archeology

Gertrude Caton Thompson and Prehistoric Egypt

Gertrude Caton Thompson and Prehistoric Egypt

On February 1, 1888, English archaeologist Gertrude Caton Thompson was born. Thompson was an influential archaeologist at a time when participation by women in the discipline was rather uncommon working primarily in Egypt. She was able to distinguish two prehistoric cultures in the Al-Fayyum depression of Upper Egypt, the older dating to about 5000 BC and the younger to about 4500 BC. Gertrude Caton Thompson traveled to Egypt with her mother…
François Lenormant and the Akkadian Language

François Lenormant and the Akkadian Language

On January 17, 1837, French assyriologist and archaeologist François Lenormant was born. Lenormant recognized, from cuneiform inscriptions, a language now known as Akkadian that proved valuable to the understanding of Mesopotamian civilization 3,000 years before the Christian era. Lenormant’s father, Charles Lenormant, distinguished as an archaeologist, numismatist and Egyptologist, was anxious that his son should follow in his steps. He made him begin Greek at the age of six, and…
Yuri Knorozov and the Decipherment of the Mayan Language

Yuri Knorozov and the Decipherment of the Mayan Language

On November 19, 1922, Soviet linguist epigrapher and ethnographer Yuri Knorozov was born. Knorozov is particularly renowned for the pivotal role his research played in the decipherment of the Maya script, the writing system used by the pre-Columbian Maya civilization of Mesoamerica. Knorozov was born in a village near Kharkiv in Ukraine, at that time the capital of the newly formed Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic, into a family of Russian intellectuals. At…
The Discovery of the Mauer 1 Mandible

The Discovery of the Mauer 1 Mandible

On October 21, 1907 the worker Daniel Hartmann unearthed a mandibular in a sand mine in the Grafenrain Open field system of the Mauer community. The so-called Mauer 1 mandible is the oldest fossilized specimen of the genus Homo ever to be discovered in Germany. The Mauer 1 mandible is the type specimen of the species Homo heidelbergensis, a subspecies of Homo erectus. In 1907, Daniel Hartmann unearthed a mandibular…
Edward Herbert Thompson and the Cenote Sagrado

Edward Herbert Thompson and the Cenote Sagrado

On September 28, 1857, American archaeologist and diplomat Edward Herbert Thompson was born. Thompson is most famous for dredging the Cenote Sagrado (Sacred Cenote) in Chichen Itza from 1904 to 1910, where he recovered artifacts of gold, copper and carved jade, as well as the first-ever examples of what were believed to be pre-Columbian Maya cloth and wooden weapons. Edward Herbert Thompson had no formal training in the field of archaeology.…
The Comte de Caylus and the Birth of Archaeology

The Comte de Caylus and the Birth of Archaeology

On September 5, 1765, French antiquarian, proto-archaeologist and man of letters Anne Claude de Tubières-Grimoard de Pestels de Lévis, comte de Caylus, marquis d’Esternay, baron de Bransac, was born. The Comte de Caylus is credited with being the first to conceive archaeology as a scientific discipline. Caylus was also a painter and an engraver, and he is also credited with finding a new process to inlay colors in marble. Anne…
The Venus of Willendorf

The Venus of Willendorf

On August 7, 1908, among railway construction work on the Donauuferbahn in Lower Austria, a lime stone figure was discovered, the Venus of Willendorf. The high statuette of a female figure estimated to have been made between about 28,000 and 25,000 BCE. The Willendorf hamlet is located near today’s Aggsbach, a small wine-growing town in the Krems-Land district of Lower Austria. Wilendorf had already been known as a Palaeolithic site…
Sir Mortimer Wheeler’s Adventures in Archaeology

Sir Mortimer Wheeler’s Adventures in Archaeology

On July 22, 1976, British archaeologist Sir Robert Eric Mortimer Wheeler passed away. Wheeler is recognised as one of the most important British archaeologists of the twentieth century, responsible for successfully encouraging British public interest in the discipline and advancing methodologies of excavation and recording. Further, he is widely acclaimed as a major figure in the establishment of South Asian archaeology. “Archaeology is not a science, it’s a vendetta.” (Sir…
Arthur Evans and the Palace of Knossos

Arthur Evans and the Palace of Knossos

On July 8, 1851, English archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans was born. Evans was a pioneer in the study of Aegean civilization in the Bronze Age. He is most famous for unearthing the palace of Knossos in Crete. He continued Heinrich Schliemann’s concept of a Mycenaean civilization, but found that he needed to distinguish another civilization, the Minoan, from the structures and artifacts found there and throughout the eastern Mediterranean. Arthur…
Amelia Edwards’ travels in Egypt

Amelia Edwards’ travels in Egypt

On June 7, 1831, English novelist, journalist, traveller and Egyptologist Amelia B. Edwards was born. Her account of her travels in Egypt, A Thousand Miles Up the Nile (1877), was an immediate success. During the last two decades of her life, she became concerned by threats to Egyptian monuments and antiquities, raised funds for archaeological excavations and increased public awareness by lecturing at home and abroad. Amelia Edwards was born…
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