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Quiz Time!

FLQ - The Frontline Quiz

Print edition : Aug 04, 2022 T+T-

FLQ - The Frontline Quiz

All things archaeological.

1. A major figure in the development of archaeology into a rigorous science was the English army officer and ethnologist Augustus Pitt Rivers, who began excavations on his own land in the 1880s. His approach was highly methodical by the standards of the time. His most significant contributions were (a) his “method of arrangement” (that used two main parameters) and (b) his insistence on a certain holistic approach to collecting and cataloging artefacts. Name both contributions.  

2. A study published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters makes the case that a rock collected in 1971 might be the world’s oldest rock, dating back more than 4.011 billion years. Where was the rock found?

3. In the world of DNA, adenine and guanine are called purine bases, while cytosine, thymine, and uracil are called pyramidine bases. Scientists detected purine bases in X multiple times over several decades. Uracil was detected in 1979. In the latest findings, Japanese archaeologists detected other pyramidine bases for the first time, giving more weight to the theory that X might have directly led to Y. What are X and Y?

4. In 2013, archaeologists excavated the cremated remains of 50,000 bones at this site, which were later found to belong to 63 men, women, and children. The bones date back to 3000 BCE-2500 BCE. The discovery led experts to think the site may have been an ancient burial ground although other structures there make it seem like it was used for other activities too. Name the site.

5. In the US, examples such as the case of the Kennewick Man have illustrated the tensions between X and archaeologists, which can be summarised as a conflict between a need to remain respectful and the benefit to be gained from academic study. This contradictory situation was sought to be addressed by a compromise solution that limited the authority of research institutions. To counter this, some archaeologists have begun to actively enlist the assistance of X. Name X.

6. Ishi was the last known member of the Native American Yahi people from present-day California. The rest of the Yahi were killed in the California genocide of the 19th century. Ishi, known as the “last wild Indian” in the US, is revered as one of the last two native “knappers” of North America. His techniques are widely imitated and ethnographic accounts of his process are considered to be the Rosetta Stone of its field. What did knappers do?

7. In a 1989 paper published in the academic journal Antiquity, the archeologist Christopher Tilley openly criticised the aims of rescue excavation, arguing that it was simply designed to collect “more and more information about the past”, most of which would remain unpublished and of no use to either archaeologists or the public. He said: “The number of pieces of information we collect about the past may increase incrementally—X does not.” What was X?

8. Various terms have been used to refer to the practice of using artefacts or sites to construct scientifically unsubstantiated theories outside analytical archaeology, such as creation science or attributing extraterrestrial origins to prehistoric human societies. These terms include “cult archaeology”, “fantastic archaeology” (used even as the name of an undergraduate course at Harvard University) and “alternative archaeology”. But in 2006, Garrett F. Fagan and Kenneth Feder called out the practice and said that these terms simply imparted a “warmer, fuzzier feel” to what was essentially _______. Fill in the blank.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. | Photo Credit: MAIL

9. In their search to prove the superiority of the Aryan race, the Nazi party began searching the world for archaeological evidence that would prove that the German people were not only a superior race but that they transcended traditional human standards. One archaeological exploit made popular by the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark was the search for the Ark of the Covenant. Another, perhaps lesser known, exploit was their attempt to discover _________.

10. This post-Harappan archaeological site is one of the most intensively excavated and well-reconstructed Chalcolithic sites of the Deccan plateau. It housed a settlement that seems to have thrived between 1600 BCE and 700 BCE. The unique discovery here was the skeleton of a man buried sitting upright inside a human-shaped urn. Which site am I referring to?


1. (a) He arranged artifacts by type or typologically. And within types, by date, “chronologically”. This was designed to highlight evolutionary trends and was of enormous significance for the accurate dating of objects. (b) His most important contribution was his insistence that all artefacts, not just beautiful or unique ones, be collected and cataloged.

2. The moon

3. Adenine, guanine, cytosine, thymine, and uracil are nucleotide bases found in DNA and RNA. X is meteorites. The finding gives weight to the theory that meteorites might have been an important catalyst for human evolution, Y.

4. Stonehenge

5. Indigenous people

6. Make stone tools: flintknapping

7. Understanding

8. ­­­Pseudoarchaeology

9. Atlantis

10. Inamgaon in Maharashtra