Houstonians will have a chance to experience an archaeological mystery in the Tryptilian culture when Ancient Ukraine Golden Treasures and Lost Civilizations opens at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The Tryptilians, whose civilization dates back 7,000 years, lived in tightly packed communities of 10,000 to 15,000 people. Roughly every 50, 60, 70 years, these communities would be destroyed by fire, but intentionally, says Anthropology Curator Dirk Van Tuerenhout. Then they would move down the road and build another one of those settlements.
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No one really knows exactly why the settlements were burned. Van Tuerenhout says some scholars think it was because the people were farmers and had depleted the soil; some think the soil depletion was caused by runoff, a side-effect of overzealous wood harvesting; some think it might have been because of disease; and others say it was a combination of all three factors.
Thats what makes it so interesting to me, Van Tuerenhout says. We dont have answers to everything. We dont have an open-and-shut case like Greek and Roman archeology, where its like, Let me look it up real quick, because Im sure some guy wrote about that at some point. We dont have writing from these people. We have some symbols from these people some argue maybe could have been writing...but its nothing like Greece, Rome, Egypt. And so archeology has to come to the rescue.
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays. Through September 5. Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 713-639-4629 or visit www.hmns.org. $12 to $18.
May 27-Sept. 5, 2011
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