Features

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The Dead Sea Scrolls

Conserving one of the world’s greatest manuscript collections The Dead Sea Scrolls are widely considered one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in modern times. penned 2,000 years ago, the scrolls are the oldest written record of biblical texts ever discovered. how has this great collection, hidden for so many years in Judea’s solitary desert caves, […]

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The gods of Palermo: the Antonino Salinas Museum

Oliver Gilkes explores a recently refurbished Sicilian museum. Sicily plays host to an unprecedented variety of archaeological sites and monuments, set in an extraordinary medley of landscapes. Combine this with Sicilian panache at cookery (very different from mainland Italy) and its wines, and a visit is a must for enthusiasts of Mediterranean archaeology. Superb museums […]

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Object Lesson: Venus of Renancourt

What is it? This statuette, dating from around 21,000 BC, has the familiar form of a Palaeolithic ‘Venus’ figurine. Carved out of chalk and standing to a height of 4cm, the female figure has the prominent, fleshy thighs, buttocks, and breasts typical of these works from a late phase of the Gravettian culture (28,000-22,000 years […]

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Trojan War: the archaeology of a story

The archaeological legacy of the Trojan war is immense. Key scenes from the conflict and its aftermath play out across ancient sarcophagi, wall paintings, and even fine tableware. Yet there is a strong chance that none of these events ever really happened. How did this story become so important in the Greek, Roman, and medieval worlds?

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Return to Huaca El Pueblo

Discovering Peruvian pyramid tombs Recent excavations at Huaca El Pueblo, a mud-brick pyramid erected by the Moche, have revealed three remarkable burials dating to the 4th century AD. As well as providing a poignant glimpse of these individuals’ lives, the rites that consigned them to the earth offer clues to help solve the enduring mystery […]

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Bringing a pharaoh’s tomb to Bolton

In 1898, a team led by French archaeologist Victor Loret excavated the tomb of the 18th Dynasty pharaoh Thutmose III. It was given the number KV34, though it had originally been one of the first tombs to be cut into the bedrock of Egypt’s Valley of the Kings over 3,400 years ago. The tomb is […]

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Object Lesson: Selden Map of China

What is it? This late Ming dynasty map depicts China, the South China Sea, and surrounding lands. It was drawn in the early 17th century on three sheets of paper by an anonymous cartographer with an eye for detail. Measuring 158cm in length and 96cm in width, the map is too big for practical use […]

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Tutankhamun: a teenager’s journey to the afterlife

As the centenary of Howard Carter’s discovery looms, the largest collection of Tutankhamun’s grave goods ever to leave Egypt has embarked on a world tour. The objects, ranging from glittering treasures to everyday essentials, were assembled to ease the youthful pharaoh’s passage into the next world. For all their beauty, these artefacts also tell tales of belief, the burden of royal duties, and young love.

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Richard Hodges: Homage to Dhaskalio

Sailing to a remote maritime sanctuary brings Richard Hodges to Europe’s earliest central place As the ferry slipped through the still-sleeping grey sea heading northwards, I raced to the aft windows to get a last look at Dhaskalio, albeit in silhouette. Dark now, this conical rock reminds me of Tintagel, detached in this case from […]

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Review: Last Supper in Pompeii

The enjoyment of food and drink, the essence of life, was deeply ingrained in Roman society. Beyond mere nutrition, food and wine played vital roles in people’s social lives, business lives, spiritual lives, and afterlives. We have details about Roman dishes from a range of texts, such as Petronius’ Satyricon, with its account of decadent […]

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Ulpiana: The Romans in Kosovo

Excavations in a once-forgotten city are bringing its inhabitants’ stories to light, as Oliver Gilkes reveals. The wide, high, rolling plains and hills of Kosovo are a sudden change from the soaring peaks and rugged hills of the Balkan Mountains. This region of fertile soils and mineral-rich highlands has made Kosovo the target of ambitious […]

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Archaeology and the analyst

When the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud left Vienna after Germany annexed Austria in 1938, he was – unlike most other refugees – able to bring many of his possessions to his new home in north London. Freud only lived at Maresfield Gardens for a year, as he died in 1939, but it was established as […]

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