Do the outlines of hands in Spain’s El Castillo cave belong to Homo sapiens or to their earlier Neanderthal cousins?
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.
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 [...]
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 [...]
Södertörn University archaeologists have found 9,000-year-old fishing traps in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Sweden, making them the oldest yet discovered anywhere in the world. The team say this evidence shows that people were fishing in fixed spots long before the development of permanent agricultural settlements in the region. This article is an [...]
Basking in the eastern Mediterranean sun, Cyprus – legendary birthplace of Aphrodite and Adonis – boasts an astonishing wealth of archaeological treasures, including three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. From its absorption into the Hittite Empire c.1400 BC, this small island has been a melting pot of different cultural influences, passing from the hands of one [...]
All roads seem to lead to Rome. I once lived here for seven years and now, by way of another capital, Philadelphia, I am back. What is the attraction? Well, few places are steeped in so much history – ancient, Medieval, and modern. Few places, too, mix such energy with history. Forget the problems of [...]
David Stuttard British Museum Press, £9.99 ISBN 978-0714122724 They had come to the hilltop to make sacrifice. Now, on this day of days when the world was balanced between light and darkness, the king-priests of Elis had climbed the wooded slopes above Olympia to make their offerings to Kronos, one of the most primeval and [...]
John Bintliff Wiley-Blackwell, £29.00 ISBN 978-1405154192 John Bintliff, a lecturer and archaeologist, has produced a panoramic labour of love that illuminates the development of Greek culture and its central role in the birth of modern civilisation. This ambitious but readable compendium covers a period beginning 400,000 ago and running up to the early 20th century. [...]
A remarkable discovery by Beatrix Nutz has taken the world by surprise: bras were worn 600 years ago! Bras were originally thought to have appeared about 100 years ago, but these four linen examples have proved specialists wrong. The bras and a pair of underwear were found at Lengberg Castle in Tyrol in 2008 during [...]
Review by Dexter Findley This impressive app, Greece: History and Culture, acts as a virtual encyclopedia for Greece’s past, from its most recent early 20th century troubles right back to the far-distant Palaeolithic era. Users will find a wealth of information on time periods, places and events, accessible through many intuitive points of entry. The [...]
Bjørn Poulsen and Søren Michael Sinbaek (eds.) Brepols, £79.00 ISBN 978-2503531311 Recent advances in settlement archaeology have uncovered a treasure trove of new information about social power in Early Medieval Scandinavia, and this comprehensive work brings together 17 papers, ranging from landholding and the changing influence of royal and Church authorities, to insights into all levels [...]
As we crossed from Marmaris to Rhodes, the hydrofoil skimming through the hammered blue seas, my thoughts turned to one of my favourite books, Lawrence Durrell’s Reflections on a Marine Venus. Few writers are better at capturing the magic of the Mediterranean than Durrell, who was born a century ago this year. Here is a [...]
On the letters page of CWA 52, Martin Davie asked for more information about Thera. Well, Martin, I may just be able to help. As many of you will know, I am devoting my semi-retirement from Current Archaeology to writing a History of the World – well, isn’t that what everyone does in their retirement? – [...]