How does the archaeological record reflect the vital role horses played in the development of civilisation?
Is global trawling of fragile shipwrecks the greatest threat to underwater heritage today?
What was life like under the shadow of the pharaohs? The realities of life and death under Egypt’s rule
When they were built in the 2nd century AD, the great watermills at Barbegal, in the South of France, were at the very cutting edge of technology. Their revolutionary design, says Wayne Lorenz, enabled the Roman Empire to flourish, and endured unchanged until the 20th century.
‘Expect the unexpected’ is a good maxim for any archaeologist. But nothing could have prepared Terry Hardaker and his team for their spectacular find as they explored the ancient land surfaces in a remote part of western Namibia.
Why were the bodies of a dozen newborn babies placed around the edge of a 1,000-year-old tomb?
The unstoppable Persian king, Cyrus the Great, powered through Anatolia, conquering all in his path. In 547 BC, he defeated Croesus, the legendary Lydian king of ‘rich as Croesus’ fame. The new empire was divided into regional satrapies; the capital of one was Dascyleum, where recent excavations led by Kaan İren tell the story of that fiery onslaught and subsequent settlement.
The Koru tumulus The large cluster of tumuli around Lake Kuş (Lake Manyas) – reminiscent of the Thousand Mounds of Sardis, the great royal cemetery of the father of Croesus, King Alyattes – belongs to Dascyleum. It includes burials of Phrygian, Lydian, Persian, and Macedonian nobles. Here, Kaan İren reports on recent excavations at one [...]
Europe’s oldest known cave art could be the work of Neanderthals more than 40,000 years ago, say archaeologists. The abstract red circles and stencilled handprints decorating the walls of El Castillo cave, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in northern Spain, were discovered over a century ago, but until recently the paintings’ age had not been [...]
Fragments of 20,000-year-old pottery discovered in south-east China have pushed back the use of ceramics to 10,000 years before agriculture. This shows that pottery was invented by mobile hunter-gatherers, rather than developing from the more settled lifestyles of early farmers, as was previously believed. Found during excavations at Xianrendong Cave, the sherds are 2,000-3,000 years [...]
Michaela Binder discovers what the dead can tell us about living.
Archaeologists have identified the world’s oldest instruments, showing that early modern humans were making music 40,000 years ago. Two flutes, one made from bird bone and the other from mammoth ivory, were uncovered during excavations at Geißenklösterle cave in south-west Germany between 1973 and 1990. Now, researchers led by the University of Oxford’s Prof. Tom [...]
The excavations at La Draga in Spain – which is among the earliest known agricultural settlements on the northern Iberian Peninsula – have uncovered the oldest complete Neolithic bow to have been found in Europe. Dated by its context to c.5400-5200 BC and made of yew wood, the bow was found by Autonomous University of [...]
A recently discovered Neolithic site on Cyprus is the oldest farming settlement on any Mediterranean island, reshaping our understanding of the movement of prehistoric farmers. Excavations at Klimonas have uncovered the remains of a village, dated by stone tools and buildings found at the site to c.9000 BC – centuries earlier than previous evidence of [...]
New research using computer technology to unpick overlapping layers of rock art has shed light on how the ideas and interests of prehistoric communities changed. Between c.4500-3000 BC, early artists at Nämforsen in Sweden, and Zalavruga in Russia, tended to carve elks in silhouette, Cambridge University archaeologist Mark Sapwell said. But by 2000 BC these [...]
New research has deciphered two 1,600-year-old curses from the Late Roman Empire. Written in Latin and Greek on thin lead tablets, the inscriptions include drawings of their intended victims and a snake-haired figure thought to be Hekate, Greek goddess of witchcraft. The tablets were originally acquired by the Museo Archeologico Civico di Bologna in the [...]
Archaeologists studying 31 obsidian knives from Cantona, a pre-Hispanic site in Mexico, have discovered minute traces of 2,000-year-old human blood, skin, and hair on the blades – the first direct evidence of such tools being used for human sacrifice. Previously researchers had relied on cut marks on the bones of presumed victims to reconstruct how [...]
Archaeologists from Tel Aviv University have discovered a 3,000-year-old hoard of jewellery while cleaning a prehistoric pot. The vessel was found in 2010 at Tel Meggido, an important Canaanite city-state in northern Israel, but remained uncleaned while awaiting molecular analysis of its contents. When conservators emptied the pot, however, they found a cache of well-preserved [...]
While most of our early ancestors preferred to eat soft foods such as grass and sedge, Australopithecus sediba enjoyed more roughage, including tree bark and papyrus in their two million-year-old diet. Rich in protein and soluble sugars, bark and papyrus are eaten by many modern primates, but previous research into 81 other hominids had not [...]
Twenty new cultural sites have been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, including the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Lying 10km outside Jerusalem, the site has been identified in Christian tradition as the birthplace of Jesus Christ since as far back as the 2nd century AD, and 4th-century mosaics survive there from the first [...]