Ancient Civilizations

Smithsonian's picks for the best history books of 2023 include King: A Life, The Sisterhood and The Wager.

The Ten Best History Books of 2023

Our favorite titles of the year resurrect forgotten histories and illuminate how the United States ended up where it is today

This 15th-century medical manuscript shows different colors of urine alongside the ailments they signify.

Modern Medicine Traces Its Scientific Roots to the Middle Ages

Contrary to popular belief, early medieval doctors relied on rational deduction to understand and treat disease

Italian officials suspect they recovered between 30,000 and 50,000 bronze coins.

Divers Discover Tens of Thousands of Ancient Coins Off the Coast of Italy

Their fourth-century find also hints at the possible presence of a shipwreck hidden nearby

The newly re-excavated 2,700-year-old lamassu—a winged bull with a human head—at the site of the ancent city of Dur-Sharrukin in northern Iraq

Stunning 2,700-Year-Old Sculpture Unearthed in Iraq

Archaeologists hope to reunite the 18-ton torso of the Assyrian deity with its head, severed by smugglers decades ago

Archaeologists excavating the Roman-era sarcophagus in Reims

Archaeologists Discover 'Exceptional' Roman-Era Sarcophagus in France

The 40-year-old woman inside the tomb was buried with a ring, a comb and other items

A historic drought in the Amazon has revealed faces carved in the rocky banks of the Rio Negro in Brazil.

Drought Exposes Ancient Rock Carvings in Brazil

Revealed by receding Amazon waters, the carvings of human faces are up to 2,000 years old

An illustration of the Aztec calendar stone surrounds a young portrait of anthropologist Zelia Nuttall. “Mrs. Nuttall’s investigations of the Mexican calendar appear to furnish for the first time a satisfactory key,” wrote one leading scholar.

The Globe-Trotting Scholar Who Unlocked the Secrets of the Aztecs

Anthropologist Zelia Nuttall transformed the way we think of ancient Mesoamerica

In an exhibition on ancient Egyptian-inspired fashion at the Cleveland Museum of Art, a relief depicts the wife of Amenhotep wearing a kalasiris, or long linen dress, juxtaposed with a white jersey gown designed by Karl Lagerfeld in 2019.

Was Ancient Egypt's Most Lasting Influence in the Field of Fashion?

An exhibition in Cleveland showcases millennia-old designs and the more modern creations they inspired

5000-year-old wine jars at the tomb of Queen Meret-Neith, some of which are still sealed

Hundreds of Unopened Wine Jars Unearthed in Egyptian Queen's Tomb

Archaeologists found the 5,000-year-old jars with well-preserved grape seeds and intact stoppers

A Herculaneum scroll being scanned at Institut de France by Brent Seales and his team

This 21-Year-Old Used A.I. to Decipher Text From a Scroll That Hasn’t Been Read in 2,000 Years

The papyrus scroll is one of hundreds that were carbonized in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 C.E.

Close examination of drill marks on the sculpture shows how carvers created surfaces to evoke the textures of the represented elements, such as skin, wool or linen.

Vibrant Paint Once Decorated the 2,500-Year-Old Parthenon Marbles

New research has revealed that ancient artists used color to create highly detailed designs

The swords have long blades that were likely used by Roman soldiers or civilians while riding on horseback.

Two 1,800-Year-Old Roman Cavalry Swords Unearthed in England

The long, slender weapons were likely carried by Roman soldiers on horseback

The intact gold torc discovered last month in northwest Spain

Water Worker Stumbles Upon 2,500-Year-Old Gold Necklaces in Spain

The artifacts could shed new light on the Iron Age history of the region

This marble mortar was originally found in the ancient city of Ma'rib in 1984.

Republic of Yemen and New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art Come to Agreement Over Artifacts

The two pieces, which date back to the third millennium B.C.E., will remain in New York for now

An aerial view of the dig site at Tel Shimron

Mysterious 3,800-Year-Old Canaanite Arch and Stairway Unearthed in Israel

Researchers don't know the purpose of the brick arch, which leads to a set of stairs descending deeper underground

A worker uncovers the mummy, which belonged to the Ychsma culture, buried in a shallow funeral chamber during an excavation in the Huaca Pucllana on September 5, 2023.

1,000-Year-Old Mummy With a Full Head of Hair Discovered in Peru

The remains belonged to the Ychsma culture, a group that lived in present-day Peru before the Inca came to power

One ancient graffiti artist carved this creature at the Philae temple complex—most likely a horse.

Archaeologists Are Using Modern Tools to Learn About Visitors to an Ancient Egyptian Temple

Pilgrims who left behind ancient graffiti are the subject of new research in the middle of the Nile

Archaeologists unearthed the bedroom in a Roman villa near Pompeii.

Enslaved Individuals Slept in This Bedroom, Untouched Since Mount Vesuvius' Eruption 2,000 Years Ago

The small room with two beds—but only one mattress—sheds new light on slavery in a Roman villa near Pompeii

Ancient human remains and shell accessories found at the Hirota burial site

These Ancient Japanese Islanders Created a Signature Skull Shape by Molding Babies' Heads

Some 1,800 years ago, the Hirota people practiced intentional cranial modification

In 25 B.C.E., Romans founded a colony called Augusta Emerita in what is now Mérida, Spain.

Iron Window Bars Unearthed at a Roman Public Bath in Spain

The crisscrossing bars were likely part of the bath's changing room, called the apodyterium

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