehensive in the range of subjects covered; it embraced qualitative and quantitative approaches and visual and archival methods, from epistemology to ethics to visual anthropology and much more. The chapter on visual anthropology reflected the growing importance of the visual as a tool for analysis and a source of data. The Handbook was favourably reviewed as authoritative on the methods of anthropological research (systematic collecting and interpreting of human behaviour in natural settings) by experts on fieldwork in anthropology and also was regarded as serious about the ethnographic enterprise.

      As to public issues, an international conference was organized by universities in Sweden and Denmark to which international scholars were invited to discuss the impact of legal immigration from less-developed (particularly Islamic) countries to the welfare states of Scandinavia. The rapid shift in population demographics became an urgent subject, intersecting cultural anthropology with public policy. The growing presence of Muslim immigrants in predominantly Lutheran Scandinavia was changing the sociocultural landscape of that area. This trend drew attention to the need of anthropological understanding of Islam and Muslim life.

      The publication in November of Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon by freelance journalist Patrick Tierney produced a major crisis in anthropology. Advance proofs of the book precipitated sensationalized stories critical of the Yanomami project, a series of studies among the indigenous Yanomami people of Venezuela and Brazil that began with genetic research conducted in 1968, funded in part by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and led by the late James V. Neel of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Also on the project team were anthropologist Napoleon A. Chagnon of the University of California, Santa Barbara (now retired), who had worked with the Yanomami since 1964, and, later, filmmaker Timothy Asch. Tierney's allegations included improper use by Neel and his team of a vaccine purported to have resulted in a devastating measles epidemic among the Yanomami. Subsequent expert investigations refuted these and many other claims, and by year's end the credibility of Tierney's own research was being called into question. A second aspect of the controversy involved accuracy and representation of data, specifically Chagnon's depiction of the Yanomami as a fierce and violent people. Concerns over scientific accuracy were not new (for example, more discussion of the controversy over Margaret Mead's classic work in Samoa was reported in Current Anthropology's August–October 2000 issue). In the current case, this longstanding intramural debate among anthropologists was further muddied by external factors, including an old dispute between Chagnon and local missionaries and the sometimes violent relations between Brazilian gold miners and the Yanomami. On the bright side, out of this crisis in cultural anthropology emerged a needed debate on ethical accountability in field research, informed consent by studied populations, and the role of the revised Code of Ethics drafted by the American Anthropological Association in 1998.

Fadwa El Guindi


Eastern Hemisphere.
      The year 2000 proved fruitful for Old World archaeology. A joint Syrian-American expedition uncovered what was purported to be one of the world's oldest cities, a more than 5,500-year-old urban centre at Tell Hamoukar in northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border. At the site, located on an ancient trade route between Nineveh and Aleppo, archaeologists identified what may be a Late Chalcolithic (about 3500 BC) mud-brick city wall, 3 m (10 ft) high and 4 m (13 ft) wide, and excavated a group of mud-brick dwellings complete with ovens. Also recovered were more than 80 bone stamp seals carved with animals such as leopards, lions, rabbits, fish, bears, birds, and dogs; 15 seal impressions; and thousands of beads. The presence of a Late Chalcolithic city in Syria challenged the generally accepted view that urban centres first developed in ancient Sumer (present-day southern Iraq) following the invention of writing during the Uruk period (about 3200 BC). It would appear that Tell Hamoukar developed well before the invention of writing and before the appearance of several other criteria thought of as marking “civilization.”

      An underwater archaeological survey of the Mediterranean just a few kilometres off Egypt's north coast revealed the remains of two 2,500-year-old cities, possibly the suburbs of Canopus with the districts of Menouthis and Iraklion, which served as trading hubs in the Late Dynastic Period. Among the well-preserved remains were temple structures with statues of Isis, Sarapis, and Osiris associated with royal heads of pharaohs; port facilities; fallen monuments; inscriptions; ceramics; and late Islamic and Byzantine jewelry and coins, all embedded in the seafloor less than 10 m (33 ft) below the water's surface.

      A controversial find was the so-called Tomb of Osiris on the Giza Plateau in Egypt. Thought by some to be an Osirion, a cenotaph dedicated to Egypt's master of the underworld and god of fertility, the four-pillared rock-hewn grotto, 30 m (98 ft) below the Giza Plateau, may simply have been another shaft tomb belonging to royalty of the Late Dynastic Period.

      Pits containing the remains of sacrificed dogs at the 5,500-year-old settlement of Botai in north-central Kazakhstan may shed light on ritual practices recorded in the Rigveda, written c. 1000 BC. In the epic, dogs serve as guardians of the gate into the afterlife, which was believed to lie to the west. The bodies of at least 15 dogs, similar in stature and cranial features to Samoyeds, had been deposited in small pits in or near the western walls of houses. Each pit contained between one and six dogs, along with the skulls of horses.

      Thirteen 2,500-year-old carved stelae (stone pillars) of a type never seen before in Anatolia or the Middle East were found at Hakkari, a small town in Turkey near the border with Iran and Iraq. Hewn from a hard local stone, the stelae ranged from about 75 cm (28 in) to more than 3 m (10 ft) in height. They may depict rulers of Hubushkia, a kingdom centred on the headwaters of the Great Zap River that appears in the Assyrian annals of the 10th and 9th centuries BC.

      In China a walled city about 3,300 years old was unearthed at Anyang. Known as Huanbei Shang City, the site, covering approximately 465 ha (1,160 ac) and surrounded by rammed earthen walls, dates to the Middle Shang Period (about 1450–1250 BC), a time little understood in Chinese history. Oracle-bone inscriptions placed the last Shang capital at a site known as Yinxu, about 1.5 km (l mi) southwest of Huanbei Shang City. Scholars believed the newly found site may have been the city of Xiang, which, according to historical sources, served as the capital of the Shang Empire prior to the founding of Yinxu.

      A large cache of gold and silver bangles, gold beads, and agate and onyx beads, dating to the Harappan Period (2600–1900 BC) and of a type known from the Indus Valley sites of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro in Pakistan and Lothal, Rakhigarhi, and Dholavira in India, was discovered by villagers in the city of Mandi some 150 km (90 mi) east of New Delhi. The finds extended the known reach of the Indus Valley civilization beyond its previously known cultural area of eastern Pakistan and western India.

      Excavations in Britain yielded a number of important finds, including a large cache of Roman coins found in a farmer's field near Glastonbury, Eng. The hoard comprised more than 9,200 coins, most of which were silver denarii, common coins equivalent to pennies in Roman times. The coins spanned the period from Mark Antony (31–30 BC) to Severus Alexander (AD 222–235), with the latest coin dating to about AD 224. The hoard was unusual in that many of the coins dated from the early part of the 3rd century, a relatively calm and prosperous period of Roman rule in Britain. Most Roman hoards found in Britain date from the end of the Roman period, the late 4th and early 5th centuries, when political instability prompted people to hide their wealth.

      What was hailed as the best-preserved Iron Age settlement in Britain was found on the southern tip of Mainland, Shetland Islands. Occupied from about 200 BC to AD 800, the site consisted of a massive round stone watchtower approximately 15 m (50 ft) in diameter and 3–4 m (12–15 ft) high, surrounded by well-preserved buildings, some still bearing traces of yellow plastered walls. The tower was an Iron Age status symbol for the ruling elite, which suggested that the site was a centre of considerable wealth.

      Ongoing construction and development in Italy laid bare more of the country's ancient past. In Rome walls and foundations belonging to a villa from about AD 150 were found during construction of a tunnel leading to a large parking garage beneath the Vatican, and the remains of the Imperial Roman port, once used to receive and warehouse goods arriving from Ostia on the coast, came to light during excavations prior to the building of a streetcar station at Trastevere on the Tiber River. Port remains included warehouses, workshops, offices, and baths adorned with mosaics depicting sea creatures and marine life, as well as numerous amphorae, ceramics, coins, and oil lamps dating to the 2nd through the 4th century AD.

      A submarine crew searching for the wreckage of an airplane piloted by Antoine Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Prince, discovered the wreck of a 6th–5th-century BC Etruscan ship off the coast of southern France. Found off the coast of the Hyères Islands near Toulon, the ship was carrying a varied cargo, which included amphorae possibly filled with wine, olive oil, or garum, a fermented fish sauce, and a shipment of tile. Only three Etruscan wrecks had ever been recovered, all plundered and poorly preserved.

Angela M.H. Schuster

Western Hemisphere.
      The debate over the date of the first human settlement of the Americas continued unabated in 2000. A few new discoveries appeared to support a pre-Clovis culture settlement more than 13,000 years ago. The Topper site on South Carolina's Savannah River was originally thought to be a Clovis site of about 11,500 BC, but test pits sunk below the Paleo-Indian occupation level revealed small stone flakes and tools of an apparent pre-Clovis type more than one metre (3.3 ft) lower. The artifacts included tiny microblades and a scraping tool, which excavator Albert Goodyear considered unique to southeastern North America but reminiscent of Stone Age tools from Siberia. As of late 2000, the occupation level remained undated but was possibly up to 18,000 years old, one of the earliest known records of human occupation in the Western Hemisphere.

      Maya archaeology continued to yield spectacular discoveries. A Maya lord named Ukit-Kan Lek (“Snake Gourd”) ruled over the ceremonial centre of Ek Balam in Mexico's northern Yucatán between AD 790 and 835. In 1999 archaeologist Victor Castillo unearthed Snake Gourd's grave under a limestone pyramid, which was built atop at least four earlier buildings. Twenty-two ceramic vessels lay in the burial chamber, one bearing the lord's name, together with fine jade fragments, obsidian (volcanic glass) blades, and inscribed conch shells.

      The spectacular Nazca lines of southern coastal Peru had generated controversy for generations. The Nazca were farmers, fisherfolk, and expert weavers, and their pots and textiles revealed complex religious beliefs. They lived on the fringes of the Pampa de Ingenio, a desert with all the potential of a fine sketch pad. There they swept away the topsoil of fine sand and small stones to form in the white alluvium an intricate web of lines and figures too large to be fully viewed from the ground. High above the desert in a helicopter, one can see lines, some as wide as an airport runway, that extend for kilometres across valleys and low hills. Others radiate from hubs. Some lines coalesce into giant birds, monkeys, a whale, spiders, even plants, but those who created them never saw them in their entirety. Why, then, did people without airplanes draw such lines and figures? Were the lines a giant astronomical observatory or a huge religious monument?

      Astroarchaeologists Anthony Aveni and Gary Urton, in an effort to answer those questions, mapped more than 62 raylike hubs of lines and measured the orientation of 762 straight lines near Nazca, some up to 13 km (8 mi) long. Aveni and Urton plotted the orientations on a computer and found that many of them pointed to the point on the horizon where the Sun appears during those critical days in early November when runoff first flows into coastal rivers from the Andes Mountains. Thousands of Nazca potsherds, crude shelter remains, and cairns litter the lines, the latter serving as markers for people walking the alignments. Aveni concluded that the Nazca lines were pathways, maintained, swept, and ritually cleansed by local kin groups as an important part of ritual activity surrounding the arrival of water on the pampa. A nearby ceremonial centre, Cahuachi, forms a complex of mounds, cemeteries, and shrines, which face toward the pampa and its pathways. Also nearby, water bubbles to the surface year-round. Nazca art from Cahuachi and other locations emphasizes masked performances by priests and mythical beings, part of the ceremonies that surrounded the first appearance of life-giving mountain water. Aveni's research thus pointed to a close connection between the lines in the desert and the water that nourished crops and people along the Pacific.

      Brazil's Amazon Basin was among the archaeologically least-known regions of the world. Recently, caves in Amapá state on the Maracá River, a tributary of the Amazon, yielded ceramic funerary urns, used by local peoples between the 5th and 15th centuries AD.The now sparsely occupied area was densely populated 1,500 years ago. The finely made urns, about 0.75 m (2.5 ft) high, were modeled in the form of seated male and female figures and placed on benches, a privilege reserved for shamans and chiefs. The urns contained defleshed bones from corpses that were exposed until the flesh had decayed and then were laid to rest in deep caverns. The Maracá finds were unique and dated to a period before the region was depopulated by European contact and infectious diseases.

      While reexamining the excavated bones of colonists from Jamestown, Va., the earliest permanent English settlement in the New World, biological anthropologist Doug Owsley of the Smithsonian Institution discovered that five of the skeletons were those of Africans. The five died in their early 20s to mid-40s, and, as they had not been buried on their backs with their hands at their sides and heads to the west—the European fashion at the time—they were originally thought to be Native Americans. One of them displayed an advanced case of syphilis, which had affected every bone in his body. Judging from the bullet hole in his head, he was killed to put him out of his misery. Owsley's discovery confirmed that Europeans, Native Americans, and African slaves were all present at Jamestown.

      In a fascinating piece of archaeological detective work, British Museum scientists determined that a copper breastplate owned by late-19th-century Pacific Northwest coast Native American chief Neghicum-gee was made not of native copper but of English ore. His intricately decorated breastplate was an important status symbol, one of many “coppers” that linked individuals to the remote past of their ancestors. Neghicum-gee's copper contained unusually high quantities of bismuth, a heavy element that occurs in large amounts only in Cornish copper from southwestern England, where it was smelted between 1700 to 1850. The scientists believed it was quite possible that the copper was made from ore traded with trappers or whalers decades before the Spaniards and Capt. James Cook arrived in the area in 1774 and 1777.

      On Nov. 29, 1864, more than 700 soldiers of a volunteer Colorado militia unit attacked a Cheyenne and Arapaho Native American encampment at Sand Creek in southeastern Colorado. Ignoring the American flag, peace signals, and a white flag, they slaughtered at least 150 old men, women, and children while most of the men were out hunting. Although the general location of the massacre was known through oral tradition to the descendants of the victims, it was only when an archaeological survey was carried out that the actual location was found, about a kilometre and a half (about a mile) north of where historical evidence said it was. The archaeologists found 5.4-kg (12-lb) cannonballs, the type used by the Colorado soldiers in their surprise attack, and artifacts that matched well with records of goods given to the Native Americans and found at sites of equivalent age. The Sand Creek research confirmed the essential truth of Native American oral traditions and thus allowed them to be used as archaeological tools.

Brian Fagan

▪ 2000



Physical Anthropology.
      In 1999 paleoanthropological publications presented new fossil data that might necessitate the rewriting of standard textbook interpretations of hominid evolution. From Portugal came skeletal evidence for Neanderthal–modern human hybridization, while Ethiopian excavations revealed physical and cultural remains of a possible new human ancestor, Australopithecus garhi.

