Archaeology

These five skulls, which range from an approximately 2.5-million-year-old Australopithecus africanus on the left to an approximately 4,800-year-old Homo sapiens on the right, show changes in the size of the braincase, slope of the face and shape of the brow ridges over just less than half of human evolutionary history.

An Evolutionary Timeline of Homo Sapiens

Scientists share the findings that helped them pinpoint key moments in the rise of our species

The Russian warship Neva arrives in Alaska led by Alexander Baranov

Archaeologists Identify Famed Fort Where Indigenous Tlingits Fought Russian Forces

The new discovery builds upon the knowledge passed down by generations of Indigenous communities about the clash from two centuries ago

Hieroglyphs line the walls in a shrine
to the goddess Hathor at Serabit el-Khadim.

Who Invented the Alphabet?

New scholarship points to a paradox of historic scope: Our writing system was devised by people who couldn’t read

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This Ohio Golf Course, Built Atop a Hopewell Earthwork, Is Now the Subject of a Lawsuit

A legal battle brews over access to some of the world's largest human-made structures of their kind

While fieldwork was postponed, scientists made discoveries studying fossil footprints, ancient apes, monkeys and hominins.

Ten New Things We Learned About Human Origins in 2020

Smithsonian’s archaeologist Ella Beaudoin and paleoanthropologist Briana Pobiner reveal some of the year’s best findings in human origins studies

One of the human bone points analyzed in the study, found by Willy van Wingerden in January of 2017.

Ancient European Hunters Carved Human Bones Into Weapons

Scientists suggest 10,000-year-old barbed points washed up on Dutch beaches were made for cultural reasons

Sequencing entire genomes from ancient tissues helps researchers reveal the evolutionary and domestication histories of species.

Smithsonian Voices

How Ancient DNA Unearths Corn's A-Maize-ing History

New study shows how extracting whole genomes from ancient material opens the door for new research questions and breathes new life into old samples

A new book  Incredible Archaeology: Inspiring Places From Our Human Past, out this month from Smithsonian Books, explores some of the world's most spectacular ancient wonders.

Twelve Ancient and Enduring Places Around the World

From Smithsonian Books, towering temples, dramatic works of art and early settlements that have stood the test of time

Once a thriving international trade hub, the archeological site of Hegra (also known as Mada'in Saleh) has been left practically undisturbed for almost 2,000 years.

Hegra, an Ancient City in Saudi Arabia Untouched for Millennia, Makes Its Public Debut

The archaeological site, now open to tourists, offers clues about the mysterious empire that built it and its more famous sister city of Petra in Jordan

The sealed wooden coffins, unveiled at Saqqara amid fanfare, belonged to top officials of the Late Period and the Ptolemaic period of ancient Egypt.

Archaeologists Are Just Beginning to Unearth the Mummies and Secrets of Saqqara

The latest finds hint at the great potential of the ancient Egyptian pilgrimage site

Ostraca are rare artifacts of actual democratic procedures. They can reveal hidden bits of history that were omitted by ancient chroniclers and offer insight into voter behavior and preferences that would otherwise be lost.

Ancient Greeks Voted to Kick Politicians Out of Athens if Enough People Didn't Like Them

Ballots that date more than two millennia old tell the story of ostracism

An overview of the Olorgesailie basin landscape, where the archeological site exists that contains stone weapons and tools

To Adapt to a Changing Environment 400,000 Years Ago, Early Humans Developed New Tools and Behaviors

When the East African Rift Valley transformed dramatically, new weapons arose and trade expanded

The Original Selfie Craze Was the Mirror

Today’s social media obsession has its roots in the development centuries ago of the reflective material

A portrait in marble of the emperor, circa A.D. 60.

Nero, History's Most Despised Emperor, Gets a Makeover

For nearly 2,000 years, the Roman ruler has been depicted as an egotistical monster who fiddled while Rome burned. But is this image accurate?

Meroe, 150 miles north of Khartoum, served as a necropolis for the kings and queens of Kush for close to 600 years.

Why Sudan's Remarkable Ancient Civilization Has Been Overlooked by History

The African nation's pyramids and other archaeological sites are only now emerging from the shadow of its more storied neighbor to the north

A stone point from Chiquihuite cave

Discovery in Mexican Cave May Drastically Change the Known Timeline of Humans' Arrival to the Americas

In a controversial new study, scientists cite artifacts dating the event to more than 26,000 years ago

Sunrise at the Tongariki site on Easter Island

Native Americans and Polynesians Met Around 1200 A.D.

Genetic analysis of their modern descendants shows that people from the Pacific Islands and South America interacted long before Europeans arrived

The Chaco Canyon chocolate-drinking jars have a distinct shape, with connections to similarly shaped Mayan vessels. After testing distinguishable jar fragments from an excavated trash pile in in the canyon, archaeologists determined all of the drinking jars were used to consume cacao.

Smithsonian Voices

What Today's Indigenous Potters Are Learning from Ancient Chocolate-Drinking Jars

Cacao harvested from Mesoamerican forests was traded through a massive network to reach people in the Southwest

Turquoise waters of the Murujuga site.

A Submerged 7,000-Year-Old Discovery Shows the Great Potential of Underwater Archaeology

Stone tools scattered on the seafloor mark the oldest underwater site ever found on the continent

The Pyramid of the Magician stands over 100 feet tall and contains five different temples built in succession.

The Maya Ruins at Uxmal Still Have More Stories to Tell

The remains of a provinical capital on the Yucatan Peninsula attest to a people trying to fortify their place in the world

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