Civil unrest, violent clashes, an oppressive authority: we could be talking about Syria today. But this is 6,000 years ago, during the Late Chalcolithic Period.
This year marks the 40th birthday of UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention, which to-date protects almost 1,000 sites of outstanding cultural and natural importance.
Gustafson’s excavation had provided an extraordinary window into the material culture and public appearance of the world represented by the Norse Sagas at the beginning of the Viking Age.
Very early in my archaeological career, I encountered an intense debate on the chronology of the earliest Neolithic in the Near East. It was rather like the race to the Pole: who had the earliest date? The English champion was the redoubtable Dame Cathleen Kenyon, her American adversary was Robert Braidwood. It was a case [...]
The weather in Baghdad It snowed in Baghdad in AD 908, 944 and 1007. How do we know? Because historians at Spain’s University of Extremadura have been scouring ancient manuscripts for weather reports. The period from AD 816 to AD 1009 was a Golden Age for literature in the Islamic world, and scholars, historians and [...]
When magnificent mosaics were revealed in the Roman villas at Zeugma, such was their impact that the Turkish authorities decided they deserved their own museum. So it was that the largest mosaic museum in the world opened its doors last year; within two days, more than 3,000 visitors passed through them. The Zeugma Mosaic Museum [...]
Mark Norell, Denise Patry Leidy, and Laura Ross Sterling Publishing, £27.99 The Silk Road was no single path but a vast network of trade routes stretching over 4,000 miles. Those who travelled its branches spread exotic goods, religious ideas, game-changing technical innovations and, probably, the Black Death. This lively new publication documents the history and [...]
Robert G Ousterhout Caique Publishing Ltd., £20 A trailblazer of archaeological photography, John Henry Haynes was taught by picturesque landscape painter William Stillman, and this influence shows in his work. Making dramatic use of perspective and shadow, his photographs could be mistaken for watercolours. Drowsily elegiac scenes range from a silvery sweep of the Tigris [...]
Christopher Prescott and Håkon Glørstad Oxbow, £35 When did Europe become Europe? This ambitious question is posed by Christopher Prescott and Håkon Glørstad in their introduction to this new collection of papers searching for the origins of a distinctive ‘pan-European personhood’ in the 3rd millennium BC. A comprehensive and far-reaching anthology, it seeks to identify the [...]
Shelley Hales and Joanna Paul (eds) Oxford University Press, £80 Walter Scott called it a ‘City of the Dead’. To Goethe it was a ‘mummified town’. Part mausoleum, part museum, Pompeii’s timeless ruins have fascinated visitors since their rediscovery over 250 years ago, providing inspiration to students of Classical art who have sought to resurrect [...]
Andrew Robinson Thames & Hudson, £8.95 Half a millennium before Homer described ‘Crete, set in the wine-dark sea’, its inhabitants used a mysterious alphabet that baffled archaeologists. Linear B was discovered during Arthur Evans’ Knossos excavations (for the full story, see CWA 51, Great Excavations’) but for over 50 years the inscriptions remained unreadable. At [...]
How on earth do you get the students up at 5am? That, rather than the archaeology, is the question that preoccupies my colleagues at the American University of Rome when I mention the Butrint Field School in Albania. Students are not generally known for their eagerness to rise at the crack of dawn and those [...]
Troy is not a place one normally associates with Holland. Yet the Dutch claim to have their own version: Dorestad. It lies at the point where the Rhine parts company with the river Lek, about 100km south-east of Amsterdam, near the picturesque town of Wijk bij Duurestede. It may not attract many visitors these days, [...]
Andorra is best known as an inexpensive ski-resort, but the tiny landlocked principality is chock-full of archaeology, its rich cultural heritage waiting to be explored. Just 450km² in area, Andorra nestles in the heart of the Pyrenees, bordered by the Languedoc region of France and Spanish Catalunya. So why, given this prime location, has it [...]
China’s heritage sites are fast disappearing – to tomb-robbers and thieves, or to make way for industrial projects and new developments. These sobering conclusions are the result of research carried out by the country’s own governmental organisation. The State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) recorded a total of 766,722 ancient ruins, temples, and other sites [...]
Archaeologists excavating an ancient Egyptian necropolis near Aswan have come face-to-face with a high-status official buried 3,500 years ago, after uncovering his finely carved wooden sarcophagus. Elephantine (modern Qubbet el-Hawa) was a prestigious burial place for Egyptian nobles from c.2250 BC, with 40 tombs cut into its rocky cliffs. The research team, led by Professor [...]
Libya’s heritage is in danger of being overlooked, warned Dr Hafed Walda, Libyan archaeologist at King’s College London and international advisor on Libyan heritage. At a session organised by the Society for Libyan Studies, Walda called for international support to help secure the country’s national heritage. He went on to say that, understandably, international aid [...]
British Museum centre grant The British Museum’s new World Conservation and Exhibition Centre has moved a step closer to completion after a £10 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The £135 million project will create state-of-the-art laboratories and studios for conservation, preservation, and research, as well as a new suite for special exhibitions, extra [...]
The oldest corncobs unearthed in South America have been found in Peru. Dating to 6,700 years ago – at least 2,000 years older than previous finds of cobs – they were eaten by people who were yet to enjoy the convenience of ceramic pottery. According to a report in The Proceedings of the National Academy [...]
We know, from hieroglyphic references and illustrations, that the ancient Maya and their gods enjoyed a smoke. But physical evidence is rare. Now residue from a 1,300-year-old pot has provided the first traces of tobacco to be found in a Mayan container. The small clay vessel comes from the Mirador Basin in Southern Campeche, Mexico, [...]