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Izumi Shimada

Region in La Leche Valley on the north coast of Peru, which contains numerous archaeological sites. The central part of the valley, over 55 sq. km in area, has been designated the Poma National Archaeological and Ecological Reserve because of the concentration of some 30 major Pre-Columbian cemeteries and mounds nested within dense semi-tropical thorny native forest. The most notable period of local cultural development was the Middle Sicán (see Sicán), c. ad 900–1100, when the Sicán funerary–religious precinct (see fig.), the dominant feature of Batán Grande, was built. Delineated by some dozen monumental adobe pyramids, it covers an area extending c. 1.6 km east–west and 1 km north–south.

The long-term funerary and religious importance of the Poma Reserve is underlined by the limited evidence for widespread or intensive agricultural activity there, despite its abundant fertile alluvium. As the beginning and end of various major canals, Batán Grande controlled the vital local water supplies and thus held political control over the adjacent valleys. Although a Late Sicán shift of settlement away from Batán Grande removed much of this political significance, the site clearly retained its eminence as a key burial and metallurgical centre up to the Spanish conquest. The Spanish name for the area in fact derives from the hundreds of large ...


Lyn Rodley and Nicole Thierry

Region of central Anatolia, now in Turkey.

The region known in ancient times as Greater Cappadocia extends from Lake Tatta eastwards to the River Euphrates. It was bordered to the south by Cilicia, and to the north lay Pontus, which before the late 4th century bc had also formed part of Cappadocia. The region consists largely of a plateau divided by the Taurus and Antitaurus mountains, with volcanic areas in the west and around Erciyas Dağı (anc. Mt Argaeus) in the centre. Cappadocia has been continuously inhabited since prehistoric times, and during the 2nd millennium bc it was part of the Hittite empire. Conquered by the Persians in 585 bc, it was ruled during the 4th–1st centuries bc by the descendants of the satrap Ariarathes (b c. 404 bc). In ad 17 Cappadocia became a Roman province, with its capital at Caesarea (now Kayseri).

Material from the Greco-Roman period is mostly limited to funerary stelae of poor quality found at various sites, but an inventory of Greco-Roman necropoleis has revealed that there was continuity between the pagan and Christian population. The medieval development of ...



P. R. Giot

Region of north-west France, centre of the principal concentration of prehistoric megalithic monuments (see Megalithic architecture, §2) in Brittany. Situated south-west of Vannes, the area includes the parishes of Carnac and Locmariaquer, extending to Quiberon. The monuments include more than a hundred passage graves (dolmens) and many standing stones (menhirs) arranged singly or in groups including large alignments (see also Dolmen and Menhir). Curiously, these numerous and often huge stones did not attract the attention of scholars before the 18th century.

The typical large alignments, three of which are at Carnac and another at Erdeven, have one or two oval structures of contiguous stones at each end. Between these, ten to twelve apparently parallel lines of more or less equally spaced stones extend over a distance that can exceed a kilometre (see fig.). In reality, these lines are irregular and undulating, and the structures are very ruined; some stones are missing, while others have been restored. The stones decrease in size from the ends of the alignments towards their centres. Neolithic-period material, including flints, stone axes and pottery, has been found in the packing around their bases. The blocks are of local granite; a few are quite large and heavy. Wild speculations concerning their alignments’ ritual or symbolic significance have flourished, particularly in the 19th century, when the first theories about astral worship and astronomical use originated. The alignments differ in orientation, however, and there is no scientifically conclusive evidence to support even the most recent hypotheses, although some large isolated menhirs could have served as foresights for solar or lunar observation....


Seton Lloyd

[Arab. Diyālá.]

Region of ancient Mesopotamia, south of modern Ba‛quba and north-east of Baghdad, Iraq. The area incorporates five major cities that flourished first during the Jemdet Nasr and Early Dynastic periods (c. 3100–c. 2340 bc) and has provided numerous examples of Sumerian architecture and sculpture. The region was also important during the Isin–Larsa period (c. 2000–c. 1760 bc).

