• Review – The Making of Prehistoric Wiltshire

    David Field and David McOmish,
    with photographs by Steve SpellerAmberley Publishing, £16.99ISBN 978-1445648415
    Review David Roberts
    This brisk and fluent volume provides, as promised, an up-to-date account of the prehistory of Wiltshire. It is greatly aided by its authors’ involvement in so many of the key prehistoric research projects in the region over the last few decades.
    The text is particularly strong on the fundamental concerns of Wiltshire’s prehistory – monumenta
  • Review – The Pilum: The Roman Heavy Javelin

    M C BishopOsprey Publishing, £12.99
    ISBN 978-1472815880
    Review Kate Gilliver
    Mike Bishop’s beautifully produced volume on the Roman pilum collects a vast amount of evidence – archaeological, sculptural, and literary. The author does an excellent job covering the development, use, and impact of this iconic javelin, leaving us in no doubt of the seriousness with which the Romans took weapons development, though we might wonder about regional and chronological variation in design
  • Review – Excavations at the British Museum

    Rebecca Haslam and Victoria RidgewayThe British Museum Press, £40.00
    ISBN 978-0861592036
    Review LM
    The British Museum is home to archaeological riches from all over the world, but what can its own archaeology tell us about Bloomsbury through the ages? Investigations carried out by Pre-Construct Archaeology in the 1990s and 2000s in advance of the Great Court and the World Conservation and Exhibition Centre developments have resulted in this detailed study – the first published archae
  • Review – Gatherings: Past and Present

    Edited by Fiona BeglaneBritish Archaeological Reports, £28.00
    ISBN 978-1407314587
    Review Rena Maguire
    In 2013, Fáilte Ireland, the national tourism authority, hosted a year-long Gathering, a series of island-wide events aimed at bringing the Irish diaspora back to the Oul’ Sod. A complementary international conference, The Archaeology of Gatherings, was held in October 2013 in the Institute of Technology in Sligo. From this conference, it became clear that a volume of proceedi
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  • Review – Segedunum: Excavations by Charles Daniels in the Roman Fort at Wallsend (1975-1984)

    Alan Rushworth and Alexandra Croom
    Oxbow Books, £55.00ISBN 978-1785700262
    Review Rob Collins
    The Roman fort of Segedunum is better known by its modern English place-name, Wallsend, which conveniently holds the subtle clue to the fort’s position – at the eastern terminus of Hadrian’s monumental structure. The late Charles Daniels was provided with the opportunity to excavate the fort following the demolition of terrace housing in the 1970s, which was ultimately to be repla
  • Review – Agriculture and Industry in South-Eastern Roman Britain

    Edited by David BirdOxbow Books, £40.00ISBN 978-1785703195
    Review John Manley
    This book of 17 papers provides a significant overview of our current understanding of agriculture and industry in south-eastern Roman Britain. It opens with a summarising chapter drawn from the New Visions of the Countryside of Roman Britain project, followed by a scene-setting contribution on the environment. There then follow geographical contributions on Kent, Sussex, and Surrey. The remainder of the book swi
  • Review – Hailes Abbey

    Hailes Abbey’s new museum features treasures from the site, including sculpture, tiles, and personal accessories. (Image: English Heritage)
    Once a destination for pilgrims, Hailes Abbey now lies in ruins. Lucia Marchini takes a look at a newly refurbished museum on the site that explores the abbey’s history.
    In the late 1530s, Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries saw many religious establishments across the country put out of use, looted, and left in ruins. The Cistercia
  • Battlefield bounty hunters: the detectorists of eastern Europe

    Enthusiasts fuelled by vodka and nationalism are on the hunt for military memorabilia. Jack Losh joins a group of Poles, and meets the men trying to stop themIn the quiet of the forest, Aleksander holds a rusted pistol and turns it over. Others gather round to admire the handgun, each feeling its weight before shooting an imaginary bullet into the trees. More detritus of war is placed on a picnic table – a swastika-adorned badge, shards of shrapnel, a Soviet medal inscribed “Proletar
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  • Spanish scientists use cutting-edge technology to uncover cave paintings

    A team from the Cantabria Museum of Prehistory in northern Spain is using cutting-edge technology to uncover Paleolithic cave paintings in an area that includes the UNESCO World Heritage Altamira site.Part of an area being scanned by scientists at Los Murciélagos, a cave in Cantabria 
    [Credit: Museo de Prehistoria y Arqueología de Cantabria]Led by researcher Roberto Ontañón the team has used non-destructive and non-invasive...
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  • ‘Sarcophagus of Heracles’ returned to Turkey after 50 years

