MIAMI, FLORIDA—A third circle made up of post holes cut into bedrock by the Tequesta has been uncovered near the mouth of the Miami River. The first Miami Circle, thought to be a 2,000-year-old religious site, has been listed as a National Historic Landmark. The second circle, called the Royal Palm Circle, may have been used as a dwelling. The third circle was found nearby, beneath fill brought in by Henry Flagler to develop the city’s downtown area in the early twentieth century. A well and foundations of the Royal Palm Hotel, built by Flagler in 1897, have also been uncovered.
WILKES CO., GEORGIA—Carr’s Fort has been discovered by a team of archaeologists after a month-long search of more than 2,700 wooded acres. “The search for Carr’s Fort was like looking for a needle in a haystack, only harder. We had no map and few descriptions of the fort, so its location was entirely unknown,” said Daniel Elliott of the LAMAR Institute. Captain Robert Carr of the Georgia Patriot militia and more than 100 soldiers were stationed at his frontier home when they were overtaken by Loyalist soldiers in 1779. Additional Patriot forces laid siege to the fort in an attempt to take it back, but they were forced to retreat. Carr was later killed by a raiding party of Loyalist Creek Indians. Archaeologists used metal detectors to find evidence of the battle, including musket balls, musket parts, and eighteenth-century iron and brass artifacts.
LEICESTER, ENGLAND—Archaeologists from the University of Leicester will return to the site of Grey Friars Church, where they unearthed the remains of Richard III, to exhume the grave of Sir William Moton, who died in 1362 and is thought to have been buried in a lead-lined stone sarcophagus. “This will be a great opportunity to confirm the plan of the east end of the Grey Friars Church to learn more about its dating and architecture, and will give us the chance to investigate other burials known to be inside the building,” said excavation director Richard Buckley.
DAHSHUR, EGYPT—Since January, the villagers of Manshiet Dahshur have expanded their cemetery to the point that it encroaches upon the pyramids of Dahshur: the smooth-sided Red Pyramid; the Bent Pyramid, which has warped walls; and the collapsed Black Pyramid, now located on the edge of the modern cemetery. “Some of them have a real need for the tombs for their families. But when you have 1,000 people, some of them will want to do illegal excavation,” said Mohamed Youssef, chief archaeologist at Dahshur. The police have not responded to requests to remove the illegal tombs.
PHOENIX, ARIZONA—A canal dug by the Hohokam people some 1,500 years ago has been unearthed at a construction site for a commuter train station at Sky Harbor airport. The Hohokam built canals to carry water from the Salt River to their irrigated field systems. “We’ve known the fields have been out there. This is the first time we’ve actually seen them,” said Laurene Montero, archaeologist for Phoenix.
THESSALONIKI, GREECE—The 2,300-year-old “Middle Road” unearthed during subway construction in the heart of modern Thessaloniki will be preserved in situ. The construction company had wanted to move the avenue and its buildings, but archaeologists collected more than 12,000 signatures and produced an alternate plan that will preserve up to 84 percent of the site in place. The marble street, which led to the harbor and featured a monumental Roman gate, was used for 700 years. “This was a central crossroads where the city’s central market and public buildings were located,” said Despoina Koutsoumba, head of the association of Greek archaeologists. More than 50,000 coins, and thousands of vessels, lamps, vials, and jewels have been uncovered.
LEWES, ENGLAND—More than 120 sets of human remains were found in a medieval cemetery at the site of the Hospital of St. Nicholas on England’s southern coast. Most of the skeletons show signs of leprosy and other diseases, but archaeologists suspect that one man was a soldier killed during the Battle of Lewes in 1264. He may have survived long enough to have been taken to the hospital. “The top of his skull has been sliced off with a sword. He also had terrible tooth decay and would have been in permanent pain. We’ll be looking for signs of slashes to the back of his legs because they were often hit with battleaxes while they were running away,” said Edwina Livesey of the Sussex Archaeological Society. Scientists from the University of York will carbon date the remains.
