archeology

Édouard Lartet –  a pioneer of Paleolithic archaeology

Édouard Lartet – a pioneer of Paleolithic archaeology

On April 15, 1801, French geologist and paleontologist Édouard Lartet was born. Lartet was a pioneer of Paleolithic archaeology, who is chiefly credited with discovering man’s earliest art and with establishing a date for the Upper Paleolithic Period of the Stone Age. His most striking discovery was a mammoth tooth, found in a cave, upon which was a drawing of a mammoth. This was clear proof that man lived at the same time as…
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Heinrich Karl Brugsch and the Decipherment of Demotic Script

Heinrich Karl Brugsch and the Decipherment of Demotic Script

On February 18, 1827, German egyptologist Heinrich Karl Brugsch was born. Brugsch was associated with Auguste Mariette in his excavations at Memphis and pioneered in the decipherment of Demotic, the simplified script of the later Egyptian periods. He also recognized the Semitic side of Egyptian grammar, thus enabling a far more comprehensive and systematic understanding of hieroglyphs. Heinrich Karl Brugsch was born in Berlin, Germany, as the son of Prussian cavalry officer…
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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 Thompson traveled to Egypt with her mother in 1911 and…
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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 the child…
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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. “There are no indecipherable writings, any writing system produced by man can be read by man.” — Yuri Knozorov, Epigraphic Atlas of Petén Phase 1 Youth and Education Yuri Knorozov was born…
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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 in a…
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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. However, he…
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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 Claude de…
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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 for over…
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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 Mortimer Wheeler,…
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