      The spectacular Portuguese specimen, known as Lagar Velho I, was an almost complete skeleton of an approximately four-year-old child, who, despite having been buried in typical Upper Paleolithic fashion with red ochre decoration and a pierced shell, displayed a mosaic of modern and Neanderthal skeletal traits. The burial was dated at between 24,000 and 25,000 years ago, at least 5,000 years after the supposed extinction of the Neanderthals. Advanced human morphological traits included a well-developed bony chin, modern proportional tooth dimensions, and specific features of the mandibular ramus, radius, and pubic bones. On the other hand, the child's body proportions were characterized by a large trunk, powerful chest and shoulder musculature, short but extremely robust leg bones, and a greatly reduced tibia-femur length ratio. This forms a “hyperactic” pattern exhibited by all known European Neanderthals but not by the early modern human colonizers of Europe, who all had subtropical body proportions. Even the child's prominent modern chin was hafted onto a receding mandibular symphysis, a Neanderthal trait, rather than jutting forward as in other early modern specimens. The controversial explanation by the authors of the original report for the mixture of modern and archaic traits seen in the child invoked long-term interbreeding between modern humans and Neanderthals. This inference implies that this specimen was not the result of a rare or singular interbreeding event but rather was the descendant of an extensively admixed population. The implications of this conjecture, if correct, for understanding the course of human evolution, included: (1) hypotheses of complete replacement of archaic populations by modern humans dispersing from Africa without interbreeding between residents and colonists would be refuted; (2) Neanderthal genetic material may still exist in our gene pool; and (3) separate species status for the Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) would be inappropriate.

      Since 1996 the Bouri Peninsula in Ethiopia had yielded a series of significant discoveries pertinent to the transition between the australopithecines and the genus Homo. Reports by a multinational team proposed a new taxonomic group based on a partial cranium, discussed the postcranial remains of different individuals, and presented the strongest evidence to date that hominids used stone tools to butcher large mammalian carcasses as far back as 2.5 million years ago. Although few stone tools were recovered at the Bouri sites, there were roughly contemporaneous and extremely rich tool deposits at Gona, only 96 km (61 mi) to the north. Unambiguous striations and other cut marks produced by stone tools were found on antelope and horse bones at Bouri, and long bones were consistently broken open, presumably to extract marrow. As was true for Gona, the identity of the toolmakers remained unknown at Bouri; however, the contemporary skeletal remains of the newly named A. garhi occurred nearby in the same beds as the butchered mammals. Thus, this taxonomic group may well have been responsible for the crucial dietary shift toward increased eating of meat and thereby may have paved the way for the emergence of Homo in eastern Africa.

      The Bouri cranial remains differed from previously identified hominid species. The reconstructed face was apelike in the protrusion of the upper jaw region, whereas certain dental features resembled early Homo. The large palate and teeth implied that the specimen was male; however, its braincase was relatively small (about 450 cc [27.5 cu in]). Although the molars were huge, the total craniodental pattern clearly differed from all known robust australopithecines. This partial cranium formed the holotype (single type-specimen) for the new species A. garhi.

      The previously discovered postcranial bones came from the same stratigraphic layer as the cranium. Because they were not directly associated with the holotype, they had not as yet been placed in the A. garhi taxon. On the basis of extrapolations from limb bone measurements, it was determined that one of these ancient hominids was about 1.4 m (4 ft 6 in) tall, with long legs and long, apelike forearms. This combination of limb features led to the conclusion that in human evolution legs lengthened before the forearms shortened.

      In addition to the paper on the Bouri cranium, a number of other reports criticized recent cladistic analyses of the hominid fossil record. Cladistics is a systematic approach to reconstructing evolutionary history that relies exclusively on an analysis of the number and distribution of shared, derived characteristics to determine taxonomic relationships. For instance, a systematic review of criteria for membership in the genus Homo led to a proposed revision of this taxon. Researchers concluded that a genus must be both monophyletic (a group of species consisting of a common ancestor and all its descendants) and adaptively coherent. When applied to the genus Homo, these criteria necessitated the removal of the earliest and morphologically primitive African members (Homo habilis and Homo rudolfensis) and their reassignment to the genus Australopithecus. According to this revised classification, the genus Homo first appeared in the fossil record approximately 1.9 million years ago with the emergence of Homo ergaster (or early African Homo erectus). In a similar vein, inclusion of functional explanations and adaptive considerations in the reanalysis of the robust australopithecine face led to cautioning against the uncritical application of cladistic methods and principles. The important lesson was that following the tenets of mainstream cladistics without taking development and adaptation into account can lead to significant distortions when assessing taxonomic relationships.

Stephen L. Zegura

Cultural Anthropology.
       Cultural anthropology, the only social science traditionally dedicated to describing and understanding the diversities and commonalities of human culture and society, remained a discipline in creative ferment during 1999. Ethnographers, those who describe culture, continued searching for more effective data-collection methods as they struggled to determine the most productive sources of information. Many debated the relative merits of direct fieldwork observations over written or other records. Others wondered whether traditional tribal peoples or modern urban societies represented the most fruitful subjects of study. Many ethnologists, those dedicated to analyzing culture, for their part, continued to search for more meaningful ways to interpret ethnographic findings. Others struggled to determine whether the theories and methods of science or the humanities held the greatest promise for understanding culture. All cultural anthropologists continued to ponder whether they best served as neutral detached observers or as politically engaged activists in a world facing unprecedented population growth, resource depletion, environmental degradation, and the threatened extinction of ancient tribal cultures.

      One such threat was reported by Argentine anthropologist Miguel Ángel Palermo—the death of Virginia Choinquitel, regarded as the last Ona Indian of unmixed ancestry, in the community of Río Grande, Tierra del Fuego, Arg., on June 2. On the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal, 50 of the 300 people of the Jarawa tribe were felled by measles and pneumonia. The diseases, especially lethal in newly exposed populations, had been contracted during visits beyond the borders of their 700-sq km (270-sq mi) reserve to share new foods and watch television with outsiders. Pointing out that similar contacts had resulted in an epidemic that had killed all but 35 of 5,000 Great Andamanese people on a nearby island in 1977, ethnographer Kanchan Mukhopadhya of the Anthropological Survey of India called on local authorities to abandon policies to bring the Jarawas into closer contact with outsiders.

      On October 12 a team of scientists at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., published a report announcing that the world population had reached the six billion mark. Noting that the number of people would double in less than 50 years if the present rate of population increase did not diminish, the report warned that life would be miserable for everyone in the year 2100 if people did not control population and adopt sustainable resource management policies. In Paris the Musée de l'Homme examined the causes and consequences of unrestrained population growth in “Six Billion Human Beings,” an exhibit and interactive World Wide Web site.

      Other anthropological sites on the Web proliferated dramatically in 1999, offering everything from databases, department descriptions, discussion groups, and course syllabus postings to interactive games, video files, and information clearinghouses. Several sites stood out among the many thousands. Anthropology in the News ( by the department of anthropology at Texas A&M University at College Station provided indexes and links to news items of anthropological interest from other sites. Leading an international team of anthropologists from France, Norway, South Korea, and the United States, Cornell ethnologist John Borneman and media artist Linda Fisher created Death of the Father: An Anthropology of the Ends of Political Authority ( Site visitors were given opportunities to explore how the deaths and funerary treatments of Benito Mussolini and five other 20th-century authoritarian leaders-cum-father figures provided anthropological insights into their societies and regimes for both students and specialists. A highly interactive Web site primarily directed toward students, it deftly integrated a substantial body of explanatory text, images, maps, chronologies, and key concepts within a broad holistic framework.

      Ethnologist Bradd Shore of Emory University, Atlanta, Ga., reviewed the status of holism, the basic anthropological precept holding that biological, social, psychological, and other factors should be examined together to understand both individual cultures and the human capacity for culture in general, in a commentary published in the December 1999 issue of Anthropology News. Shore suggested that two contending forms of holism dominated anthropological discourse. He termed the first eliminative holism, after its practitioners' tendency “to overstand rather than understand the world” by using one theoretical viewpoint to eliminate competing perspectives to explain everything.

      Shore termed the opposing tendency to incorporate all voices and perspectives black holism, after the gravitational forces generated by massive dead stars so powerful that not even light can escape. Seeing in this signs that anthropology had entered what he called its “anecdotage,” Shore voiced concern that “kaleidoscopic representation of multiple perspectives, endless voices. . .became not the means of an understanding of things, but an end in itself.” He likened this form of holism to a type of household pest trap in which “everything checks in, but not much checks out.”

      Shore proposed that his colleagues deal with the shortcomings of these approaches by renewing their efforts to revitalize interdisciplinary integrative holism. Long practiced by many practitioners in fields as diverse as political anthropology and medical anthropology, this integrative holism permitted investigators to more clearly view the findings of diverse disciplines through what Shore called “the lens of cultural variation.” Shore expressed the hope that by providing a genuinely integrative framework acknowledging both the complexities of the real world and the limits of knowledge, anthropology could regain its position as a bridge linking all students of humanity.

Robert S. Grumet


Eastern Hemisphere.
      It was a banner year in 1999 for Old World archaeology. In Italy 11well-preserved Roman ships—the largest group of ancient vessels ever found in one place—were discovered by chance during construction at Pisa's San Rossore train station in what had once been the city's harbour. The ships were dated to between the 2nd century bc, when Pisa served as a Republican naval base, and the 5th century ad, the end of the Roman Empire. Among the ship remains were Iberian and Corsican ceramics, glassware, rope, and Punic incense burners. During excavations in the Forum of Caesar in Rome, four circular tombs that dated to the end of the 7th or early 6th century bc were found. A letter-sized bronze tablet bearing 32 lines of text written in ancient Etruscan, originally found in Cortona in 1992, was unveiled by archaeologists. The 2,300-year-old document, known as the Tabula Cortonensis, appeared to be a contract, possibly a real-estate agreement. Epigraphers were particularly delighted that the lengthy text, which added 27 “new” words to a known Etruscan vocabulary of about 500 words, contained several grammatical constructions and verbs, the conjugations of which had been unclear until the find.

      Two Celtic chariot tombs dating to 300 bc were uncovered during runway construction at the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport near Paris. One belonged to a warrior armed with an iron sword with sheath and a lance and buried in a chariot pulled by two horses. A second tomb nearby contained the personal effects of a weaponless occupant, a chariot decorated with bronze appliqués, and a finely wrought round plate. Eight other tombs from the same era were also found.

      Twelve horses sacrificed 2,500 years ago and buried in full ceremonial regalia, including gold-leafed saddles, red saddle blankets, and numerous gilded ornaments, were unearthed in a Scythian kurgan near the village of Berel in Kazakstan's Bukhtarma Valley. The horses were found frozen and well preserved, lying side by side on a bed of birch bark near a funerary chamber containing the pillaged graves of two nobles.

      A rich Scythian-Sarmatian burial site dating to the early 3rd century bc was discovered near the town of Ipatovo in southern Russia. The grave contained the remains of a woman along with gold necklets and spiral bracelets, anakinakes (dagger) in a gold-covered scabbard, and local and imported ceramic vessels. Her chamber lay within a 7-m (23-ft)-tall barrow, which dated from the Early Bronze Age (3rd millennium bc). Like many such mounds in southern Russia, it was reused numerous times for secondary burials.

      Analysis by French National Museum scientists of unused pigment found in the Troubat Cave in the Pyrenees of southeastern France revealed that Ice Age artists were the first to create artificial colours to decorate their caves. Yellow goethite and red hematite, both iron oxides, appeared to have been heated to change their colour before they were applied to the walls 10,000 years ago.

      Broken and cut human bones found scattered about three hearths in Moula-Guercy, a cave overlooking the Rhône River in the Ardèche region of southeastern France, confirmed that Neanderthals practiced cannibalism 100,000 years ago. The 78 bone fragments, which were dated at between 80,000 and 120,000 years ago, appeared to have come from at least six individuals. The redating of a Neanderthal jaw and a cranial fragment—found in a cave at Vindija, Croatia, in the 1970s and '80s—to c. 28,500 years ago made them the youngest Neanderthal fossils ever found in Central Europe.

      In Africa the engraved images of two giraffes, estimated to be some 7,000–9,000 years old, were found atop a sandstone outcrop in the Sahara of northeastern Niger. The carvings, one of which was more than 6 m (20 ft) high, were among the finest examples of African rock art found to date; the larger of the two images could well be the largest-known single prehistoric work of art in the world. Surrounded by hundreds of smaller engravings, the giraffes were carved in the so-called Bubalus style of the Large Wild Fauna period (c. 9000–6500 bc).

      More than 100 mummies were found in a series of multichambered rock-cut tombs at Al-Bahriyah Oasis in Egypt's Western Desert. Mummified in a Greco-Roman manner during the 1st and 2nd centuries ad, the bodies were covered in gilt and sumptuously painted with religious scenes, making them among the finest ever found in Egypt. At Tell Muhammad Diyab in northeast Syria, 20 baked clay balls bearing Sumerian cuneiform inscriptions appeared to represent a heretofore unknown record-keeping system used in ancient Mesopotamia. A jug containing 751 7th-century Byzantine gold coins—the largest hoard ever to be scientifically excavated in Israel—was found under the floor of a 4th- or 5th-century villa at the site of Beth Shean.

      Egypt's Western Desert yielded another important discovery, two inscriptions that may represent the earliest-known phonetic alphabet. Found by Yale archaeologists John and Deborah Darnell on an ancient road near Wadi Al-Hol (Gulch of Terror), the script, which incorporates elements of earlier hieroglyphs and later Semitic characters, was carved into a natural limestone wall alongside hundreds of Egyptian inscriptions about 4,000 years ago. The alphabet, however, had yet to be deciphered. According to John Darnell, the forms of the Egyptian characters in the alphabetic inscriptions offered clues to the date of the script's creation. The water sign, for example, which in later hieroglyphs was written horizontally, was carved vertically, common in the hieroglyphic scripts of the early Middle Kingdom c. 2250 bc.Though the media was quick to herald the discovery as a “hallmark of civilization,” the Darnells argued that earlier hieroglyphic texts were quite sufficient for communication. The invention of a phonetic alphabet, being far easier to learn, however, allowed for the rapid spread of writing among the general populace. As a result, literacy was no longer limited to professional scribes.

