ARCHAEOLOGICAL INSTITUTE of AMERICA

GREENLAND: Norse settlers once thrived in Greenland before vanishing in the 15th century. A new theory suggests that a decline in the medieval walrus-ivory market may have sent them packing. DNA analysis of walrus bones from sites around western Europe shows that during the 13th and 14th centuries, most of the ivory entering the continent belonged to walrus populations found around Greenland, and may have been exclusively supplied by Norse Greenlanders. When the demand for walrus ivory diminished, these settlers may have been forced to abandon the island.

“The revelation that her ancestors were recent northern European migrants is exciting, especially as we know that she has no, or very few, genetic connections with the local Neolithic population who resided in Caithness before her,” said archaeologist Maya Hoole of Historic Environment Scotland. To read in-depth about another site in Scotland dating to this period, go to “Neolithic Europe's Remote Heart.”

CURRENT EDITION FEATURES

The Marks of Time
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Reimagining the Crusades
A detailed picture of more than two centuries of European Christian life in the Holy Land is emerging from new excavations at monasteries, towns, cemeteries, and some of the world’s most enduring castles

People of the White Tiger
In southwestern China, a man’s richly furnished grave reveals how identity can persist even in a time of great change

At the Edge of the New World
The remains of a 400-year-old ship off Bermuda are refining the history of the island’s earliest inhabitants

All Roads, Eventually, Lead to Rome

Discoveries at the ancient town of Satricum on the Italian peninsula bear witness to the earliest expressions of what would become the Roman Empire

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BRIEFS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Fresh DNA Analysis Revises Bronze Age Woman’s Appearance
Monday, December 3, 2018

GERMANY: In 2017, when archaeologists initially unearthed the foundations of a large 2nd-century A.D. Roman building buried near Cologne’s center, they believed it was a public assembly hall. However, further excavations revealed that the interior walls were lined with a series of peculiar niches, uncharacteristic of such a structure. Experts now believe that these recesses were once used to store scrolls, as many as 20,000, and that the ruins are those of Germany’s earliest known public library.

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The almost perfectly preserved remains of “Ötzi the Iceman” may give us a glimpse into medicines practiced by prehistoric peoples. We know that “Ötzi” carried a medical kit with him – his own portable pharmacy with over ten different plant products that could heal and cure. Discoveries about ancient medical techniques may be possible by studying Otzi’s singular case.

Amazing forensic science has recovered much detail about Otzi’s life. This lecture explores the medical evidence, including material technology he carried with vital medical and bioarchaeological data. This is research conducted under the auspices of National Geographic and the Institute for EthnoMedicine where Hunt is also a Research Associate in Archeoethnobotany. Hunt has filmed several documentaries (2008, 2010) for National Geographic on Otzi and is currently involved in a third production (2015). 

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NOVOSIBIRSK, RUSSIA—According to a report in The Siberian Times, archaeologists have found a 50,000-year-old piece of worked woolly mammoth tusk in the southern gallery of Denisova Cave. Alexander Fedorchenko of the Novosibirsk Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography suggests the curved ivory object is a fragment of an ornament whose large size indicates it was worn by a Denisovan man. A cord would have been threaded through holes in either end of the piece and then tied around the wearer's head in order to keep his hair out of his eyes. There is evident wear and tear on the artifact, which was eventually discarded. Such ivory “tiaras,” as they are called, have been found in other parts of Siberia, but those decorated items were created between 20,000 and 28,000 years ago by modern humans. The Densiovan tiara suggests the tradition could be older than previously thought. For more, go to “Denisovan DNA.”​
(photo: Novosibirsk Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography​)

 He is also a National Lecturer for the Archaeological Institute of America, as well as an elected Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He is the author of nearly 20 published books including the best-seller Ten Discoveries That Rewrote History, Alpine Archaeology, and most recently, Hannibal. He has a lifelong love of the Alps, having lived there for several months each year since 1994.

January 26, 2019Dr. Patrick Hunt, Professor at Stanford University
Timely Remedies: The Ancient Medicine of Otzi the Iceman

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Mammoth Tusk “Tiara” Discovered in Denisova Cave
Thursday, December 6, 2018

ARCHAEOLOGY MAGAZINE NEWS

CAITHNESS, SCOTLAND—BBC News reports that analysis of DNA obtained from the bones of a woman who died in what is now Scotland more than 4,250 years ago offers a new interpretation of her possible appearance and ancestry.


The remains of the woman, now known as Ava, were discovered in a rock-cut tomb during road construction in 1987. An earlier reconstruction suggested she had red hair and blue eyes, but the latest analysis of her genome indicates she actually had brown eyes and black hair. The data also suggests she was lactose intolerant, and was descended from northern European migrants to Britain.

Award-winning archaeologist, author, and National Geographic grantee Patrick Hunt earned his Ph.D. in Archaeology from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, and has taught at Stanford University for 25 years. Patrick directed the Stanford Alpine Archaeology Project from 1994 to 2012, and has continued project-related fieldwork in the region in the years since. His Alps research has been sponsored by the National Geographic Expeditions Council, and he frequently lectures for National Geographic on Hannibal and the European mummy nicknamed Ötzi the Iceman.