Focus on Archaeology

Henequen reigned as king in what is now the Mexican state of Yucatán, on the Yucatán Peninsula, for much of the 19th century. It was called “green gold” and made plantation owners wealthy, enabling them to own vast estates in the countryside and to build opulent mansions in Mérida, some of which can still be seen along one of the city’s major boulevards, Paseo de Montejo.

The earliest Spanish settlers built haciendas where they farmed and raised cattle, using the...

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Green-blue water. White-sand beaches. Posh hotels. Gourmet dining. Vibrant nightlife. This is what most visitors to Cancún travel there for. Few know that this sybaritic tourist mecca on Mexico’s northwest Yucatán coast was also once home to the Maya, as was the rest of the Yucatán Peninsula. 

Many visitors seek out the Yucatán’s best-known archaeological sites at Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Tulum, this last site about 80 miles south of Cancún, little guessing that there...

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The Etruscans dominated a wide swath of Italy from approximately the eighth century to the fifth century BC. Their territory stretched from the Arno River south to the Tiber, although the boundaries were not rigid and meandered well beyond this area of north-central Italy. 

The Etruscans had edged out the indigenous peoples of the areas they occupied until they, themselves, finally were conquered by a stronger neighbor to the south: Rome.

At the height of Etruscan power,...

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Spanish conquistadores, led by Francisco de Córdoba and, two years later, by Hernán Cortés, arrived in Mexico’s Yucatán in 1517. Following them came Catholic Spanish missionaries, particularly Franciscan friars, who made it their mission to convert the natives to Christianity. 

Not long after their arrival, these Franciscans began to build missions, monastic complexes that included not only housing for themselves but churches for the newly converted.

The religious...

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The palace in Kabah.
Exploring ruins of three Puuc Mayan cities — Kabah, Labná and Sayil — on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula

Historically, what is called the “Borders” once included not only much of southern Scotland but also neighboring areas of northern England. Today, however, the Borders is just one of 32 council areas of Scotland and is located in the southeastern part of the country. Cumbria and Northumberland in northern England lie to its south and east.

The Scottish Borders has the greatest concentration of medieval abbeys — four of them — in Scotland. These four are...

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Eilean Donan Castle.
Eilean Donan Castle, on an island in the western Highlands of Scotland
Mir Castle, home of the Radvila/Radziwiłł family — Belarus.
Castle hunting in Belarus, searching for the medieval and Renaissance past of what once was part of Lithuania (2 of 2)