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The year 1978 in archaeology involved some significant events.
- New excavations at Brahmagiri by Amalananda Ghosh.
- Excavations begin at Bontnewydd Palaeolithic site in Wales.
- New excavations begin at Holyhead Mountain Hut Circles on Holy Island, Anglesey, off the coast of Wales.
- Comprehensive excavations at Alepotrypa cave in Greece begin.
- February 21 - The remains of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan.
- Bactrian Gold hoard.
- A new Shapwick hoard of Roman copper coins in England.
- Cherchen Man in China.
- A fossilized partial human cranium is among hominid remains found in Apidima Cave in southern Greece; in 2019 it is announced as dating to more than 210,000 years BP, making it the earliest example of Homo sapiens outside Africa.
- Pictish stone depicting a bearded figure at Rhynie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
- Wreck of a Basque whaling galleon, probably the San Juan, off Saddle Island, Labrador.
- Lewis R. Binford - Nunamiut Ethnoarchaeology.
- Mounir Bouchenaki - Cités antiques d'Algérie.
- Richard A. Gould (ed.) - Explorations in Ethnoarchaeology.
- Keith Muckelroy - Maritime Archaeology.
- Paleontologist Björn Kurtén's short novel Dance of the Tiger, dealing with the interaction between Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals, is published in Sweden as Den Svarta Tigern.
- Theban Mapping Project is established.
- September - Thousands march through Dublin to Wood Quay to protest against the building of civic offices on the Viking site.
- August 19 - Sir Max Mallowan, English archaeologist (born 1904).
- October 8 - Bertha Cody, Native American archaeologist (born 1907).
- November 8 - Terence Mitford, British archaeologist of the Near East (born 1905).
- Harvati, Katerina; Röding, Carolin; Bosman, Abel M.; Karakostis, Fotios A.; Grün, Rainer; Stringer, Chris; Karkanas, Panagiotis; Thompson, Nicholas C.; Koutoulidis, Vassilis; Moulopoulos, Lia A.; Gorgoulis, Vassilis G.; Kouloukoussa, Mirsini (10 July 2019). "Apidima Cave fossils provide earliest evidence of Homo sapiens in Eurasia". Nature. 571 (7766): 500–504. doi:10.1038/s41586-019-1376-z. PMID 31292546.
- "Wood Quay 1978-79". Independent.ie. Retrieved 5 June 2017.
- "Sir Max Edgar Lucien Mallowan, CBE (6 May 1904 – 19 August 1978) 122093 - National Trust Collections". www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk. Retrieved 30 May 2017.