DOHA, QATAR—The Greek government has agreed to pull two statues, dating to the sixth and second centuries B.C., respectively, from its roughly 600-piece strong exhibit "Olympics - Past and Present," in response to Qatari officials' desire to cover up the midsections of the nude male forms. Representatives of the Persian Gulf state's culture ministry suggested that the unadorned statues would shock female visitors to the exhibit, so the figures were shipped back to Athens.
BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND—Preserved footprints of human ancestors can offer a wealth of information on everything from ancient climate to the evolution of the human gait. But, impressions dating back tens of thousands of years are not always fossilized in stone. In fact, footprints dating to 1.5 million years ago sit in sand at the northern Kenyan site of Ileret that is in danger of coastal erosion. Researchers at the Bournemouth University contrasted two methods of recording footprints: photographing the impressions from various angles to build up a complete picture, called digital photogrammetry, and optical laser scanning, which can build 3-D light maps of the footprints. Photogrammetry is quicker and less expensive, whereas laser scanning is more precise and more expensive. The research team suggests using both together to make up for each method's shortcomings.
EL CEIBAL, GUATEMALA—New radiocarbon dates from the ancient Maya city of Ceibal suggest the origins of Maya civilization were both older and more complicated than previously thought. In the past, archaeologists have theorized that the influence of the older Olmec civilization was the major factor in the rise of Maya city states, while others held that the Maya developed their civilization independently. Now a team led by the University of Arizona's Takeshi Inomata suggests the answer is somewhere in the middle. The archaeologists have discovered a ceremonial platform at Ceibal dating to around 1000 B.C., about two hundred years before the Olmec built similar structures at the city of La Venta. At the same time, the team says they have evidence that the rise of Maya civilization was part of a broad cultural shift throughout Mesoamerica, and not an independent phenomenon.
MUSCAT, OMAN—An international team of archaeologists have excavated a limestone burial chamber on Oman's Musandam Peninsula, an isolated region whose history is poorly understood. Holding the remains of almost two hundred people, the tomb dates to around 1300 B.C. and measures 45 feet long and eleven feet wide. The team also recovered artifacts such as swords and jewelry, but still know very little about the people who were buried here, though they probably had ties with the ancient civilizations across the Straits of Hormuz in what is today Iran. The team is now using ground penetrating radar to search for more burial chambers in the area.
CAIRO, EGYPT—A third-century industrial zone where amphorae, tableware, and bronze statues were produced has been uncovered at the site of Tell Abu-Seifi, in the northern Sinai. Administrative buildings, galleries, and a residential area were also found. An engraving at the site shows how Roman soldiers in the region were divided and distributed among local military castles. “It is a very important discovery that highlights Egypt’s economical and commercial relation with its neighboring countries on the Mediterranean Sea,” said Mohamed Ibrahim, Minister of State for Antiquities.
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND—A month ago, while digging in a parking lot, archaeologists uncovered the grave of a man who had been buried in a medieval sandstone tomb with an ornate sword. Seven additional skeletons, including three adults and four infants, have been found, leading the team to believe the site is a knight or nobleman’s family crypt. “This site just keeps on getting more interesting—it is turning out to be a real treasure trove of archaeology. We just can’t seem to stop finding skeletons and bones,” said archaeologist Ross Murray. A new building for the University of Edinburgh will be constructed on the site.
MEXICO CITY, MEXICO—Farmers discovered a group of 500-year-old petroglyphs at the foot of the Cerro del Sombrete in northern Veracruz. According to Maria Eugenia Maldonado Vite of the National Institute of Anthropology and History, one of the images, inscribed on a large rock, represents a priest or wise man. “In his left hand (the only one visible) he wears a symbol that could represent a cane or a time glyph, also the rest of the scene is composed of four elements that can be interpreted as solar or astronomical connotations,” she explained.
