A half-hour video news magazine each month bringing you stories from the wide world of archaeology
Mochica’s Sacrifice; ancient temple site on Pacific island
(1) Mochican iconography comes to life in this film, which portrays a ceremony of sacrifice carried out by the Moche culture in coastal Peru between A.D. 100 and 800. Each part of the ceremony is shown, beginning with the battle of great warriors. (2) On the Micronesian island of Kosrae lies the site of Menke. Oral history says a temple existed in that area, where people worshiped the goddess Sinlaku. Is it 1300 years old, one of the oldest temples in the Pacific, as expected? Dr. Felicia Beardsley and her excavation team have spent a dozen years finding out.
A Treasure of Gold; de Soto’s 1539 army encampment in Florida
(1) In the 1970s, near the Greek village of Aidonia, a mule fell into a hole. Upon rescuing the animal, villagers discovered a rare golden treasure buried amidst a group of skeletons. They tried to keep it a secret. This is the story of the plunder of Mycenaean tombs and the recovery of precious cultural heritage. (2) Aided by a hurricane, a project in Florida finds an ancient Native American town where Hernando de Soto and his army encamped and which later became one of the earliest Spanish missions established in what is now the United States.
Simpson Avenue Bridge; film clips from TAC Festival 2013
(1) In 1928, the coastal city of Hoquiam in Washington state was a boom town supplying timber for the rapidly growing American West. The Simpson Avenue Bridge opened that year, but its design became problematic as it entered the Twenty-First Century. Transportation engineers found a smart way to preserve the bridge and keep it functioning for the people of today. (2) Lisa Westwood concludes our preview series for The Archaeology Channel International Film and Video Festival (7-11 May 2013, Eugene, Oregon) with seven short clips.
A Tomb Raider in Cyprus; film clips from TAC Festival 2013
(1) During his stay on the island from 1865 until 1876, the American consul in Cyprus, Luigi Cesnola, became an amateur archaeologist to profit from the trade of antiquities. He gathered up more than 35,000 objects. When local authorities prohibited the export of this enormous collection, Cesnola loaded his treasures onto boats and shipped them to New York. (2) Lisa Westwood launches our preview series for The Archaeology Channel International Film and Video Festival (7-11 May 2013, Eugene, Oregon) with nine short clips.
Egyptian cave hides royal mummies; Robert Blake and English Civil War
Text: (1) Three thousand years ago, Egyptian priests gathered up the mummies and grave goods from many royal tombs and hid them away in a secret cave. Three thousand years later, a young boy chanced upon the tomb. Then the looting began. (2) The English Civil war marked the point in history when the monarchy no longer could govern without the consent of Parliament. In 1644, the city of Taunton under the command of Robert Blake was the only place in the southwest of England held by the Parliamentarians.
Volunteers catalog Utah artifacts, abandoned Irish island, indigenous tale from Brazil
(1) Lay volunteers catalog artifacts through the Forest Service Passport In Time (PIT) program at the Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum in Blanding, Utah. (2) The rocky island of Inishark, off the west coast of Ireland, was inhabited for thousands of years and then abandoned in 1960. Archaeologists fortunately can bring three former residents to the island to help them document the very visible ruins. (3) An imaginative film brings to life a Native American tale from the Amazon rain forest about a young girl who falls in love with the moon.
Tennessee egg fight, historic UK theater
(1) In a family feud nearly two centuries old, two Appalachian families keep alive their tradition of egg fighting. The annual Peters Hollow Easter Egg Fight in Stoney Creek, Tennessee, was a way to settle a dispute over which family's chickens laid harder eggs. (2) The Watermill Theatre in Berkshire, England, resides in a structure with a three hundred year history. The wooden building that stands there today has served as a flour mill, a cloth mill, a paper mill, and since the 1960s as a theater for stage productions.
Nevada rock art, Illinois archaeology
(1) One of the greatest places to see rock art is Nevada, which has lots of rock faces, a dry climate that preserves it, and limited vegetation to cover it up. The Nevada Rock Art Foundation is busy recording what’s there and finding ways to preserve it. (2) Lots of archaeology goes on in Illinois all the time, outside the attention of most people. In this segment, the Illinois Archaeological Survey describes how they do that work. Visit some excavation sites and drop in on the lab where the archaeologists organize, catalog and interpret what they find.