      The discovery of inscribed shards dating to c. 2800–2600 bc at the site of Harappa in northern Pakistan attested that a writing system developed in the Indus Valley decades, and possibly centuries, earlier than previously believed.

      In China excavators found six bone flutes that were dated from 8,000 to 9,000 years ago, making them the world's oldest complete, playable, multinote musical instruments. Crafted from the hollow ulnae (wing bones) of the red-crowned crane, the flutes were found at the Neolithic (c. 8000–2000 bc) site of Jiahu in central Henan province.

Angela M.H. Schuster

Western Hemisphere.
      Recent archaeological discoveries continued in 1999 to shed light on the first Americans and pre-Columbian civilizations and also on more recent American history. In regard to the latter, English colonist Mistress Ann Forest, wife of Thomas Forest, arrived at Jamestown, Va., in 1608 with her husband but died within a year. She and her maid were the only two women at Jamestown in the first years of the settlement's existence. The foundations of the original triangular Jamestown fort were discovered in 1996. Subsequently, archaeologist William Kelso located remains that he was sure were those of Mistress Forest, for the skeleton is that of a woman buried in an elaborate coffin, a sure sign of high social standing. Forest was only about 1.4 m (4 ft 8 in) tall and about 35 years old when she died. A computed tomograph (CT) scan of the poorly preserved skull allowed sculptor-anthropologist Sharon Long to make a clay and plaster model of Forest's appearance.

      As of 1999 the complex story of relationships between Europeans and Native Americans was still little understood, but archaeology was playing an important role in deciphering this aspect of American history. A mass grave of 52 people, found during the building of an oil refinery in Carson, Calif., bore testimony to the violence of some early years. The cemetery was dated to between 1510 and 1685 and was associated with local Gabrielino Indians. Whereas some of the bodies were buried carefully, many others were thrown hastily into their graves. Two people were missing their hands and another his arms and legs, as if they had been punished or drawn and quartered, a European practice of the day. The cemetery also yielded glass trade beads from Italy and a European clay pipe fragment.

      When Hernán Cortés encountered the Aztecs of Mexico, they still revered the abandoned city of Teotihuacán (located 48 km [30 mi] northeast of Mexico City), one of the largest cities in the world during its heyday in the 6th century AD. They believed that their world originated on the summit of the Pyramid of the Sun in the heart of Teotihuacán. A team of American and Mexican archaeologists recently investigated the nearby Pyramid of the Moon, which stands at the head of the Avenue of the Dead, bisecting the city. They found not only evidence of four important substructures but also the edge of a complex of human burials dating to about AD 150. One man had been buried seated and facing south. His hands were tied behind his back, and he lay to the side of the burial complex, which suggested he was an important sacrificial victim, perhaps killed at the dedication of a monument or to celebrate a ruler. More than 150 artifacts surrounded the skeleton, among them fine clay vessels, jade, figurines, obsidian (volcanic glass) blades, and jadeite ear spools. Several hawks and two jaguars had been buried alive in cages near the victim. As a result of these discoveries, the excavators believed they had a good chance of finding nearby the undisturbed burial of one of Teotihuacán's powerful but unknown rulers.

      Spectacular Mayan discoveries continued to chronicle this most remarkable of pre-Columbian civilizations. Archaeologists Alfonso Morales and Christopher Powell probed the acropolis of the city of Palenque, which flourished from about AD 379 to 799. They used ground-penetrating radar to locate anomalies atop a pyramid named temple XX. Excavation soon revealed a grave capstone. Inside was a chamber painted with murals, including an image of a celestial lightning god. Eleven intact clay vessels and numerous jade fragments were scattered on the room's floor. Stabilization and clearance of the tomb was expected to take many months. Nearby, another temple mound, XIX, yielded a support pier 3.7 m (12 ft) high and a bench or platform carved with an image of Lord Kinich Ahkal Mo'Nab, who ruled Palenque from 721 to 764. A perfectly preserved inscription of more than 200 glyphs revealed that the ruler was the incarnation of an important primordial Mayan god. Epigrapher David Stuart calls this inscription, with its account of mythological history before the birth of Palenque's three patron gods, one of the most important Mayan inscriptions to be discovered in years. It demonstrated the close relationships between Mayan kings and the founding gods of their city.

      Evidence of very early human occupation continued to be reported from sites in the eastern United States, among them the Topper site near Allendale, Va. The site had previously revealed side-notched stone points dating back to as early as 11,000 years ago. Excavator Albert Goodyear concluded that this was an occupation of the Clovis culture. Recently, he excavated below the Clovis level and unearthed a scatter of stone flakes, small blades, a pile of chert pebbles, and four possible hammerstones underneath a sterile layer. This was either a slightly earlier Clovis level or an occupation dating back to before 13,000 years ago, to the very earliest settlement of North America.

      Meanwhile, excavators at the Paulina Lake site, near Bend, Ore., located what may be the earliest known Native American dwelling in North America, radiocarbon-dated to about 7400 BC. A thick layer of ash and pumice from an eruption of nearby Mt. Mazama in about 5600 BC covered a hearth, living floors cleared of rock, stone tools, and food remains. Large wooden posts enclosed an oval area about 4 × 5 m (13 × 17 ft) that was once the site of a tepee-like dwelling with a roof of woven grass, reed mats, or hides. Trace element analyses of the obsidian fragments found on the site revealed that the people were moving south from the Fort Rock area about 100 km (60 mi) north, probably in the spring, to stay at the lake site for weeks and possibly even months.

      Anthropologist Johann Reinhard had spent his career searching for Inca sites high in the Andes Mountains in Peru. In 1995 he discovered the well-preserved body of a young girl, subsequently nicknamed Juanita, who had been sacrificed high on Mt. Nevada Ampato. During 1999 he discovered the perfectly preserved bodies of two girls and a boy on the summit of a 6,700-m (22,000-ft) volcano named Llullaillaco, in northwestern Argentina. Bundled in fine textiles, the victims had been sacrificed to mountain gods five centuries ago. Rich offerings of cloth, clay pots containing dried meat, and 36 small gold, silver, and shell statues of humans and llamas were laid out carefully with the bodies. CT scans showed that the frozen bodies were so well preserved that their internal organs were intact. One girl's body had been slightly damaged by lightning. The other's head had been deliberately deformed into a conical shape and adorned with a white-feathered headdress. In April Argentine archaeologists discovered the mummy of a baby in a cave 3,600 m (11,800 ft) above sea level in northwestern Argentina. Wrapped in leather and straw, the mummy had been well preserved by the dry climate and was estimated to be between 1,500 and 2,000 years old.

Brian Fagan

▪ 1999



Physical Anthropology.
      In 1998 scientists described a fossil cranium from the northeastern African country of Eritrea that possibly extended the earliest-known appearance of a characteristic cranial feature of Homo sapiens back to approximately one million years ago, at least 300,000 years earlier than previous estimates. The nearly complete cranium, discovered in 1995 in the Northern Danakil (Afar) Depression about 50 km (30 mi) from the Red Sea, exhibits an interesting mixture of modern and ancient traits commonly attributed to different hominid species. The specimen's long, ovoid braincase, massive browridge, and modest cranial capacity are ancient traits usually associated with H. erectus. On the other hand, the high position of the greatest breadth of the parietal bones is much more typical of H. sapiens. The Eritrean material remained to be allocated to a particular species, but the cranium's mosaic of ancient and derived features certainly blurred the morphologically defined boundaries between H. erectus and H. sapiens.

      A startling discovery from the Indonesian island of Flores and a reanalysis of the evidence for the earliest controlled use of fire by H. erectus in China dramatically altered scientists' views about the cultural abilities of this species. Fission-track dates obtained from two fossil sites on Flores, one of which contained at least 14 stone artifacts, suggested that H. erectus inhabited the island at least 800,000 years ago. Even when sea levels were at their lowest during the Pleistocene Epoch, water crossings must have been necessary to reach Flores; thus, these findings implied that H. erectus may have used watercraft hundreds of thousands of years earlier than had been previously thought.

      The Zhoukoudian cave site, about 50 km (30 mi) southwest of Beijing, had long been regarded to contain the only reliable evidence for the use of fire before about 400,000 years ago. Most researchers had believed that the site, littered with burnt mammal bones, had been occupied by H. erectus between 500,000 and 200,000 years ago. A reanalysis of the Zhoukoudian site in 1998 by an international team of experts led to a different interpretation. No evidence for hearths, ash, or charcoal was found in the cave, which suggested that the burnt bones were the result of natural causes rather than the controlled use of fire by H. erectus.

      An enlarged left planum temporale, a trait heretofore found only in humans, was discovered to be present in 17 of 18 chimpanzee brains. This inch-long region of brain tissue located within Wernicke's posterior receptive language area in the left temporal lobe of the brain was widely accepted to be associated with language usage, auditory processing of speech, and musical talent. The new findings suggested that the anatomic substrate for language may have been present in the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees more than five million years ago.

      The actual development of humanlike speech was a more recent event, although new evidence hinted that it may have greatly predated the appearance of anatomically modern humans. Scientists discovered that the hypoglossal canal, a small hole in the base of the skull that transmits nerves to the muscles of the tongue, is much wider in modern humans than it is in chimpanzees and our earliest hominid ancestors, the australopithecines. Researchers argued that the wider the canal, the greater the number of nerve fibres that can go through it, thereby permitting greater motor control of the tongue, a precondition for articulate spoken language. The hypoglossal canals of Neanderthals, H. heidelbergensis, and a very early modern H. sapiens specimen all fall within the size range of the canals of living humans, which suggests that our vocal capabilities may have been essentially modern by at least 400,000 years ago.

      On the basis of genetic data, chimpanzees are the closest living relatives of humans. More than 20 years of genetic studies have consistently come to the same conclusion, namely, that at the level of nuclear DNA, humans and chimpanzees are 98-99% identical. The distinctive anatomic and behavioral differences between the two species, therefore, must be due to only a small number of genetic differences, perhaps mostly in genes critical for determining the rate and timing of growth and development. The exact nature of these genetic differences was completely unknown until scientists discovered the first important ape-human difference in gene product expression. Chimpanzees and other great apes possess a gene that codes for a hydroxylase enzyme, which adds an oxygen atom to form a particular kind of sialic acid, a type of sugar. This carbohydrate molecule is found on the surface of every body cell and is associated with intercellular communication and susceptibility to certain pathogens. Humans lack a piece of the hydroxylase gene owing to a 92-base-pair deletion and consequently make a different form of sialic acid. Although there were suggestions that the acid may be involved in brain development, the exact functional differences between the two forms of sialic acid remained to be identified.

      Over the last decade the most popular hypothesis to explain the distinctive linguistic and genetic status of the Basque peoples of France and Spain was that they are direct descendants of the Upper Paleolithic Cro-Magnon peoples who moved to Europe between 30,000 and 40,000 years ago. Genetic and linguistic data presented by investigators in 1998 questioned this model of Basque heritage. The new studies implied that the ancestors of the Basques first migrated from Central Asia to the Caucasus between 10,000 and 14,000 years ago, where they mixed with North Caucasian peoples. Then, about 5,000 years ago, a Neolithic North Caucasian group migrated to southern Europe. The new hypothesis was concordant with both genetic data and what was known about the distinctive Basque language, Euskera, which may be related to North Caucasian languages. Thus, the Basques may be much more recent colonizers of southern Europe than previously thought.

      Exciting new confirmation of a possible pre-Clovis (i.e., before about 11,500 years ago) maritime-based colonization of the Americas came from two sites in Peru. One site, Quebrada Jaguay 280, was first inhabited shortly after 13,000 years ago and contains the remains of a variety of marine organisms. Another part of the site, dated to the later Early Holocene, yielded knotted cordage that probably represents fishnets. The second site, Quebrada Tacahuay, dates to about 12,500 years ago and also indicates a reliance on marine fauna. The new sites suggested that the big-game-hunting Clovis peoples of southwestern North America may not have been the first Americans. The idea that early peoples colonized the Americas by solely migrating through the continental interior was also called into question. See The Peopling of the Americas. (Peopling of the Americas )


Cultural Anthropology.
       Questions of culture continued to engage the attention of anthropologists everywhere in 1998. Debating the relative costs and benefits of involvement and detachment with the subjects and objects of their studies, anthropologists worked to develop more effective ways to describe culture while devising more productive modes of cultural interpretation. In Culture: A Problem That Cannot Be Solved, for example, ethnologist Charles W. Nuckolls of Emory University, Atlanta, Ga., critiqued anthropological schools of thought that defined culture as a means of resolving such contradictory human values as cooperation and competition. Rather, Nuckolls suggested, unresolvable contradictions creatively motivate cultural development. In Envisioning Power: Ideologies of Dominance and Crisis, City University of New York anthropologist Eric R. Wolf showed how 16th-century Aztec, 19th-century Kwakiutl, and 20th-century German National Socialist leaders employed power generated by cultural paradoxes to shape uniquely flamboyant ideologies that often worked against the interests of many community members.

      Anthropologists throughout the world increasingly worked in urban settings previously less studied by their discipline. In The Future of Us All, anthropologist Roger Sanjek of New York City's Queens College presented the findings of a 15-year ethnographic study of Elmhurst-Corona, a populous New York City neighbourhood and one of the most ethnically and racially diverse communities in the United States. Sanjek and his students began fieldwork at a time when interracial tensions in urban communities were widely regarded as ominous portents of things to come. Instead, Sanjek's research suggested a more hopeful future. He found that older residents and newcomers responded to urban challenges by forming multiracial and interethnic community coalitions to overcome both internal conflicts and the indifference of city and state governments. Often led by women, these coalitions effectively opened lines of communication, helped people accept their differences, and built solidarity through cultural sharing days, international nights, and similar multicultural events.

      In Exotics at Home anthropologist Micaela di Leonardo of Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., used examples from fieldwork conducted in New Haven, Conn., and Chicago to critically assess anthropology's impact upon Americans' attitudes toward themselves and others. Examining the roles Margaret Mead and other anthropologists played in shaping American identity by contrasting it with other cultures considered exotic, di Leonardo called on colleagues to consider more systematically the unique combinations of politics, economics, and history that both influence and bind all cultures. In the same vein, ethnologist Michael Jackson of Victoria University, Wellington, N.Z., encouraged anthropologists to use ethnography more effectively as a tool to help people see themselves as others see them.

