World news in brief: underwater finds in Egypt, Mayan connections, and Pleistocene New Guinea

A look at the latest archaeology stories from across the globe, including a 4th century galley sunk off Egypt, evidence of social links between Mayan cities, and a study of Late Pleistocene husbandry.

Ptolemaic galley found off Egypt

A 25m-long galley has been discovered during excavations at the sunken port city of Thonis-Heracleion, an important trading post that once linked Egypt with the Mediterranean and the wider world.

The boat sank to the bottom of a canal when parts of the temple of Amun fell on top of it after an earthquake in the 2nd century BC. A series of natural disasters eventually submerged the whole city in seawater, but it was rediscovered in 2000 by Franck Goddio and a team from the European Institute for Underwater Archaeology.

Excavations since have uncovered more than 70 ships, most dating to the Late Period (664-332 BC), but the recently found galley is a rare find from the Ptolemaic period (305-330 BC).

Photo: ChristophGerigk © FranckGoddio/Hilti Foundation.

Teotihuacan citadel in miniature

Archaeologists have found further evidence of connections between the Maya city of Tikal in Guatemala and the Mexican city of Teotihuacan, located 1,000km away.

Evidence of contact between the two areas before Teotihuacan conquered Tikal in c.AD 378 has been found previously, but a 2016 LiDAR examination of part of Tikal once considered a hillock, followed by excavation of the area, have revealed a complex in Tikal that closely resembles the Ciudadela (‘citadel’) of Teotihuacan. The Tikal complex was mostly built in the Early Classic period (c.AD 200-255) and is about 30% smaller than its Mexican counterpart. It was constructed using non-local techniques and was perhaps erected during a period of increased interaction between the two cities involving an assertion of Teotihuacan’s cultural identity.

The research was recently published in the journal Antiquity.

Late Pleistocene avian husbandry

People may have been collecting cassowary eggs and raising chicks to adulthood 18,000 years ago, thousands of years before the domestication of chicken and geese, an article published in the journal PNAS has suggested.

The researchers studied eggshells from two sites in New Guinea, and developed a new way of determining the stage of embryonic development at which the eggs were cracked open. They found that most eggs had been harvested at a late stage, pointing either towards the consumption of developing chick embryos (baluts), or deliberate hatching – in which case this would be the earliest evidence of avian husbandry yet found.