Blogs & Videos: Archaeology

Left: Pieces of eggshell and small bones laid out in rows. Right: A young boy and an older woman carry live turkeys by the feet through a market.

Archaeological Excavation Unearths Evidence of Turkey Domestication 1,500 Years Ago

The turkeys we’ll be sitting down to eat on Thursday have a history that goes way back. Archaeologists have unearthed a clutch of domesticated turkey eggs used as a ritual offering 1,500 years ago in Oaxaca, Mexico—some of the earliest evidence of turkey domestication.

Two sculptures, created by French paleoartist Elisabeth Daynès, give a breathtakingly lifelike look at human relatives—Homo ergaster and Homo neanderthalensis.

Bringing Neanderthals to Life: The Sculptures of Elisabeth Daynès

There’s a lot to see in The Field Museum’s Evolving Planet exhibition—a rock bearing traces of life from a billion years ago, a seventy-two-foot-long Apatosaurus, a towering prehistoric giant sloth. But two new displays in the section on human evolution have been literally stopping visitors in their tracks. Two new sculptures, created by French paleoartist Elisabeth Daynès, give a breathtakingly lifelike look at human relatives—Homo ergaster and Homo neanderthalensis.

A coastline with cliffs, green hills, and blue water with a small sailboat

Window to the past: Alepotrypa Cave

Alepotrypa Cave is like a time capsule of life in Neolithic Greece. The cave lay undisturbed for 5,000 years before it was rediscovered in the 1950s, and Greek archaeologists started excavating the cave in the 1970s. Since 2010, Field Museum associate curator Bill Parkinson has collaborated with archaeologists in Greece to understand the significance of this space.

Conservator works on an Egyptian coffin.

Through thick and thin! Stabilizing the Plaster on Minirdis’ Coffin

After cleaning, the first part of Minirdis’ burial equipment that we treated was his coffin.  The coffin was constructed of wood panels joined with wood dowels. A layer of an orange colored plaster like material had been applied over the wood to fill gaps between the wood panels and provide a smooth surface. On top of the plaster layer, the coffin had been painted black with red and yellow decoration.

Three conservators carefully work to move an Egyptian mummy.

How to Uncoffin a Mummy

Removing the lid of the coffin was just the start. Now there was the problem of removing the damaged mummy from the lower half of the coffin. With the lid off we found that the right side piece, which had been held in place by the lid, was detached from the bottom of the coffin and could easily be removed. This meant that the mummy could be slid out, instead of trying to pick it up – good news because the assembly was very fragile. Even so, this was no small task, and it took four people to safely move him out of the coffin.

A female conservator works on a painted Egyptian coffin.

Introduction to the Conservation of "Mummies: Images of the Afterlife"

Traveling exhibits pose a challenge for museums, especially when particularly fragile objects such as mummies are involved. We want to share our objects and what we’ve found out about them with people outside the museum, but transporting the objects to other museums involves all kinds for risks – traffic accidents, malfunctioning forklifts, road vibration, and freezing winters to name just a few.

Field Museum Women in Science (FMWIS) Internships 2014 -- Madeleine Farris

Learn more about FMWIS intern Madeleine Farris, and her work with Emily Baca and Ryan Patrick Williams.  Madeleine's project, "Archaeological Study of Peruvian Materials in the South American Laboratory" involved working with ceremanics and pottery to learn more about Inca economy and society. 

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