Digging the markets of Beirut: a report by Dominic Perring on 12 years' work in Lebanon's capital…
We are just back from a whirlwind tour of Northern Pakistan. In a little under three weeks we witnessed three great civilisations: the Indus Valley, the Gandharan civilisation, and that of the Moghals. Most striking was the massive excavation underway in Peshawar city (pictured on the front cover). To date, the archaeologists have dug a stratigraphy of over 8m - from the period of British occupation right back to the Indo-Greek period. How much more remains to be uncovered? 'We suspect occupation goes back to at least the 3rd millennium BC', came the Field Director's answer.
Thereafter, we offer a feature on the archaeology of Lebanon. Twelve years ago, field archaeologist Dominic Perring's life changed forever. He was given the irresistible challenge of digging the markets of Beirut's city centre. Here he tells of a major rescue excavation in an area continuously occupied since the Early Bronze Age. The team has certainly uncovered an impressive archaeological sequence that reveals not only periods of success and of recession, but even evidence of the historically documented fires that raged in Beirut after its devastation by an earthquake and tidal wave in AD 551.
After Beirut, Lawrence Barfield brings us closer afield: to Manerba, on the banks of the magical Lake Garda, in northern Italy. Here he looks at the other end of the great megalithic story that we know so well in Britain. At Manerba he has been excavating a prehistoric cemetery which forms the eastern extremity of the traditions of collective burials of the North-West European Neolithic and Bronze Ages.
Lovers of Italian archaeology are well served in this issue. For the first time, we have a veritable crop of Italian features: Richard Hodges sends us an interview from Florence where he was in conversation with the ultimate Renaissance Man, Riccardo Francovich, one of the key proponents of Italian Medieval Archaeology.
Hodges stays in Italy to write a postcard from the ancient town of Terracina, while also drawing on a raft of other neighbouring sites.
Our second postcard comes from David Miles, Chief Archaeological Advisor to English Heritage. Miles has an enduring passion for modern architecture, and in his postcard from France he looks at a number of structures designed by Sir Norman Foster and considers how these blend into the historic landscape.
Having only just arrived back in the UK, we hope you enjoy this issue, and that you - like us - are inspired to get away again sooner rather than later.