We open this issue with perhaps the deepest dig in the world: Gor Khuttree in Peshawar, North Pakistan. Peshawar is a formidable city situated at the foot of the Khyber Pass. Since the time of the Alexander and his successors, it has been the gateway by which invaders have poured down into the Indian sub-continent. Its rich heritage is locked in metres upon metres of stratigraphy: so far the archaeologists have dug eight metres down: from the British period back to the 4th century BC Indo -Greek era. However, they suspect the layers will continue down to the Indus Valley Civilisation. Just a couple more thousand years to dig through, then.
From Asia we move to Africa and the Sudan. In the late Kushite period, from the 3rd century BC to the 4th century AD, the Kushites (almost) rivalled Egypt, and at Dangeil a fine temple to Amun is being excaved by Julie Anderson and Salah Mohamed Ahmed. Here they tell how they are uncovering a city steeped in ritual, bolstered by monumental architecture, and inhabited by a people with a surprisingly strong penchant for baked bread.
Raqqa, on the upper Euphrates, was once a glorious city, the predecessor to Baghdad. It was home to industry on a massive scale, specialising in glass and pottery production: since natron was no longer available as a flux in glass-making, they began to use plants as a substitute, thus pioneering the Forest glass of the Middle ages and foreshadowing the magnificent glass ware of the high Islamic period. For a brief period, Raqqa was even an imperial city and an administrative centre for the mighty Islamic Caliphate. But its boom lost its swell once the capital was moved 300 miles further down the Euphrates to Baghdad.
From the heat of medieval Syria we then travel to the frozen waters of post-medieval Iceland. There, scholars have been exploring a series of trading sites along Iceland’s coast. Once, few would venture to these icy parts, but in the early 15th century the area was transformed by fishing ships from England drawn by the waters’ abundant fish.
Ice gives way to balmy waters with a postcard from Richard Hodges who writes from the Cycladian island of