Archaeologist Tom Dillehay (in blue shirt and hat, standing) has directed excavations at Monte Verde in southern Chile for years. Recent research suggests the site could be more than 18,000 years old. Photo Credit: Kenneth Garrett.

How Were The Americas Colonized?

Winter 16: By David Malakoff. Two decades ago, when molecular anthropologist Ripan Malhi was a graduate student studying the earliest human inhabitants of North America, he sometimes had to watch his tongue. Malhi and some...
An aerial view of the excavations on Burial Hill. The grey structure with the black and brick doors is an 1830s burial vault that cuts through the site. Excavations in front of and behind the vault revealed a series of building postholes, trash pits, and many seventeenthcentury artifacts from the original settlement. Native American and English pottery was found in the trash pits, suggesting the use of Native pots in the English houses. Credit: Bruce T. Martin.

Finding The Pilgrims

Fall 2017: By Rachael Moeller Gorman. On a sticky day last June, archaeologist David Landon peered into a rectangular, three-foot-deep excavation unit on the edge of an old cemetery. “That layer they’re coming down on,...
An ancient granary is one of the region’s numerous archaeological sites. Credit: Josh Ewing.

The Bears Ears Controversy

Fall 2016: By Julian Smith. San Juan County covers almost 8,000 square miles of Utah’s southeast corner. It is the largest and the poorest county in the state, and about half of its 15,000 residents...
This aerial photo of the Nunalleq site was taken by a drone in 2017. Credit: Sven Haakanson

The Story Of Nunalleq

Spring 2018: By David Malakoff. When Russian fur traders began exploring southwestern Alaska in the early 1800s, they met native Yup’ik people who told horrific tales of violence and revenge. In one common but unverified...
his 14,340-year-old coprolite containing ancient human DNA was recovered from a feature in Paisley Cave 5.

Is it Really Pre-Clovis?

Fall 2014 Is It Really Pre-Clovis? By Julian Smith The first prehistoric artifacts at the Meadowcroft Rockshelter site in southwestern Pennsylvania turned up in a groundhog burrow in 1955. When Jim Adovasio began his decades-long investigation...
Gambling artifacts have been found at Chetro Ketl, a great house in Chaco Canyon. Credit: ANDREW KEARNS

When The Gambler Came To Chaco

Summer 2018: By Alexandra Witze. Navajo oral histories tell of a Great Gambler who had a profound effect on Chaco Canyon, the Ancestral Puebloan capital located in what is now northwestern New Mexico. His name...
An extensive panel of indigenous iconography. These finger-drawn designs span the entire ceiling of this chamber in Cave 18. The motifs and designs reflect the spiritual belief systems of the indigenous population. Credit: Photos by Jago Cooper and Alice Samson.

Comity In The Caves of Mona Island

SUMMER 2017: By Julian Smith. When Christopher Columbus visited the Isla de Mona, located halfway between Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, in 1494, he found its indigenous residents fishing and farming, part of a thriving Taíno...

Book Review- Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble

Lives in Ruins:  Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble By Marilyn Johnson (Harper Collins, 2014; 288 pgs., illus., $26 cloth, $10 ebook; www.harpercollins.com) Author Marilyn Johnson assumes that everyone in the sandbox wanted to grow...
This Late Classic (a.d. 750 - 850) jar likely contained perishable food that the Maya offered to their gods in hopes that the gods would reciprocate with rain. The jar was found in situ in Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave in Belize. Credit: Jaime Awe

A Time Of Desperation: Archaeology of Maya Caves

Summer 2016: By Kristin Ohlson.  In 1989, William Pleitez was hunting near his farm in western Belize when his dog squeezed between some boulders near a hillside and disappeared. Pleitez soon found that the boulders...
Holy Smoke

Holy Smoke

Holy Smoke - By David Malakoff Summer 2014: When Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Cuba during his first voyage to the New World in 1492, he and his shipmates saw something that baffled them....