Who Are We?

Do you enjoy the classic cultures like Egyptians, Greeks, Romans or the ‘more than classic’ Ice Age Cro-Magnon, prehistoric cave art and lost civilizations? The Archaeology Study Unit studies postage stamps related to archaeology from the stone age to the beginnings of recorded history.

Europe People

Leonardo da Vinci – The Universal Man

Here’s another interesting stamp exhibit on Leonardo da Vinci, a man of many talents. The link follows:

Leaonardo da Vinci

From the site:

“A philatelic retrospective on Leonardo da Vinci’s life, works, times and influence, from his childhood in Italy to his death in France.”

I recommend viewing it but make sure you’ve got at least an hour free to do it.

Art Prehistoric South America

The Nazca Lines, Peru

Located on the dry Peruvian plain the geoglyphs of the Nazca civilization are a mystery.

They represent coastal and jungle birds as well as a monkey, spider, snail, whale, llamas, iguanas, lizards and a recently discovered cat.  Some of the birds depicted are hummingbird, condor, pelican, crane, parrots and seagulls.  More than 800 figures have been found.

It is unknown how or why these images were etched into rock more than 1300 feet above sea level.  Some archaeologists think the lines may be sacred roads and others an astronomical map or some type of calendar.

The Nazca society thrived between 500 BCE and 500 CE and it is believed the images were created from 1 to 650 CE. The  Nazca Lines became a UNESCO world Heritage Site in 1994.

Peru issued stamps depicting Maria Reiche, an archaeologist known for her research of the Nazca Lines.

Europe General Mythology Rome

Free Kindle Books 4

Here are a couple more free Kindle books. You can simply ‘buy for $0.00‘ and they’ll be sent to your Amazon account.

Roman Britain


Viking Tales

It’s another opportunity to read some basic information.

And, they’re free!

Europe Prehistoric

Carnac, France

The standing stones of Carnac can be seen from the road travelled by Tour de France bicyclists as they pass.  Dozens of ancient sites are in the area and the menhirs (standing stones) of Carnac are estimated to be more than 5000 years old.

Carnac Stone

Similar standing stone arrangements are found throughout Europe dating from the Neolithic to Bronze Age periods.  Although archaeologists believe they were used for some ritualistic purpose it is not known what their use actually was.  It is doubtful they had anything to do with astronomical events.

Carnac Stone Alignment

There are about a dozen alignments of standing stones in the Carnac area, the longest has ten rows of stones with more than 1100 stretching for a distance of more than one mile.

Europe General Meso-America Mythology People Rome

Free Kindle Books 3

Here are a couple more free Kindle books. You can simply ‘buy for $0.00‘ and they’ll be sent to your Amazon account.

Mayan Civilization

Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius

Lemuria, The Lost Continent of the Pacific

It’s another opportunity to read some basic information.

And, they’re free!

General Middle East

Archaeology in Jerusalem — A Philatelic View

A short article on the Archaeology in Jerusalem is found at this site which includes references to archaeology. From the site:

“Digging into archaeological sites will probably not yield any philatelic finds, but digging into postage stamps will often yield a good deal about archaeology. Thus, Biblical archaeology buffs may be interested in a series of five stamps recently released by the Israel Philatelic Services entitled “Archaeology In Jerusalem.”

It’s an interesting short read.

Africa Art Egypt

Abu Simbel

Since 1955 UNESCO has been working with Egypt’s Documentation Center to record Nubian temples.  In 1959 Egypt proposed that UNESCO led a campaign to save the monuments of Nubia.  Egypt would provide a sum of money but would need much assistance.  

A planning conference was held in October 1959 at the Nubian Documentation Center where experts in archaeology, geology, engineering and architecture attended.  

Abu-Simbel Monument

At the end of the conference it was announced the first monuments to be addressed would be the Temples of Abu Simbel.  Cut into the cliffs near the second cataract these monuments were built to honor Rameses II and his chief wife Nefertari around 1279-1213BCE.

The UNESCO council earmarked $110,000 for research into this project.  These temples were the last to be saved because of the immensity of the project which took over two years to complete.  The work was done by Swedish firm VBB (AB Vattenbyggnadsbyrån), who in a feat of spectacular engineering, cut and moved the temples, elevating them more than 200 feet above their original position so to be saved from the water.

Abu-Simbel Monument

The Campaign officially began March 8th 1960 when UNESCO Director General Vittorino Veronese launched the appeal from Paris.  The Work on the Aswan High Dam began January 9th, already they were racing the rising waters. The United Nations Educational Scientific & Cultural Organization collected funds from over 100 countries, and skilled engineers were sent from more than 50 nations to help, saving for future generations to see and study these monuments of Ancient Nubia.

$65,690.64 was collected through philatelic campaigns whereby about 50 nations issued stamps with Nubian motifs paying part of the revenue (for example first day issues and covers) to the campaign.  Though the amount collected was small, it produced a significant promotion.

100% of the monies collected through the sale of first day covers produced by the various governments went directly toward saving these monuments.  Stamps were semi-postals, some were overprinted and a “Tourist Tax” instituted by Egypt (US$2.00) went toward saving Abu Simbel.  The “TT” is still there, paying for upkeep.