Until the middle of the 1st millennium bc, the main stream of the Tigris River below Samarra’ followed a line some distance to the east of its present course. In Abbasid times this ancient bed formed part of the Nahrawan canal, which, together with the tributary waters of the River Diyala, created a wide basin of cultivatable land. Later, with the Nahrawan fallen into disrepair and the Diyala deflected by a weir, the whole province became a wilderness strewn with abandoned city-mounds.

There has been much excavation since ...


Eric de Waele

[Pers. Luristăn]

Region of Iran, near the border with Iraq, which has given its name to a remarkable series of ancient bronze objects, especially those produced between c. 1200 and 600 bc .

Luristan is situated in the central part of the Zagros mountain range, which runs north-west to south-east along Iran’s frontier with Iraq. The region can be divided into two parts: to the west is the Pusht-i Kuh (‘behind the mountain’), which descends towards the plains of Mesopotamia and Susiana, while to the east, at a higher altitude, lies the Pish-i Kuh (‘before the mountain’). Nomadic Lurs inhabit its high, fertile valleys.

The nomads who lived in the valleys of Luristan in antiquity were shepherds, horse-breeders, hunters and warriors. It is not known what they were called, for they have left no written sources, and suggestions that they might have been Kassites or Cimmerians must be rejected. They should perhaps be equated with the Ellipi, whose kingdom was overthrown by the Medes in ...



Crawford H. Greenewalt jr

Region in western Asia Minor (now Turkey) that formed an independent kingdom ruled from Sardis during the 7th century bc and earlier 6th, but later fell under Persian, Greek and Roman control. It covered an area of 24,000–25,000 sq. km consisting of mountain ranges and fertile valleys (of the rivers Hermos, Kayster and Maeander, now respectively Gediz, Kücük Menderes and Menderes), which created natural corridors, and thus trade routes, between the Aegean and the central Anatolian plateau.

The history of Lydia before the 7th century bc is shrouded in legend. In the Iliad Lydian heroes were allies of the Trojans, while the early Lydian kings Meles and Kambles have the same semi-mythological status as Tantalos, Niobe, Omphale and Arachne, whose stories were also set in Lydia. During its period of independence (c. 680–546 bc) Lydia controlled an empire that extended over most of western Asia Minor, as far east as the River Halys (now Kızıl ırmak), and was ruled by a dynasty of native kings, of whom the most celebrated are the first and last, Gyges and Croesus. After its conquest by Persia in ...


K. A. Wardle

Region in northern Greece between the Aegean Sea and Balkan massif. Its location, climate and natural resources fostered the development of a distinctive culture but also attracted invaders and settlers. Alone of the provinces of Greece, it provides fertile, well-watered plains, cut by the great rivers Haliakmon, Axios and Strymon, and mountains rich in mineral resources, such as the gold of Mt Pangaion. The Mediterranean climate of Chalkidike encourages widespread olive production while, inland, cereals are widely cultivated and there is good grazing for cattle and sheep. From the Classical period (c. 480–323 bc), if not earlier, the surplus cereal production of the lowlands and the abundant shipbuilding timber of the hills were the envy of those in the south of Greece. Good harbours provide easy access to the trade routes of the eastern Mediterranean while the river valleys and mountain passes leading west, north and north-east allow good routes of communication....



Keith Branigan

Region in southern central Crete that flourished in the Bronze Age. One of the most fertile parts of Crete, this flat alluvial plain is about 50 km east–west, but never more than 10 km north–south, and it is surrounded on the north, east and south by foothills and mountains. It was in and around the Mesara plain in the Early Bronze Age (for discussion of Bronze Age absolute dates see Minoan, §I, 4) that a distinctive culture developed, characterized by small village communities, perhaps composed of extended family groups, who buried their dead in circular communal tombs known as the Mesara type. The wealth of attractively painted pottery, finely carved sealstones and stone bowls, well-made bronze weapons and gold jewellery from these tombs suggest that the Mesara was a prosperous area and that its people were inventive and skilled. Early in the 2nd millennium bc the whole area was presumably dominated by the Minoan palace at ...



