Finding The Real Jamestown

The archaeologist who discovered the real Jamestown debunks myths and answers long-puzzling mysteries about North America's first successful English colony

Forget much of what you know about the Jamestown colony. For the past 200 years, many archaeologists and historians believed that the James River had largely eroded any traces of the original settlement over the intervening four centuries. Our excavations, ongoing since 1994, have proved otherwise...Read more »

Mound Country

Robert Maslowski and I made our way carefully across the tobacco field, trying not to disturb the neat rows of freshly plowed furrows. On the other side of the flat valley, a tractor moved slowly across the horizon “settin’ tobacco,” as they call planting seedlings in this part of West Virginia. Our destination was also far away: an oasis of greenery in the distance that was a prehistoric Indian mound. Read more »

Digging Up The U.S.

In the underpinnings of our cities, in desolate swampland, beneath coastal waters—wherever the early settlers left traces of their lives—a new generation of archaeologists is uncovering a lost world

CROUCHED IN an L-shaped pit, a foot below the surface of the forest floor, John Ehrenhard, an archaeologist with the National Park Service, is contemplating a piece of charred wood. The sandy soil around the base of what appears to have once been a post has been carefully scraped away, and Ehrenhard, a small, lithe man wearing a colorful bandanna over his longish hair, seems ready to pounce.Read more »

Martians & Vikings, Madoc & Runes

A seasoned campaigner’s look at the never-ending war between archaeological fact and archaeological fraud

In 1961 three rockhounds found an unusual nodule near Olancha, California. It contained ceramic, copper, and iron components and seemed obviously man-made. Although ( California is the home of some of the world’s finest universities, the discoverers took the artifact to the Charles Ford Society, reportedly “an organization specializing in examining extraordinary things.” The results were predictably extraordinary.Read more »

A Heritage Preserved

PAST PARTICIPATION

There is something almost atavistic in the appeal of an archeological dig.Read more »

Unearthing The Mastodon

Peale’s Greatest Triumph

During the spring of 1801 Charles Willson Peale learned of a remarkable discovery—the huge bones of an “animal of uncommon magnitude” had been found in Orange and Ulster counties north of New York City. The great relics were scattered abundantly through the swamps where the local farmers dug white marl for fertilizer but they were rapidly being dispersed among clumsy, amateurish collectors. No one had yet assembled a complete skeleton. Read more »

The Giant In The Earth

IT’S A PETRIFIED MAN!
IT’S A SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY IDOL!
IT’S A HOAX!
ITS THE CARDIFF GIANT!

One morning in early November of the year 1868 three men appeared at the railroad depot in Union, New York, just outside Binghamton. The most imposing of the trio, a tall, heavily bearded figure in his mid-forties, dressed in funereal black, identified himself to the station agent as George Hull and explained that he wanted to collect a shipment being held for him.Read more »

Professor Cope Vs. Professor Marsh

A bitter feud among the bones

In the early 1870’s two American scientists began a vicious personal contest for position and eminence in the world of science. As vertebrate paleontologists they delved into the crust of the earth for evidence of ancient life, at a time when the surface had barely been scratched and popular interest in such discoveries was intense. In the infancy of a new science, both men sought immortality.Read more »

The Last Stone Age American

As an epilogue to his forthcoming book on the archaeology of the United States, C. W. Ceram, the author of Gods, Graves and Scholars, has chosen to tell a symbolic tale—the story of lshi. Chronologically, the story is quite modern; culturally, it reaches back to the Stone Age. Mr. Ceram’s new book, The First American, will be published later this month by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. A MERICAN H ERITAGE presents his moving epilogue—the end of “a chapter m History.” Read more »

“Savages Never Carved These Stones”

Magnificent Central American ruins, overgrown by the thickening jungle, testify to a sophisticated culture already ancient when Columbus sailed

On the afternoon of November 17, 1839, John Lloyd Stephens, a red-bearded New York lawyer, and Frederick Catherwood, an English artist, hacked their way through a jungle in Honduras and emerged at the edge of a broad river. Facing them across the wide ribbon of water was an ancient and massive stone wall, looming up a hundred feet out of the bush. As they crossed the river and explored the surroundings, they discovered stone altars, mysterious hieroglyphics, and giant idols richly carved; it was clear that they had come upon the ruins of an ancient city.