      Anthropologists also explored new cultural possibilities presented by technological innovations. In Cyborg Babies: From Techno-Sex to Techno-Tots, an interdisciplinary group of anthropologists, cultural critics, and historians of science weighed the potential impacts of Internet communication, artificial reproduction, and pre- and postnatal medical technology upon parents and children. Impressed by the rapidly expanding acceptance of in vitro fertilization, fetal ultrasound, amniocentesis, and other medical procedures by parents desiring healthy babies, the authors posed the question of whether societies were creating the first generations of living cyborgs, symbiotic fusions of man and machine that had long existed in the domains of legend and science fiction.

      Machine concepts also filtered into other aspects of culture study. In Virtualism another group of scholars explored how the virtual reality of globalized transnational economic models was compelling real societies to conform to idealized and potentially inappropriate abstractions. On a more positive note, ethnographer Robert Ibarra of the University of Wisconsin at Madison showed how distance-learning opportunities provided by "cyberschool" Walden University attracted an unusually diverse body of graduate students. Noting that over 35% of the university's 1,000 graduate students were members of minority groups, Ibarra suggested that phone and electronic mail (E-mail) communication with teachers allowed students to remain in their own communities, avoid economic and social dislocations, control the pace and intensity of their studies, and attain recognition for their intellect rather than their appearance or accent.



Eastern Hemisphere.
      Evidence reported in 1998 from a project in Egypt suggested that humans living approximately 7,000 years ago enjoyed a social and spiritual life considerably more complex than previously thought. In the Nubian Desert, about 800 km (500 mi) south of Cairo, researchers reported the discovery of numerous standing stones and megalithic structures aligned north to south, east to west, northeast to southwest, and approximately northwest to southeast. The alignments of the megaliths, dated to 6,000-7,000 years ago, reveal similarities to later Egyptian structures, such as the pyramids at Giza and Abusir, which are also laid out along a northeast-southwest axis. A stone circle, consisting of four sets of upright slabs, was also found and may have been used by the ancient nomadic peoples for sighting along the horizon. Project leaders speculated that the megaliths, which stand in a playa inundated by summer rains, might have formed a symbolic geometry that integrated death, water, and the Sun.

      The French government succeeded in expropriating the land above Chauvet Cave, where hundreds of Paleolithic wall paintings were discovered in 1994. Researchers began a four-year program of study that had been on hold while the government and the principal landowner fought over rights to the cave. The project aimed to inventory and photograph completely the 30,000-year-old paintings.

      In Ireland a stone tomb at the site of Carrowmore was dated to 7,400 years ago, which made it the earliest-known freestanding stone structure in Western Europe and the only one in all of Europe from the Mesolithic Period before the introduction of agriculture. The discovery was greeted with some skepticism because agriculture had long been thought to have been the technological development that made much of complex civilization, including stone architecture, possible.

      In the Mediterranean Sea southwest of Sicily, Italian fishermen netted a bronze statue of a nude young man, which researchers immediately compared to the Riace Bronzes, two remarkable sculptures found off the coast of Italy in 1972. The statue may represent Aeolus, the Greek god of the winds. Working from its style, scholars estimated that it dates to the 2nd or 3rd century BC.

      In Rome excavations beneath the Trajan Baths uncovered a wall painting depicting a bird's-eye view of an ancient megalopolis. It was not clear to researchers what city was being portrayed in the fresco, which probably dates to the late 1st century AD. The new find was the largest-known Roman fresco with an image of a city in the entire corpus of Roman wall painting. One hypothesis was that the image represented ancient Rome before the Great Fire in AD 64. Nearby, part of the Museo Nazionale Romano, one of the world's greatest repositories of Roman art, reopened in its new home, the Palazzo Massimo, after 14 years of renovation.

      Excavations in the Holy Land uncovered the earliest-known ruins of a synagogue and the remains of what may have been the oldest structure in the world designed for use as a church. Found outside Jericho, the synagogue, which dates from 50 to about 70 BC, was a mud-brick and stone construction that included a ritual bathing area, a small courtyard with seven or eight adjoining rooms, and a large rectangular main hall. The church, discovered in the Red Sea port of Al-'Aqabah, Jordan, was dated to the late 3rd or 4th century AD on the basis of pottery fragments found among its ruins.

      A stone slab marked with the 6th-century Latin inscription Pater Coliavi ficit Artognov, meaning "Artognou, father of a descendant of Coll, has made this," was unearthed by archaeologists digging at Tintagel Castle, the legendary home of King Arthur on the Cornish coast of England. Some scholars rushed to claim that this was proof of the historicity of King Arthur, whereas others argued that Artognov was not close enough to Arthur to be conclusive.

      In what was called the find of the decade in Japan, archaeologists recovered 33 Chinese bronze mirrors from a 3rd-century burial mound in the Yamato region of Honshu, Japan's main island. The discovery fueled a long-running debate over the location of the ancient Japanese kingdom of Yamatai, known only from the Wei chih, a Chinese historical text. According to the text, envoys of the Yamatai queen, Himiko, sent gifts to China in AD 239, and the return gifts included 100 bronze mirrors. Numerous Chinese mirrors had been recovered on the southern island of Kyushu, which led some Japanese historians to name it as ancient Yamatai. Other researchers, however, noting the similarity between the names, believed that the ancient civilization had been located in Yamato.

      The year also was notable for two important legal developments in the ongoing debate between archaeologists, dealers, collectors, and museums for control of the past. In the United States a lawsuit before the Court of Appeals was to decide whether non-U.S. countries could claim national ownership of archaeological remains under the National Stolen Property Act to gain their return. A case in the 1970s set the precedent that artifacts covered by such laws do count as stolen as long as a country explicitly declares ownership. The case on appeal concerned a classical Greek gold phiale, a type of libation bowl, that was illegally exported from Italy and in 1991 sold to a New York collector for $1.2 million. In 1995, after the Italian government discovered the transaction, U.S. government officials seized the antique. Two years later a federal judge ruled that the phiale was to be returned to Italy. The collector subsequently appealed. Because of its implications for future repatriations of antiquities, the case had become an important test, with a coalition of museums supporting the collector's appeal and another alliance of scholars and preservation groups supporting Italy's side.

      The 1995 Unidroit Convention on the Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects went into effect among the first five countries to ratify it: Romania, Lithuania, Paraguay, China, and Ecuador. Eighteen other countries had signed the convention, of which five were working toward ratification. The collecting of cultural artifacts by museums, preservation societies, and similar institutions was largely regulated by two international treaties, the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. The Unidroit Convention was meant as a supplement to the 1970 convention and, as of late 1998, had not been signed by a number of countries, including the United States. Perhaps the most important feature of the Unidroit Convention was that it explicitly defined illegal excavation as theft, which could in theory eliminate the need for repatriation suits by foreign countries.


Western Hemisphere.
      When Christopher Columbus explored the Caribbean islands in 1492, he encountered the Taino people, Arawak-speaking Native Americans who once flourished on the islands of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. The Taino became extinct within 100 years after the Spanish conquest of the late 15th century, and little was known about their distinctive culture. Digging at the newly discovered underwater site of Los Buchillones in Cuba's Ciego de Avila province, archaeologists uncovered evidence for Taino history between AD 1220 and 1620, a period encompassing the first Spanish settlement. The excavations yielded a collapsed 400-700-year-old oval building more than 18 m (60 ft) in diameter that may have served as a community centre. Until this discovery Taino architecture had been known only from Spanish accounts.

      Archaeologists had assumed that the Santa Cruz River valley in Tucson, Ariz., was largely uninhabited until the Hohokam people, a group of North American Indians who lived in the semiarid region of what is now central and southern Arizona, arrived about AD 600. Excavations in 1998, however, revealed seven riverside settlements dating between 800 BC and AD 150. The largest settlement, discovered at the Santa Cruz Bend site, was occupied between 760 and 200 BC and contained at least 500 semisubterranean pit houses. Scientists agreed that the settlement was surprisingly sophisticated for such an early farming village in the southwestern desert. Nearby they found traces of simple water-control ditches dating to 800 BC, fragments of the earliest such communal structures in the Southwest. The inhabitants may have been the ancestors of the Hohokam culture, which flourished during the 1st millennium AD.

      Researchers discovered evidence of a large farming settlement at a site called Cerro Juanaqueña in northern Chihuahua, Mex. It was believed that the site was inhabited at least 3,000 years ago, almost 2,000 years earlier than sites of such scale in the region. The village covers about 4 ha (10 ac) and is remarkable for its many hillside terraces, which extend over some eight kilometres (five miles). Archaeologists believed that the inhabitants lived on the terraces, where various kinds of occupation debris were found.

      Important discoveries added new chapters to Maya history. Yaxuná is a Classic Maya site in northern Yucatán, Mex., dating to about AD 250. The ancient city was founded about 500 BC as a stopping point in a trade route that linked southern Maya cities with salt deposits on the northern coast. In 1996 archaeologists excavated the North Acropolis and uncovered a sealed tomb. The nearly square burial chamber held burial 24, the archaeologists' code name for a collection of remains, which included the bones of a man about 55 years old who had been decapitated. An obsidian knife, perhaps used for ceremonial bloodletting, lay near his shoulders, and fragments of a polished white shell headdress worn by high lords were strewn at his feet. The bones of an adolescent girl and a young woman, also adorned with royal headdresses, flanked the male skeleton. Altogether archaeologists recovered the bones of 11 men, women, and children from the tomb. The city was sacked in the late 4th or early 5th century AD; thus, archaeologists believed that the remains represented the sacrifice of a royal family when the city was conquered by its enemies. Scientists were able to use deciphered Maya glyphs to reconstruct the events that accompanied burial 24. In a nearby temple they discovered a black stone ax and greenstone gems jammed in a black jar. It was believed that the artifacts commemorated a decapitation sacrifice, such as was often performed at change of leadership ceremonies.

      In 1998 archaeologists reported the discovery of the oldest known ball court in the Americas, from a site called Paso de la Amada in the Soconusco area of Chiapas, Mex. When Spanish conquistadors came in contact with Maya communities in the Yucatán, they were impressed by the elaborate ball courts where players competed to knock a rubber ball through a wall-mounted hoop. Well-preserved courts were known from major Maya cities like Copán and Tikal, and the remains of latex balls and paintings of ball players indicated that the game had been established by at least the mid-13th century BC. The new ball court, unearthed in 1995, dates to about 1700 BC, which makes it at least five times older than any previously excavated ball court in Mesoamerica. The court is 79 m (260 ft) long and flanked on both sides by long mounds with benches built into them. The court lies among dwellings built by nobility, which suggests that the game was played by those of high status.

      An examination of more than 200 well-preserved mummies discovered in Peru in 1996 and excavated in late 1997 revealed that they were members of an elite group called the "cloud people," the remote Chachapoya culture that dominated the Amazon River basin before the Inca conquered the area 500 years ago. In addition to the mummies, which were discovered high in the Andes Mountains at a place called Laguna de los Cóndores, scientists also recovered clay pots, baskets, decorated gourds, and carved wooden figures with stylized human faces. Unlike many Andean mummies in drier areas, the Chachapoya bodies had been deliberately mummified, the abdominal cavities emptied and the corpses embalmed. Ginned cotton was placed under the skin and in the mouth and nostrils to preserve the facial features. The people deliberately selected cold, dry areas that helped in the preservation of the dead. Archaeologists planned to study the mummies with modern medical technology and to excavate a 200-house settlement found nearby in an attempt to determine whether the burials were associated with that village.


▪ 1998



Physical Anthropology.
      In 1997 science fiction became science fact when ancient DNA, believed to be between 30,000 and 100,000 years old, was extracted from a Neanderthal specimen originally discovered in 1856 in the Feldhofer Cave of the Neander Valley near Düsseldorf, Ger. In a technically brilliant tour de force, Matthias Krings, working in Svante Pääbo's laboratory at the University of Munich, Ger., succeeded in piecing together a nucleotide sequence for 379 base pairs of maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA preserved in a 3.5-g (0.11-oz) section of the specimen's right humerus. What made this claim so convincing was that the results were meticulously replicated by Anne Stone, working in Mark Stoneking's laboratory at Pennsylvania State University. When the Neanderthal DNA sequence was compared with the corresponding region in modern humans and chimpanzees, the overall Neanderthal-human difference was approximately three times greater than the average difference among modern humans but only about half as large as the human-chimpanzee difference. Because the Neanderthal sequence was so unlike any modern human sequence, many experts thought it highly unlikely that Neanderthals contributed to the human mitochondrial DNA pool. These data strengthened the case for the separate-species status of the Neanderthals initially advocated by William King in 1864, whereby the taxonomic designation Homo neanderthalensis is preferred to membership in H. sapiens. It should be noted, however, that no biparental nuclear DNA was recovered from the Neanderthal humerus, and, thus, at present there is no way to refute the hypothesis that some Neanderthal genes still exist in the human nuclear gene pool or the conjecture that genetic differences between human and Neanderthal nuclear DNA are not as large as those exhibited by the faster-evolving mitochondrial DNA molecule.

      Fossil remains recovered from the cave site of Gran Dolina, Sierra de Atapuerca, Spain, were placed in the new species, H. antecessor, by a team of Spanish investigators from Madrid and Tarragona. The nearly 80 bones and teeth belonged to a minimum of six individuals who lived more than 780,000 years ago. The specimens exhibited a unique combination of cranial, mandibular, and dental traits along with a fully modern midfacial morphology. The researchers suggested that H. antecessor may represent the last common ancestor of both Neanderthals and modern humans and tentatively proposed an evolutionary link to the earlier Early Pleistocene species, H. ergaster.

      The topic of early human migrations received great attention during the year. Multiple out-of-Africa expansion events were championed by both paleoanthroplogists and human geneticists. These dispersals involved numerous extinct species of the genus Homo as well as modern humans. In South Africa human footprints dated to 117,000 years ago were discovered in a sand dune, the oldest such imprints attributable to H. sapiens. Analyses of the B-globin gene and human Y chromosomes led two different research teams to propose that some of the genetic variants they studied actually arose in Asia and were carried back to Africa. The implications of these discoveries were that some of the substantial genetic diversity found in today's African populations had non-African roots and that migrations between Africa and the rest of the Old World may have been bidirectional for a much longer time than experts had previously thought. A new set of controversial dates also led to the extension of the temporal span of H. erectus in Southeast Asia to as recently as 27,000 to 53,000 years ago, which thereby implied the coexistence of these specimens from Ngandong and Sambungmacan in Java, Indonesia, with modern humans who had already reached Australia approximately 50,000 to 60,000 years ago. The discovery called into question the theory that H. erectus was among the ancestors of modern Australians and lent additional support to those favouring the out-of-Africa explanation.

