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The year 1879 in archaeology involved some significant events.
- Major excavation at Babylon, conducted by Hormuzd Rassam on behalf of the British Museum. Work continues until 1882.
- Excavation of the group tomb of the Sacred Band of Thebes who fell in the Battle of Chaeronea (338 BC) in Boeotia by Panagiotis Stamatakis.
- Excavation of the stone circles of Junapani by J. H. Rivett-Carnac in Maharashtra.
- Paintings of bison on the ceiling of the Cave of Altamira in Spain. c.12000 BC; accepted as authentic in 1902.
- Bronze Age weapons hoard at New Bradwell, Buckinghamshire, England.
- May 10: Establishment of the Archaeological Institute of America.
- Establishment of the Bureau of Ethnology.
- Percy Gardner is elected to the Disney Professorship of Archaeology in the University of Cambridge.
- March 29 - Alan Gardiner, English Egyptologist (died 1963).
- July 13 - Alan Wace, English Classical archaeologist (died 1957).
- Grace Mary Crowfoot, née Hood, English textile archaeologist (died 1957).