Archaeology


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The Tarkhan Dress is the world’s oldest woven garment with radiocarbon testing dating the garment to the late fourth-millennium BC. Image courtesy the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, UCL

Essay/
Archaeology
The clothing revolution

What if the need for fabric, not food, in the face of a changing climate is what first tipped humanity towards agriculture?

Ian Gilligan

An origin myth. A goatherd in the central Kalahari, Botswana in 1995. Photograph by Paul Weinberg/Panos

Essay/
Anthropology
Beyond the !Kung

A grand research project created our origin myth that early human societies were all egalitarian, mobile and small-scale

Manvir Singh

Illustration by Tom Björklund

Essay/
Human evolution
Sheanderthal

Not all Neanderthals were ‘cavemen’: half were women. What can archaeologists tell us about how they lived?

Rebecca Wragg Sykes

Santiago ‘Jimmy’ McKinn (then 11 or 12 years old) pictured with Apache children at their camp at Cañon de los Embudos in 1886. McKinn had been been captured months earlier by Geronimo’s group near Silver City, New Mexico Territory. Photo by C S Fly/Library of Congress

Essay/
Anthropology
Captive culture

Even when enslaved or despised, captives brought novel ideas and technologies to the societies of their captors

Catherine M Cameron

Photo by Catalina Martin-Chico/Panos Pictures

Essay/
Archaeology
The deep Anthropocene

A revolution in archaeology has exposed the extraordinary extent of human influence over our planet’s past and its future

Lucas Stephens, Erle Ellis & Dorian Fuller

Detail of ‘Siege of the City’ by Jean Charlot, watercolour of a fresco at Chichén Itzá. The Maya mural from the Las Monjas building clearly shows a ship with the distinct wooden planks of a Viking boat © Jean Charlot/Artists Rights Society [ARS]; Copyright Agency, 2020

Essay/
Global history
Vikings in America

Centuries before Columbus, Vikings came to the Western hemisphere. How far into the Americas did they travel?

Valerie Hansen

The cellar of the Codorníu winery Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, Catalonia. Photo by Richard Kalvar/Magnum

Essay/
Archaeology
Accumulation and its discontents

Whether collecting, storing or hoarding, we’ve always had our issues with stuff – not least deciding what’s worth having

Astrid Van Oyen

Detail from a manuscript painting from a set of annals written in Nahuatl called the Historia Tolteca-Chichimeca (1545-1565) from Mexico. Courtesy the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris

Essay/
Global history
How Aztecs told history

For the warriors and wanderers who became the Aztec people, truth was not singular and history was braided from many voices

Camilla Townsend

An unknown male mummy found along with the mother and wife of Tutankhamun. Photo by Kenneth Garrett/National Geographic

Essay/
Archaeology
Mummies among us

Before death became a source of disgust and denial, Europeans cheerfully painted with – and ingested – human remains

Michael Press

Early Anglo-Saxon helmet (late-6th to early 7th century) made in either Scandinavia or England, and discovered at Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, United Kingdom. Courtesy the Trustees of the British Museum

Essay/
Archaeology
The fight for ‘Anglo-Saxon’

Racists use it to bolster their ethnohistorical myths, but historians and archaeologists should not abandon the term

Howard Williams

European tourists having a picnic in a temple in Egypt, 1898. Photo by LL/Roger Viollet/Getty Images

Essay/
Global history
Who really owns the past?

Cultural heritage is an ideal imposed from above. It’s time to listen to what communities value about their own histories

Michael Press

An exhibit depicts the life of a Neanderthal family in the new Neanderthal Museum in the northern town of Krapina, Croatia. 25 February 2010. Photo by Nikola Solic/Reuters

Essay/
Human evolution
The Neanderthal renaissance

Handprints on a cave wall, crumbs from a meal: the new science of Neanderthals radically recasts the meaning of humanity

Rebecca Wragg Sykes

A clay impression of a cylinder seal from Nippur, Iraq. Akkadian civilisation, 2330-2150 BCE. Photo By DEA/De Agostini/Getty

Essay/
The ancient world
The deep roots of writing

Was writing invented for accounting and administration or did it evolve from religious movements, sorcery and dreams?

Michael Erard

Cave art from Sulawesi in Indonesia is now thought to be the oldest in the world. Photo courtesy Maxime Aubert/Indonesian Heritage Department

Essay/
Human evolution
In to Asia

New evidence about the ancient humans who occupied Asia is cascading in: the story of our species needs rewriting again

Christopher Bae

Scientists unveil a 1.8 million-year-old ‘Dmanisi’ skull discovered in the Dmanisi caves in modern-day Georgia. Photo by Valerie Kuypers/AFP/Getty Images

Essay/
Human evolution
Did Homo erectus speak?

Early hominins who sailed across oceans left indirect evidence that they might have been the first to use language

Daniel Everett

Moai at Ahu Tongariki on Easter Island, believed to have been carved by the island’s Rapa Nui Polynesian inhabitants between 1600 and 1730. Photo by Stefan Boness/Panos

Essay/
The ancient world
Do civilisations collapse?

The idea that the Maya or Easter Islanders experienced an apocalyptic end makes for good television but bad archaeology

Guy D Middleton