Category: Issue 19

We open this issue with perhaps the deepest dig in the world: Gor Khuttree in Peshawar, North Pakistan. Peshawar is a formidable city situated at the foot of the Khyber Pass. Since the time of the Alexander and his successors, it has been the gateway by which invaders have poured down into the Indian sub-continent. Its rich heritage is locked in metres upon metres of stratigraphy: so far the archaeologists have dug eight metres down: from the British period back to the 4th century BC Indo -Greek era. However, they suspect the layers will continue down to the Indus Valley Civilisation. Just a couple more thousand years to dig through, then.
From Asia we move to Africa and the Sudan. In the late Kushite period, from the 3rd century BC to the 4th century AD, the Kushites (almost) rivalled Egypt, and at Dangeil a fine temple to Amun is being excaved by Julie Anderson and Salah Mohamed Ahmed. Here they tell how they are uncovering a city steeped in ritual, bolstered by monumental architecture, and inhabited by a people with a surprisingly strong penchant for baked bread.
Raqqa, on the upper Euphrates, was once a glorious city, the predecessor to Baghdad. It was home to industry on a massive scale, specialising in glass and pottery production: since natron was no longer available as a flux in glass-making, they began to use plants as a substitute, thus pioneering the Forest glass of the Middle ages and foreshadowing the magnificent glass ware of the high Islamic period. For a brief period, Raqqa was even an imperial city and an administrative centre for the mighty Islamic Caliphate. But its boom lost its swell once the capital was moved 300 miles further down the Euphrates to Baghdad.
From the heat of medieval Syria we then travel to the frozen waters of post-medieval Iceland. There, scholars have been exploring a series of trading sites along Iceland’s coast. Once, few would venture to these icy parts, but in the early 15th century the area was transformed by fishing ships from England drawn by the waters’ abundant fish.
Ice gives way to balmy waters with a postcard from Richard Hodges who writes from the Cycladian island of

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Peshawar, Gor Khuttree

We look down upon 8m of stratigraphy at the caravanserai of Gor Khuttree in North Pakistan

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Dangeil, Sudan

Excavations at the Late Kushite city of Dangeil in Sudan reveal a temple of Amun, and a massive bread-making facility

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Great Wall of China: Walk Wonder of the World for Parkinson’s

The undulating Great Wall of China is one of the world’s foremost historical sites. The mighty wall runs across the north of the country and was built over 2,000 years ago by the first Emperor of China who feared invasion by those pesky barbarians. Such was the imperial terror, that the Great Wall ranks as […]

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Ano Koufonissi, Greece

Richard Hodges writes from the island of Áno Koufoníssi where he spent time with Lord Renfrew

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Rescuing the Past

By Jonathan Tokeley, Imprint Academic, Exeter, £25 Is the tide turning in the ‘cultural heritage crusade’? For a generation or more, it has been the conventional wisdom that objects should be returned to the land where they were discovered. Now the consensus is being challenged. Recently Dorothy King in her book on the Elgin Marbles […]

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Who Owns Objects

Edited by Eleanor Robson, Luke Treadwell and Chris Gosden Oxbow books £24 This consists of nine essays that had their origin in a series of lectures given at Oxford in 2004 with the aim of bringing together dealers and collectors on the one side with museum curators and academics on the other. The opening piece […]

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The Medici Conspiracy

Peter Watson and Cecili Todeschini Public Affairs Books £15.99 This is very much a Cowboys and Indians sort of book chronicling the trial of Giacomo Medici in Italy in 2003 with lots of provocative headlines such as ‘Collectors are the real looters’. Peter Watson is a former writer for the Sunday Times and the book […]

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