Archaeology (Vol. 71, No. 3, May 2018): Encounters With The Natural World

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Excavations at Casas del Tunuluelo, an Iron Age complex in southwestern Spain, have  uncovered a scene of ritual destruction involving animal sacrifice on an arresting scale. "A Sanctuary's Final Farewell" (page 38), by contributing editor Jason Urbanus, details the site's final days and discloses what is known about the enigmatic Tartessian civilization that chose to destroy it.

In "Cultivating an Arid Landscape" (page 26), by Sara Toth Stub, we are taken to Israel's Negev Desert and to Shivta, a once-thriving Byzantine-era village. There, archaeologists are learning how the region's inhabitants developed a successful agricultural economy in the middle of the desert, how members of this Christian settlement may have coexisted with their Islamic neighbors, and why, within just a few hundred years, Shivta was abandoned.

During the Neolithic Revolution, some 11,000 years ago, people first learned to domesticate animals and cultivate crops, and that knowledge spread rap­idly. "Exploring a Prehistoric Borderland" (page 44), by deputy editor Eric A. Powell, presents evidence showing that the advance of farming was actually halted in northern Europe—for some 1,500 years—by Mesolithic hunter-gatherers who appear to have had exceptional mastery of the environment around them.

For ancient Egyptians, nature carried a variety of meanings. In "Emblems for the Afterlife" (page 48), by associate editor Marley Brown, tomb paintings from the Beni Hassan cemetery are replete with depictions of teeming animal and plant life, sometimes paired with military imagery. Researchers believe that these scenes not only memorialize the deceased's earthly role, but also articulate a complex relationship with the cosmos.

Even as the Dutch East India Companywas getting its start in the seventeenth century and trade was becoming truly international, nature had its way with hundreds of ships, including a particular one bearing a collection of sumptuous luxury goods. In "Global Cargo" (page 32), Tracy E. Robey reports that archaeologists are learning that the contents of the Burgzand Noord 17 wreck, discovered in the waters off the island of Texel, about 55 miles north of Amsterdam, typify the kinds of merchandise that could only have been intended to satisfy the lifestyles of the very rich.

"Desert Orca" (page 42), by senior editor Daniel Weiss, tells of the discovery in southern Peru of a long-overlooked geoglyph, made primarily by removing dark stones to reveal the light earth beneath. Depicting an orca and a smaller fish, and dating to around 200 B.C., it adds to the catalogue of the intriguing Nazca Lines—geoglyphs so large that many can only be viewed fully from the air.

And do not miss "Letter From the Philippines: One Grain at a Time" (page 54), by Karen Coates, which gives new meaning to the idea of shaping one's environment to suit both practical and political ends.

Claudia Valentino
Editor in Chief


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Archaeology Vol. 71, No. 3, May/June 2018

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