Table of contents
Table of contents

Archaeologists study the physical objects, places, and landscapes that humans create, modify, or interact with. Their goal is to learn more about human histories and experiences.

A colorful tapestry depicting a traditional scene of Jesus’ birth, with people in robes and headscarves, rests awkwardly on strewn rubble and debris.

The International Order Is Failing to Protect Palestinian Cultural Heritage

As Israeli forces destroy sites and monuments in Gaza, an archaeologist explains how international organizations charged with protecting cultural heritage should intervene—but have not.
On a body of water surrounded by large trees, a person stands in and rows a canoe with a wooden paddle. Large white bags are piled near the front of the canoe.

Cultivating Modern Farms Using Ancient Lessons

An anthropologist examines what past farmers can teach us about adapting to climate change amid—and sometimes against—powerful political influences.
The image shows a detailed close-up of a person's hands delicately handling blue string or thread, suggesting intricate craftsmanship or textile work. The strings are being separated or woven, with the texture and color of the threads prominently displayed against a dark background. The image captures the meticulous nature of the task and highlights the cultural significance of textile technology. The text reads: "SAPIENS A Podcast for Everything Human, SSN. 07 Cultures of Technology, EP. 03 Untangling the World’s First String." It mentions SAPIENS Magazine and House of Pod.

Untangling the World’s First-Known String

Neanderthals made the oldest string ever found, providing new insights into the technology and culture of our hominin cousins.
A stone figure with the body of a seated lion and the head of a person wearing a headdress sits in the foreground with a large stone pyramid towering in the distance.

Why I Talked to Pseudoarchaeologist Graham Hancock on Joe Rogan

An archaeologist explains his motivations and strategies for appearing on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast with a purveyor of misinformation about the ancient past.
The toppled steeple of a church lies on the ground among other pieces of collapsed metal. A large blue and white building with a gold object on its roof towers in the background.

Spotlighting War’s Cultural Destruction in Ukraine

An archaeologist, anthropologist, and film expert examine the staggering amount of damage to cultural heritage caused by Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Two side-by-side graphics depict skulls, one facing forward and the other in profile. Both images are outlined in blue and have sections shaded in yellow. The profile image has three red lines spanning across it in two V shapes.

Learning From Snapshots of Lost Fossils

Not all fossil discoveries happen in the field. In museum archives, researchers found photos of remains from Paleolithic children who had belonged to a group of early Homo sapiens in Eurasia.
In a pitch-black environment, a person with black smudges on their face wears a fur pelt and holds a lit torch.

How Accurate Is the Stone Age Thriller Out of Darkness?

An archaeologist with expertise in human origins assesses the accuracy of a 2022 film about Homo sapiens who encounter Neanderthals.
A group of people stand on an emptied dirt plot around a square hole. The one in the center, with lighter skin than the rest, holds the end of a shovel in the hole.

Unearthing the Origins of Plantation Slavery on São Tomé

The African island nation played a central—but little-known—role in the rise of the global sugar trade based on enslaved labor. To uncover this past, a team launched the country’s first archaeological research.
A person with short gray hair wearing a blue shirt holds a black camera up to their face and points it at a figure that looks like a hairy unclothed person with one hand on their lap and the other on its chin.

What’s Behind the Evolution of Neanderthal Portraits

Since the 1800s, Neanderthal depictions have evolved not only with changing science but also due to social views. An archaeologist explains why visualizations of our evolutionary cousins matter.
In a wooden structure without walls, three people wearing loincloths and no shirts, and two individuals wearing T-shirts surround and point to spots on a large tan and green map.

Finding Footprints Laid at the Dawn of Time

In the Brazilian Amazon, a university-trained archaeologist and Wajãpi Indigenous people understand traces from the past differently—but their partnership bears fruit for both.
Perched on dirt ground beside fallen leaves and a log, a tan and black monkey raises a beige stone in its right hand while looking down at a small black object placed on a rock in front of it.

Tools of the Wild: Unveiling the Crafty Side of Nature

Once considered a uniquely human activity, tool use has been spotted across diverse species. It’s time to rethink what tools reveal about their users’ intelligence and evolution.
A computer-rendered graphic shows a rocky hill with sparse greenery at its base against a dark blue, starry sky.

Taking Cultural Preservation to a New Dimension

A multidisciplinary team of researchers explains historical, cultural, and ethical issues they considered while developing a 3D scan of a South African site to be shared with the world online.
A zoomed-out photograph shows a large green, grassy field with several football pitches in front of a line of trees. The trees separate the field from a large cityscape in the background.

Tackling the Wreckage of War

An archaeologist traces how rubble from World War II bombings helped turn London marshlands into a footballing utopia.
Several people crowd into the wide room of a museum exhibit. Beige statues depicting parts of posed human bodies line the side walls of the room.

How Museum Items Go Missing

After alleged thefts from the British Museum, a curator explains the challenges of keeping track of collections—and the legal limitations on returning cultural material to source communities.
A blue underwater scene features a scuba diver in a black wetsuit with a silver oxygen tank on their back. They point a light at a shipwreck of broken, moss-covered wooden beams.

Treasure Hunters Pose Problems for Archaeologists

Two scholars discuss the challenges of accurately studying underwater archaeological heritage—among them, unauthorized acquisitions.
An ornate engraving in a large stone wall depicts the head of a figure beneath sunrays. To its right are more figures etched into two levels on top of one another. On the left is an engraving of two feet.

What Ancient Egyptians Knew About Meteorites—Long Before Modern Astronomers

An Egyptologist’s study of hieroglyphic texts has revealed that ancient Egyptians likely understood the celestial origins of iron-rich meteorites.
Four deer with orange fur stand in a field of yellowing grass with a mountainous incline on the horizon.

Past and Present Approaches to the Management of Red Deer

An archaeologist weighs the pros and cons driving debates around the rising population of Scotland’s renowned animal and explains what historical archaeology could add to the conversation.
Colored in sepia tones, a photo shows a person in a dark headwrap and robes with a walking stick traveling behind a herd of sheep and goats on rocky terrain that rises into a steep hill.

What Ancient Goat Teeth Reveal About Animal Care

Unraveling a mystery around millennia-old goat bones, an archaeologist reflects on the harm people can cause their most cherished animals.
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 person in near silhouette stands in front on an ocean landscape with wind chime objects hanging down, all tinted orange.

Our Past Is Our Future

Hosts Ora Marek-Martinez and Yoli Ngandali share the stories of Black and Indigenous people who become archaeologists. From defying the status quo to diving through sunken ships, this special season brings listeners on a journey of reclaiming voices and reimagining history.
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.
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.
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?
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 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 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?
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.
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 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.