The Dakhleh oasis lies virtually in the middle of modern Egypt, surrounded by the sands of the Sahara. The oasis is vast, with a current population of some 70,000. The oasis has always been popular: archaeologists belonging to the Dakhleh Oasis Project have identified scores of human occupation sites from prehistory through to classical times and onwards. In our lead story – Dakhleh: Exploring an Oasis – the team reports on their wide-ranging work including their excavation an Ancient Egyptian temple, the first Egyptian temple to be cleared for a century.
We then move to America where we discover the true meaning of ‘pipe-dreams’ as we chart the first English colonisation of North America. Back in 1607, the first ship of English immigrants from London arrived in James Towne, Virginia. The voyagers planned to make big money from the riches believed were available in America. Soon, there began a steady flow of those in search for gold and other precious metals; however the only product to make a profit was smoking tobacco, the original Virginia Gold.
Next, we offer our archaeological highlights from China where we spent two weeks this autumn visiting some of the land’s key sites including the terracotta army and Peking Man’s Cave.
In 1909, Miss Dorothea M.A. Bate of the London Natural History Museum gave a formal description of a new species, Myotragus balearicus: a tiny goat the size of a mouse that once thrived on the Balearic islands. Subsequent work has shown that the mouse-goat existed for millions of years developing in blissful island isolation, only to be wiped out with the arrival of humans on the Balearics around 5000 years ago. Scientists, Jelle Reumer and Jacqueline Waldren, unravel the story.
For the past 40 years or so, Georg Gerster has been taking aerial photographs of world sites. So highly-rated are these photographs that the British Museum has dedicated its first ever photographic exhibition to Gerster’s work. We provide a taster of some of the photographer’s archaeo-shots.
There is also a postcard from Richard Hodges who writes of the intrepid work going on in Cape Styllo, a tract of no-man’s land between Greece and Albania. Meanwhile, David Miles considers the impact of tourism on the architecture and heritage of Venice.
Finally, we return the desert with a feature on the work of Susan Searight, a British archaeologist who now lives in Morocco and has been focussing on Moroccan rock-art.