A half-hour video news magazine each month bringing you stories from the wide world of archaeology
Maya pyramid, Roman walls, Hawaiian historic structure
(1) A Maya pyramid at El Zotz, Guatemala, with images done in dramatic painted stucco and a royal tomb full of artifacts and human remains, may have linked the deceased lord to the eternal sun; (2) technicians using ancient building techniques work to save crumbling walls at “The Mithraeum of the Painted Walls” in Ostia Antica, the harbor of classical Rome; (3) workers restore Paschoal Hall, the central structure of Kalaupapa.
Malaysia's archaeological heritage
Always a cultural melting pot, Malaysia has cultural and historical links to distant places in the Indian and Pacific oceans. Archaeology here is young, but already reveals a rich and deep cultural record both on land and in the sea extending from Paleolithic sites in the Lenggong Valley to the Neolithic, Iron Age, and more recent periods. The recently discovered Sungai Batu civilization 2000 years ago may have provided iron for India and Arabia while sea people in Borneo obtained volcanic glass from New Britain, thousands of miles to the east.
Highway excavations in Missouri, video interview with Dr. Tom King
(1) Excavations in 2005 prior to the upgrade of “The Avenue of the Saints,” U.S. Route 61 in 15 miles of the Mississippi River valley in Missouri, revealed over 1000 buried features, 60,000 artifacts, and copious environmental data from over two dozen sites spanning 10,000 years; (2) In a video interview at TAC Festival 2011, Dr. Tom King brings us up to date on the continuing search for aviatrix Amelia Earhart on and around the remote Pacific island of Nikumaroro.
An Introduction to Contemporary Archaeology, video interview with Dr. Mark Van Stone
(1) Famed UK archaeologist and lecturer Dr. Brooklyn Hornswoggle-Smyth expounds on contemporary archaeology (exploring the very recent past) in a short film parody created by two irreverent UK students from the University of Bristol; (2) Rick Pettigrew interviews Dr. Mark Van Stone, Keynote Speaker for TAC Festival 2012 and noted specialist on Maya hieroglyphics and calligraphy, with a particular focus on the Maya calendar and predictions of the end of the world in 2012.
Penn Museum Maya exhibit, Louvre Museum Macedonia exhibit, Pohnpei canoe
(1) The Penn Museum’s exhibit, “Maya 2012: Lords of Time,” rides a wave of interest in the Maya calendar; which this year reaches the end of something, and hopefully the beginning of something else; (2) the recently concluded Louvre Museum exhibit, “In the Kingdom of Alexander the Great: Ancient Macedonia,” featured nearly 500 priceless objects from northern Greece; (3) the last traditional “warasap” canoe made on the Pacific island of Pohnpei preserved an important cultural heritage, but it was made 20 years ago.
Mayan monument, Florida prehistoric site, TAC Festival 2012
(1) Dr. Mark Van Stone, a leading expert on the Mayan calendar and the significance of 2012, describes the front of Quiriguá Stela K, a Guatemalan stone monument carved in AD 805, just before the Maya Collapse. (2) The USDA Forest Service investigates the extent and significance of the prehistoric Silver Glen Springs Site in Florida. (3) Our preview series for The Archaeology Channel International Film and Video Festival (8-12 May 2012, Eugene, Oregon) begins with nine short clips.
Mayan king, making ancient coins, TAC Festival 2012
(1) Dr. Mark Van Stone, a leading expert on the Mayan calendar and the significance of 2012, reads the story of a powerful Mayan king on Quiriguá Stela D, a late Eighth Century stone monument in Guatemala. (2) A French team of experimental archaeologists stamps coins in an effort to recreate the “Silver Owl” coins of the Fifth Century B.C. Greek city-state of Athens. (3) Our preview series for The Archaeology Channel International Film and Video Festival (8-12 May 2012, Eugene, Oregon) begins with three short clips.
Cyprus wine; Chinese district of historic Nevada boom-town; Titanic Auction
(1) People have been making wine in Cyprus for thousands of years, so the Cypriots are thoroughly familiar with all facets of the wine industry and long ago developed their own distinctive wine culture. (2) In the 1860s, Aurora, a mining boom town in western Nevada, was home to a Chinese population for which history is mute. Excavations by the US Forest Service PIT Program are bringing that story to light. (3) Dr. Pettigrew offers his criticism of the impending auction of artifacts from the Titanic wreck site.