      New mitochondrial genetic data reported by Brazilian investigators reinforced a recent interpretation of previous mitochondrial DNA data sets concerning the number and timing of early migrations to the Americas. Specifically, these maternal-specific data supported the hypothesis that Native Americans, as well as the Chukchi of northeastern Siberia, originated from a single migration across the Bering Sea land bridge, probably from east-central Asia, at least 30,000 years ago. This interpretation was at variance with the three-migration hypothesis for the peopling of the New World, which was based on linguistic, dental, and nuclear genetic data, as well as with recently proposed two- and four-migration scenarios. This chronological framework also conflicted with the opinion of the majority of American archaeologists, who viewed with great skepticism any hypothesized date for the initial colonization of the Americas older than about 13,000 years ago.

      A milestone event in the ongoing debate about the peopling of the Americas was the announcement of a consensus that the Monte Verde site in Chile was both authentic and at least 12,500 years old and thus the oldest authenticated human occupation in the New World. Discovery of evidence of human occupation from the continental shelf edge of British Columbia dated to more than 10,000 years ago led to the suggestion that the exposed shelf edge may have served as a coastal migration route to the Americas during times of lowered sea levels between 13,500 and 9,500 years ago.

      The finds from the Gona River region of Ethiopia pushed the dates for the earliest known stone-tool manufacturing back to between 2.5 million and 2.6 million years ago. Although it was not known which hominid group was responsible for the several thousand tools at Gona, two principal candidates were put forward: members of the genus Homo and of the robust australopithecine genus, Paranthropus. The tools were so similar to the later Early Pleistocene Oldowan tools that they were placed in the Oldowan industry, which thereby extended the temporal range of that industrial complex to include a variety of Plio-Pleistocene assemblages dated between 1.5 million and 2.6 million years ago.


      This article updates human evolution.

Cultural Anthropology.
      Cultural anthropologists continued to reexamine and reevaluate the goals, roles, and objects of their discipline in 1997. Many ethnologists questioned whether their field was most properly a humanistic project that critically interpreted culture or a scientific enterprise devoted to the discovery of the basic laws governing human behaviour. Others debated whether dwindling public and private research resources were most effectively expended upon basic theoretical scholarship or in applied research programs that directly addressed practical issues and problems. Many investigators reflected on whether other cultures or their own were the most appropriate objects of study. All pondered the theoretical, methodological, and physical limitations that influence what anthropologists can and cannot learn about the human condition.

      These concerns were mirrored in the 340 articles published in the four-volume Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology (1996), edited by David Levinson and Melvin Ember, anthropologists associated with Human Relations Area Files at Yale University. The first comprehensive survey of the discipline, the encyclopedia contained articles addressing economic anthropology, initiation rites, oral tradition, and other traditional anthropological concerns. Other article topics, such as altruism, colonialism, feminist anthropology, and Postmodernism, reflected more recent developments and interests.

      Long accustomed to carrying on scholarly discourse in the printed pages of academic publications, growing numbers of ethnologists in 1997 were communicating with one another via World Wide Web pages, Internet chat rooms, and other electronic media. Because of the strongly conflicting views expressed in many of these exchanges, cultural anthropology appeared to be a discipline in disarray. Dismayed by the occasional sharp tones punctuating their disputations, most anthropologists nevertheless regarded energetic debate as the mark of a discipline in creative ferment. This view was not fully accepted beyond disciplinary boundaries, and as contacts with colleagues in disciplines that traditionally shared ideas and information with anthropology diminished, anthropologists were alarmed by decreasing public interest in their research. Aware that the health of the discipline depended upon closer communication with the widest-possible audience, past American Anthropological Association president James L. Peacock challenged anthropologists to increase efforts to reach out to associates in other fields and to the general public.

      Whatever their differences, most ethnologists agreed that cultural anthropology continued to possess the ability to make unique contributions to human understanding. Although colleagues in history, literature, women's studies, and other fields employed such anthropological concepts as culture, holism, and participant observation, none had yet adopted the broad comparative, observation-based perspective necessary to fully understand cultural similarities and diversities. People coping with the stresses of an increasingly diverse multicultural world needed this perspective more and more.

      It was also difficult in 1997 to find ethnologists who regarded themselves as detached neutral observers or their subjects as pristine objects unaffected by time, space, or sociopolitical context. In contrast to widespread public perceptions of anthropologists as field workers among exotic tribal peoples, most ethnographers worked with people in complex modern societies. For example, in Golden Arches East, a collection of articles edited by Harvard University anthropologist James L. Watson, field ethnographers examined the ways in which people in several East Asian countries creatively utilized McDonald's American-style fast-food restaurants as important family and community centres and meeting places. Half a world away, the results of a 15-year study among poor Hispanic residents on New York City's Lower East Side, coordinated by City College of New York ethnographer Jagna Wojcicka Sharff, were reported in King Kong on 4th Street. Assessing the impacts of large-scale socioeconomic processes on families, especially children, Sharff and her colleagues found that in the group studied, violence and other behaviour that the wider society regarded as deviant represented "survival strategies in a situation of great economic distress."

      Although many ethnologists focused attention upon problems facing people in developed nations, others continued working with indigenous people who were coping with the expansion of modern civilization onto their lands. Findings of ethnographers who had been working with such people to affirm the precision and exactitude of native traditions played an important role in the December 11 Canadian Supreme Court decision recognizing oral histories as valid evidence in native land and resource claims. By raising public awareness of those problems and coordinating projects that directly benefited native communities, other anthropologists working with international support groups such as the Cambridge, Mass.-based Cultural Survival assisted indigenous people and ethnic minorities who were struggling to preserve their traditional ways of life.

      Field workers involved in issues affecting the lives of those they studied struggled to balance advocacy with a level of detachment essential to both establish scholarly credibility and maintain the comparative perspective necessary to place their data within the broadest possible context. Anthropologists in 1997 increasingly recognized the need to expand the scope of their studies from small, marginal, or disenfranchised groups to broader groups encompassing entire cultures and societies. The ethical dilemmas and methodological innovations accompanying such a shift promised to challenge ethnologists well into the coming millennium.

      This article updates cultural anthropology.


Eastern Hemisphere.
      In 1997 stone tools from Ethiopia's Gona River were dated to between 2,600,000 and 2,520,000 years ago, which made them the oldest in the world by at least 120,000 years. Three wooden spears from Schöningen, Ger., were dated to between 400,000 and 380,000 years ago. According to a report in Archaeology, "the spears show design and construction skills previously attributed only to modern humans"; at the time, archaic Homo sapiens inhabited Europe. Flints and grooved wooden tools, which probably served as handles, found at the site may be remains of the oldest composite tools in the world.

      Chlorine-36 dating revealed that the spectacular petroglyphs in Portugal's Côa Valley, brought to public attention in 1994, were at least 16,000 years old. The new results settled a debate between scholars who dated the artworks to the Upper Paleolithic (35,000 to 10,000 years ago) on the basis of their style and others who argued that stylistic dating was unreliable and that the petroglyphs were no older than 3,000 years.

      Diring Yuriakh, a site with stone tools in central Siberia, was thermoluminescence-dated to between 370,000 and 260,000 years ago, long before the date of 30,000 years ago that had been generally accepted for the settlement of the area. Some experts, however, questioned whether the tools were actually man-made, while others sought confirmation of the dates by the use of another method.

      In Oceania stone tools from the Indonesian island of Flores were dated to just after 730,000 years ago, which suggested that H. erectus could cross open sea; the controversial claim awaited verification. Optical-luminescense dates from several sites suggested that Australia had been colonized by 60,000 years ago, instead of the usual 40,000 to 30,000.

      A 13,000-year-old burial from San Teodoro Cave in Sicily yielded the first evidence of Paleolithic archery—a fragment of flint, probably part of an arrowhead, embedded in a human pelvis. A 7,000-year-old skull found at Ensisheim, France, provided the earliest unequivocal evidence of trepanning, a surgical procedure, in which a small disk or square of bone is removed from the cranium.

      As the British Museum reopened its "Celtic Europe" halls, scholars argued over the widely accepted link between the Keltoi described by classical authors and the predominant style of late Iron Age European art, La Tène (c. 450-55 BC). Some pointed out that ancient descriptions, confusing and often contradictory, did not attest the existence of a coherent pan-European Celtic ethnic group that could be identified with La Tène. Furthermore, La Tène itself displayed substantial regional variations, and there was no La Tène in Spain, where there were known to have been Celts. Defenders of the Celtic ethnicity of people across Iron Age Europe noted the overarching similarity of cultures across the continent. The argument highlighted the caution necessary to avoid what John Collis of the University of Sheffield, Eng., called "simplistic correlations between material culture and ethnic groups."

      Excavations at Pompeii questioned much of the site's traditional chronology, in which each historical period was thought to have a distinctive type of masonry, suggesting that many structures there and elsewhere in Italy would have to be redated. The finding also emphasized the importance of dating buildings by materials found in construction layers rather than by wall fabric, which often varied according to structural or financial considerations.

      An Israeli archaeologist argued that skeletons found at Masada in the 1960s were those of Roman soldiers, not Jewish patriots who fought the Romans in AD 70. Bones of pigs, which the zealots would have regarded as unclean but which Romans sacrificed at burials, were found with the skeletons. The authorship of the Dead Sea Scrolls was also debated. Arguments against their usual ascription to the Essenes, a Jewish sect living at Qumran, were based on differences of doctrine and lifestyle between the texts on the scrolls and descriptions of the sect by classical authors.

      In China discoveries from more than 100 sites along the Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) showed that rice cultivation began 11,500 years ago rather than 8,000. Archaeologists also identified a site in Hebei province, long under excavation, as Zhongdu, one of three capitals of the Yuan dynasty (1260-1368). In Japan the Imperial Household Agency for the first time permitted archaeologists to map two imperial tombs of the 5th century AD, but it continued to prohibit the excavation of such mounds.

      Preservation of archaeological sites threatened by construction projects continued to a be a problem. China's Three Gorges Dam moved forward, even though its completion would spell doom for many important sites along the Chang Jiang. The fate of possibly the largest Roman villa in Great Britain, found during the summer near Swindon, remained uncertain, as the local council and the developer who owned the land debated its future.

      At Pompeii the superintendent, Pietro Giovanni Guzzo, opposed the renewal of contracts for large excavations like that at the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum, arguing that the money would be better spent on restoration and maintenance of decaying buildings already unearthed. The Italian Parliament approved a measure granting Pompeii administrative and fiscal autonomy, which would allow the underfunded superintendency to keep all of its ticket revenues (most of which had been turned over to the Ministry of Culture), thereby tripling its annual budget.

      Looting of archaeological sites was also a problem. Additional artifacts from Iraqi sites, including Nineveh, Khorsabad, and Nimrud, appeared on the world market. The museum at Butrint, Alb., was reported to have been looted, and further excavation at that major Roman site was postponed.

      Working partly from documents furnished by an insider, British journalist Peter Watson wrote a book pillorying the auction firm Sotheby's for participating knowingly in smuggling and selling looted and stolen works of art. Among the antiquities cited were a goat-headed goddess from a shrine at Lokhari, India, which had been photographed in place before 1986, and an Apulian vase that had been described in an Italian magazine as having been looted. In response, Sotheby's closed its London antiquities and Indian and Islamic art departments and moved all regular sales of such material to New York City, where tighter U.S. laws would limit what it could sell.

      In January Swiss and Italian authorities announced the largest seizure ever of looted antiquities—$40 million worth of Roman and Etruscan artifacts discovered in four warehouses in Geneva. Thirteen sculptures stolen from Angkor Wat and found in 1990 in a Bangkok gallery were returned to Cambodia in September 1996, the first time that Thailand, much criticized for its complicity in the illegal antiquities trade, had returned stolen works of art.

      The U.S. Customs Service returned several stolen medieval manuscript pages to Spain under a provision of the U.S. Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 that prohibits interstate or international trafficking in antiquities. It was the first time that the act had been invoked in a case involving artifacts of foreign origin.


Western Hemisphere.
      For more than a century, archaeologists have argued over the date of the first human settlement of the Americas. Most scholars now believe Native Americans arrived from Siberia across the Bering Strait about 15,000 years ago. Recently, new accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) radiocarbon dates obtained by University of Kentucky professor of anthropology Tom Dillehay from the Monte Verde site in Chile's Llanquihue province shed new light on early settlement in the extreme south of the Americas. Monte Verde is an open-air wetland residential site with bone and wooden artifacts, hut foundations, and ecological data preserved under a peat layer. Dillehay identified hearths, braziers, refuse pits, and footprints. Wooden artifacts included basins, bow drills for making fires, and, possibly, tool handles. Twelve wood-framed houses mantled with hides form rows of dwellings, perhaps a tentlike residential complex. Dillehay compared them to dwellings used by the Tehuelche Indians of southern Argentina, which comprised hides smeared with grease and red ocher drawn over wooden poles. AMS samples from the main occupation layer yielded dates between 10,300 and 10,800 BC, some of the earliest-known dates for human settlement in the Americas.

      Far to the north, in Alaska, new archaeological finds were being used to date early settlements on the eastern side of the Bering Strait. East of Kotzebue, Smithsonian Institution paleoanthropologist Dennis Stanford studied undated stone projectile points found near a glacial lake at the Sluiceway site. He believed the style of the points indicated that they were more than 10,500 years old. On-Your-Knees Cave on Prince of Wales Island in the middle of Alaska's Tongass National Forest yielded human bone fragments radiocarbon-dated to about 7800 BC, some of the earliest ever found in North America. Stable isotope analysis of the remains (a comparison of chemical isotopes of food absorbed by bone) revealed a predominantly marine diet. Farther south, in Washington state, archaeologist James Chatters dug a complete human skeleton of a man between 45 and 50 years old, radiocarbon-dated to about 7300 BC, from the banks of the Columbia River near Kennewick. Fierce controversy surrounded this find, a male with an elongated skull more characteristic of Caucasians than Native Americans. Research stalled while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the local Umatilla Indians worked to settle the ownership of the skeleton.

