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A person wearing a brown floral shirt, red beaded necklace, and feather in their hair closes their eyes. In a blurred background, other people—one holding a red-and-white STOP sign—gather on a lawn in front of a white building.

Archaeological Tropes That Perpetuate Colonialism

Two Indigenous archaeologists from the U.S. Southwest shed light on how “abandonment” and other common archaeological terms continue to cause harm. They offer insights into how to rewrite narratives of the past.
A graphic features a mastodon with its head raised and mouth open on rocky ground in front of a blue sky filled with swirling lights.

Forensic Methods Unveil Clues About Megafauna Extinctions

An archaeologist explains how novel applications of forensic methods—namely, blood residue analyses—have yielded evidence that Paleoindians hunted mastodons, mammoths, and other megafauna in eastern North America 13,000 years ago.
Two people hug in a bathroom, with one seated on a closed toilet and the other kneeling on a tan-and-brown tiled floor. Two standing onlookers flank the image’s foreground.

How Eugenics Shaped the U.S. Prenatal Care System

Black women in the U.S. are far more likely to die from complications related to pregnancy and birth than White women. Two scholars explore how the discrediting of Black midwives helped create these racial disparities—and call for alternative models of prenatal care.
Dark gray clouds hang in a pale blue sky. With orange light shining from behind them, these clouds seem to touch dark rolling hills scattered with trees and buildings.

Speaking in Tongues

A scholar from Nagaland in India offers visceral, familial insights on language and culture loss in her Indigenous tribal community.
A black silhouette of a person contrasts with an illuminated cobalt-blue background with two bright spotlights shining from behind their head.

Bringing Nhakpoti, the Kayapó Story of Star Girl, to the Screen

Over years and across long distances, an international filmmaking team collaborated to bring to life the origin story of how agriculture came to Kayapó communities, Indigenous peoples in the Brazilian Amazon.
From an aerial view, several people in long-sleeved shirts, khaki pants, and boots are shown standing inside a rocky cave. One person in the center carrying a camera points at two sites, one with each hand.

Dating the Arrival of Modern Humans in Asia

A team of researchers explains how the discovery of a human skull and jawbone helps push back the timing of modern humans’ migration into Southeast Asia.
Several people stand on a grassy cliff with green shallow water off to their left and blue water and a mountain range in the distance.

Can Archaeology Help Restore the Oceans?

On the Channel Islands, archaeologists draw lessons in sustainability from historic Chumash fishing practices.
Two people in uniforms—one in black, the other in tan—wearing black boots and hats topped with matching fans face each other and kick one leg up, their feet traveling above their heads. Other people in uniform stand at attention along the roadside behind them.

Imagining Other Worlds at the India-Pakistan Border

For decades, soldiers at the border between Attari, India, and Wagah, Pakistan, have staged an elaborate ceremony for onlookers. An anthropologist reflects on the ceremony as a legacy of Partition—and imagines other futures for the two nations.
A close-up image features the wrinkled hands of a person wearing a cardigan and printed skirt as they mold clay into a bowl shape.

What Pots Say—and Don’t Say—About People

Archaeologists long abandoned the simple notion that “pots are people”—that people’s identities directly correspond with the pottery they made and used. What, then, can ceramics reveal about past lives?
Four people, one wearing a red baseball cap and another a blue shirt, ride a boat on a khaki-colored river surrounded by dense forest.

Writing Indigenous Oral Tradition to Fight a Dam

In the northern Philippines, the Isnag are documenting their Traditional Stories to sustain their culture and fight a legal battle against dams that would inundate their homelands.
Two people wearing waterproof pants, purple windbreakers, and black caps stand on a teal boat at sea, looking toward a white windmill.

The Persistence of Fukushima’s Fisherfolk

In a new book, an anthropologist with long-term ties to northeastern Japan shares stories of how fishing communities have continued making a living in uncertain waters after the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Standing on a wooden pier with water below, a person wearing a headset, navy life vest, and parachute pants bends over to put a yellow life vest on a dog.

On the Quandaries of Aquatic Forensics

A team of scientists, including an anthropologist, explains the challenges and methods for locating, identifying, and retrieving human remains from underwater.
In a sepia-and-white color palette, two hands cup a pile of sand, much of which is falling between the fingers.

Cold Hubris and Fundo

A poet-historian reflects on the legacy of colonial-era collecting practices in Tanzania that tore Black Indigenous ancestors from their communities and history.
A close-up image features a pile of logs glowing red and surrounded by orange flames. Sparks fly up against a dark blue night sky.

Extinguishing the Idea That Hobbits Had Fire

Research has overturned earlier claims that a diminutive human relative, Homo floresiensis, lit fires—but big stories die hard.
Shrouded in darkness, a round stone structure on the photo’s right side is illuminated by a light installed on the left side.

Piecing Together the Puzzle of Oman’s Ancient Towers

In recent years, the Omani government has invested in archaeology and heritage tourism to boost its economy—renewing interest in mysterious 4,000-year-old towers that dot the Southeastern Arabian landscape.
A person with a mustache and beard wearing a red-and-blue checkered shirt sits in a black computer chair and holds a white model of a mandible. Three computer monitors line the wooden desk the person is leaning their elbow on.

