Photography by Zach Mazur
Rapid global cooling 13,000 years ago challenged early occupants of Alaska to adapt. People used to hunting mammoths and other megafauna with big stone tools suddenly found their weapons shattering in the cold. Access to the stone they used to make them got buried under snow.
As with any climactic change, the cold resulted in a shift in fauna, requiring new tools. Early Alaskans turned to microblade technology, a technique they’d kept alive for hundreds of years along with their dominant hunting tools. Microblades made efficient use of now-scarce toolstone and met the needs of a changing climate.
“Throughout the Holocene, the importance of microblade … » More …
When an international archaeology team needed to understand how an ancient civilization cared for its horses, they turned to Scott Bender ’95, a veterinarian with the Navajo Nation in Arizona.
Bender will be the first to admit that his career didn’t turn out like he expected—in fact, unforeseen twists are among his favorite parts. This particular turn got him involved in a research project that has changed our understanding of a pivotal point in human history: the emergence of horse domestication for war and transportation.
More than 8,500 years ago, a group of people used a rock shelter at the confluence of the Palouse and Snake Rivers as a base camp. When rediscovered in the early 1950s, the shelter amazed scientists, including Washington State University archeologist Richard Daugherty, with its wealth of artifacts—and the age of its human remains. Named after the property owner at the time, the Marmes Rockshelter was soon inundated by waters from the recently closed Lower Monumental Dam on the Snake. Although a levee had been built by the Army Corps of Engineers to keep the shelter dry, the Corps neglected to take into account the … » More …
Watch the legend of Grimsa, daughter of a mighty Viking chieftain, and her death at Broborg hillfort.
The video also tells the history and construction techniques of the unique glass-fused rocks of Broborg. Read more about that glass in “Fires burned, cauldrons bubble.”
Last August, shifting sands on a well-trafficked beach along Oahu’s west coast revealed 400-year-old carvings left behind by Hawaiian indigenous people. The 17 petroglyphs etched into the sandstone on Waianae Coast, and the stories they tell, had never been recorded. Without the right conditions, they may have remained hidden for years or centuries.
Archaeological sites like the one in Hawai‘i, or ancient buried pyramids and tombs in Egypt, open up their secrets when the conditions are right, but sometimes even plainly visible ruins hold mysteries. Mesa Verde’s astounding Cliff Palace and other Pueblo sites provide insight into the continent’s past civilizations to … » More …