    The Sarcophagus of Heracles, which was smuggled out of Turkey after being found during an illegal excavation in the Aksu district of Antalya in the 1960s, has been returned to Turkey, the Karar daily reported on Thursday.AA PhotoThe sculpture, which was seized by Swiss authorities during an inventory check at the Port of Geneva in 2010, has been returned to Turkey’s culture and tourism ministry officials in Geneva.The sarcophagus...
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  • Norwegians find well-preserved Viking-era sword

    A Norwegian archaeologist says a well-preserved, if rusty, iron sword dating to the Viking era has been found in southern Norway.A sword found in the mountains of Norway belonged to a Viking who died more than 1,000 years ago 
    [Credit: Espen Finstad, Secrets of the Ice/Oppland County Council]Lars Holger Piloe says the nearly one-meter-long (3-foot) sword was found slid down between rocks with the blade sticking out, and may have...
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  • Huge genetic diversity among Papuan New Guinean peoples revealed

    The first large-scale genetic study of people in Papua New Guinea has shown that different groups within the country are genetically highly different from each other. Scientists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and their colleagues at the University of Oxford and the Papua New Guinea Institute of Medical Research reveal that the people there have remained genetically independent from Europe and Asia for most of the last 50,000...
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  • Fossil footprints of early human ancestor stolen from Crete

    A number of fossilised footprints believed to belong to a hominid ancestor of modern humans have been stolen from Kissamos on Crete, by a person or persons unknown, authorities revealed on Thursday. Ten of some 40 footprints on the Kasteli site have been cut away and removed from the rock, where they were found by a Polish paleontologist in 2002.Athens-Macedonian News Agency PhotoThe theft was reported by a member of the public that...
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  • Roman era baby bottle found in ancient city of Parion

    Excavations in one of the most important coastal towns of the Hellenistic era, the ancient city of Parion in the northwestern Turkish province of Çanakkale’s Biga district, have unearthed a 2,000-year-old feeding bottle.
    AA PhotoHasan Kasapoğlu, a member of the Parion excavation team and associated professor in the Archaeology Department of Atatürk University, said the baby bottle is among the most significant findings in this year’s...
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  • Nothing but the tooth: What dental remains from Homo naledi can tell us

    Anthropologists just love to sink their teeth into a good mystery, and some recent research from NC State and Vassar College has done just that – by looking at what dental development in Homo naledi fossils can tell us about this human relative and the evolution of our own species, Homo sapiens.H. naledi teeth in mandible [Credit: Alice Harvey]In 2013, paleoanthropologists discovered the fossilized remains of at least 15 individual...
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  • New Peruvian whale fossil discovery sheds light on whale lineages

    A new study led by a Monash biologist has provided fresh information on the origin of one of the major baleen whale lineages, which helps to connect living whales with their deep evolutionary past.Cranium of Tiucetus rosae (MNHN.F. PPI261, holotype) in (a) oblique anterodorsal and (b) lateral 
    view (a, anterior; d, dorsal; l, lateral; p, posterior) [Credit: Felix Marx et al. 
    Royal Society Open Science (2017)]The new whale...
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  • More on the discovery of ancient military harbour used in Battle of Salamis

    The ancient harbour where the Greek fleet gathered on the eve of the Battle of Salamis in 480 B.C. - a pivotal naval battle that prevented the invasion of Greece by the Persian Empire and largely determined the course of Greek and Western history - has now been uncovered by archaeologists in present-day Ambelakia Bay on the island. The Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) was given an exclusive tour of the site by the ...
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  • Secrets of ancient Irish burial practices revealed

    A new analysis of bones taken from a century-old excavation at Carrowkeel in County Sligo has revealed evidence of the burial practices and death rites of the ancient people of Ireland.Some of the jawbones from the original Carrowkeel excavation a century ago, which were re-discovered 
    in the Duckworth Laboratory at the Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies 
    at University of Cambridge [Credit: IT Sligo]The...
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  • Two-storey Byzantine structure discovered in ancient city of Myra

    Archaeologists have unearthed a multi-level building after two years of excavation work around the Saint Nicholas Memorial Museum, Turkey's southern Antalya province.DHA Photo The excavation work in Antalya's Demre (formerly Greek Myra) district has been ongoing for 27 years, with the most recent dig being conducted by a team from Hacettepe University lead by Professor Sema Doğan. Along with a team of five scientists, 10 students and...
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  • Could interstellar ice provide the answer to birth of DNA?

