The majestic pyramids and temples of the ancient Zapotec kingdom of Monte Alban sit spectacularly atop a hill in Mexico's southern state of Oaxaca.
More than 1,000 years ago, Monte Alban was the bustling capital of a pre-Colombian realm, one of Mexico's oldest civilizations, and an early exponent of writing. It is one of Mexico's top archeological attractions, visited by people from the world over.
But, like many such sites in Mexico, it is underfunded for investigation, embroiled in land conflicts and being spoiled by the sheer number of visitors.
There's only two sentences there comparing Mexico with Peru, which is, unfortunately, what attracted our attention to this story in the first place. But still, Monta Alban is another one of those places most people don't know about, so look it up if you have some time to kill. Start here.
Indian Mounds Mystify Excavators
A thousand years ago along the banks of the Mississippi River, in what is currently southeast Illinois, there was a city that now mystifies both archeologists and anthropologists.
At its zenith, around A.D. 1050, the city that is now called Cahokia was among the largest metropolitan centers in the world. About 15,000 people lived in the city, with another 15,000 to 20,000 residing in its surrounding "suburbs" and outlying farmlands. It was the region's capital city, a place of art, grand religious rituals and science.
But by 1300, the city had become a ghost town, its carefully built structures abandoned and its population dispersed.
Actually quite a good article.
From mysterious mounds to mysterious ceramics Mysterious pottery shows true face of first Pacific settlers
Staring out from an ancient piece of pottery, the mysterious face of a bearded man has given scientists a unique glimpse of what the first settlers of Fiji may have looked like.
Researchers say the "extraordinary discovery" is a vital clue in mapping out how the South Pacific came to be inhabited some 3,000 years ago, suggesting the first direct link to islands some thousands of kilometres away.
Thought to be the work of the Lapita people - a long-lost race which originated near modern-day Taiwan then migrated to Polynesia - the fragment is also at least 200 years older than any other piece found in Fiji.
Way cool archaeological moment Thousands of tourists gather at Abu Simbel to watch sun greets face of Ramsis II
Thousands of tourists gathered at Abu Simbel Temple early Friday morning to watch the sun rays while falling perpendicularly on the face of King Ramsis II's statue inside the sanctuary hall to greet him on his birthday.
The fascinating scene was cheered by the crowd when the sun rays illuminated the face of the King for 20 minutes.
The statue of King Ramsis who was one of the most important pharaohs of Ancient Egypt is uniquely placed inside the temple so that the sun rays perpendicularly fall on his face twice a year, on his birthday and his coronation day.
That's the whole thing. Kind of Stonegengey.
Tehran ==> Finland ==> Boliva? Finnish find sheds new light on prehistoric Andean culture
Ceramic artifacts found by Finnish archeologists during a dig in Bolivia have shed new light on the prehistoric Tiwanaku people, of whom little is known, Helsinki University officials said.
"The discovery demonstrates that the Tiwanakus made the highest quality ceramics in the Andean region, with very naturalistic portraits, and thanks to this we now know what they looked like," Martti Paerssinen, a professor from Helsinki University who led the excavations, told AFP.
The Tiwanaku people settled on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca in the Andean mountains around 400 BC. They built their administrative centre, the city of Tiwanaku, around 300-500 AD, and their influence in the region continued to grow for several centuries.
Short blurb on more caucasian Chinese mummies China unearths ancient Caucasian tombs
Chinese archaeologists have started unearthing hundreds of tombs in an arid north-western region once home to a mysterious civilization that most likely was Caucasian, state media said Sunday.
The researchers have begun work at Xiaohe, near the Lop Nur desert in Xinjiang region, where an estimated 1000 tombs await excavation, according to Xinhua news agency.
Their findings could help shed light on one of the greatest current archaeological riddles and answer the question of how this isolated culture ended up thousands of kilometres from the nearest Caucasian community.
The tombs, thought by some to be 4000 years old, were first discovered in 1934 by a Swedish explorer, but virtually no work was done on them over the next more than six decades.
In 2003, a Chinese team started digging in the area, finding 33 tombs and nearly 1000 relics, but had to stop because of a severe storm, Xinhua said.
And finally, hot chicks!
We viewed a previously unknown documentary by the National Geographic Channel this weekend called "The Diva Mummy". It was about several exceptionally well-preserved mummies found in China, one from the 1970s and others more recently. They truly are fantastic. We can't find the NG story on it, but here is a (pretty good) blurb on it from China Daily:
The body of "Lady Dai," a noble woman from the Western Han Dynasty which ruled 2,100 years ago, is housed in the state-of-the -art Hunan Museum in Changsha, Central China's Hunan Province.
Flocks of visitors arrive every day to view the wonder. Just how did the ancient morticians embalm her - what materials did they use?
The body is so well preserved, it can be autopsied by pathologists and shows similar results from a cadaver of a recently deceased human being.
Also of particular interest was that the autopsy revealed she had advanced coronary artery disease, and probably died of myocardial infarction brought on by a dislodged gallstone. They were cagey about how they were preserved so well, but it appears all of these mummies were found covered in some 'mysterious' liquid. We speculate that it is probably something similar to the tannic acid that preserves bog mummies in northern Europe to similar degrees.
Also, we found the Mummy News site while researching this story. This site is an absolute hoot and has all sorts of neat stuff. It gives instructions on how to make a chicken mummy (actually four different ways!) and Making A Barbie® or Ken® Mummy.
You can also shop for mummy-related costumes just in time for Halloween! And frankly, given the usual big screen treatment mummies usually get, we wholeheartedly endorse at least one of their available costumes: