Lacking direct communiqu�s from ancient peoples, archaeologists turn to other clues--their structures, their artwork, their tools, even their very bones. Examining such relics, scientists attempt to fit the pieces into a comprehensive cultural picture. As fellow members of humanity, the ancient ones must have been very much like us in many ways. But the latest excavations are uncovering some surprising differences as well.
Consider the denizens of �atalh�y�k, in central Turkey, 9,000 years ago. Oddly, they walked atop their city and entered their houses from above. They had no sidewalks, no front doors. Yet they had a remarkably modern knack for sharing tasks between the sexes. In Egypt circa 1500 B.C.E., even stonecutters had the chance to learn to read and write in a community that greatly valued literacy. Not all the civilizations' tales end well, of course. In the face of local environmental decline, the prehistoric people of Malta developed a consuming obsession with death, which may have led to the culture's demise.
These civilizations, among the others featured in this special edition of Scientific American, demonstrate an impressive power to puzzle and intrigue us across the span of time. In the pages that follow, we invite you to contemplate our shared human heritage, in all its glorious--and inglorious--forms.
Europe and Asia
The Iceman Reconsidered
by James H. Dickson, Klaus Oeggl and Linda L. Handley
The Death Cults of Prehistoric Malta
by Caroline Malone, Anthony Bonanno, Tancred Gouder, Simon Stoddart and David Trump
Uncovering the Keys to the Lost Indus Cities
by Jonathan Mark Kenoyer
Africa and the Middle East
Women and Men at �atalh�y�k by Ian Hodder
Rock Art in Southern Africa
by Anne Solomon
Life and Death in Nabada by Joachim Bretschneider
The Tapestry of Power in a Mesopotamian City
by Elizabeth C. Stone and Paul Zimansky
Daily Life in Ancient Egypt
by Andrea G. McDowell
by Webber Ndoro
Precious Metal Objects of the Middle Sic�n
by Izumi Shimada and Jo Ann Griffin
Life in the Provinces of the Aztec Empire
by Michael E. Smith
Reading the Bones of La Florida
by Clark Spencer Larsen
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