Anthropology Magazine

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 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.
A colorful mosaic shows several people wearing helmets and holding metal shields in front of a pillared building.

The Rebellion Recorded on the Rosetta Stone

An archaeologist explains how recent archaeological finds in Egypt expand our knowledge of a violent revolt discussed on the now-famous Rosetta Stone.
A mysterious image of a person facing one way and a band of cloth covering their face and pulling them in the other direction.

Finding Mrs. Jackson

From your backyard to a hill by the ocean, you can come upon an archaeological find just about anywhere. But what happens when that object was a keepsake meant to stay in the ground?
Several adults and children dig in a cleared area of brown soil with rectangular holes. Some dig with shovels and trowels, while others look on. Several buckets lie about.

Extraordinary Lessons From a Community-Led Excavation

An archaeologist examines how community members in Cardiff, Wales, collaborated with a research team to make important insights into the Bronze Age.
A person wearing fur clothing crouches beside a lake in a forest while holding a wooden stick and bowl-shaped object.

My Search for the Origins of Clothing

An archaeologist uses climate data and tailoring tools to trace the invention and evolution of apparel in the world's colder climates.
A layered image of chili peppers drying in the sun with a bearded man looking at them.

People of the Peppers

Meet Katherine Chiou, an archaeologist who conducts research in Mexico and Peru to search for clues about humanity’s spicy romance with hot chili peppers.
Under a blue sky, a row of several wooden beams protrudes out of a large wall of cobbled sandstones.

The Astounding Origins of Chaco Canyon Timber

In a nearly treeless desert, Ancestral Puebloans built Great Houses with more than 200,000 massive log beams. Where they got the wood has long puzzled archaeologists.
From the neck up, a close-up photograph features a spotted black-and-cow facing left but looking straight at the viewer against a blue sky.

What a Cow’s Horn Reveals About Khoisan Medicine

An archaeologist explains what a 500-year-old horn container found in South Africa illuminates about precolonial Khoisan medical and spiritual knowledges.
The photograph features an aerial shot of a circle of drums on dirt ground sparingly covered with grass and green leaves. Wooden drum sticks are arranged across the drums’ tops to form a star shape.

How Do We Heal?

A poet-anthropologist who is a Passamaquoddy tribal member lights a path toward healing both within the field of archaeology and in reflecting on the voices and presence—past, present, and future—of Indigenous peoples.
Lying on their side, a person with a blonde ponytail wears a blue shirt and black jeans and points a camera at a gravestone.

Can Digitizing Gravestones Save History?

An anthropologist is digitizing gravestones at Burial Hill, a historic cemetery in Plymouth, Massachusetts, that holds the remains of some of the first Pilgrims. Documenting these unique records and making them accessible also provokes necessary questions about preserving colonial histories.
An abstract image of ice cracking with drawings of skulls beneath it.

A Story of Icelandic Skulls

An anthropologist journeys to the Arctic Circle and finds a surprising story about the human remains that end up in museum collections.
A photograph shows an adult and child watching a black truck pass in front of a memorial of flowers and stuffed animals. The truck has several Canadian flags flying from it and carries a black banner with white text that reads, “Just now found but were never forgotten.”

Advocating for Archaeology’s New Purpose

Archaeologists can help communities retake what colonialism and racism tried to erase through a new goal of “archaeological reclamation.”
A close-up photograph features a yellow Lego toy shaped like a caveman holding a wooden club posed in front of a shadow it casts.

Club-Wielding Ancestors: Myth or Reality?

Inspired by pop culture depictions of cavepeople, an archaeologist searches for elusive evidence of ancient wooden clubs.
A photograph features a person in a red hooded cape standing in a dark forest, looking back at the viewer.

Should Paviland’s Red Lady “Come Home”?

Two archaeologists explore the complicated story of 33,000-year-old human remains—and calls for their repatriation to Wales.
A photograph features a person in a hooded windbreaker in the foreground looking left, away from a large tiered moss-covered stone structure in the background.

The Colonial Roots of Peru’s Troubles

An archaeologist traces the current protests in Peru to exploitive labor policies enacted in silver mines during Spanish colonial rule from 1532 to 1800.
Three people sit in a museum with their hands on the frame of a large painting depicting people sitting at a long table. Under the painting, the words “No New Oil” are spray-painted on the wall.

Reconsidering Fragility in Museums—and the World

Following climate protests at art museums, a conservator considers museums’ role in the unsustainable exploitation of nature and cultural heritage.
A photograph features a building’s white wall covered with a large colorful mural of a curly haired young person with a green sprig tucked behind their ear. The mural surrounds a window through which a woman can be seen standing with her hand on her hip.

What Does the Armenian Genocide Have to Do With Florida?

Archaeologists have increasingly ignored evidence for the 1915 Armenian genocide that has long been denied by Turkey. The consequences have lessons for the U.S. as Florida seeks to prevent educators from teaching about injustices in the country’s history.
A team of people wear gloves and work around a large square hole in the dirt. Some dig, one takes notes, and two hold up a wooden frame in the background.

With the Fall of a Tree, Archaeology Returns to Liberia

Following a devastating Civil War, archaeologists are helping Liberia rewrite a more inclusive history and forge a more diverse future.
An aerial photograph features a large arc-shaped complex of stone ruins showing the remains of rectangular rooms and circular sacred gathering places.

Navigating the Ethics of Ancient DNA Research

Paleogenomic research has expanded rapidly over the past two decades, igniting heated debates about handling human remains. Who gives consent for the ancient subjects of studies—and who should speak for them today?
A person with black hair wearing a gray T-shirt sits at a table brushing a cylindrical clay object that stands next to several stone fragments labeled with yellow tags.

What Do Archaeologists Do?

Archaeologists use a wide variety of methods to explore a fascinating range of topics about human history, culture, and behavior. Here’s an overview of the ways archaeologists preserve heritage and how you can work in this field.