A New Take on an Old Fossil Hints at Ancient Migrations

Two anthropologists explain how an enigmatic human fossil jawbone—and its 3D-printed reconstruction—may evidence an early Homo sapiens presence in Europe and shed new light on evolutionary diversity and migration.
A close-up image features two spiders on a stick held horizontally in the hands of a child whose face appears slightly blurred in the background.

What Spider Games Say About Arachnophobia

Many people around the world fear spiders. But in the Philippines, the tradition of spider wrestling often brings people and arachnids in close proximity.
A large furry, horned animal stands on grassy terrain with a forest behind and airborne dust surrounding it.

Why Store 41,000 Bison Bones?

An archaeologist explains why a museum keeps so many bones from the Jones-Miller site, an ice age bison kill on the North American plains.
A person wearing a white dress whose skirt is made of ribbons, each with a name written on it, leans back with their eyes closed. They are on grass with a Black Lives Matter banner on the ground beside them and a circle of drummers and bystanders around them.

The Urgency of Envisioning a World Without Police

An anthropologist working in Baltimore argues that safety for Black communities requires an end to policing. That also means taking a hard look at how policing intersects with patriarchy and intimate partner violence.
A person in a burgundy jumpsuit stands on a road with their back to the viewer and their hands behind their head. They look into the distance, where yellowed billows of smoke rise from a burning field of grass and trees.

A Call for Anthropological Poems From Within “Zones of Conflict”

SAPIENS is seeking poetry submissions for a curated collection that will publish in early 2024. Deadline September 15, 2023.
A close-up image features a person’s hand holding a car’s steering wheel. On the driver’s wrist is a silver bracelet of circles with figures etched into each.

What Happens When Catholic Medals Become Mainstream Jewelry

Retailers are selling medallions cherished by Catholics who favor conservative gender roles. Are secular buyers sporting anti-feminist symbols?
A person in a white poncho hugs the head of a horse wearing a colorful mask against a blue sky with white clouds.

Scientists Uplift Indigenous Human-Horse Histories

An archaeologist and a Lakota genomics scientist explain how combining archaeology, DNA, and Indigenous knowledge can help revise colonial human-horse narratives largely associated with the western U.S.
In front of many people seated around the perimeter of a town square, a person in a brown hat stands in its center over a pile of green leaves on a colorful patterned cloth. They are holding up a bag by a string.

Fair and Balanced—Weighing Coca With a Wipi in Peru

An Andean community’s use of weighing scales shows how meanings of fairness and justice differ across cultures.
Behind a red carpet, a large poster features a person in a brown brimmed hat holding up a whip over a cluster of other people. A pillared building lies in the background opposite yellow and orange text that reads, “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. It is flanked by display cases, one holding a bronze time dial.

What Indiana Jones Gets Right About Archaeology

As Dr. Jones returns to the big screen, a real archaeologist acknowledges the movie franchise's shortcomings while espousing its merits.
A close-up image features the hands of a person wearing a black top with a colorful beaded necklace cradling a wooden pipe with a face carved into its top end.

Collaborating So a 200-Year-Old Pipe Can Continue Its Work

A museum curator and a First Nations leader explain how a treaty pipe, sold at auction, exemplifies a new path for repatriations in Canada.
Surrounded by gray cobblestones, two black kettles sprinkled with ash sit over blackened logs and open orange flames. Two pairs of sneakers on people’s feet are visible just behind the fire close to another kettle.

The Heaviness

A multidisciplinary poet-scholar and suicide attempt and multi-suicide loss survivor unveils complex anthropological threads that shape suicidal ideation.
An adult stands behind a child loading laundry into a white washing machine. A refrigerator, microwave oven, stove, and wooden cabinets line the room.

Do Washing Machines Belong in Kitchens? Many Brits Say “Yes.”

An anthropologist moves from Canada to the U.K. and finds herself reflecting on what home design patterns reveal about a society.
Faces of various hominins span a large wall, each above a descriptive text block. From left to right, the faces get less hairy and lighter in skin tone.

How Power Pervades Portrayals of Human Evolution

An evolutionary scholar examines racist and sexist depictions of human evolution that continue to permeate science, education, and popular culture.
An image shows a tan llama’s head and torso against a beige, sandy ground.

Unearthing Culinary Pasts—With Help From Llama Poop

A food archaeologist investigates everyday eating and lean times among the ancient Moche of Peru through a remarkable discovery of thousands of llama “beans.”
A black-and-white illustration depicts a large, hairy bipedal figure walking in a forest, flanked by leafless trees.

What Bigfoot Teaches Us About Public Mistrust of Science

In the 1960s, credentialed scientists, including physical anthropologists, hunted for the legendary Sasquatch. How did they fall for the hoax?
A close-up image features a mostly red, woven piece of cloth with diagonal patterns that incorporate white, black, green, and hot pink accents.

Feeling What We Are/A’yel jtaleltik

An anthropologist and writer from the Tseltal community speaks back to a colonialist history of suppression—instead claiming his identity, language, and people.
A black-and-white film still features a person wearing a hoodie, clear vest, and cap looks upward at the face of a person holding small objects in front of them with a gloved hand. The two are on rocky terrain in front of a graffiti-covered stone wall.

Excavating a 19th-Century Detroit Saloon

A filmmaker highlights the work of urban archaeologists who are excavating the site of a woman-owned business that opened in the late 1800s.
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