Europe General

Free Kindle Books 2

More free Kindle books are available and I’ll pass this information along to readers here. You can simply ‘buy for $0.00‘ and they’ll be sent to your Amazon account.

Making Sense of World History

The Black Death

It’s another opportunity to read some basic information.

And, they’re free!

Europe Rome

European Castles – Evolution And History

If you’re unfamiliar with stamp collectors exhibiting their collections, this may be an interesting experience. For those of us who are familiar, it’s a very nicely done philatelic exhibit on the subject of European Castles. The link follows:

European Castles

From the site:

“A review of the evolution and history of European Castles, from ancient and Roman fortifications to Renaissance’s castle-palaces, and including contributions made by Byzantines, Arabs, and Crusaders, who strongly influenced the defensive military architecture of Europe.”

I recommend viewing it but make sure you’ve got at least an hour free to do it.

Art India

The Cave Temples and Monasteries at Ajanta

The facades of the temples are known for their murals, paintings and sculptures.   These striking rock cut temples, more than 30 located in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, western India, date from the 2nd century BCE to about 480CE.  These Buddhist temples today are a UNESCO World Heritage Site protected by the Archaeological Survey of India, The temples were covered by jungle when first discovered in 1819 by a group of British Army Officers lead by John Smith who found the entrance to Cave #10.  After their discovery the caves were numbered 1 to 29 in order of their discovery, not their inception.


A treasure of Buddhist art, it’s believed today that they were constructed in two phases over five centuries. Several of the caves are still residences of Buddhist monks.  The paintings represent the several lives and rebirths of Buddha. Some of the caves contain some of the largest ancient Indian wall painting.

amanita painting

General Middle East People

Famous Archaeologists

A short list of famous archaeologists is on the Julian Truben site which includes references to archaeologists. From the site:

“Jean Francois Champollion (1790 – 1832), French philologist and orientalist: the decipherer of the Rosetta Stone hieroglyphs in 1822.”

It’s an interesting short read.

Africa Art

African Cave Paintings in Botswana

Tsodilo cave, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001, has one of the highest concentrations of rock art in the world. Also referred to as the “Louvre of the Desert”.  It has more than 4,500 paintings preserved in an area of about 10 sq km of the Kalahari Desert.  Tsodilo has a unique spiritual significance to the local population as well as being a unique record of human settlement over millenia.

Giraffe from Tsodilo cave

The archaeological record of the area dates back thousands of years for painting and rituals.  It is estimated that the hills contain more than 500 sites, representing human habitation.  The rock art is linked to local hunter-gatherers. It is believed that ancestors of the San people created paintings at Tsodilo and there is also evidence that Bantu people were also responsible for some of the art.  Some paintings have been dated to be 24,000 years old

The Tsodilo Hills consist of a number archaeological sites. Two of them, known as Divuyu and Nqoma, have been dated to Early Iron Age.  Excavations from the caves contained pieces of jewelry and metal tools, indicating that these areas may have been iron smelting areas, making them one of the few Early Iron Age sites in southern Africa with evidence of metal working.

Ostriches Tsodilo Hills

In justification of inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the area has been used for many thousands of years by humans who have left traces of their presence in their rock art.  Tsodilo has been settled by successive human communities for many millenia and the area has symbolic and religious significance for the human communities who continue to inhabit the area.

Europe General Middle East

Free Kindle Books

A pair of free Kindle books caught my attention and I’ll pass this information along to readers here. You can simply ‘buy for $0.00‘ and they’ll be sent to your Amazon account.

The Vikings

The Assyrian Empire

They may not be red meat for anyone with a knowledge of those fields, but they do present an opportunity to read some basic information.

And, they’re free!

General India

Fascinating Stamps – Archaeology Series

A short article on the Indian Archaeology Issues is found at this site which includes references to archaeology. From the site:

“Between 15/08/1947 and 30/04/1951, a number of postage stamps were issued by the Indian Posts, called the Archaeology Series.”

It’s an illustrated short read.

Europe Prehistoric

Petroglyphs of Coa Valley

It was only in the early 1990s that the petroglyphs of the Coa Valley obtained Portuguese and international attention.  In 1992 the government planned to flood the area as part of a dam project.  After the river level was lowered and an archaeological survey was made many previously unknown sites were exposed.  This brought about cessation of the project and the sites are preserved for posterity as the Coa Valley archaeological Park.  The site, dating to the Paleolithic, was declared a UNESCO world Heritage Site in 1998.

Horse, Deer and Ibex

The earliest petroglyphs are believed to have been done between 8,000-20,000 years ago, though the Upper Paleolithic dating has been challenged.  The dating has been based on three things:

1- Finding an animal figure depicting a species existing In a restricted period of time, such as a horse, deer or ibex.

2- Finding petroglyphs below ground level and dating them through stratigraphy to associated sites of the same period.

3- Finding evidence of occupation; until radiocarbon dates from Coa Valley sites are provided the actual dating remains controversial.

Souvenir Sheet issued 10/23/98

Another characteristic feature of the landscape are the rocky formations outcropping through the predominantly low and open vegetation: granites upstream from Santa Comba, schist downstream to the Douro. Erosion acts upon these different bedrocks in different ways. The granitic plateaus, cut by deep ravines, feature spaced accumulations of large round boulders.