Maya creation story; historic Greek fountain
(1) Dr. Mark Van Stone reads the Creation story on Quiriguá Stela C, the late Eighth Century monument in Guatemala which tells us the myth of the "Planting of the Three-Stone Hearth (of Creation)." This creation myth has a connection with current fears that the world will end in 2012. (2) The fountain Syntrivani, a central monument of Thessaloniki, Greece, was built in 1884 after the demolition of the eastern wall. A personal gift of Sultan Abdul Hamid to its citizens and part of the city’s embellishment plan, it stands today as a reminder of times past.
Geophysical Survey of Ohio Earthworks; Mysterious Prehistoric Temples of Malta
(1) Magnetometer survey by Dr. Jarrod Burks in Ohio relocates part of the 1000 foot wide Shriver Circle, a now invisible Woodland Period (300 B.C. - A.D. 500) earthworks feature, suggesting that remote sensing can revolutionize our understanding of Ohio earthworks. (2) Long before Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids, Neolithic people in Malta built many impressive megalithic temples. Then the temple builders vanished from the archaeological record. Our ALI film team goes to Malta to explore the temples and their mysteries.
European 1708 Battle Site; Language Discovery in Peru; Writing Maya Glyphs
(1) In 1708, over 180,000 soldiers battled at Oudenaarde, Belgium, during the War of Spanish Succession. Now archaeologists and lay volunteers use new technology to explore the battlefield. (2) In the early 17th Century, a Spaniard in Peru jotted down some notes on the back of a letter. Four hundred years later, archaeologists dug it up and found traces of a lost language. (3) Dr. Mark Van Stone, Keynote Speaker for TAC Festival 2012, explains how Maya hieroglyphs are constructed by writing a modern name in ancient phonetic Mayan characters.
Bahrain Fort; Alexandria Cisterns; Human Fossils
(1) A British archaeology field team explores a historic fort in the small island country of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf to find out what remains beneath the ground.. (2) Development of the modern city of Alexandria, Egypt, has obscured traces of old Alexandria on the surface, but an ancient subterranean world of waterworks still remains to be fully explored. (3) The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology takes pains to make perfect casts of the fossil bones of human ancestors.
Grand Canyon Archaeology; Tubuai: Polynesian Island
(1) Between 2006 and 2009, in the first major excavation project in the vicinity in 40 years, archaeologists sampled nine pre-contact sites along the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park. This action was taken to recover data before the sites were lost to erosion. (2). In 2007, a group of archaeologists came to Tubuai, an island in east Polynesia, to look for traces of some of the greatest explorers in human history. The people of the island, descendants of those ancient explorers, welcomed the archaeologists with open arms.
Historic Fort Gadsden, Greek Village Becomes Archaeological Site
(1) In 1816, Andrew Jackson ordered the destruction of historic Fort Gadsden, on the Apalachicola River in the Florida Panhandle. Hundreds died in a cataclysmic explosion. This now is a historic site operated by the US Forest Service and open to the public. (2) Residents abandoned the Greek village of Moussai in the 1960s. Now the settlement is decaying. This process of destruction, which archaeologists call "site formation," shows how a living site becomes an archaeological site.
Florida Prehistoric Canoe Recovered, Day of the Dead Altar
(1) Working quickly without heavy equipment to avoid damage to the artifact, archaeologists excavate a thousand-year-old forty-foot wooden canoe from the sandy shore of an island in Tampa Bay. Submitted by Pinellas County Communications. (2) Dr. David Carrasco of Harvard University’s Peabody Museum explains the essential elements of a Day of the Dead altar, by which Mexican families honor their beloved dead. Held each year on November 1-2, this ancient festival combines Aztec and Spanish motifs.
