Ancient Civilizations

The pink granite sarcophagus of Ptah-M-Wia, an important official during the reign of Ramses II

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Sarcophagus of Ramses II's Chief Treasurer Discovered at Saqqara

Egyptian archaeologists unearthed the empty, 3,200-year-old coffin of Ptah-M-Wia, a high-ranking New Kingdom official

“The first people to look at the Rosetta Stone thought it would take two weeks to decipher,” says Edward Dolnick, author of The Writing of the Gods: The Race to Decode the Rosetta Stone. “It ended up taking 20 years.”

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Two Hundred Years Ago, the Rosetta Stone Unlocked the Secrets of Ancient Egypt

French scholar Jean-François Champollion announced his decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphs on September 27, 1822

Bakhtiari nomads in the Zagros Mountains of Iran in June 2017

How Nomads Shaped Centuries of Civilization

A new book celebrates the achievements of wanderers, whose stories have long been overlooked

A fresco in Pompeii possibly depicting Lanassa and Demetrius, circa 50 to 40 B.C.E.

Why Demetrius the Besieger Was One of History's Most Outrageous Kings

The ancient Macedonian monarch specialized in siege warfare, polygamy and sacrilege

Over the past century, archaeologists have uncovered more than 1,600 Proto-Elamite inscriptions, but only about 43 in Linear Elamite, scattered widely across Iran.

Have Scholars Finally Deciphered a Mysterious Ancient Script?

Linear Elamite, a writing system used in what is now Iran, may reveal the secrets of a little-known kingdom bordering Sumer

A pair of rock reliefs found at Rabana-Merquly may depict Natounissar, an ancient Adiabene king linked to the lost city of Natounia.

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Why Archaeologists Think They've Found the Lost City of Natounia

New research draws on rock reliefs and ancient coins to link the Rabana-Merquly fortress in Iraq to a vassal state of the Parthian Empire

A fresco depicting the abduction of Europa by Zeus, in the form of a bull

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See the Hidden, 500-Year-Old Frescoes Discovered at the Prince's Palace of Monaco

Restoration experts spent years preserving the artworks, which are now on view as the royal residence reopens for the summer

One reader wonders: Since purple dye was scarce, why didn’t people just combine blue and red?

Why Was Purple the Color of Royalty? And More Questions From Our Readers

You've got questions. We've got experts.

Reconstruction of marble finial in the form of a sphinx (detail), 2022, by Vinzenz Brinkmann and Ulrike Koch-Brinkmann

Art Meets Science

See the Vibrant, Long-Overlooked Colors of Classical Sculptures

A new exhibition at the Met features brightly hued reconstructions of ancient Greco-Roman artworks

Archaeologists found the remains of roughly 350 frogs near an Iron Age roundhouse.

How Did Thousands of Frog Bones End Up Buried at an Iron Age Settlement?

Archaeologists are trying to make sense of the remains, found in a ditch in England

Bronze sacrificial altar unearthed at the Sanxingdui archaeological site

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Trove of 13,000 Artifacts Sheds Light on Enigmatic Chinese Civilization

The Bronze Age Sanxingdui culture is known for its intricate masks and artworks

The depiction of a young Maya maize god is consistent with other portrayals of beheaded Maya deities. 

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1,300-Year-Old Corn God Statue Shows How the Maya Worshipped Maize

The deity was linked to renewal and creation in Mesoamerican culture

The marble tablet celebrates the achievement of about 30 Greek youths. 

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2,000-Year-Old 'Yearbook'-Like Tablet Celebrates a Group of Ancient Greek Grads

Attikos and his friends were ready to become full Athenian citizens

Archaeologists got brief access to the city during another drought in 2018, but this is the first time they managed a comprehensive site study.

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Drought in Iraq Reveals 3,400-Year-Old City

Archaeologists raced against time to map the once-submerged ancient metropolis

Images from eight decades of the queen’s life were projected onto the megaliths this week.

Images of Elizabeth II Graced Stonehenge This Week—and Pagans Aren't Happy

Projections on the Neolithic stones have proven controversial before

Construction workers stumbled on this Maya city while building an industrial park. 

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Construction Crew Stumbles on 1,400-Year-Old Ruins of Maya City

Researchers say the pre-Hispanic metropolis they call Xiol was once home to some 4,000 people

Hundreds of sarcophagi have been excavated from the Saqqara archaeological site thus far.

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Archaeologists Uncover Hundreds of Colorful Sarcophagi at Saqqara—and They're Not Done Yet

The 2,500-year-old coffins are the latest in the site’s seemingly endless parade of ancient treasures

Researchers have long tried—and failed—to sequence the complete genome of someone who died in Pompeii. 

This Man Was Encased in Volcanic Ash in Pompeii. Here’s What His DNA Reveals

The adult man’s genome is the first to be fully sequenced from remains found in the ancient city

A group of Chinchorro mummies, dated between 5000 B.C.E. and 3000 B.C.E.

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Can the World's Oldest Mummies Survive Climate Change and Other Threats in the Coming Decades?

Up to 7,000 years old, the mummified remains are treasured by local residents

This Roman copy of a Greek bronze depicts an idealized male figure. 

This Ancient Roman Statue Embodies the 'Perfect' Man. But Was It Stolen?

Italy wants a Roman replica of "Doryphoros" in the Minneapolis Institute of Art returned

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