Thebes is the forgotten city of ancient Greece. It lies 32 miles north-west of Athens, at the heart of sleepy Boeotia, but it has now been rescued from obscurity by Paul Cartledge, former Professor of Greek Culture at the University of Cambridge. It was a city rich in Greek myth. Thebes was where Oedipus, having solved the riddle of the Sphinx (see the cover of the book, above, with Oedipus seated and the Sphinx on the pillar), went on to become king, in the course of which he killed his father and married his mother, thus providing the ideal basis for the greatest of all Greek plays, Sophocles’ Oedipus the King.
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’.
This edited volume is the product of an innovative project, culminating in a multiple-day workshop of the same name as this publication, organised by Silk Roads Winston-Salem (SRWS), a group from Wake Forest University that brought together scholars across multiple disciplines to discuss the Silk Roads and their impact on local and global conceptions.
Is it possible to write history without people? Of course, archaeology is all about history without people, but we invent the people. Is it possible to have a more ecological approach? The latest champion of this ecological approach is Greg Woolf, the Director of the Institute of Classical Studies in London, in a new book, The Life and Death of Ancient Cities, which he meaningfully subtitles A Natural History.
The House of Augustus: a historical detective storyT P WisemanPrinceton University Press, £30ISBN 978-0691180076Review by: Andrew Selkirk What is the most terrible fate that can befall you if you are a very distinguished professor of Classics? What if the student sitting quietly at the back of the class should turn out to be the most […]
Behind the scenes of a great excavation It is an open secret that archaeological expeditions are not always entirely harmonious operations, but does understanding a digging team aid appreciation of the archaeology they uncovered? Eric H Cline guides Matthew Symonds through the highs and lows of the remarkable 1920s and 1930s excavations at Megiddo. There […]
The Roman Empire in 100 haikusStuart LaycockAmberley, £12.99ISBN 978-1445693309Review by: Matthew Symonds Much has been written about the Roman Empire, but seldom in the form of haikus. Attempting to tell the tale of an enormously complex entity in 100 terse poems might seem to be an endeavour so obviously doomed that the outcome could only […]
Pompeii, A Different Perspective: via dell’Abbondanza – a long road, well travelledJennifer F Stephens and Arthur E StephensLockwood Press, £40ISBN 978-1937040789Review by: Lucia Marchini The ruins of Pompeii are among the most familiar sights of the ancient world, and the longest street in the Roman city – via dell’Abbondanza, which runs from the forum to […]
Connected Communities: networks, identity, and social change in the ancient Cibola worldMatthew A PeeplesUniversity of Arizona Press, $60ISBN 978-0816535682Review by: Deborah L Huntley Matthew Peeples opens his book with a question that nearly every archaeologist has heard at one time or another when engaging the public at a site visit: ‘Who were the people who […]
24 Hours in Ancient Egypt: a day in the life of the people who lived thereDonald P RyanMichael O’Mara Books, £12.99ISBN 978-1782439110Review by: Matthew Symonds Ancient Egypt still exudes an aura of mystery. Visitors have been enchanted by its monuments for millennia, but the culture that created them can be harder to bring into focus. […]
Frisians and their North Sea Neighbours: from the 5th century to the Viking age John Hines and Nelleke IJssennagger (eds) Boydell & Brewer, £75 ISBN 978-1783271795 Review by: Catherine Hills Early medieval Frisia had a complicated history. Broadly speaking, it occupied the coastal regions of what are now the Netherlands and north-west Germany. Close connections […]
Megadrought and Collapse: from early agriculture to Angkor Harvey Weiss (ed.) Oxford University Press, £53 ISBN 978-0199329199 Review by: Kyle Harper In the study of the human past, the battle between those who believe in the primacy of environmental causes in the rise and fall of civilisations, those who believe in the pre-eminence of social […]