      Some of the earliest human-worked wood came from the newly excavated Page-Ladson site on Florida's Aucilla River. The earliest occupation there dated to about 8000 BC, when that part of Florida, now only 8 km (5 mi) from Tallahassee, was more than 160 km (100 mi) from the ocean and situated in open savanna. Within a century, rising sea levels at the end of the Ice Age flooded the site and sealed the occupation layers. The Page-Ladson people used stone projectile points and gouges made of local stone, worked with antler flakers found at the site. They also made spherical stones that were attached to leather cords and used to bring small animals to the ground. Three wooden stakes driven into the ground and a burned and slightly hollowed-out log were the earliest-known wooden objects found in the Americas. On the other side of the continent, a sandal fragment from a cave on southern California's Channel Islands was dated to approximately 7000 BC, the earliest such find on the Pacific coast.

      AMS radiocarbon-dating was revolutionizing archaeologists' knowledge of early Native American agriculture. AMS dating, which counts actual carbon-14 atoms, uses tiny organic samples such as individual seeds, which thereby removed such potential sources of dating error as specimens' being trampled from one level into a lower one. On the basis of this method, Austin Long of the University of Arizona redated early diminutive corncobs from Mexico's Tehuacán Valley—once estimated at 5000 BC—to no older than about 3500 BC. Experts now believed that corn (maize) was first domesticated from wild teosinte grass in southwestern Mexico perhaps as early as 4000 to 3500 BC. Such plant cultivation was not, however, a novelty. For example, Smithsonian Institution archaeologist Bruce Smith recently dated squash seeds from Guilá Naquitz cave in Mexico's Valley of Oaxaca to at least 8000 BC, which showed that some form of simple agriculture was practiced in Central America at the same time food production and village life began in southwestern Asia. Whereas Chinese and southwestern Asian villagers shifted rapidly to diversified agricultural economies, it was generally believed that Native Americans continued to forage rather than plant for several thousand more years; future discoveries and AMS dates could change this scenario dramatically. The new dates for corn domestication, for example, shortened the gestation period for the development of corn agriculture in Mayan and other Native American civilizations by at least 1,500 years.

      Many long-known sites were being reinterpreted as a result of modern archaeological technology. The Serpent Mound, a spectacular earthwork depicting a serpent with gaping jaws devouring a burial mound (one of various interpretations), twists along a low ridge in south-central Ohio. The earthwork was originally dated by Frederick Putnam of Harvard University's Peabody Museum to the Adena culture (800 BC-AD 100), but readings taken from wood obtained by core borings put the date at about AD 1070. Consequently, archaeologists Bradley Lepper and Dee Anne Wymer assigned the earthwork to the Fort Ancient culture (900 to 1600), a much later Mississippian group.

      Art historian Mary Miller of Yale University used infrared photography to produce computer reconstructions of the faded images on Mexico's Bonampak murals, painted by Mayan artists in the late 8th century. Her research team scanned colour photographs of the images into a computer and then added details based on infrared photographs and study of the murals at the site. The new approach allowed Miller and her colleagues to record previously invisible inscriptions, to distinguish one group of Mayan nobles from another by their regalia and insignia, and to read their titles, such as regional governor or dancers. They then began "stitching" together the digitized images into seamless webs of paintings in order to create a digital restoration of the Mayan Lord Chaan Muan's life and deeds, including scenes of battle and human sacrifice that occurred during his reign, AD 776-795.

      The first James Fort, built in 1607 on what is now Jamestown Island, Virginia, was long assumed to have eroded into the nearby James River. During the past few years archaeologist William Kelso delved into contemporary accounts of the settlement and searched for telltale postholes and palisades in the sandy soil. His sophisticated excavations recovered traces of the fortifications and interior buildings and also more than 90,000 artifacts, including 12 coins, none earlier than 1603. Kelso recovered many ceramic fragments, a full breastplate and helmet made before 1610, bullet molds, and cast-iron shot. A skeleton of a male colonist in his 20s found on site revealed bullet wounds to a leg and shoulder. Signs of glassmaking suggested that a special building to fabricate beads to trade with Chief Powhatan lay outside the palisade. This trade was vital, for the Indians supplied corn for the fledgling settlement. Satellite photographs confirmed the position of the fort, which was recorded on an early 17th-century Dutch chart of the James River that was discovered in 1995 in the Dutch National Archives.

      This article updates archaeology.

▪ 1997



Physical Anthropology.
      Another specimen of the Western Hemisphere primate Branisella dating from the late Oligocene or early Miocene Epoch, about 23.7 million years ago, was found in 1996. It was an important discovery because fossils of New World primates are rare and because analysis revealed that it is probably ancestral to the callitrichines (marmosets) but not to all the platyrrhines. The latter group, which includes the marmosets and comprises the diverse majority of the Central and South American monkeys today, must have undergone an explosive radiation during the early to middle Oligocene, presumably on their arrival from Africa.

      A new anthropoid fossil, Eosimias, dated at about 40 million years ago, was found during the year in China. It could provide evidence that the very early evolution of the higher primates occurred in Asia as well as in Africa. Another new fossil discovery shed some light on the time that apes stopped walking about like monkeys. A Dryopithecus from the Miocene in Spain, it consists of both cranial and postcranial bones, which indicate that by at least 9.5 million years ago these apes were not generalized quadrupeds but were moving about in a manner similar to the modern orangutan. Also, in central Turkey a find of an almost complete face of a 10 million-year-old ape, Ankarapithecus meteai, was found. Because of its unique features, it is not considered to be ancestral to any apes or humans and is another example of the Miocene radiation of the apes during the period from 18 million to 9 million years ago.

      Also uncovered during the year was new evidence about the nonlinear evolution of bipedalism. At Sterkfontein, S.Af., researchers found the most complete australopithecine fossil skeleton since "Lucy"—that of an individual with a humanlike pelvis but with limb proportions similar to those of a modern chimpanzee. Thus, it may have spent time both walking on the ground and climbing in the trees. It was identified as an Australopithecus africanus by Phillip Tobias of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, S.Af. Also, an australopithecine fossil was discovered outside the Rift Valley system in Chad, some 2,400 km (1,500 mi) to the west. The site was dated at 3 million-3.5 million years, and the fossil resembles A. afarensis.

      The "savanna hypothesis"—that bipedalism evolved when the tropical forest became replaced by open grassland—may be too simplistic. Paleoclimatologists agree that there was a major climatic change about 2.8 million years ago that resulted in more open land and less tropical forest. This, however, is considerably later than the appearance of the first bipeds, though it may coincide with the origin of the genus Homo.

      In November a team of Canadian, Ethiopian, Israeli, and U.S. scientists announced the discovery in northern Ethiopia of an upper jaw described as the oldest and most convincing definitively dated fossil of the genus Homo. The jaw, dated at 2,330,000 years, was 400,000 years older than any previously found Homo fossil.

      Longgupo Cave in Sichuan province, China, yielded evidence of hominids that existed from 1.7 million to 1.9 million years ago. The fossils may be those of Homo habilis, which raises the possibility that it was this form of early human that migrated out of Africa and then gave rise to H. erectus in Asia as well as Africa. Possibly equally early finds of not yet fully described hominids from Atapuerca, Spain, may indicate that these "pre-erectus" forms migrated to the west out of Africa, possibly by way of the Middle East.

      New Neanderthal remains were found at Arcy-sur-Cure, Fr. There, a temporal bone with the distinctive anatomy of the Neanderthal inner ear was discovered in the archaeological context of the early Upper Paleolithic Châtelperronian industry; the bone was dated at 34,000 years ago. This provided further evidence for the long coexistence and possible cultural interactions of the Neanderthals and modern humans. Yet coexistence probably did not result in similarity in lifestyles or exploitation of the environment. According to Erik Trinkhaus of the University of New Mexico and Christopher Ruff of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md., in Israel, where there was a long coexistence, the Neanderthals are anatomically different enough to indicate adaptations to the environment that differed from those of their modern human counterparts, even if they were using some of the same tools.

      Theories about the peopling of the Western Hemisphere have depended heavily on the analysis of linguistic, archaeological, and genetic evidence. The main questions continued to be the time and numbers of migrations. A site in Brazil indicated occupation by forest-living foragers 11,000 years ago, which would make them contemporary but culturally different from the Clovis culture mammoth hunters 8,000 km (5,000 mi) to the north. Also, analyses of new DNA and mitochondrial DNA data suggest that the genetic variation in the geographically widespread groups of native Americans is compatible with one, or possibly two, Asian migrations. Current studies of the noncoding part of the Y chromosome (the equivalent of mtDNA for inheritance in the male line) may reveal more on the relationships between the native people in the Americas. (HERMANN K. BLEIBTREU)

      Cultural anthropology continued to be a discipline in the throes of change in 1996. Although the developed nations of the West remained the primary centres of professional training, employment, and theoretical development, anthropologists from nations in Africa, Asia, and the former Soviet bloc exerted increasing influence. No longer content to work in the West or restrict research to societies within national borders, non-Western ethnologists, such as Komei Sasaki, who had conducted fieldwork in Nepal, China, and India as well as in his native Japan, worked to expand ethnographic horizons. At the same time, growing numbers of Western ethnographers increasingly focused their attention upon their own societies. Whatever their nationality or wherever they worked, anthropologists throughout the world continued to redefine their discipline, reassess their roles, and reconsider the subjects and locations of their ethnographic studies.

      In a front-page article in the December 1996 issue of Anthropology Newsletter, published by the American Anthropological Association, University of Chicago anthropologist Richard Shweder contrasted competing views of cultural anthropology as a platform for moral and political activism; as a nonmoral, value-free objective science; and as a forum for postmodern critics challenging the existence of objective knowledge. Recognizing that knowledge of the world is incomplete when regarded from one point of view and incoherent when seen from all points at once, Shweder championed a pluralistic anthropology. Such an approach would examine "multiple cultural realities" from "manywheres" rather than from such particular "places" as the individual ethnocentric view or the objective "view from 'nowhere in particular' " and rather than giving no view at all, as favoured by postmodern critics.

      Scholars continued with considerable warmth to conduct the debate as to whether anthropology is a science. Representing scientific anthropology at a symposium convened in 1995 by the New York Academy of Sciences entitled "The Flight from Science and Reason," anthropologist Robin Fox of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J., addressed assertions claiming that science was invalid because its findings could be wrong, trivial, biased, or used for evil purposes. Noting that science by its very nature was designed to deal with error, triviality, and experimenter bias, Fox urged colleagues to distinguish between the use and abuse of the enterprise and not give up on the search for scientific truth in the service of humanistic goals and understanding.

      Anthropologists debating the role of science in their discipline were part of the wider international dialogue assessing the role of evolution and the relative impacts of biology and culture on human behaviour. Responding to critics who censured science as merely another belief system and evolution as simply an erroneous belief, personalities as varied as the pope and a historian of science rallied to the support of the scientific perspective. In a pronouncement made at the 1996 annual meeting of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope John Paul II stated that the theory of evolution was more than a hypothesis and that its teaching was not incompatible with Roman Catholic doctrine. In a highly publicized and potentially influential study entitled Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) visiting scholar Frank J. Sulloway used the example of Darwin's formulation of the theory of evolution and the Darwinian evolutionary perspective to show how competition for parental attention within families between firstborns and those born later affected personality development and, by extension, larger cultural events. Sulloway demonstrated that firstborns, firmly established in secure familial niches, tended to support the status quo, while children born later, forced to compete for parental favour, tended to develop more rebellious personalities. Statistically analyzing more than 20,000 biographies written during the past 500 years, Sulloway found that those born later played major roles in revolutionary movements. He proposed that competition between individuals within families rather than community competition between kin groups exerted the most profound influence upon culture and history.

      Science and scientists themselves increasingly became subjects of anthropological inquiry in 1996. In Making PCR: A Story of Biotechnology, University of California, Berkeley, anthropologist Paul Rabinow described the intensely complex commercial technological environment within which the polymerase chain reaction essential to genetic engineering was invented and developed. In Nuclear Rites: A Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War, MIT anthropologist Hugh Gusterson contrasted the perspectives of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Livermore, Calif.) weapons scientists who believed in the deterrent effect of nuclear weapons with antinuclear activists concerned by the threat of nuclear war. He found "each side holding tenaciously to their corner of a larger truth"—that people need "to rethink our relationship with nuclear weapons and our use of science."

      Anthropologists working among the more than 12 million native people in the Western Hemisphere continued to be involved in those peoples' ongoing struggles over land, sovereignty, and fishing, hunting, and water rights. Many supported the findings of a major report released by the Canadian government in 1996 that showed that self-governing tribes fared much better than did those subjected to governmental supervision. (ROBERT S. GRUMET)


Eastern Hemisphere.
      As had been the case increasingly in recent years, archaeological field activity in the Eastern Hemisphere faced political problems in 1996. Much of southwestern Asia was not a comfortable or even safe region in which to undertake excavation. In Iraq, where foreigners had not been permitted to excavate for some years, looters were active, and material from the national museums was also said to be available for sale. Much the same situation existed in Afghanistan.

      In Israel, for religious reasons, it was no longer permissible to export excavated artifacts for study abroad, and human burials that archaeologists encountered were to be immediately reburied by religious officials. A political crisis in Jerusalem during the year centred on Israeli-Arab concerns over the so-called archaeological tunnel that runs under two of Islam's most sacred mosques, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa, in central Jerusalem. The region is considered sacred by the Jews and the Muslims, and allowing people to tour through it is believed to be unsacred.

      The most surprising new evidence of Pleistocene prehistoric times consisted of claims that cave art in northwestern Australia with datings apparently reaching back toward 75,000 years ago had been found. The art is simple, mainly small circles engraved by hand into rock faces. Traces of red ochre also appeared along with stone tools. The findings suggested that new considerations could be necessary concerning early Pacific geography and the eastward spread of early humans.

      Among other discoveries from prehistoric times, "harpoon points" of a type familiar in Europe about 40,000 years ago were found in Zaire dating to about 90,000 years ago. In southern France a stone slab structure within a cave, undoubtedly built by Neanderthals, was dated to about 47,000 years ago. Impressions of woven cloth were detected on fired clay recovered some years earlier in a Czechoslovak site of about 27,000 years ago. In Siberia 10,000-year-old flint arrowheads of a type characteristic of the early American Clovis points suggested the region from which very early peoples moved to the New World.

