Features

Our features are the high points of each issue: always intelligently written by experts and beautifully illustrated

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Travel: A Villa in the Country

Journeying south from the Serbian Danube presents an opportunity to revel in Roman opulence, as Oliver Gilkes reveals. The Danubian provinces of the Roman world do not get much of a look in as far as history goes. That is not to say there is no history – there is a lot – but seeking out modern accounts is not so easy.

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Richard Hodges: The Visit of the World Bank President

Italy is in lockdown as I write and it feels like Christmas Day, such is the silence. Yet the cuckoos have dodged passport control and are here to herald each day. The fields, incidentally, are now flush with spring flowers. The government decree forbids travel, so I resort to assembling reports on old excavations for a new tome and, as it takes shape, I dwell on whom to dedicate it to. Archaeology is as much about people as it is about the past. So, just as I rework interpretations about past discoveries with each new piece of evidence, so I inevitably revise my thinking about people.

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Mining for ochre in ancient Mexico

Divers exploring the now-submerged caves of Quintana Roo in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula have uncovered evidence for red ochre mining between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago, the oldest known example of the exploitation of this mineral resource in the Americas.

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Review: The Life and Death of Ancient Cities

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.

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Review: National Archaeological Museum, Madrid

With prehistoric painted caves, ruins of Roman cities, spectacular places of worship converted during periods of conquest and reconquest, and elaborate palaces occupied by emirs and kings, Spain offers plenty of historic sites to explore. One place where you can get a flavour of this rich heritage across the length and breadth of the country under one roof is the National Archaeological Museum, founded in Madrid in 1867.

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Aphrodite at Amantia

High on a hilltop near the village of Ploçe, Albania, lie the ruins of the ancient polis of Amantia. The city was founded in the 5th century BC and is first mentioned in ancient sources around the middle of the 4th century. It experienced an economic and cultural boom during the Hellenistic period, and from 230 BC started to mint its own coins.

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Secrets of Saqqara

Discover how a chance detail on a 19th-century map set in train a longstanding archaeological expedition at this elite necropolis, which is providing a fresh appreciation of how ancient Egyptians interacted with their past.

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Travel: Through the Iron Gates

Oliver Gilkes tours the Danube, in the first of a two-part exploration of Serbia’s archaeology. The mighty Danube runs for almost 2,000km from southern Germany to the Black Sea. It forms the backbone of central-southern Europe and was for millennia not only a trade and communications artery, but also a frontier and barrier. Last year, […]

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Travel: Hamilton Grange

Exploring a Founding Father’s mobile home Why was a 19th-century New York house relocated twice – and how was it done? Carly Hilts travelled to Harlem to find out. In 2008, the inhabitants of Harlem – an uptown neighbourhood of New York City – were met by an extraordinary sight: a house, more than 200 […]

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Richard Hodges: A New Year’s Day Hike

No matter how many years I have spent in the Mediterranean in wintertime, I cannot get it into my head that it rains a lot. This New Year in western Crete the rain was biblical save for one magical sunlit day. Chania, in western Crete, seemed to be the vengeful target of black brooding skies […]

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As they walked across Engare Sero in northern Tanzania, a group of people left their mark in the soft surface of volcanic ash beneath their bare feet. Preserved for thousands of years in material expelled during an eruption of Oldoinyo L’engai (visible in the background), these impressions were first spotted by members of a nearby […]

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Review: The House of Augustus

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 […]

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