It is not unknown for children to try to outdo their parents. When it comes to tombs, though, pharaoh Khufu must have thought he was on safe ground. Everything about the vital statistics of the funerary monument he raised at Giza in the 3rd millennium BC is awesome. It had a footprint of 5.3ha, an original height of roughly 146.6m, and contained approximately 2.3 million stone blocks. The result was the largest standing pyramid ever raised, which we know appropriately enough as the Great Pyramid.
Author: Current World Archaeology
The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology – these days the Penn Museum – was conceived in the late 19th century to bring the world and its past to Philadelphia at the zenith of the Gilded Age. Time has never stopped still here. The Museum has been through several iterations as a place to visit, but never, despite a global pandemic, looked so bright, colourful, and enriching. Whatever the world throws at it, this is the jewel in the crown of this Ivy League university.
On 10 November 2020, the exhibition Iron Age – Europe without Borders opened at the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The exhibition presents approximately 1,600 objects from the 1st millennium BC from an area stretching from the Atlantic and the Urals to the Caucasus, reflecting the cultural development of this epoch in a pan-European context. The focus is on some 750 objects from the collection of the Berlin Museum of Pre- and Early History that were brought to the Soviet Union as a result of the Second World War.
The discovery of a two-million-year-old skull in South Africa is shedding important new light on microevolution in an early hominin species, as Jesse Martin and Angeline Leece reveal.
Discovering a previously unsuspected Roman cemetery would normally rank as the archaeological highlight of a building project. Recent work on Corsica, though, revealed an even greater surprise.
Excavations on Corsica sprang a surprise when archaeologists discovered a set of steps descending into the ground. Work at the site, undertaken in advance of a building development, had already revealed a Roman-era cemetery. The steps, though, led to a much rarer discovery: an intact Etruscan tomb. Within, the deceased lay beside grave goods that […]
Sicily was famed in antiquity for its agricultural prosperity. An eloquent witness of its late Roman wealth is provided by the great villa near Piazza Armerina, a UNESCO World Heritage site, but the villa, built c.AD 320/330, is not unique in Sicily. Tucked away in the south-east corner of the island in the province of Syracuse, 5km south of the wonderful baroque town of Noto, is another rich Roman villa. It is not as large, but it was also constructed in the 4th century and also boasts fine mosaics. The site is little known, however, and barely gets any visitors at all.
The modern town of Mazara del Vallo lies on the south-western coast of Sicily. Created as a Phoenician outpost, it became a border post lying between the Phoenician and Carthaginian entrepôt at Motya/Marsala and the westernmost Greek colony at Selinunte. The medieval Arab conquerors appreciated its proximity to North Africa, and thus it became a major political and cultural centre as well as a working harbour. Its historic centre contains a number of typical Arab-Norman Sicilian treasures.
It was a typical summer day: birds, boats, sea, and ice. The difference was, the birds were Arctic geese, the boats were converted canoes, the sea was −10°C, and the ice was the size of a large car, rather than bobbing in a refreshing drink. I was standing on the northern coast of the small island of Uglit, where I camped for five weeks last summer while excavating ancient Arctic houses.
The Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha was obsessed with defending his ‘paradise on earth’. He feared invasion by NATO troops using a combination of amphibious landings and parachutists. As a result, he covered the country with thousands of mushroom-like bunkers, concealed trenches, and anti-aircraft guns. From the sea to the mountains, Albania became a fortress. This extraordinary martial investment had one unexpected outcome. During construction of an anti-aircraft installation close to Fshati i Vjetër, ‘The Old Village’ high on Mount Mile, overlooking Butrint, ancient Buthrotum, and the Straits of Corfu, an exquisite bronze statuette of the god, Pan, came to light in 1981.
Anyone visiting Egypt today must wonder how it struck travellers before our current understanding of its archaeological sites. Egyptologist Chris Naunton, former director of the historically influential Egypt Exploration Society, answers, while introducing his new book Egyptologists’ Notebooks, that ‘nowhere are its natural beauty and man-made wonders captured better than in the private scribblings and sketches of the travellers who first set out to explore it’.
Since its discovery by the British officer Tony Clunn in the late 1980s, the German site of Kalkriese in Lower Saxony, north of Osnabrück, has been considered the scene of the AD 9 Varus Disaster, so impressively described by ancient authors such as Tacitus and Cassius Dio.