Following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in Spring this year, archaeologist Simon Kaner insists there is much to celebrate about the country’s heritage – and much to mend.
The deadly wave that engulfed the northeastern coastline of Japan devastated many archaeological sites and museums. Prehistoric settlers along the coast chose higher ground for their sites, perhaps passing on knowledge of the danger from earlier tsunamis from generation to generation. CWA looks at a handful of these ancient sites.
At first glance Japanese castles appeared to have weathered the centuries unscathed, but looks can be deceptive. Here Stephen Turnbull contrasts Sendai Castle’s picture- book fragility with the rather tougher existence in the earlier fort of Tagajo.
Three opulent palaces sit within a stone’s throw of each other, built when Persian kings ruled the greatest empire in the world, and destroyed when Alexander the Great swept through Persia. Who made them, and why? Hassan Karimian examines the evidence.
Water is our most precious resource. Its scarcity and overabundance have determined our survival and shaped our society around the world throughout the ages. In his new book Elixir: a human history of water, Brian Fagan discusses the complex relationship between humans and water, and how the past provides valuable lessons for our future.
Scandinavian and British experts meeting at an academic conference in Reykjavík have been debating the origin of the 12th-century Lewis Chessmen, a hoard of walrus ivory gaming pieces found in 1831 on Scotland’s Isle of Lewis, one of the most significant archaeological discoveries ever made in Scotland. The British Museum, which subsequently acquired 82 of [...]
A well shaft that was dug by the first English colonists at Jamestown when they arrived in May 1607 was backfilled in June 1610 because the water had become increasingly salty. The rubbish that went into the well, as part of a clean-up of the triangular fortified site ordered by the English governor, Lord De [...]
Half of Australia’s rock art could disappear in the next 50 years, according to the country’s archaeologists. They have mounted a campaign to raise awareness of the outstanding quality of the nation’s indigenous rock art, which is now under threat. Rock art is exposed to many natural hazards, such as wind and rain erosion, bushfires, [...]
A superbly carved and intact lion sculpture, excavated by a Canadian team in south-eastern Turkey, is reminiscent of the lions excavated by British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley in 1911 at the royal Hittite city of Carchemish. This lion was unearthed from the remains of a monumental gate complex at the entrance to the citadel of [...]
A paper by Paul Mellars and Jennifer French, published in Science, contributes to the widely debated question of why European Neanderthals were replaced by modern human populations from Africa between 45,000 and 35,000 years ago. Mellars and French point to a population explosion among modern humans in the Aquitaine region of south-western France, with a [...]
In Alaska, the cremated remains have been found of a three- year-old child who might have been one of the earliest inhabitants of North America to arrive via the land route. University of Alaska Fairbanks archaeologist Ben Potter and four colleagues found the remains while excavating a fire pit within an ancient dwelling at the [...]
A paper in Science argues that modern humans gained significant health benefits from interbreeding with Neanderthals. Scientists last year suggested that interbreeding had taken place between 90,000 and 65,000 years ago in western or central Asia, and that all of the world’s non-African populations owed up to 4 per cent of their genome to Neanderthals. [...]
The cause of the sudden collapse in AD 1350 of the Viking settlement established in Western Greenland by Eric the Red in AD 985 has long been debated. Studying marine sediments in the same area of Greenland to reconstruct climate change over the last 1,500 years, Dr Sofia Ribeiro from the University of Copenhagen now [...]
As the Arab Spring flooded through Egypt’s Tahrir Square, the old political order was swept away – and with it went Egyptology’s most controversial exponent, Dr Zahi Hawass. Tom St John Gray followed events earlier this year and now considers the consequences.
A strange statue standing guard near the Sistine Chapel in Rome intrigues travel writer Nigel McGilchrist. Could the Vatican be sitting on the site of an ancient Mithraic temple?
China’s prehistoric site at Hemudu awakens memories of Neolithic sites in South East Asia – and admiration for current Chinese archaeology.
Francophile David Miles pulls on his hiking boots, and sets off in search of Neolithic farmers in the South of France.
I have returned to Knidos after 40 years. Across the decades you forget the outlines of the trenches and the stratigraphic relationships these contained. Instead, Knidos remains etched in my memory as a panorama encompassing the suggestive silhouettes of many of the
Dodecanese islands, as well as the brilliant crystalline blue expanse of the Aegean.
Two decades have passed since the American archaeologist and anthropologist Michael Coe published Breaking the Maya Code (1992). This told the dramatic contemporary story of how the Maya glyphs of Central America were successfully deciphered during the 1970s and 1980s – mainly by North American scholars following a pioneering suggestion in the early 1950s by [...]
There have been many Romes. From the earliest scattered huts on the Palatine to the frenetic modern metropolis, the Eternal City has repeatedly reinvented itself. Augustus boasted of finding it brick, and leaving it marble, while the Popes presided over a landscape of martyrs’ relics, before the Renaissance and Baroque movements recast the urban fabric [...]