TAC Festival 2011 Results, London Olympics, Vandalism at Hidden Forest Cave
(1) The competitive results from the 2011 edition of The Archaeology Channel International Film and Video Festival. (2) London is hosting the 2012 summer Olympics, but people in London have differences of opinion about the alterations to their city, which is more than two thousand years old. (3) Vandals tag the walls of a mountain cave, obscuring Native American rock art drawn on the walls many centuries ago. Authorities are looking for the perpetrators.
Beijing: Vanishing Hutongs, Native American Duck Decoys, TAC Festival 2011
(1) The final chapter of Jonah Kessel's hutong series, "The Fate of Old Beijing: The Vanishing Hutongs," about the threat modernization poses to China's cultural heritage. And a bonus feature from Jonah Kessel: "Beijing Hutong Tour." (2) "Mike Williams: Duck Decoys and Tule Work ," about a Native American man rediscovering an ancient craft. (3) Our preview series for The Archaeology Channel International Film and Video Festival (24-28 May 2011, Eugene, Oregon) concludes with six short clips.
Beijing: Vanishing Hutongs, Donny George Tribute, TAC Festival 2011
(1) The first two chapters of Jonah Kessel's hutong series, "The Fate of Old Beijing: The Vanishing Hutongs," about the threat modernization poses to China's cultural heritage. (2) A tribute to Dr. Donny George, former caretaker of the Iraq Museum, who passed away in March 2011. (3) Our preview series for The Archaeology Channel International Film and Video Festival (24-28 May 2011, Eugene, Oregon) continues with six short clips.
Tour of Italy, Terracotta Army, TAC Festival 2011
(1) In November 2010, Video News host Rick Pettigrew visited Italy for the Borsa tourism trade show. When he returned, he filed this video report on places he visited in Rome, Pompeii, Paestum, and the Borsa. (2) The fascinating exhibit, "The Warrior Emperor and the Terracotta Army," tells the story of the first Emperor of China and will be at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts through June 26. (3) Our preview series for The Archaeology Channel International Film and Video Festival (24-28 May 2011, Eugene, Oregon) continues with four short clips.
Thames Discovery Programme, Tall Hisban, TAC Festival 2011
(1) The Thames Discovery Programme documents and protects the longest open-air archaeological site in London: the banks of the Thames River. (2) Tall Hisban, the longest continually excavated site in Jordan, tells the story of repeated power shifts over several thousand years, but also offers hope for international cooperation. (3) Two film clips begin our preview series for The Archaeology Channel International Film and Video Festival, which takes place May 24-28, 2011, in Eugene, Oregon.
Snake Gulch, Atafu
(1) The Hopi Tribe and the USDA Forest Service are collaborating to protect some remarkable rock art panels in northern Arizona at a place in Kanab Creek Wilderness called Snake Gulch. In 2009 Forest Service and Hopi representative spent a week there to explore ways to preserve this site. (2) Archaeologists from New Zealand come to the small Pacific island of Atafu to excavate and live among the native Polynesian people. The archaeologists and the native people work together and end up learning a lot from each other.
Moon Base, Indigenous Taiwan
(1) California archaeologist Lisa Westwood is on a mission: establish a legal protective framework for Tranquility Base, where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first landed on the Moon in July 1969. Some successful steps already have been taken. (2) The indigenous Austronesian people of Taiwan, now just two percent of the island's population, are a disadvantaged group, with high unemployment and substandard education. But now they are expressing increased ethnic pride, reviving traditional cultural practices and preserving their languages.
Tom King Interview
Protecting archaeological and historical sites from project impacts in the United States is guided by the “Section 106 process.” A chief architect of this system, Dr. Tom King, is so convinced that the process no longer works that he has published a book called Our Unprotected Heritage: Whitewashing the Destruction of Our Cultural and Natural Environment. We interviewed Dr. King to find out what he believes is wrong with the U.S. heritage protection system and what can be done about it.
This inaugural installment of the Video News from TAC features a tour of Thailand's cultural heritage by ALI videographer, Teal Greyhavens. From Chiang Mai in the north to the islands around Koh Chang in the south, this tour features the Hmong, Yao and Akha hill tribes; spectacular Buddhist temples; bathing elephants; traditional food production and marketing; and the monuments of the capitol, Bangkok. Thailand is a country whose past and present coalesce in the lives of its people and the environment they have managed for many centuries.