When God decided to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their wickedness, only Lot, his wife and two daughters were to be saved. They fled to a cave in a nearby mountain. In the 6th century AD, a Jordanian cave was identified as Lot’s cave and the monks built a monastery around it. The cave and the monastery, replete with spectacular mosaics, have been discovered and excavated. Lot’s Monastery is fast becoming a popular tourist attraction in Jordan, and we open the magazine with an exclusive tour of the site, courtesy of its excavator.
Egyptian history is punctuated by ‘Intermediate periods’ when the country apparently slumped into disorder. At Mo’alla, just south of Thebes, is the tomb of Ankhtyfy, one of the most powerful warlords of the First Intermediate period. Just how ‘dark’ was this dark age? And what was it like for the ordinary person?
From anarchic warlords to rather more ordered authority, we visit the medieval castle of Shuri on Okinawa island, some 100 miles to the south of Japan. The castle was bombed flat in the Second World War, but beneath the ground lay hidden a royal warehouse. The excavators have found that it contains a breathtaking assortment of Chinese and Japanese porcelain, much of it used for diplomatic exchange within the huge and spectacular gift exchange network at the heart of which Okinawa sat.
An increasingly popular archaeological destination is south-east Asia – Thailand and Cambodia. What is there to be seen for the archaeological visitor? The editors report on a trip to Thailand and Cambodia taken this February, and offer a foretaste of some of the future articles that are being lined up: the majestic Angkor Wat, Ayutthaya (medieval capital of Thailand), Bangkok and a spectacular Bronze Age cemetery in the interior of Thailand.
We have two Postcards in this issue. The first is from Current Archaeology Issue Editor, Jeffrey May, who reports on rock art in Africa – even teaching us how to click away in San. Next up comes a Postcard about Peking ‘Man’ one of the the first ‘Men’ to break out of Africa, and reach the far east. Saeed Durrani, who was the physicist who developed some of the original dating techniques, was recently invited back to see the latest results, and here he reports on what is happening.
All the usuals are here too – News (including a special report on the Nebra Sun Disc), Books, & Letters.
Finally, Richard Hodges sends us a Postcard from Granada, in Spain, and ponders on whether UNESCO has got the restoration programme all wrong.