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The year 1979 in archaeology involved some significant events.
- July - Fossil hominid footprints found at Laetoli, Tanzania, by Mary Leakey.
- Wreck of SS Xantho found off Western Australia.
- Wreck of HMS Stirling Castle (1679) found on the Goodwin Sands.
- Wreck of English ship Swan (1641) found off the west coast of Scotland.
- Wreck of French-built English ship HMS Invincible (1747) found in The Solent.
- Burial site related to the 1918 execution of the Romanov family at Yekaterinburg, by Alexander Avdonin.
- Roman fort at Elginhaugh discovered by air-photography.
- Black rat bones from about the fifth century AD reported as found in York, the first pre-medieval record in England.
- January 15 - Yang Zhongjian, father of Chinese vertebrate paleontology, buried at Peking Man site in Zhoukoudian, China (b. 1897)
- January 20 - Robert Wauchope, American archaeologist and anthropologist (b. 1909)
- January 24 - Raissa Calza, Ukrainian-born archaeologist of Ancient Rome, previously ballet dancer (b. 1894)
- August 1 - Li Ji, Chinese archaeologist (b. 1896)
- August 25 - Alberto Ruz Lhuillier, Mexican archaeologist, discoverer of the tomb of K'inich Janaab' Pakal at Palenque (b. 1906)
- December 14 - Charles McBurney, American-born archaeologist working in Britain (died 1914)
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