      During 1996 studies increased speculation that Tutankhamen may have been murdered. Several years earlier a British specialist had made X-rays of the young king's skull (in his tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Kings) and suggested that his death may have been due to a blow to the back of his head. Also in Egypt the assistant field director of the Oriental Institute in Chicago at its Luxor excavation undertook a study on artistic change as seen in the reliefs and statuary of King Amenhotep III. At the University of Cambridge, a beer residue found in Egyptian pottery was analyzed, and a British brewery copied it.

      For ancient southwestern Asia not beer but wine gained attention; residue in a 7,000-year-old jar recovered some years earlier at the Hajji Firuz Tepe site in northwestern Iran was proved during the year to have been of wine made of wild grapes. Also in southwestern Asia a five-roomed tomb built of limestone slabs, with gold beads of the type seen in ancient Troy, was cleared near Dayr az-Zawr, Syria. In northeastern Syria a University of California, Los Angeles, team finished eight years of work and identified their site as the ancient Hurrian city of Urkesh. In Israel a joint U.S.-Israeli team established that Tel Miqne, southwest of Jerusalem, held the remains of the Philistine city Ekron. It appeared that the site would yield useful information on the Philistines.

      From the regions of ancient Greece and Rome, a study of very early farming procedures and yields in Crete was under way. Also, a U.S.-owned firm in Rio Nareca in southern Spain began mining substantial beds of gold once worked by the Romans.

      A conference covering recent finds in western China took place in April at the University of Pennsylvania. Many of the finds were naturally mummified human corpses buried in the clothes they had worn; these were people who had lived in the Tarim Basin area from about 4,000 to 2,000 years ago. The features of the corpses were unmistakably Caucasian, and the weaving of the material for their clothes, including plaids, also appeared to be European. Thus, early Indo-Europeans appeared to have spread farther east than had been previously imagined.

      In China the government refused to allow large-scale archaeological efforts to save sites and artifacts in the vast Chiang Jiang's (Yangtze River's) Three Gorges area, which would be flooded upon the completion of an enormous new dam currently under construction. The Chinese government engineers would not yield to an appeal by hundreds of China's historians, archaeologists, and other scholars to save the many cultural remains that the flooding would destroy.

      In northeastern Thailand flooding damaged the foundations of the spectacular Wat Chai Wattanaram temple complex. Thirteen birch-bark scrolls from eastern Asia were studied in the U.K. and reported to be of the 1st or 2nd century AD and thus the oldest known Buddhist writings. (ROBERT J. BRAIDWOOD)

Western Hemisphere.
       Archaeologists had often assumed that the first Americans were big-game hunters, preying on such animals as the mammoth and the mastodon. The big-game stereotype was based on Clovis culture kill sites on the North American plains dating to about 9500 BC. Archaeologist Anna Roosevelt of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago recently debunked this myth with her excavations in Caverna da Pedra Pintada in dense rain forest on the Amazon River in Brazil. Roosevelt found that the cave had been occupied more or less continuously from about 9200 BC until about 400 years ago, when Europeans first invaded the Amazon. The earliest inhabitants were contemporary with the Clovis people of North America. They foraged for plant foods and small game near the cave and also took fish from the Amazon. The walls of the cave are covered with red and yellow handprints and paintings of humans, animals, and geometric designs that were claimed to be the earliest in the Western Hemisphere. The Pedra Pintada finds showed that, contrary to popular belief, the first Americans adapted to diverse environments, including tropical rain forest, soon after their arrival.

      While the Pedra Pintada discovery was dated to Clovis times, another early site in the Saltville Valley in far southwestern Virginia, found by Jerry MacDonald of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., was radiocarbon-dated to about 12,000 BC. At Saltville MacDonald discovered that early Americans skinned and cut up a mammoth carcass.

      Further evidence of skilled environmental exploitation in later times by native Americans came from a Genesee culture site of five or six houses on the banks of the Niagara River at the eastern end of Lake Erie dating to about AD 675. Waterfowl and fish abounded at this location, which may have served as a regional gathering place for groups living a considerable distance away.

      Many archaeological finds were now coming from museum collections rather than new excavations. Archaeologists at the Nevada State Museum recently restudied a human mummy excavated from Spirit Cave in eastern Nevada in 1940. The male mummy, believed to be 2,000 years old, was found lying on its side, wrapped in a skin robe. He was about 1.57 m (5 ft 2 in) tall and suffered from a fractured skull and severe teeth abscesses. He wore moccasins and was wrapped in shrouds woven from marsh plants. Ervin Taylor of the University of California, Riverside, radiocarbon-dated the body to about 7400 BC, a time when western North America was becoming much drier. The textiles found with the corpse were very sophisticated, revealing the antiquity of this craft in native American culture.

      Archaeologists digging Maya cities were working in close collaboration with epigraphists (those who study ancient inscriptions) and as a result could sometimes establish why individual buildings were erected and by whom. They also found the burials of some of the people who commissioned pyramids and lesser ceremonial structures. At La Milpa in Belize, a site with pyramids surrounding a central plaza, Boston University archaeologist Norman Hammond unearthed the tomb of a ruler of about AD 450 named Bird Jaguar. Hammond uncovered layers of limestone and flint chips filling a shaft that led to an underground burial chamber carved out of solid rock about 3 m (10 ft) below the surface. Bird Jaguar died when he was between 35 and 50 years old, somewhat young for a Mayan lord. He wore a jade necklace of coloured and matched apple-green jade. A pendant in the form of a vulture head, a symbol of kingship, hung from the necklace. The jade in the tomb came from sources more than 400 km (250 mi) away in Guatemala.

      A spectacular archaeological discovery resulted from a volcanic eruption at 6,400 m (20,700 ft) above sea level in the Andes Mountains in Peru. Falling volcanic ash melted the ice and snow on the summit of a peak named Nevado Ampato. The Inca considered Ampato a sacred mountain, home of a deity who brought rain and plentiful harvests. Anthropologist Johan Reinhard and his climbing partner Miguel Zárate were close to the summit when Zárate spotted a small fan of red feathers protruding from a slope. The feathers were part of the headdress of one of three Inca gold, silver, and seashell statues, each with a feather headdress, that they found there; the statues had once stood on a now-collapsed ceremonial platform. Reinhard and Zárate tracked the collapse 60 m (200 ft) downslope, where they spotted a mummy bundle of a young girl that had once lain in a grave above. She was a deep-frozen Inca sacrificial victim of 500 years ago.

      Inside her outer garments, the girl was wrapped in a dress encircled with a belt. She wore a shawl fastened with a silver pin. Her head was bare, but she wore leather slippers. On the basis of a headdress found with a second mummy at a lower altitude, it was thought that she may have once worn a plumed fan that arched over a feather-wrapped cap. Her hair was in a pigtail and was tied to her waistband by a thread of black alpaca, which suggested that other people helped dress her, either before or after her death. Her silver shawl pins were hung with miniature wood carvings, including a wooden box and two drinking vessels. Subsequently, two Inca children, perhaps a boy and an eight-year-old girl, were recovered in sacrificial graves at a somewhat lower altitude, 5,855 m (19,200 ft). Reinhard believed they may have been sacrificed together in a symbolic marriage, a custom recorded by early Spanish chroniclers. The girl wore a reddish-brown feathered headdress, made of tropical macaw feathers. Her grave contained clay vessels, wooden ceremonial drinking spoons, weaving tools, and offering bundles.

      The Ampato mummies promised a rich fund of medical information, which could reveal how the victims died. The textiles alone revolutionized knowledge of Inca weaving. One statue wore some of the finest Andean cloth known, a miniature vicuña garment with a weave count (number of strands per unit area) as high as that of modern machine-made clothing.

      Marine archaeologist Barto Arnold of the Texas Historical Commission located the wreck of the French ship Belle, a vessel used by French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle on his ill-fated expedition in search of the mouth of the Mississippi River in 1684. The Belle was the smallest ship of the four on the expedition and sank off the eastern Texas coast in 1686. The wreck lay in 3.6 m (12 ft) of water off the present shoreline and was identified by means of a 1.8-m (6-ft)-long bronze cannon bearing the distinctive crest of Louis XIV, king of France. Other finds included pewter plates, lead shot, a stoneware pitcher, a sword hilt, glass trade beads, and an iron pike with part of its wooden handle. Only one of La Salle's ships returned to France. Another was captured by the Spanish, and the third was wrecked while entering Matagorda Bay. The Texas Historical Commission was searching for that wreck. La Salle himself was murdered by his crew when they mutinied during an attempt to reach the Mississippi on foot. All but 12 of the 180 crew members and colonists subsequently perished from disease or Indian attacks. (BRIAN FAGAN)

      This article updates human evolution; archaeology; cultural anthropology.

▪ 1996



      Evidence was offered in 1995 for a possible evolutionary radiation of primates, near the beginning of the Pliocene (i.e., roughly four million to five million years ago), that were bipedal but more apelike than human in other anatomic features. Tim White (see BIOGRAPHIES (White, Tim D. )) of the University of California, Berkeley, who in 1994 had announced Australopithecus ramidus as a newly discovered species of hominid, renamed that fossil Ardipithecus ramidus. The change in genus was based on additional fossil discoveries indicating that the primate, although it walked on two feet, had dentition more like that of chimpanzees than australopithecines. The concept of a new genus that is bipedal but not a hominid generated debate among the experts.

      Meave Leakey of the National Museums of Kenya and colleagues announced a new find from that country, named Australopithecus anamensis, that was bipedal but, again, had apelike teeth. It was perhaps significant that both it and A. ramidus evidently once lived in a forest or woodland environment in East Africa more than four million years ago. Other clues came from South African fossil bones that were excavated in 1980 but only recently analyzed. Phillip Tobias and Ronald Clarke of the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, described the fossils as the first connected foot bones ever found of a presumed australopithecine (nicknamed "Little Foot"). The biped, which may have lived as early as 3.5 million years ago, had a humanlike ankle and heel but apelike toes, as observed in the articulation of the big toe. The new finds and interpretations may indicate that the capacity for upright walking had selective value for more than the direct human ancestral line.

      Because there will never be enough fossil material from any epoch to settle all questions concerning relationships, scientists have pursued complementary approaches. One major technique, molecular dating, is based on the assumption that the degree of difference in the sequences of noncoding DNA (DNA that does not specify functional proteins) of modern species can be directly translated into years since the species diverged from a common ancestor. The validity of the assumption depends on the regularity of the mutation rate of the noncoding DNA, the so-called molecular clock. During the year population geneticist Wen-Hsiung Li of General Hospital of PLA, Beijing (Peking), showed from an analysis of many different sequences of DNA that mutation rate varies by species. For example, New World monkeys have a slightly faster rate than Old World monkeys and twice the rate of humans. Such variance of the molecular clock between species had interesting implications in the calculation of taxonomic relationships.

      Ongoing analysis of DNA sequences for different human populations, enhanced by the application of sophisticated statistical techniques, yielded evidence for population contractions and expansions over the last 200,000 years. One result is support for the "weak Garden of Eden" model promoted in the early 1990s by Alan Rogers of the University of Utah and Henry Harpending of Pennsylvania State University. It suggests that the original modern human population—not large to begin with—split into separate populations as it spread slowly over the Old World starting about 100,000 years ago. Those populations remained small (and perhaps dangerously close to extinction) for tens of thousands of years until finally, between 80,000 and 30,000 years ago, they rapidly expanded. The model best explained the small amount of genetic diversity seen in modern human populations. Looking at nuclear DNA, Maryellen Ruvolo of Harvard University showed that two lowland gorillas from the same forest are more genetically diverse than two humans from separate continents. All this supported the theory that whereas all humans ultimately descend from Homo erectus, they have a much more recent common ancestry.

      An intriguing report of early human behaviour came from John Yellen of the U.S. National Science Foundation and co-workers, who discovered carved bone points resembling harpoons at a site in Zaire at least 75,000 years old. The sophistication of the tools, implying truly modern human activity, would not be seen in Europe for about another 50,000 years.

      Evidence presented in 1994 from a redating of fossils from Java that human ancestors left Africa far earlier than a million years ago was strengthened by the dating of an H. erectus mandible from Dmanisi, Georgia, at 1.8 million years and the discovery of 1.9 million-year-old hominid bones and stone tools, apparently from a species more primitive than H. erectus, in a cave in central China. In addition, the date for the earliest known occurrence of hominids in Europe was pushed back about 300,000 years to at least 780,000 years ago by the discovery of fossil bones and tools in a cave in northern Spain. Initial descriptions of the fossil hominids at the site indicate similarities to some H. erectus forms from Africa but also enough differences to require a new species designation. The discovery, added to other findings, had some experts suggesting that H. erectus be split into at least two species. (HERMANN K. BLEIBTREU)

      Cultural anthropologists in 1995 struggled to reconcile research interests with strongly held ethical commitments to human rights and scholarly integrity as they debated the effects of exponential population growth, global warming, AIDS, the collapse of old political orders, and the rise of new ethnic, gender, and race coalitions. Increasingly aware of the potential of their research and particular points of view to affect their subjects, who often were people fighting for cultural or physical survival, they argued whether their discipline is an art or a science, whether they had the ability or the right to represent other cultures, and whether it was appropriate to involve themselves in issues affecting the people that they studied.

      In a review of Adam Kuper's The Chosen Primate: Human Nature and Cultural Diversity, ethnologist Roy A. Rappaport of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor framed the central problem of anthropological development in his characterization of humanity as a species that must construct meaningful symbol systems "in a world devoid of intrinsic meaning but subject to natural law." Emphasizing the dynamically complex nature of meaning systems in After the Fact: Two Countries, Four Decades, One Anthropologist, ethnologist Clifford Geertz of the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, N.J., urged colleagues to focus efforts on interpretive cultural understandings. Impressed by the influence of natural laws on culture, anthropologist Robin Fox of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J., in The Challenge of Anthropology: Old Encounters and New Excursions, called on ethnologists to direct their attention toward scientific explanations of regularities crossing cultural boundaries.

      The debate over whether anthropology is a science or one of the humanities progressed from a simple "either-or" argument to considerably more nuanced examinations of the relative merits of scientific and humanistic approaches, such as those presented in the books by Geertz and Fox cited above. This more balanced perspective was mirrored in the call by David J. Hess of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y., in his book Science and Technology in a Multicultural World: The Cultural Politics of Facts and Artifacts, for renewed efforts to build creatively upon anthropology's tradition as the most humanistic of sciences.

