A patrol returns to Forward Operating Base Tillman, in eastern Afghanistan. It was closed in 2012, the year after this double exposure was made.

America at War

The New Archaeology of Iraq and Afghanistan

The once-fortified outposts that protected U.S. troops are relics of our ambitions abroad

(Mårten Teigen, Museum of Cultural History; Associated Press; Stocktrek Images, Inc. / Alamy; CDC / James Gathany; Philippe Charlier; Brian Palmer; David Iliff via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 3.0; Alamy; Pasini et al. / World Neurosurgery / Elsevier; Donovan Wiley; Library of Congress)

Our Top 11 Stories of 2018

From a 50-year-old political scandal to swarms of genetically engineered mosquitos, here are's most-read stories

The Cruces de Molinos site in the Chilean Andes contains rock art depictions of llama caravans, possibly marking a ceremonial site for caravaners passing through the mountains.

Thousand-Year-Old Rock Art Likely Served as a Gathering Point for Llama Caravans Crossing the Andes

Trade caravans, whether supported by mules, camels or llamas, have helped archaeologists piece together the past in many corners of the world

Hand axes from the site of Saffaqah, Saudi Arabia.

Stone Tools at Arabian “Crossroads” Present Mysteries of Ancient Human Migration

Hominins made stone tools in central Arabia 190,000 years ago, and the hand axe technology raises questions about just who they were

A pipe from the Lower Yukon region of Alaska.

North America's Earliest Smokers May Have Helped Launch the Agricultural Revolution

As archaeologists push back the dates for the spread of tobacco use, new questions are emerging about trade networks and agriculture

Several of the newly identified stone tools – unearthed from a museum collection.

A Fresh Look at These Stone Tools Reveals a New Chapter of Ancient Chinese History

Archaeologists thought these ancient tools, 80,000 years old at least, were brought to China by migrants—but now it appears they were invented locally

This painting of a cattle-like animal in a Borneo cave has been dated at at least 40,000 years old, making it the oldest known figurative rock art in the world.

World’s Oldest Known Figurative Paintings Discovered in Borneo Cave

Dated to at least 40,000 years old, the depiction of a cattle-like animal has striking similarities to ancient rock art found in other parts of the world

Zelia Nuttall, who began an academic career in archaeology after she divorced her archaeologist husband in 1888, is best known for her work on ancient Mexican manuscripts.

Women Who Shaped History

The Archaeologist Who Helped Mexico Find Glory in Its Indigenous Past

Disrupting a stereotype of Mesoamerican savagery, Zelia Nuttall brought the ingenuity of Aztec civilization to the fore

Khoikhoi of South Africa dismantling their huts, preparing to move to new pastures—aquatint by Samuel Daniell (1805). Pastoralism has a rich history in Africa, spreading from the Saharan region to East Africa and then across the continent.

Ritual Cemeteries—For Cows and Then Humans—Plot Pastoralist Expansion Across Africa

As early herders spread across northern and then eastern Africa, the communities erected monumental graves which may have served as social gathering points

Gourds come in all shapes and sizes—some sweet and delicious, some stiff and bitter, and some that are just plain odd.


The Science Behind Decorative Gourd Season

Gourds are the runts of their family of fruits, too tough and bitter to eat, but they remain one of the most popular crops of fall

Carbon-dating techniques have now identified this ancient maize cob at about 950 to 1,000 years old.

What Ancient Maize Can Tell Us About Thousands of Years of Civilization in America

It took millennia, but America’s founding farmers developed the grain that would fuel civilizations—and still does

Deep inside Monte Kronio, hot, humid and sulfurous caves held an ancient secret.

Prehistoric Wine Reveals Missing Pieces of Ancient Sicilian Culture

In a 5,000 year-old jar, archaeologists discovered the remnants of wine

The bow of the ship, believed to be of the snake carving on the Lake Serpent.

Underwater Archaeologists May Have Discovered the Oldest Shipwreck in Lake Erie

After an ill-fated journey hauling boulders sank it, the Lake Serpent is at last ready to tell its story

The beginning of excavations at Çatalhöyük.

Ancient Proteins From Unwashed Dishes Reveal the Diets of a Lost Civilization

Material pulled from ceramic sherds reveals the favored foodstuffs in the 8,000-year-old city of Çatalhöyük in Turkey

Researchers discovered hnefatafl game pieces made of whale bone in upper- and middle-class Vendel graves.

Viking Chess Pieces May Reveal Early Whale Hunts in Northern Europe

The board game <i>hnefatafl</i>, commonly called Viking chess, pits an attacking player against another trying to defend the king

One skull found showed evidence of a gruesome, violent death

The Dead Beneath London's Streets

Human remains dating back to the Roman Empire populate the grounds below the surface, representing a burden for developers but a boon for archaeologists

The Cahokia Mounds along the Mississippi River in Illinois is the site of the largest pre-Colombian Native American city built in the United States.

How the Remnants of Human Poop Could Help Archaeologists Study Ancient Populations

Undigested molecules persist in soil for hundreds or even thousands of years, acting as biomarkers that show the ebbs and flows of bygone civilizations

A long exposure of the Treasury at night illuminated by candlelight

Zooming In on Petra

How digital archaeologists are using drones and cutting-edge cameras to recreate the spectacular 2,000-year-old ruins in Jordan

Puma skull from the Motmot burial.

The Maya Captured, Traded and Sacrificed Jaguars and Other Large Mammals

New archeological findings suggest the Maya city state Copan dealt in a robust jaguar trade

Blombos Cave drawing with ochre pencil on silcrete stone.

Stone Age Markings May Be the Oldest Drawing Ever Discovered

The crosshatch symbol was made with a red ochre utensil more than 70,000 years ago

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