Highway Archaeology in Pennsylvania
Important decisions surrounding archaeological work in the path of a major Pennsylvania highway involved sensitive discussions among 15 Native American tribes, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration. For archaeologists, the research was exciting, yielding prehistoric longhouses, a palisade, key-hole structures, and 100,000 artifacts. For both Native Americans and archaeologists, consultation about the excavation and discovered burials was troubling and hard, but compromise finally came.
Maya pyramid, Roman walls, Hawaiian historic structure
(1) A Maya pyramid at El Zotz, Guatemala, with images done in dramatic painted stucco and a royal tomb full of artifacts and human remains, may have linked the deceased lord to the eternal sun; (2) technicians using ancient building techniques work to save crumbling walls at “The Mithraeum of the Painted Walls” in Ostia Antica, the harbor of classical Rome; (3) workers restore Paschoal Hall, the central structure of Kalaupapa
Malaysia's archaeological heritage
Always a cultural melting pot, Malaysia has cultural and historical links to distant places in the Indian and Pacific oceans. Archaeology here is young, but already reveals a rich and deep cultural record both on land and in the sea extending from Paleolithic sites in the Lenggong Valley to the Neolithic, Iron Age, and more recent periods. The recently discovered Sungai Batu civilization 2000 years ago may have provided iron for India and Arabia while sea people in Borneo obtained volcanic glass from New Britain, thousands of miles to the east.
Highway excavations in Missouri, video interview with Dr. Tom King
(1) Excavations in 2005 prior to the upgrade of “The Avenue of the Saints,” U.S. Route 61 in 15 miles of the Mississippi River valley in Missouri, revealed over 1000 buried features, 60,000 artifacts, and copious environmental data from over two dozen sites spanning 10,000 years; (2) In a video interview at TAC Festival 2011, Dr. Tom King brings us up to date on the continuing search for aviatrix Amelia Earhart on and around the remote Pacific island of Nikumaroro.
An Introduction to Contemporary Archaeology, video interview with Dr. Mark Van Stone
(1) Famed UK archaeologist and lecturer Dr. Brooklyn Hornswoggle-Smyth expounds on contemporary archaeology (exploring the very recent past) in a short film parody created by two irreverent UK students from the University of Bristol; (2) Rick Pettigrew interviews Dr. Mark Van Stone, Keynote Speaker for TAC Festival 2012 and noted specialist on Maya hieroglyphics and calligraphy, with a particular focus on the Maya calendar and predictions of the end of the world in 2012.
Penn Museum Maya exhibit, Louvre Museum Macedonia exhibit, Pohnpei canoe
(1) The Penn Museum’s exhibit, “Maya 2012: Lords of Time,” rides a wave of interest in the Maya calendar; which this year reaches the end of something, and hopefully the beginning of something else; (2) the recently concluded Louvre Museum exhibit, “In the Kingdom of Alexander the Great: Ancient Macedonia,” featured nearly 500 priceless objects from northern Greece; (3) the last traditional “warasap” canoe made on the Pacific island of Pohnpei preserved an important cultural heritage, but it was made 20 years ago.
Mayan monument, Florida prehistoric site, TAC Festival 2012
(1) Dr. Mark Van Stone, a leading expert on the Mayan calendar and the significance of 2012, describes the front of Quiriguá Stela K, a Guatemalan stone monument carved in AD 805, just before the Maya Collapse. (2) The USDA Forest Service investigates the extent and significance of the prehistoric Silver Glen Springs Site in Florida. (3) Our preview series for The Archaeology Channel International Film and Video Festival (8-12 May 2012, Eugene, Oregon) begins with nine short clips.
Mayan king, making ancient coins, TAC Festival 2012
(1) Dr. Mark Van Stone, a leading expert on the Mayan calendar and the significance of 2012, reads the story of a powerful Mayan king on Quiriguá Stela D, a late Eighth Century stone monument in Guatemala. (2) A French team of experimental archaeologists stamps coins in an effort to recreate the “Silver Owl” coins of the Fifth Century B.C. Greek city-state of Athens. (3) Our preview series for The Archaeology Channel International Film and Video Festival (8-12 May 2012, Eugene, Oregon) begins with three short clips.
