CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA—According to a Radio New Zealand report, Christine Cave of Australian National University has developed a technique to determine how old people were when they died, based upon the wear and tear on their teeth. She said that it is difficult to determine a person’s age after 50 based upon an examination of skeletal remains.
“You could have two old people who are the same age, and one is crippled with arthritis and can’t move, while the other runs a marathon every week—so there’s a great variation,” she explained. Cave examined the teeth of more than 300 people who had been buried in Anglo-Saxon cemeteries in England between A.D. 475 and 625. She found several who may have lived to be at least 75 years of age, and she suggests that most people who lived so-called traditional lives may have reached the age of 70.
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL—According to a report in Haaretz, a 2,700-year-old seal bearing the mark of the governor of the city of Jerusalem has been discovered under the Western Wall plaza, at a site where a First Temple–period building has been found. The monumental building is thought to have been home to a government official. Shlomit Weksler-Bdolah of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said it is the first time that such a seal has been found in its archaeological context. In the upper part of the impression on the tiny piece of clay, two figures wearing striped, knee-length garments stand facing each other. “Sari’ir,” which the archaeologists believe is ancient Hebrew for “sar ha’ir,” or “governor of the city,” is written in script at the bottom of the seal. Seven other seals found in the house bear writing in ancient Hebrew. One of them depicts an Assyrian-type bowman. Archaeologist Joe Uziel of the IAA said the images would have been pressed into moist clay to seal correspondence.
While tunneling beneath a ceremonial platform in the palace complex of the ancient Maya site of Waka’, a team of archaeologists led by David Freidel of Washington University in St. Louis uncovered the tomb of one of the city’s early rulers. The burial chamber contained a set of ceramic cups and a spouted vessel that may have been used to serve a powerful hallucinogenic drink. Pottery styles suggest that the grave dates to between A.D. 300 and 350. Archaeologists also found a small jade mask covered with cinnabar, a bright red pigment, with the skeleton. The mask may have been worn on a belt as an ornament that portrayed a royal ancestor. A rectangular symbol on the mask’s forehead seems to link the ruler to the Kaanul kingdom, a powerful nation that fought for centuries against the kingdom of Tikal, just 45 miles away from Waka’.
Today, many people believe that Christopher Columbus was not the first non-American to set foot in the New World. The Vikings, Chinese, Greeks, and Italians may have all been his predecessors. There is also a belief that ancient Egyptians were in the Americas as far back as 1,000 BC. The reason for their proposed journey is rather surprising.
Dr. Svetla Balabanova made a shocking find while examining the mummy of a member of the ancient Egyptian elite – traces of nicotine and cocaine . The question soon arose: How did Lady Henut Taui have access to elements from the tobacco and coca plants about 3,000 years ago?
OXFORD, ENGLAND—BBC News reports that a stone road dating to the medieval period was found in southern England during work to alleviate flooding problems. The road was made from rounded river pebbles, limestone, and chalk. Ruts made by wheels have been found on some of the stones. Horseshoes have also been found among the cobbles. Scientists will examine the horseshoes with X-rays in order to date them. The excavation team members also uncovered evidence of roundhouses, pottery, and animal bones dating to the Bronze and Iron Ages.
Chinese laborers were brought to Peru in the mid-1800s to harvest cotton and sugar after slavery was abolished in 1854. Some later returned home—but many more stayed. Evidence is now coming to light that hints at the character of their lives in their new homeland.
Peruvian archaeologists have excavated the bodies of three workers buried with an array of Chinese artifacts. Wrapped in blankets and resting on the earth or interred in simple wooden coffins, all three were found while gas lines were being laid in Lima’s Carabayllo district. The bodies were well preserved, indicating they were mummified either artificially before burial or naturally by the arid climate. One man was buried naked, his clothing folded on his torso, with an opium pipe and tarot cards. Two others were dressed in tunics, typical of Chinese laborers of the time, and sandals. One had a straw hat. “They wanted to leave with objects that accompanied them in life,” says archaeologist Cecilia Camargo. They also likely wished to maintain their native traditions.