Archaeology

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 provincial capital on the Yucatan Peninsula attest to a people trying to fortify their place in the world

Moshe Nahon Synagogue in Tangier, Morocco. This is a flattened view of a 360-degree photograph from Diarna’s archives.

Virtual Travel

Inside the Incredible Effort to Recreate Historic Jewish Sites Destroyed Years Ago

The digital venture, called Diarna, takes you back to painstakingly revived synagogues and destinations once lost to history

Photo illustration of Philip II of Macedon, left, and his son Alexander the Great. Sculptures are first-century Roman copies of Greek originals.

Was Philip of Macedon Even Greater Than His Son Alexander?

Archaeologists in Greece are showing how the murdered king paved the way for his scion to become a legend

New fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls with writing visible.

Text Found on Supposedly Blank Dead Sea Scroll Fragments

Invisible to the naked eye, researchers revealed lines of ancient script in new photographs

Artifacts from the Lendbreen site

Treasure Trove of Artifacts Illustrates Life in a Lost Viking Mountain Pass

Lendbreen, a pass high in the Norwegian mountains, was an important route from the Roman era until the late Middle Ages

The Drimolen excavations and excavated fossils.

In Groundbreaking Find, Three Kinds of Early Humans Unearthed Living Together in South Africa

The different hominid species, possibly including the oldest-known Homo erectus, existed in the region's hills and caves

The remains of the newly discovered structure.

A Mysterious 25,000-Year-Old Structure Built of the Bones of 60 Mammoths

The purpose of such an elaborate structure remains a big open question

Drone image above the wreck of HMS Erebus

Divers Recover More Than 350 Artifacts From the HMS 'Erebus' Shipwreck

The treasure trove could help answer questions about what happened during the disastrous Franklin Expedition

Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Angkor Wat May Owe Its Existence to an Engineering Catastrophe

The collapse of a reservoir in a remote and mysterious city could have helped Angkor gain supremacy

A Ludus Latrunculorum board found in Roman Britain

The Best Board Games of the Ancient World

Thousands of years before Monopoly, people were playing games like Senet, Patolli and Chaturanga

Clam shells, likely collected from live clams, would have made for naturally sharp cutting tools.

To Craft Cutting Tools, Neanderthals Dove for Clam Shells on the Ocean Floor

Clam shell knives from a cave on the Italian coast suggest Neanderthals dove underwater for resources

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