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September 6, 2008 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Israeli archaeologists Wednesday unveiled a 2,100-year-old Jerusalem perimeter wall -- along with beer bottles left behind by 19th century researchers who first discovered the stone defenses. The wall, on Mt. Zion at the southern edge of Jerusalem's Old City, dates back to the Second Jewish Temple, which was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. The 10 1/2 -foot-high wall was not supported by any mortar or other bonding material and formed part of a 3 1/2 -mile-long fortification around the city, an official said.
August 30, 2008 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
A vast region of the Amazon forest in Brazil was home to a complex of ancient towns in which about 50,000 people lived, according to scientists assisted by satellite images of the region. The existence of the ancient settlements in the Upper Xingu region of the Amazon in north-central Brazil means that what many experts had considered virgin tropical forests were in fact heavily affected by past human activity, the scientists reported Thursday in the journal Science. The arrival of European colonists 500 years ago, and the diseases they brought with them, probably killed most of the inhabitants, the researchers said.
July 20, 2008 | From the Associated Press
Archaeologists will excavate hundreds of fragments of an ancient wooden boat entombed in an underground chamber next to Giza's Great Pyramid and try to reassemble the craft, Egyptologists announced Saturday. The 4,500-year-old vessel is the sister ship of a similar boat removed in pieces from another pit in 1954 and painstakingly reconstructed. Experts believe the boats were meant to ferry in the afterlife the pharaoh who built the Great Pyramid.
July 19, 2008 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Scientists in Panama have unearthed hundreds of animal fossils dating back 20 million years, which could shed more light on how and when the American continent became connected. Geologists from the Smithsonian Institution, which has a permanent base in Panama, said engineers digging to widen the Panama Canal have uncovered more than 500 fossils, including teeth and bones of rodents and crocodiles that lived before a land bridge linked North and South America. Scientists believe the South American and Caribbean tectonic plates collided about 15 million years ago, causing volcanic activity that eventually formed a thin strip of land linking the Americas and separating the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
July 11, 2008 | From the Associated Press
Macedonian archaeologists say they have discovered a well-preserved statue of the goddess of love in the ruins of an ancient Roman city near Skopje, Macedonia. Archaeologist Marina Oncevska said Thursday that the 5-foot-6-inch-tall marble Venus is a masterpiece of ancient art executed in the late classical Greek tradition. It dates to the second or third century. She says archaeologists found it Tuesday in the ruins of Scupi on the northwest outskirts of Macedonia's capital. "The smoothness of the marble and the beauty of the statue give us the clue that this masterpiece came from one of the best artistic schools in the Mediterranean," Oncevska said.
July 10, 2008 | From the Associated Press
Some mysteries are such fun you almost don't want to know the truth. That may help explain why people are fascinated with crystal skulls. Happy to share the spotlight with the latest Indiana Jones movie, the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History in Washington is putting its crystal skull on display starting today. "People like to believe in something greater than themselves," Smithsonian anthropologist Jane MacLaren Walsh said, and crystal skulls are mysterious and beautiful. But she studied the Smithsonian skull and those in other museums and concluded they are all fakes, made in the 19th and 20th centuries.
April 12, 2008 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Excavation of two graves in the Mixtec Indian village of Tayata, in the Mexican state of Oaxaca along the Pacific Coast, have revealed evidence that the Mixtec cremated some of their dead as early as 3,000 years ago, researchers reported Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The find represents the earliest evidence for cremation, a practice that was later reserved for Mixtec kings and Aztec emperors. Evidence from the graves indicates that Mixtec elite may have emerged as early as 1100 BC, and that the elite consumed dogs as part of their diet.
April 4, 2008 | Thomas H. Maugh II, Times Staff Writer
DNA from fossilized human feces found in an Oregon cave is 14,300 years old, at least 1,200 years older than previous evidence for humans in North America, researchers said Thursday. The find provides the strongest evidence in an archaeological controversy about whether people of the Clovis culture, which manufactured distinctive stone tools and weapons, were the first to populate the Americas. The new evidence, reported online in the journal Science, indicates they were not.
January 26, 2008 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
The victims of human sacrifice by Mexico's ancient Mayas were likely boys and young men, archaeologists said this week. Maya priests in Chichen Itza on the Yucatan peninsula sacrificed children by throwing them into sacred water-filled sinkhole caves known as cenotes. Archaeologist Guillermo de Anda from the University of Yucatan pieced together the bones of 127 bodies and found that more than 80% were likely boys between the ages of 3 and 11. The rest were mostly men.
December 29, 2007 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
Archeologists have discovered the ruins of an 800-year-old Aztec pyramid in the heart of the Mexican capital that could show the ancient city is at least a century older than previously thought. Mexican archeologists found the ruins, which are about 36 feet high, in the central Tlatelolco area, once a major religious and political center for the Aztec elite.
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