North America

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Greenland: Viking victims of climate change

The cause of the sudden collapse in AD 1350 of the Viking settlement established in Western Greenland by Eric the Red in AD 985 has long been debated. Studying marine sediments in the same area of Greenland to reconstruct climate change over the last 1,500 years, Dr Sofia Ribeiro from the University of Copenhagen now […]

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Alaska: Oldest subarctic North American human remains found

In Alaska, the cremated remains have been found of a three- year-old child who might have been one of the earliest inhabitants of North America to arrive via the land route. University of Alaska Fairbanks archaeologist Ben Potter and four colleagues found the remains while excavating a fire pit within an ancient dwelling at the […]

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Jamestown: Captain Smith’s pots

A well shaft that was dug by the first English colonists at Jamestown when they arrived in May 1607 was backfilled in June 1610 because the water had become increasingly salty. The rubbish that went into the well, as part of a clean-up of the triangular fortified site ordered by the English governor, Lord De […]

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Proof of first North Americans

First ‘unequivocal proof for pre-Clovis occupation of America’ has been found by researchers at Texas A&M University. Flint knife blades, chisels, and other human artefacts were discovered in sediments that were last exposed to sunlight between 15,500 and 13,200 years ago, according to luminescence dating. These same sediments are also stratigraphically earlier than the layers […]

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United States: The World Trade Center ship

Not long after sunrise on 13 July 2010, two archaeologists descended a long aluminium ladder into a 25-ft deep pit immediately south of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. The archaeologists made this descent, as they and their colleagues had many mornings before over the previous months, to monitor the lumbering activities of a […]

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Boat found at base of World Trade Center

Astonishingly, given the devastating events that took place at New York’s World Trade Center on 11 September 2001, archaeologists working at the site have found a substantial depth of undisturbed archaeological deposits lying underneath the remains of the iconic twin towers. They include the remains of a Revolutionary-War-era ship that was probably sunk deliberately on […]

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Brian Fagan Digs Deeper

The esoterica of kelp forests Kelp forests are near ubiquitous along the West Coast of North America, as anyone who has sailed or paddled a small boat knows only too well. Kelp grows at an astonishing rate, as much as 0.9m a day, offers rudimentary shelter from ocean swells, and, most important of all, is […]

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Postcard from Chicago

Chicago is a very European city. With the wind whipping up Lake Michigan, it feels like Geneva on an autumnal day until you look back to the forest of extraordinary skyscrapers that make up the heart of this city. More European still are the elegantly tended flower beds that line the main streets, and belong […]

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Brian Fagan Digs Deeper

Freezing on Kodiak My travels sometimes take me to relatively exotic places, like a recent brief stay on Kodiak Island, Alaska, which is a hotbed of archaeological research. Some of the earliest maritime societies in the arctic flourished here 7,500 years ago, not as early as at Anangula out off Umnak Island in the central […]

F:Lee BergerHomo sapien drawing ver13 Model (1)

We are all Neanderthal

The long-standing debate about the relationship between humans (Homo sapiens) and Neanderthals (Homo neanderthalensis) has just taken an unexpected twist with the discovery that some humans have genes in common with our extinct hominid cousins. Some anthropologists have always argued that this was the case, but on the questionable evidence of similarities in skull and […]

My old trowel.

Viking DNA Analysis

The difficulty of defining ethnicity on the basis of genetic evidence has once again been demonstrated by the recent analysis of DNA from a Viking gravesite in southern Greenland. Those buried in the 1,000-year-old graveyard are among the first settlers to have arrived on the island after it was colonised in AD 985 by Icelanders […]

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Steel Manufacture, America’s Metal

The first ever excavation of a cementation steel furnace in America – in Trenton, New Jersey – is throwing new light America’s growing self-sufficiency as a manufacturing nation. Dating from between 1745 and 1750, this is one of fewer than 20 such furnaces known to have been built in 18th century North America to turn […]

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