Tag Archives: archaeology

Shipwreck reveals ancient market for knock-off consumer goods

Photo of portable x-ray fluorescence detector

Enlarge / Archaeologists use a portable X-ray fluorescence detector to analyze 900-year-old artifacts. (credit: Xu et al. 2019)

Sometime in the late 12th century CE, a merchant ship laden with trade goods sank off the coast of Java. The 100,000 ceramic vessels, 200 tons of iron, and smaller amounts of ivory, resin, and tin ingots offer a narrow window onto a much broader world of global trade and political change. The merchant vessel that sank in the Java Sea was the pointy tip of a very long spear, and a new study sheds some light on the trade networks and manufacturing industry hidden behind its cargo—all thanks to a little help from a cool X-ray gun.

Sailing ancient trade routes

There was a network of

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In Sudan, Rediscovering Ancient Nubia Before It’s Too Late

Scientists are now uncovering hundreds of artifacts, tombs, temples, and towns that provide clues about who the ancient Nubians were, what language they spoke, how they worshipped, and how they died — valuable puzzle pieces in the quest to understand the mosaic of human civilization writ large. … Read the rest

2,000-Year-Old Rock Carvings of Camels Discovered in Saudi Arabia

High relief of standing dromedary on sandstone spur (all photos ©CNRS/MADAJ, R. Schwerdtner)

Scholars believe that the dromedary was likely domesticated on the southern Arabian Peninsula, where they helped humans travel across unforgiving desert landscapes for millennia. Now, in a study published in the Cambridge journal Antiquity, archaeologists exploring the province of Al Jawf in Saudi Arabia have found what they say is an unprecedented group of rock art that attests to the creature’s early significance to the region.

Rock relief depicting recumbent dromedary raising head towards an equid, possibly a donkey or mule

The carvings, cut into large sandstone spurs, depict about a dozen life-size dromedaries and equids that date back about 2,000 years. Notably, they are shown without harnesses and have individualized features, … Read the rest