    Researchers at the University of York have shown that molecules brought to earth in meteorite strikes could potentially be converted into the building blocks of DNA.The building blocks of DNA could have come from space [Credit: iStock]They found that organic compounds, called amino nitriles, the molecular precursors to amino acids, were able to use molecules present in interstellar ice to trigger the formation of the backbone...
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  • Hubble captures blistering pitch-black planet

    NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has observed a planet outside our solar system that looks as black as fresh asphalt because it eats light rather than reflecting it back into space. This light-eating prowess is due to the planet's unique capability to trap at least 94 percent of the visible starlight falling into its atmosphere.This artist’s impression shows the exoplanet WASP-12b — an alien world as black as fresh asphalt, orbiting a...
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  • Tomb of early classic Maya ruler found in Guatemala

    The tomb of a Maya ruler excavated this summer at the Classic Maya city of Waka’ in northern Guatemala is the oldest royal tomb yet to be discovered at the site, the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Guatemala has announced.Burial 80 during excavation shows stone cup in the center surrounded by bones 
    [Credit: Proyecto Arqueológico Waka’ and the Ministry of 
    Culture and Sports of Guatemala]“The Classic Maya revered their...
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  • Earliest recorded use of zero is centuries older than first thought

    The concept and associated value of the mathematical symbol ‘zero’ is used the world over as a fundamental numerical pillar. However, its origin has until now been one of the field’s greatest conundrums.In this close-up image of folio 16v, you can see the use of a dot as a placeholder in the bottom line. This dot evolved 
    into the use of zero as a number in its own right [Credit: © Bodleian Libraries, University of...
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  • Byzantine church ruins unearthed at ancient city of Adramytteion

    Ruins of a church dating back 800 years have been unearthed at the ancient Greek city of Adramytteion in the northwestern Turkish province of Balıkesir’s Burhaniye district. The find comes just two weeks before the end of this year’s seasonal works.AA PhotoMurat Özgen, the director of the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University Northern Aegean Research and Application Center, said excavations at Adramytteion have been continuing since...
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  • Ancient amphibian had mouthful of teeth

    The idea of being bitten by a nearly toothless modern frog or salamander sounds laughable, but their ancient ancestors had a full array of teeth, large fangs and thousands of tiny hook-like structures called denticles on the roofs of their mouths that would snare prey, according to new research by paleontologists at the University of Toronto.The Early Permian dissorophid Cacops displays its fearsome dentition as it preys
    on the...
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  • Tectonic plates 'weaker than previously thought,' say scientists

    Experiments carried out at Oxford University have revealed that tectonic plates are weaker than previously thought.
    Researchers experimented on olivine crystals to help determine the strength of tectonic plates 
    [Credit: Lars Hansen]The finding explains an ambiguity in lab work that led scientists to believe these rocks were much stronger than they appeared to be in the natural world. This new knowledge will help us understand...
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  • 'Mysterious' ancient fossil was definitely an animal, research confirms

    It lived well over 550 million years ago, is known only through fossils and has variously been described as looking a bit like a jellyfish, a worm, a fungus and lichen. But was the 'mysterious' Dickinsonia an animal, or was it something else?A Dickinsonia fossil was first described in 1947 [Credit: Alex Liu]A new study by researchers at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol, and the British Geological Survey provides strong...
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  • New study contradicts assumption that true frogs diversified as they expanded their range around globe

    Evolutionary biologists long have supposed that when species colonize new geographic regions they often develop new traits and adaptations to deal with their fresh surroundings. They branch from their ancestors and multiply in numbers of species.Ranidae family are most diverse frog group in the world, found on all the world's continents except Antarctica 
    [Credit: Chan Kin Onn]Apparently, this isn't the story of "true frogs."...
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  • Climate change challenges the survival of fish across the world

    Climate change will force many amphibians, mammals and birds to move to cooler areas outside their normal ranges, provided they can find space and a clear trajectory among our urban developments and growing cities. But what are the chances for fish to survive as climate change continues to warm waters around the world?Fish species in many river systems, including the John Day River pictured, will face the challenge of...
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  • Study: Asia's glaciers face massive melt from global warming

