2010 Archeology News Recap: October

Christopher Columbus went on his adventures and was always accused of bringing back much more than trinkets and spices. In this article, one of the headlines you will encounter is the latest take regarding the Christopher Columbus and syphilis debate.

What Christopher Columbus Didn’t Bring Back on His Travels

There was a common thought that the explorer and his crew transmitted syphilis to the Europeans from the New World, but seven skeletons found in Britain indicate that the disease was present long before Columbus made his voyage. Some people believed that Columbus was the person of origin of the sexually transmitted disease, but remains uncovered in a cemetery may have cleared the explorer.

Shortly after Columbus returned from his voyage in the mid 1490s, the disease spread like wildfire throughout Europe. Most researchers were under the impression that the explorer brought back one of the tropical diseases from his adventures. However, after analyzing the remains of the largest excavation of skeletons in Britain , the disease showed up in remains up to two centuries before Columbus ever set sail.

Rough patches found on the skulls and limbs of the skeletons illustrate a different picture for the remains uncovered at St Mary Spital in East London. The bones studied by an osteologist from the Museum of London concluded that the skeletons were buried before Columbus’ travels. Radiocarbon dating of the specimens is estimated to be 95% correct.

Mummy Discovery in Peru

In Lima, Peru, the mummies of what seems like a female and three children associated with the Huari culture were uncovered in an intact tomb situated at the top of a pyramid. The mummies found at the ancient burial site are estimated to be about 1,150 years old. Archeologists intended on analyzing the preserved bodies in an effort to learn more about who they believe to be an elite woman and three children , one of which may have been a sacrifice.

Researchers believe that the bodies came from the Wari (or Huari) culture, which was a pre-Inca civilization found along the Peruvian coast between 600 and 1,000 AD. The exact age or gender of the larger mummy is unknown, but the embellishments of the body suggest that it was a woman.

Other archeology news from October 2010 includes:

The United States Army corps of engineers uncovered human remains, stone tools, and pottery that date back to the 1300s in a building project situated in Mississippi.  
In Ontario, a village comprised of 10 longhouses that date back 400 years have been discovered on the banks of Strasburg Creek. Some of the artifacts associated with the site are much older than the longhouses , some dating back 4,500 and 9,000 years.

This month, Northwest Europe reported that the youngest Neanderthal ever unearthed was found. The child was about 18 months old at the time of death, and was described as large, sturdy and toothy.