William Y. Adams, R. G. Morkot, Timothy Kendall, L. Török and Khalid J. Deemer

Region in the Nile Valley, immediately to the south of Egypt, in which several cultures flourished, from the Khartoum Mesolithic period (c. 10,000–c. 5000 bc) to the establishment of the Islamic Funj sultanate c. ad 1505. Ancient Nubia corresponds essentially to the ‘Aethiopia’ of Herodotus and other Classical writers and the ‘Kush’ of the ancient Egyptians and Hebrews. It extends approximately from Aswan in southern Egypt to Khartoum in Sudan (see fig. 1 and fig. 2). The most northerly part, Lower Nubia, has always been regarded as an Egyptian sphere of influence, and it is included within the borders of the modern Arab Republic of Egypt. Egyptian control of the larger, southerly region, ‘Upper Nubia’, was much more sporadic.



N. Moutsopoulos

Region comprising two lakes, c. 30 km west of Florina, Greece: Great Prespa is shared between Albania, the Republic of Macedonia and Greece and Little Prespa between Albania and Greece. Among the region’s earliest known architectural remains are those belonging to the ancient city on the island of St Achilles in Little Prespa lake. It was from here that the four sons of comes Nicholas, otherwise known as the Cometopuli, led a full-scale revolt against Byzantine occupation of the Balkans in ad 976. The youngest brother, Samuel, continued the struggle from his island base until his death in 1014. His empire survived him by only a few years. A modern village lies near the site of his capital.

Samuel also established a patriarchal see on the island (c. 990–1000), of which the first patriarch was Germanos, formerly of Tǎrnovo (Bulgaria). The patriarchal church, which was dedicated to St Achilles, whose relics were transferred to there from Larissa ...


Marie Mauzé

Region of eastern Vancouver Island and the adjacent Canadian–US mainland, opposite the Fraser River delta and canyon. It is the homeland of the Native American Coast Salish and the location of a number of Pre-Columbian sites, including Marpole, Glenrose, St Mungo, Locarno Beach and Musqueam around the Fraser delta. The first art, including sculpture in the round, appeared during the Developmental period (c. 3500–c. 1100 bc). The Marpole site, for example, has yielded ground slate fragments decorated with drilled holes, notched or scalloped edges and patterns of incised lines. Similar decorations were applied to bone and antler. From St Mungo come carvings in bone or soft stone resembling segmented insect larvae (Vancouver, U. BC, Mus. Anthropol.). The most impressive example, from Glenrose, is a small tool handle of antler in the shape of a human figure (Vancouver, U. BC, Mus. Anthropol.). It has a large, deeply carved face, perforated earlobes, almond-shaped eyes and eyebrows and nose forming a ‘y’. It is one the oldest anthropomorphic sculptures from the Northwest Coast (...


Duccio Bonavia

Region in South America, centred on Lake Titicaca on Peru’s south-eastern border with Bolivia. It was an important culture area in Pre-Columbian times (see South America, Pre-Columbian, §III), being one of only six areas in the Central Andes large enough to allow important human concentrations. Geographically, it corresponds to the Puno depression of south-eastern Peru and the Bolivian altiplano (a small part of the Andean altiplano that extends as far south as Argentina). Lake Titicaca is endorheic (its waters do not reach the sea) and has a large plateau catchment area, whose rivers all flow into the lake. It has one outlet, the River Desaguadero, which flows into Lake Poopó (also endorheic) in Bolivia. Titicaca, at c. 3809 m above sea-level the highest navigable lake in the world, is surrounded by extensive plains and pastures, which rise gradually to form plateaux (punas) at over 4000 m, until they reach the arid areas at the foot of the snow-capped mountain peaks ...