    Scientists say one-third of the ice stored in Asia's glaciers will be lost by the end of the century even if the world manages to meet its ambitious goal of keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, affecting water supplies for millions of people on the continent.International trekkers pass through a glacier at the Mount Everest base camp, Nepal. Scientists say a third of the ice stored 
    in Asia’s glaciers will be lost...
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  • Scientists create alternate evolutionary histories in a test tube

    Scientists at the University of Chicago studied a massive set of genetic variants of an ancient protein, discovering a myriad of other ways that evolution could have turned out, and revealing a central role for chance in evolutionary history.University of Chicago graduate student Tyler Starr holds a vial of yeast cells engineered with a library of proteins 
    comprising millions of possible evolutionary paths from our ancient...
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  • New prehistoric crocodile species identified

    Around 95 million years ago, a giant relative of modern crocodiles ruled the coastlines and waterways of what would one day become north central Texas.Dr. Thomas Adams with the skull of Deltasuchus motherali 
    [Credit: Arlington Archosaur Site]A team including UT’s Stephanie Drumheller-Horton has identified this species, Deltasuchus motherali. They found that adults grew up to 20 feet long and, based on the bite marks discovered...
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  • Back from the dead: how to revive a lost species

    Scientists from around the world are hoping to return a lost species of giant tortoise to one of the world-famous Galápagos islands.In 2008 the researchers found tortoises with the distinctive saddleback shells such as the adult tortoise, right, 
    on Isabela Island in the Galápagos [Credit: Luciano Beheregaray, Flinders University]The discovery of DNA links or ‘high ancestry’ to extinct Floreana species of giant tortoise means...
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  • Crowdhill Axe

    Crowdhill axe with working drawingThis axe from Crowdhill near Eastleigh, Hampshire is 6000 years old (4000 BC),a time when the Neolithic (New Stone Age) developed from the Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age). It is made in a style that is more characteristic of the Mesolithic period,so may have been one of the last of this design before the Neolithic models were fully adopted.  By Phil Harding, Site Director   News
  • How the female Viking warrior was written out of history

    What Bj 581, the ‘female Viking warrior’ tells us about assumed gender roles in archaeological inquiryIn the 1880s Scandinavian archaeologists unearthed a grave containing all the implements required for battle, including shields, an axe, a spear, a sword, and a bow with a set of heavy arrows, along with two horses, a mare and a stallion. A set of game pieces has long lead researchers to believe that this person was interested in strategy, and may have used the pieces to plan battle
  • Introducing SESARF!

    The South East Scotland Archaeological Research Framework (SESARF) is now under development covering Edinburgh City, Midlothian, East Lothian and the Scottish Borders. The Research Framework, being led by the South East Scotland Archaeology Partnership and project managed by Wessex Archaeology, will be designed to tie in with and complement the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework (ScARF) which was established in 2012.   SESARF is being developed in acknowledgement that regional
  • Mystery Chesil Beach Shipwreck Designated Following Wessex Archaeology Fieldwork

    We recently blogged about the German First World War submarine UC-70 and about how our survey work and advice helped Historic England to legally protect the wreck. However, this submarine is not the only nationally important shipwreck site to have been recently protected as a result of our work for Historic England. In 2015 we undertook a survey of a much older and more mysterious wreck site off the infamous Chesil Beach in Dorset. The Shipwreck project, a Weymouth based community interest
  • Suspected Tasmanian Aboriginal artefacts seized from home after online sales tip-off

    More than 130 stone tools seized in Sydney as part of investigation into the illegal sales of Indigenous cultural material, which carries penalties up to $795,000More than 130 suspected Tasmanian Aboriginal relics have been seized from a house in Sydney as part of an investigation into the illegal sales of Aboriginal cultural material.The possible relics, an extensive range of stone tools believed to have been collected from sites across Tasmania, were seized in a search of the property last wee
  • Stone stackers at ancient sites could face jail, warns Historic England

    Pastime of creating ‘fairy castles’ is feared to be putting protected monuments such as Stowe’s Hill in Cornwall at riskThe public body responsible for looking after some of England’s most historic places has issued a stern warning to people who indulge the art of stone stacking in protected spots.Historic England said that in some circumstances people who balance or stack stones may be breaking the law and could even face jail.Related: Stonehenge tunnel route moved by 50
  • Mound-building and state-building: a wider context for the Sutton Hoo burials