Cyprus wine; Chinese district of historic Nevada boom-town; Titanic Auction
(1) People have been making wine in Cyprus for thousands of years, so the Cypriots are thoroughly familiar with all facets of the wine industry and long ago developed their own distinctive wine culture. (2) In the 1860s, Aurora, a mining boom town in western Nevada, was home to a Chinese population for which history is mute. Excavations by the US Forest Service PIT Program are bringing that story to light. (3) Dr. Pettigrew offers his criticism of the impending auction of artifacts from the Titanic wreck site.
Maya creation story; historic Greek fountain
(1) Dr. Mark Van Stone reads the Creation story on Quiriguá Stela C, the late Eighth Century monument in Guatemala which tells us the myth of the "Planting of the Three-Stone Hearth (of Creation)." This creation myth has a connection with current fears that the world will end in 2012. (2) The fountain Syntrivani, a central monument of Thessaloniki, Greece, was built in 1884 after the demolition of the eastern wall. A personal gift of Sultan Abdul Hamid to its citizens and part of the city’s embellishment plan, it stands today as a reminder of times past.
Geophysical Survey of Ohio Earthworks; Mysterious Prehistoric Temples of Malta
(1) Magnetometer survey by Dr. Jarrod Burks in Ohio relocates part of the 1000 foot wide Shriver Circle, a now invisible Woodland Period (300 B.C. - A.D. 500) earthworks feature, suggesting that remote sensing can revolutionize our understanding of Ohio earthworks. (2) Long before Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids, Neolithic people in Malta built many impressive megalithic temples. Then the temple builders vanished from the archaeological record. Our ALI film team goes to Malta to explore the temples and their mysteries.
European 1708 Battle Site; Language Discovery in Peru; Writing Maya Glyphs
(1) In 1708, over 180,000 soldiers battled at Oudenaarde, Belgium, during the War of Spanish Succession. Now archaeologists and lay volunteers use new technology to explore the battlefield. (2) In the early 17th Century, a Spaniard in Peru jotted down some notes on the back of a letter. Four hundred years later, archaeologists dug it up and found traces of a lost language. (3) Dr. Mark Van Stone, Keynote Speaker for TAC Festival 2012, explains how Maya hieroglyphs are constructed by writing a modern name in ancient phonetic Mayan characters.
Bahrain Fort; Alexandria Cisterns; Human Fossils
(1) A British archaeology field team explores a historic fort in the small island country of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf to find out what remains beneath the ground.. (2) Development of the modern city of Alexandria, Egypt, has obscured traces of old Alexandria on the surface, but an ancient subterranean world of waterworks still remains to be fully explored. (3) The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology takes pains to make perfect casts of the fossil bones of human ancestors.
Grand Canyon Archaeology; Tubuai: Polynesian Island
(1) Between 2006 and 2009, in the first major excavation project in the vicinity in 40 years, archaeologists sampled nine pre-contact sites along the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park. This action was taken to recover data before the sites were lost to erosion. (2). In 2007, a group of archaeologists came to Tubuai, an island in east Polynesia, to look for traces of some of the greatest explorers in human history. The people of the island, descendants of those ancient explorers, welcomed the archaeologists with open arms.
Historic Fort Gadsden, Greek Village Becomes Archaeological Site
(1) In 1816, Andrew Jackson ordered the destruction of historic Fort Gadsden, on the Apalachicola River in the Florida Panhandle. Hundreds died in a cataclysmic explosion. This now is a historic site operated by the US Forest Service and open to the public. (2) Residents abandoned the Greek village of Moussai in the 1960s. Now the settlement is decaying. This process of destruction, which archaeologists call "site formation," shows how a living site becomes an archaeological site.
Florida Prehistoric Canoe Recovered, Day of the Dead Altar
(1) Working quickly without heavy equipment to avoid damage to the artifact, archaeologists excavate a thousand-year-old forty-foot wooden canoe from the sandy shore of an island in Tampa Bay. Submitted by Pinellas County Communications. (2) Dr. David Carrasco of Harvard University’s Peabody Museum explains the essential elements of a Day of the Dead altar, by which Mexican families honor their beloved dead. Held each year on November 1-2, this ancient festival combines Aztec and Spanish motifs.