In 1966, in the little village of Smirat in the fertile olive oil belt of Tunisia, a large polychrome figured mosaic was uncovered. The mosaic, probably dated to the 3rd century AD, is covered with fighting animals, handsome men, and long inscriptions. It pays tribute to the mayor, Magerius, who stumped up a small fortune for the performance. The amphitheatre, the gore, the 15 minutes of fame – read all about it in our opening feature.
From the circuses of Tunisia we head to the Copper Age of Jordan. A team of archaeologists and professional cavers has just begun investigating the precipitous caves of northern Jordan in search of ancient burials. Fifty years of archaeological research in the caves of neighbouring Israel has already revealed prehistoric riches and it seems that Jordan is set to follow. Their work is an archaeologist’s dream, but most certainly not for the feint-hearted!
Thereafter, architect and archaeologist Paul Woodfield walks the Great Wall of China. Visitors to the Great Wall typically visit one small stretch of the wall – the sanitised showpiece known as the Badaling section near Beijing. However, Paul recently spent nine days on a charity trek for the Parkinson’s Society. This afforded him the possibility of walking not just the restored sections, but also unrestored sections. Here he reveals the highs and lows of the real Wall of China.
We then follow with two very different Caribbean features. In the first, we venture to Antigua, once at the very epicentre of slavery, empire and wealth. Though many travellers go merely for the white-talc beaches and rum punch, we investigate the archaeological evidence for this chapter in its heritage. In the second, we follow in the adventurous footsteps of the early 20th century archaeological surveyor and British missionary Thomas Huckerby as we go in search of unusual Caribbean rock carvings in St. Vincent and Grenada.
Finally, there are all the regulars: News, Diary, Books and a postcard from Richard Hodges who sends troubling news from the new Greek and Roman gallery at New York’s Metropolitan Museum. We finish back in the balmy Mediterranean with a back-page interview on the South Italian gem that is Herculaneum.