The Greek Dark Ages are no longer dark: the excavations at Lefkandi on the island of Euboea, led by Irene Lemos, have brought them into the light.
The Valley of the Nobles, just east of the Valley of the Kings, contains
some of the most spectacular ancient Egyptian tombs. However, most remain unknown to the general public. Now, Egypt’s leading archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, has initiated major investigations, as illustrated in his splendid new book The Lost Tombs of Thebes, from which edited extracts follow.
From the 14th century AD the city of Timbuktu, in West Africa, became legendary for the wealth it offered merchants crossing the Sahara. However, as Sam Nixon explains, before Timbuktu came Tadmakka.
The invention of clothing and textiles ranks, along with the development of agriculture, cooking and ceramics, as one of the keystone events in the development of human culture, an echo of which is found in the biblical account of Adam and Eve, whose loss of innocence and shame at being naked betrays the fact that [...]
The DNA of a man who died between 1 and 50 AD, and who was buried in a tomb on the edge of the Old City of Jerusalem, has revealed that he suffered from leprosy – the earliest proven case of the disease. In addition, the shroud in which the leprosy sufferer was buried provides [...]
Archaeologists excavating Nero’s Domus Aurea (Golden House, so-called because of its original gold-leaf interior) have found the foundations of what they believe to be the chief banqueting room described by Nero’s biographer, Suetonius, who said it was ‘circular and revolved perpetually, night and day, in imitation of the motion of the celestial bodies’. Suetonius also [...]
Feasting of a different kind was the subject of a paper in the latest issue of Antiquity (www.antiquity.ac.uk) reporting the evidence of mass cannibalism at a Neolithic site near Herxheim in Germany. In the measured language of academic journal publication, the authors – Bruno Boulestin, Andrea Zeeb-Lanz, Christian Jeunesse, Fabian Haack, Rose-Marie Arbogast and Anthony [...]
To the south west of Rome, at the mouth of the Tiber, archaeologists from Southampton University and the British School at Rome have been excavating at Portus, the huge Roman port (twice the size of Southampton’s modern harbour). It was through this port that Rome’s luxury goods and essential grain supplies were imported from all [...]
Chinese people say that many Americans and Europeans have a distinctive odour. If you ask ‘what do they smell like’, some say ‘like a baby’, and others ‘of milk’. Now, says Professor Mark Thomas, of University College London, it is that ability to digest raw milk that not only makes Europeans different from lactose-intolerant Asians, [...]
The first ever excavation of a cementation steel furnace in America – in Trenton, New Jersey – is throwing new light America’s growing self-sufficiency as a manufacturing nation. Dating from between 1745 and 1750, this is one of fewer than 20 such furnaces known to have been built in 18th century North America to turn [...]
In Brian Fagan’s latest instalment of all things archaeological that are both exotic and entertaining he worships Maya macaws, reveals the oldest evidence for humans in America, and gets dirty with Maya farmers.
The oasis town of Ghadames is an architectural gem in western Libya. It once lay on the trans-Saharan trade-route described in the previous feature. Words and pictures Fiona Dunlop.
Périgord possesses two superlative assets: unrivalled rock art and matchless cuisine. The two seem utterly incompatible: after all, it stretches one’s imagination to associate archaeologists of early humans with discerning culinary matters. In essence, these archaeologists are manqué fossil hunters, gripped by the metrics of fragmentary bones and stones. Yet again, perhaps for all their [...]
The CWA-allied Great Arab Revolt Project has just completed its fourth season in the Jordanian desert searching for the remains of Lawrence of Arabia’s war. Sometimes, archaeological discoveries are spectacular. More often, they are very mundane. But, argues GARP landscape archaeologist John Winterburn, the very mundane can be packed with information
Civilization cannot exist without spoken language, but it can without written communication. The Greek poetry of Homer was at first transmitted orally, stored in the memory, as were the Vedas, the Sanskrit hymns of the ancient Hindus, which were unwritten for centuries. The South American empire of the Incas managed its administration without writing. As [...]
The Late Bronze Age of the Near East, roughly spanning 1400-1200 BCE (Before Christian Era), has often been characterized as an ‘age of internationalism.’ The major political powers, Egypt, Mycenae, Hittite Hatti, and Assyria participated in global economy, well developed commercial and political contacts including exchange of technology, ideologies, culture, and knowledge. By the late [...]