Pompeii and its neighbour Herculaneum are among the oldest archaeological sites in the world, but today they risk destruction by exposure to the elements, tourist traffic, and time. Yet these are not new problems. As early as the 18th century, excavators applied varnish to wall-paintings in an attempt to prevent their decay; different types of conservation work have taken place on site ever since. The challenge now is to ensure the preservation of these sites while continuing investigations into the town, its inhabitants, and its history. How can we preserve Pompeii’s past for our future? And what more is there to learn?
La Glacerie in Cherbourg, Normandy, is the first WWII Prisoner of War camp for German soldiers to be excavated and studied. How does living memory measure up to archaeological research? Robert Early compares the hard evidence with the witness accounts.
In 1855, the young French archaeologist Léon Heuzey found the remains of a magnificent palace, concealed under a ruined chapel. The village nearby was called Palatitsia, a name that hints at its former regal glory. Could this be the palace of the ancient Macedonian kings? In issue #50 Andrew Selkirk told the story of how the tomb of Philip II of Macedon – father to Alexander the Great – was discovered here. Now, he returns to examine the rest of the site and shares its secrets with us.
Imperial Rome’s mighty maritime gate at Portus was revealed in CWA 42. Now, Simon Keay reports on an exciting new discovery that may hold the key to the nature of this port: the giant military shipsheds of the Emperor’s fleet.
The former capital of one of the greatest and wealthiest empires of the Indian subcontinent for 300 years until its destruction in 1565 is facing a new and very modern danger: bulldozers. Paul Woodfield visited the site.
The popular image of Neolithic communities is of small hamlet-sized groups. Excavation at the vast settlement at Domuztepe has turned this notion on its head. What rules or rituals could have bound such a huge community together? Alexandra Fletcher and Stuart Campbell believe a macabre ‘death pit’ and mysterious red-clay terrace hold the clue.
The Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC has withdrawn from hosting a controversial maritime exhibition. Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds was due to open in the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery in spring this year, but has been cancelled following a two-day conference in December 2011, attended by an international advisory committee of experts that included the […]
A massive Late Bronze Age (1500- 1100 BC) fortified settlement in Romania is under threat from intensive agriculture, according to archaeologists from Romania, Germany, and Britain. Funds are urgently needed for excavation before the site at Cornesti-Iarcuri is ploughed out. The site, located in the plains of the Banat in western Romania, is almost 6km […]
The idea that the early humans who migrated to South-east Asia and on to Australia 50,000 or more years ago lacked the skills to build boats has been dealt a blow by evidence for deep-sea fishing 42,000 years ago. Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra have found 38,000 fish bones from 2,843 […]
Archaeologists in Syria have been forced to pull out of the country because of civil unrest, with protesters opposing the government of President Bashar al-Assad. International teams were recording sites threatened by the Halabiyeh hydropower scheme. Now they fear that many of these important and little-explored sites will be lost to flood waters, if the […]
The Somme region of Picardie is already famous in archaeological circles for the first hand axe to be found in a securely stratified context with the bones of extinct mammals. This find prompted the realisation in European antiquarian circles that humans were far older than timeframes based on Biblical events. Now the same region has […]
A gold monkey-head pendant has been returned to Peru thanks to the intervention of the country’s ambassador Luis Valdivieso. The artefact, which had been housed by the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe, was made by the Moche people. Renowned for their elaborate gold work, the Moche inhabited the north coast of Peru in […]
The wreck of a Mongolian ship that took part in Kublai Khan’s attempts to invade and subjugate Japan in 1281 has been discovered on the seabed off southern Japan. The warship appears to be nearly complete, and lies in 1m of silt at a depth of 25m. An archaeological team from Okinawa’s University of the […]
A tiny Caribbean island has produced one of the most diverse collections of prehistoric non-native animal remains ever found in the region. Excavations at two sites on Carriacou revealed that five species were introduced from South America between c.AD 1000-1400. One, opossums, can still be found there today, but the other four – peccaries, armadillos, […]
Archaeologists investigating the core of the Pyramid of the Sun, at Teotihuacan on the outskirts of Mexico City, have discovered the ceremonial offering placed at the heart of Mexico’s tallest pyramid, deposited when construction first began in about AD 50. Laid on the pyramid’s rubble base, the offerings included obsidian knives and projectile heads, 11 […]
An ancient Chinese-style bronze buckle found by a team from the University of Colorado Boulder in Alaska may prove the earliest evidence of trade links with East Asia. The CU-led excavations are part of a National Science Foundation-funded project to study human responses to climate change at Cape Espenberg from AD 800 to AD 1400, […]
Lion man or woman? In August 1939, archaeologist Otto Völzing was excavating deep inside the Stadel cave in the Schwäbische Alb mountains of south-western Germany when the Second World War rudely interrupted his research. As so often happens in archaeology, his most spectacular find – a carved ivory figure – emerged on the last day. […]
Results of the excavations at Knossos surpassed all expectations. Evans revealed a vast palace complex of Middle Bronze Age date , 1300 rooms connected by a network of corridors…
At a barbecue last year, a former student of mine, who had joined me on my excavations for 20 years, suggested the time had come for me to give up fieldwork and leave it to younger people. I reflected on this by comparing my interests and plans with those of my contemporaries who studied archaeology […]
Tuscany conjures thoughts of the apogee of rich living. Its picturesque villages, graced by grand villas and their pools, serve as summer homes to the jet set. It is hard not to conclude that it has always been like this. Renaissance towns and castle-sized farms from the same period are a global benchmark for civilised […]