GIZA PLATEAU, EGYPT—The 10,000 workers who built the pyramid of Menkaure are known to have lived in a town located to the south of the Sphinx. A new analysis of animal bones from the site suggests that those workers and their overseers were supplied with more than 4,000 pounds of meat from cattle, goats, and sheep a day, in addition to fish, beans, lentils, grain, beer, and other foods. “They probably got a much better diet than they got in their village,” said Richard Redding of Ancient Egypt Research Associates. The tens of thousands of animals and their caretakers would have been spread out across the Nile Delta, until they were brought to the workers’ town for consumption. Archaeologists have recently found a structure with a round pen where the animals may have been slaughtered.
CLUJ-NAPOCA, ROMANIA—The skeletons of a medieval couple that had been buried holding hands have been unearthed at a monastery in Romania, along with the remains of a child. “We can see that the man had suffered a severe injury that left him with a broken hip from which he probably died,” said Adrian Rusu of the Cluj-Napoca Institute of Archaeology and History of Art. Scientists can only speculate that his partner died of a “broken heart,” since suicide would have prevented her burial in consecrated ground. The child may or may not be linked to the couple.
ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA—University of Florida archaeologist Kathy Deagan is looking for evidence of Europeans in St. Augustine in 1565. “It was the first settlement in Florida by Pedro Menendez de Avilés and it lasted for about a year until the Native Americans drove out the Spaniards,” she said. She is excavating a structure that may have been built by the Timucuans, based upon the post holes found in a circular shape, but used by the Spanish, who left behind an olive jar, tiny glass beads, musket balls, and pieces of metal. “The storehouse of the Spanish was struck by flaming Indian arrows and there was a big fire. Part of the building exploded because they had gunpowder stored there. We don’t know if that’s the exact thing we’re seeing here, but it could be,” Deagan added.
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA—As many as 3,000 people may have made up the founding population of Australia, according to a controversial new study Alan Williams of Australian National University. He used a database of radiocarbon dates obtained from Australian cooking pits, human burials, shell mounds, and charcoal deposits, thinking that the growth of the human population would be reflected in the number of surviving archaeological sites. By calculating the rate of change in the population over time, and then using the population estimate in 1788, when Europeans arrived, he estimates that the population 45,000 years ago must have been between 1,000 and 3,000 people. Estimates based on the genetic diversity of modern aboriginal Australians have suggested a considerably smaller founding population. “It’s not just a family that got stuck on a raft and washed away. It’s people with the intention to move, to explore,” he said.
BEIJING, CHINA—More than 100 stone molds, foundry pits, wells, and pipes have been found in eastern China, at the ancient city of Linzi. Located within the site’s industrial zone, the workshop produced bronze mirrors some 2,000 years ago, during the Han Dynasty, when bronze mirrors, which had been objects owned only by the elite, were mass produced. The molds had been carved with images to decorate the highly polished metal objects. “It’s the first time that a bronze mirror workshop has been discovered, providing precious insights into technologists used for China’s ancient mirror making,” said Bai Yunxiang of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
HONOLULU, HAWAII—Space archaeologists met at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology earlier this month to discuss how the UNESCO World Heritage Convention could be applied to cultural heritage sites on planetary bodies beyond the Earth. For example, the Apollo artifacts on the Moon are owned by the U.S. government, but the protection of the Apollo landing sites could be complicated by the Outer Space Treaty of 1967. “What my colleagues and I are trying to accomplish is to legally protect a site of unprecedented human achievement on land that cannot be owned by anyone,” said Joe Reynolds of Clemson University. He thinks that the President could use the 1906 Antiquities Act to create a national monument on the Moon with an executive order, or Congress could pass the Tranquility Base National Historic Landmark Act. Also of concern are interplanetary spacecraft that are no longer functioning. They will “eventually enter interstellar space and become the archaeological representatives of Homo sapiens to the rest of the galaxy,” said Peter Capelotti of Penn State University.