March 2009
Billie Silvey
Ajanta Caves, India
The 29 Ajanta Caves of
Maharashtra, India are a series
of rock-cut cave temples and
monuments dating from the
second century B.C. and
covered with Buddhist
paintings and sculptures.  The
caves, excavated in 1956, are a
UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Begun by a 12th century king and
dedicated to the god Vishnu, work
on the temple  complex ended with
his death.  The site was sacked by
enemies and neglected since the 16th
century.  Restoration, begun in the
20th century with the removal of
earth and jungle vegetation, was
interrupted by civil war and the
Khmer Rouge during the 70s and 80s.
Qin Shi Huang's
Mausoleum, China
Begun in 246 B. C. by the first
emperor of China, the
mausoleum was completed for
his burial in 210.  The tyrant
who built the Great Wall feared
death and sought immortality.  
It took 700,000 workers  to
construct the tomb, which
archeologists only began
exploring 40 years ago.  600
people were buried with the
emperor, together with a terra
cotta army of 6,000 soldiers and
Chichen Itza, Mexico
Easter Island, Chile
Giza, Egypt
Lascaux, France
Machu Picchu, Peru
Mesa Verde, USA
Palmyra, Syria
Palmyra, Syria, 150 miles
northeast of Damascus, has
been a settlement since Neolithic
times.  Named for the palms
which grew around the oasis
there, it was a caravan town for
Assyrians until it became an
important outpost of the Greek
Empire.  Then, in 217, under
Rome, it grew wealthy by taxing
caravans.  In 266, it was ruled
by the warrior Queen Zenobia.
Persepolis, Iran
Petra, Jordan
\Sites and
Around the
Middle East
Petra, Jordan, on the slope of Mount
Hor, is renowned for its rock-cut
architecture.  The Nabataeans, gifted
engineers at controlling water, created
an artificial oasis, controlled floods with
dams and stored water for droughts at

Petra was unknown by the West until
1812, when it was discovered by the
Swiss explorer John William Bergh,
who described it as "a rose-red city half
as old as time."  The World Heritage
Site is approached from the east down
a dark, narrow gorge called the Siq.
Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of
the Persian Empire during the Achaemedid
dynasty.  Cyrus the Great chose the site,
but Darius built the terrace and palaces,
which were completed by Xerxes I.  The
ruins were discovered by Antonio de
Gouvein of Portugal in 1602, but not
excavated until 1934 by the Oriental
Institute of the University of Chicago. The
site includes military quarters, treasury,
reception halls, and houses for the king,
built of gray limestone with underground
sewage tunnels cut through the rock.
Perhaps the best-known site
in the world are the pyarmids
of Giza, a complex of three
Old Kingdom pyramids.  The
largest ws built between 2589
and 2466 B.C., covers three
acres, and was perfectly
oriented to the points of the

Before erosion, it stood 481
feet tall.  Other features of the
Giza complex include the
pyramids of Khafre and
Menkaure and the Sphinx.
Valley of the Kings, Egypt
The Valley of the Kings, on the west
bank of the Nile opposite Thebes, was
the burial place of kings and powerful
nobles in Egypt from the 16th-11th
centuries B.C.  Sixty-two pharaohs were
buried there, including the
longest-reigning woman to serve as
pharaoh, Hatshepsut.  The favorite
daughter of a powerful pharaoh as well as
a strong and charismatic woman in her
own right, she took control, even to
wearing the traditional clothing and false
beard of male pharaohs.  Her tomb is on
the left.
Karnak, Egypt
A vast complex of temples, chapels,
pylons and other buildings near Luxor,
Karnak is the largest ancient religious
site in the world, second only to the
pyramids as the most visited site in

The Hypostyle Hall at the temple of
Karnak includes 134 massive columns
carved with hieroglyphics.  Construction
on the complex began in the 16th
century B.C., with some 30 pharaohs
contributing to the building.  First
described by a Venetian traveler in
1668, it was studied by the scientists
with Napoleon in 1798.
Forum, Rome
Located between the Palatine and Capitoline
hills in Rome, the Forum includes some of the
oldest and most important structures in the
city, including the royal residence, the Temple
of the Vestal Virgins and the Comitium, where
the senate met.

The Forum was falling apart by the 8th
century and mostly buried by the Middle
Ages.  It wasn't fully excavated until the earlly
20th century.
Ishtar Gate, Babylonia, Iraq
The Ishtar Gate was constructed in
575 B.C. under King Nebuchadnezzar
II and dedicated to the Babylonian
goddess Ishtar.  The gate is made of
blue glazed tiles alternating with
bas-reliefs of dragons and bulls.  The
Processional Way ran through the gate
and was lined with walls covered with
lions on glazed bricks.  The gate was
reconstructed at Pergamon Museum in
Berlin from material excavated by
Robert Koldewey and was completed
in the 1930s.
Lascaux is a complex of caves with painted
walls three times older than the Pyramids.
The art includes 2,000 figures, including 900
animals as well as geometric figures.

Estimated to be 16,000 years old, the caves
were discovered in 1940 by four teenagers.  
Access was improved after World War II,
but the caves were closed in 1963 because
carbon dioxide from 1,200 visitors a day
were damaging the paintings.  Replicas of
two of the caves' halls, the Great Hall of
Bulls and the Painted Gallery, were opened
in 1982.   
A funeral mask, first thought to be
the mask of Agamemnon, was
excavated in 1876 by the German
archeologist Heinrich Schliemann.  
Schliemann searched for the sites
of  Greek classics at Mycenae and
Troy.  The mask was one of five
found over the faces of bodies in
shaft tombs.  Modern research
suggests a date of 1550-1500
B.C., earlier than the traditional
date for Agamemnon.
Easter Island is a Polynesian island in
the southeastern Pacific located off the
coast of Chile.  The island is famous
for its monumental statues called moai,
created by the Rapanui people.  Now
a World Heritage site protected in the
Rapa Nui National Park, it was only
excavated in the 1990s, though it was
settled 300-400 A.D., though some
date it 500 years earlier.
Located 8,000 feet above sea level, the
ruins of Machu Picchu were
rediscovered in 1911 by Yale
archeologist Hiram Bingham.  In the
early 1400s, the Inca erected hundreds
of stone structures--palaces, baths,
temples, storage rooms and 150
houses--to form a five-square-mile city,
invisible from below but completely
self-contained.  The people were fed by
crops grown on surrounding agricultural
terraces, and watered by natural springs.
A pre-columbian architectural site built
by Mayans in the northern center of the
Yucatan Penninsula in Mexico.  Built
on natural sink holes which provide
plentiful water, Chichen Itza reached its
height in 600 A.D., becoming a
regional capital.  In 987, it became the
capital of the Toltec king Quatzalcoatl
from Central Mexico.  The site
includes the Temple of a Thousand
Warriors and a pyramid.
Located in the lower southwestern corner
of Colorado near the Four Corners, the
81.4 square mile site features numerous
ruins of houses and villages built by the
Anasazi people in the 1200s.  It is best
known for spectacular cliff dwellings,
including the Cliff Palace, the largest cliff
dwelling in North America.

The prospector John Moss led a
to the ruins in 1874.  He photographed and
published his finds before ranchers
despoiled much of the treasures.
Indiana Jones
Women Archeologists