      Anthropologists and their subjects throughout the world increasingly questioned both the abilities and the rights of outside observers to represent their cultures. While few objected to the efforts of support groups to protect indigenous knowledge and resources from foreign exploitation, controversy continued to swirl around anthropological representations of other cultures. For example, in his 1992 book The Apotheosis of Captain Cook: European Mythmaking in the Pacific, Princeton University professor Gananath Obeyesekere claimed that his perspective as a Sri Lankan enabled him to expose the fallacies underlying University of Chicago anthropologist Marshall Sahlins' hypothesis that mythic thinking caused Hawaiians to confuse British explorer James Cook with the god Lono. Maintaining that Hawaiians, like Sri Lankans, were fully capable of rational thought, Obeyesekere turned Sahlins' argument on its head with the assertion that the actual mythmongers were British writers perpetuating "white god" legends. In his 1995 book How "Natives" Think: About Captain Cook, For Example, Sahlins responded by questioning the privileged position of "native" informant assumed by Obeyesekere. He pointed out that Indo-European-speaking Sri Lankan people had long been in close contact with Eurasian nation-states and that they had more in common with Western European cultures than with the isolated and more traditional Hawaiian chiefdoms. Reaffirming the need to view the actions of the Hawaiians from the perspective of their own cultural logic, Sahlins went on to show that mythic thinking did not obstruct Hawaiian rationality any more than Western belief in a Judeo-Christian God precluded scientific understanding.

      More and more use was being made of the vast amounts of information already amassed in previous fieldwork. In Yanomami Warfare, for instance, anthropologist R. Brian Ferguson of Rutgers University showed how competition for Western manufactures, rather than innate ferocity, could account for the bellicose nature of Venezuelan and Brazilian native people who belonged to what was regarded as one of the world's most violent cultures. Western psychiatrists increasingly consulted anthropological studies for insights in treating patients who suffered from syndromes afflicting members of particular cultures. Two examples were susto, a state of unhappiness and sickness, caused by "soul loss," that afflicts Latin Americans in the U.S. and the Caribbean, and latah, a trancelike condition characterized by giddily inappropriate behaviour and mimicry that strikes Malaysian, Indonesian, and Thai people. (ROBERT S. GRUMET)


Eastern Hemisphere.
      Prevailing political turmoil continued to close off the possibility for archaeological fieldwork in many parts of the Old World during 1995. One notable exception was Lebanon, where the end of political strife allowed archaeological clearances to be conducted on the war-torn ruins of broad areas of the city of Beirut. Another impediment to archaeological research, one of worldwide concern, was the increasing resistance to excavation of the remains—either artifactual or physical—of indigenous inhabitants. In Israel, Australia, and the Americas, religious officials and descendants of the ancient inhabitants strove to prevent further excavations and were demanding the return of previously exhumed bones and artifacts.

      Increasingly, evidence showed that the earliest traces of human activity come from Africa. Dating of stone tools recently recovered in Ethiopia showed them to be about 2.6 million years old. By contrast, the oldest known tools found in Europe, reported during the year for a site in north-central Spain, yielded dates of about 780,000 years. Even carved bone points recently recovered in Zaire were found to be about 75,000 years old, far older than their European counterparts. (See Anthropology: Physical, above.)

      For the Upper Paleolithic range of the Old World, the spectacular cave art first reported at the end of 1994 from the Ardèche River valley in southeastern France proved yet more remarkable after dating showed some of the images to be 30,000 years old, 10,000 years older than first thought. Some 300 paintings and engravings show many species of animals, including some never before represented in cave art. Samples for radiocarbon dating were taken from the pigments used for the images, from the soot of torch marks, and from carbon remains on the cave floor. Radiocarbon dating of materials from a cave in southern Spain containing the remains of Neanderthals yielded an age of 30,000 years. The finding fueled the debate over the degree to which late Neanderthals and early modern human beings interrelated.

      The June issue of Antiquity featured an account of early Upper Paleolithic (about 45,000-year-old) materials from southeastern Siberia near Lake Baikal. The production of such early flint blade tools so far to the east and toward the New World tempted speculation about the timing and identity of the first humans to arrive in the Americas.

      In England studies were conducted on hair from the 5,000-year-old remains of a man, nicknamed Ötzi and the Iceman, found frozen in an Alpine glacier in 1991. The hair was heavily contaminated with copper and arsenic, which suggested that Ötzi was associated with copper smelting.

      Although the American Journal of Archaeology provided useful regional reports on fieldwork in southwestern Asia and the Aegean region, the contents of the reports were usually several years old. A lack of archaeological information from Iran, Iraq, and southeastern Turkey tended to skew generalizations about the origin of food production in the region. For the present, some archaeologists seemed to take for granted that the settled-village-farming-community way of life, based on livestock and cultivated grains, began in the Levant (southern and western Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel).

      Fruitful fieldwork persisted in the central and western portions of Turkey. Excavations at various sites of the more developed time range were renewed after some years, including work by Italian and British teams at Mersin and Catalhuyuk, while joint German and American excavations continued at Troy. The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago was returning after 57 years to its old excavations in the Plain of Antioch in southern Turkey. Work by its so-called Amouq expedition, interrupted by World War II, had yielded important materials over a 6,000-year time frame. The new Amouq team was headed by Aslihan Yener.

      In northern Syria a Dutch team continued its work at an important early site, Hammam el-Turkman. Excavations were reported from Jordan covering a time frame that stretched from fully prehistoric to early Christian. On Mt. Gerizim Yitzhak Magen, Israel's chief archaeologist for the West Bank, located what was claimed to be an exact replica of the Second Temple of Jerusalem.

      Big news from Egypt was anticipated as archaeologists worked to finish clearing a large multichambered mausoleum found in the Valley of the Kings. The structure was believed to be the burial place of many of the sons of the great pharaoh Ramses II, who fathered more than 100 children. Egyptologist Kent R. Weeks of the American University in Cairo made the discovery.

      During 1995 items of clothing belonging to the boy pharaoh Tutankhamen, including dozens of loincloths, tunics, gloves, and shawls, were under study for the first time. They had lain in wooden chests in a Cairo Museum storeroom and remained ignored since the discovery of Tut's tomb in 1922. A claim made by archaeologists early in the year that the grave of Alexander the Great had been found near Siwa in the western desert of Egypt was discounted by other researchers sent to investigate.

      In recent years archaeological activity in Cyprus increased, as did fieldwork in Crete. News of the activities was covered in the American Journal of Archaeology's October 1994 and April 1995 issues. An article by L. Vance Watrous offered an excellent general review of Cretan prehistory through the end of the protopalatial period (about 3500-1800 BC).

      The various national "schools" in Greece were active, but direct information was long delayed. The most fascinating news from Greek archaeology concerned the analysis of a scene from the frieze of the Parthenon. The text of a papyrus found in the wrapping of an Egyptian mummy stimulated Joan B. Connelly of New York University to reason that the scene showed Erechtheus, king of Athens, about to follow the Delphic oracle's request that he sacrifice his three daughters in order for Athens to be saved from an impending attack. Not all authorities accepted the interpretation.

      A compact U.S. Navy nuclear submarine originally designed for Cold War missions was made available for deep-sea inspection and recovery of archaeological remains. It was capable of diving to 800 m (2,600 ft), and its first use was to be in the Mediterranean along the ancient Greco-Roman-Carthaginian trade route, where it would search for and recover materials from ancient sunken ships.

      One highlight among the scant news of eastern Asia was the success of radar images taken from space during a U.S. space shuttle mission in late 1994 in delineating the whole complex of the ancient Cambodian city of Angkor. The region is so covered with tropical forest that surface-based mapping had never been addressed. In China vast new development of the region around the so-called Three Gorges of the Chang Jiang (Yangtze River), stimulated by an enormous dam-construction project, attracted archaeological attention, and several U.S. universities were involved.

      The loss of one of archaeology's foremost figures in later European prehistoric studies came with the death of Sir Grahame Clark (see OBITUARIES (Clark, Sir Grahame Douglas )) of the University of Cambridge. Another death of note was that of Benjamin Mazar (see OBITUARIES (Mazar, Benjamin )), a Russian-born Israeli biblical archaeologist who excavated the southern and western walls of Temple Mount, Jerusalem, in the late 1960s and early '70s. (ROBERT J. BRAIDWOOD)

Western Hemisphere.
      Of all the controversies in New World archaeology, none has engendered such passionate debate as that over the nature and date of first settlement of the Americas. Most experts believed that the first human settlers crossed from Siberia over the Bering land bridge into Alaska near the end of the last ice age, before sea levels began rising about 15,000 years ago. The earliest widely accepted dates for human arrival in the Americas were in the 14,000-12,000-year range, after which time human populations rapidly increased with the appearance of the Clovis cultural tradition about 11,000 years ago.

      For years claims for much earlier settlement centred on the controversial Pedra Furada, a rock shelter in northeastern Brazil. French archaeologist Niède Guidon maintained that the lower levels of the site contain hearths and stone artifacts, which radiocarbon dating showed to be as old as 48,000 years, contemporary with the Neanderthals in Europe and western Asia. In 1994 three U.S.-based experts on North American Paleo-Indians, James Adovasio, Thomas Dillehay, and David Meltzer, visited Pedra Furada for a firsthand look at the evidence. They concluded that the early "occupation deposits" and associated stone "artifacts" were probably formed by natural geologic phenomena. If they were correct, Pedra Furada was no longer an anomaly—the only 50,000-year-old archaeological site in the Western Hemisphere. Recent DNA studies tended to collaborate a somewhat later date for human settlement, for they identified at least three genetic strains of Native American ancestry dating back to the end of the last ice age.

      Not only genetics but also medical science worked increasingly closely with archaeology. The frozen body of a girl that was found buried in a subterranean house near Barrow, Alaska, promised to throw light on endemic diseases among the Thule whaling people who lived in the region about AD 1200. The girl, who probably died of starvation between four and eight years of age, suffered from a congenital respiratory disease, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. Rare among modern Americans, the disease may have been more common in the far north in ancient times.

      In the 1950s and '60s, archaeologist Richard MacNeish's excavations in the dry caves of Mexico's Tehuacán Valley yielded early maize (corn) cobs from levels that were dated by standard radiocarbon techniques—measuring the concentration of radioactive carbon-14 atoms in an organic sample by their decay—to about 5000 BC. That figure became the long-accepted date for the beginning of maize agriculture in Mesoamerica. In recent years archaeologists benefited from a technological refinement called accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS), which allows radiocarbon dating to be carried out with greater precision and on much smaller samples, even individual seeds, by the direct counting of carbon-14 atoms rather than radioactive disintegrations. When early Tehuacán cobs found in levels previously dated to 5000 BC were analyzed with AMS, they yielded dates of about 2600 BC, placing early maize farming some 2,500 years later than long assumed. Thus, maize agriculture apparently preceded the appearance of Olmec and Maya civilizations in the Mesoamerican lowlands by only about a millennium.

      AMS dating also produced convincing evidence for the widespread cultivation of native tubers and grasses in the river valleys of eastern North America by at least 2000 BC. It confirmed that experimentation with the deliberate cultivation of many native grasses was widespread in pre-Columbian North America at least 4,500 years ago.

      The decipherment of Maya glyphs, which had advanced particularly rapidly in the past two decades, was one of the great triumphs of archaeology in the 20th century. As recently as the 1960s, the Maya were considered a peaceful civilization ruled by calendar-obsessed priests. Decoding their complex script, however, painted an entirely different portrait of a society of powerful militaristic states ruled by bloodthirsty shaman-rulers. Maya civilization was seen to be a mosaic of small centres that vied diplomatically and on the battlefield. Many rose to prominence, then fell into obscurity with bewildering rapidity. Recently, with ongoing decipherment, perceptions were changing again. From a study of numerous inscriptions, Simon Martin of University College, London, and Nikolai Grube of the University of Bonn, Germany, found that most settlements in the core of the Maya lowlands were allied politically with two powerful kingdoms, Tikal in the Petén region of Guatemala and Calakmul in southern Campeche state, Mexico, each of which competed ferociously for vassal centres. Thus, the real political power lay in only a few hands.

      By no means were all Maya excavations concerned with cities. Investigations at Talgua Cave in northeastern Honduras by James Brady of George Washington University, Washington, D.C., and other American and Honduran scholars revealed a Maya ossuary, used between about 980 and 800 BC. Twenty-three deposits of human skeletal material were found in the cave, many of them communal bone collections arranged in natural depressions, topped with ceramic jars. The interred individuals probably were all from a nearby village of manioc (cassava) farmers, and Brady believed that they were all from the same lineage.

      About AD 900 Maya civilization in the southern Yucatán lowlands collapsed rapidly. The cause has long been a controversial subject, with experts invoking such factors as environmental degradation, warfare, internal rebellion, and disease. A large-scale settlement survey at the ancient Maya city of Copán in Honduras examined more than 135 sq km (1 sq km is about 0.39 sq mi) around the urban core and documented the collapse in dramatic detail. A combination of aerial photography, on-foot inspection, and test excavations recorded more than 1,425 archaeological sites in the Copán Valley. The survey revealed an urban core, a densely occupied area surrounding the core, and a rural region with a much lower settlement density. By using hydration dating on artifacts made of obsidian (volcanic glass), the investigators were able to date the sampled sites quite precisely and reconstruct the changing demography of the Copán Valley.

      From AD 550 to 700, the Copán state expanded rapidly, with most of the population concentrated in the core and immediate periphery. Between 700 and 850, the valley reached its greatest sociopolitical complexity, experiencing a rapid population increase that peaked at 18,000-20,000 people. Those figures, calculated from site size, suggested that the local population was doubling every 80-100 years. About 80% lived in or near the city, while rural settlement remained relatively scattered. At the time, people were farming foothill areas to support a population density that reached more than 8,000 per square kilometre in the urban core and about 500 per square kilometre in the periphery. About 80% of the population lived in relatively humble dwellings, an indication of the extreme stratification of Copán society. Then, after AD 850, a few decades following the end of Copán's ruling dynasty, depopulation occurred. The urban core and periphery lost about half their populations, while the rural population increased by almost 20%. Small regional settlements replaced the scattered villages of earlier times, a response to cumulative deforestation, overexploitation of even marginal agricultural soils, and sheet erosion near the capital. By 1150 the Copán Valley population had fallen to 5,000-8,000 people. (BRIAN FAGAN)

      This updates the articles human evolution; archaeology; cultural anthropology.

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