    Overlooking the famous excavation of Mound 1 at Sutton Hoo. Recent excavations have uncovered surprising later aspects of the cemetery’s later use. (Photo: Sutton Hoo Archive)
    Sutton Hoo may be best known for the lavish Anglo-Saxon ship burials uncovered there in the 1930s – but the campaigns of 1983-2000 have told a different and even richer story. The royal burials sprang from an earlier cemetery, and were followed by dozens of graves of execution victims. Brought together in a new
  • Automotive Archaeology at Larkhill

    Recently we talked about the compelling WWI history of our Larkhill site with its practice trenches, tunnels and personal stories of the men that trained there. Excavations here have been undertaken by Wessex Archaeology, on behalf of WYG, for the Defence Infrastructure Organisation. This week we have another interesting find from the same site, but from its more recent history.  Within a WWII artillery position, we found the remains of an MG car, not an everyday find on an archaeologi
  • The enigma of early Norwegian iron production

    Ancient Norwegians made top-quality iron. But where did the knowledge to make this iron come from? A professor emeritus from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology may have solved this riddle.Where did the expertise to smelt iron ore come from? And how did it actually get to Norway to begin with? 
    [Credit: Colourbox]For centuries, people in Norway’s Trøndelag region, in the middle of the country, made large amounts...
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  • When ancient fossil DNA isn't available, ancient glycans may help trace human evolution

    Ancient DNA recovered from fossils is a valuable tool to study evolution and anthropology. Yet ancient fossil DNA from earlier geological ages has not been found yet in any part of Africa, where it's destroyed by extreme heat and humidity. In a potential first step at overcoming this hurdle, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Turkana Basin Institute in Kenya have discovered a new kind of glycan --...
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  • The evolutionary origin of the gut

    How did the gut, the skin and musculature evolve? This question concerns scientists for more than a century. Through the investigation of the embryonic development of sea anemones, a very old animal lineage, researchers from the University of Vienna have now come to conclusions which challenge the 150 year-old hypothesis of the homology (common evolutionary origin) of the germ layers that form all later organs and tissues.Early...
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  • Scientists track the brain - skull transition from dinosaurs to birds

    The dramatic, dinosaur-to-bird transition that occurred in reptiles millions of years ago was accompanied by profound changes in the skull roof of those animals -- and holds important clues about the way the skull forms in response to changes in the brain -- according to a new study.These are CT scan images of the skull roof (front bone in pink, parietal in green) and 
    brain (in blue) of, top to bottom, a chicken, the birdlike...
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  • Does new DNA evidence prove that there were female viking warlords?

    A viking grave in the Swedish town of Birka has been found to contain a woman’s bones. How many more warriors’ remains have been incorrectly presumed male?
    A well-furnished warrior grave in the Viking age town of Birka, Sweden, has been found to contain female bones. So, a female Viking warrior. And not just any warrior, but a senior one: she was buried alongside a sword, an axe, a spear, armour-piercing arrows, a battle knife, two shields and two horses. Gaming pieces – perhap
  • Half-a-billion-year-old fossils shed light animal evolution on Earth

    Scientists have discovered traces of life more than half-a-billion years old that could change the way we think about how all animals evolved on earth.X-ray microtomography image of trace fossil in sediment [Credit: Luke Parry, University of Bristol]The international team, including palaeontologist from The University of Manchester, found a new set of trace fossils left by some of the first ever organisms capable of active movement....
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  • First primates were built for leaping, fossil ankle suggests

    A 52-million-year-old ankle fossil suggests our prehuman ancestors were high-flying acrobats. These first primates spent most of their time in the trees rather than on the ground, but just how nimble they were as they moved around in the treetops has been a topic of dispute.This tiny ankle bone belonged to one of the earliest members of the primate family tree. The 52-million-year-old fossil 
    suggests that the first primates...
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  • Real face of mummified warrior revealed at British Museum

    Scythian man’s head goes on display along with scan showing his features, including moustache, pierced ear and long scarThe real face concealed by a clay mask on the mummified head of a Scythian warrior has been revealed for the first time in almost 2,000 years. The head is on display in an exhibition opening at the British Museum this week along with the scan, made in a St Petersburg hospital, which reveals that he had fine teeth, a ginger moustache, a pierced ear, a hole in his skull whe
  • 'Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire' at the de Young Museum in San Francisco

    The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) are pleased to premiere Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire, the first major U.S. exhibition on Teotihuacan in over twenty years. The ancient metropolis of Teotihuacan is one of the largest and most important archaeological sites in the world, and the most-visited archaeological site in Mexico.Circular relief, 300–450. Stone, 125 x 103 x 25 cm [Credit: Archivo Digital de las...
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