Issue 20

The Gods of the Polynesians were powerful gods requiring extreme rituals involving tattooing, eating only uncooked and thus ‘pure’ food, and wearing sacred clothes made from the feathers of a thousand birds. The word and concept of taboo (from the word ‘Tapu’) – a dangerous and prohibited act – derives from the erstwhile Polynesian religion, and the new exhibition at the British Museum provides one of the highlights of this latest edition of CWA.
Although Ostia is usually considered to be the main port of Rome, in fact it could not accommodate the big grain ships, and in the first century AD a huge new port was constructed, two miles to the north at a site called Portus. Portus is little known, but a recent massive survey by the British School at Rome has revealed just how it came to be built, and re-built till it was was big enough to accommodate the 300 ton mega ships that would bring the grain supplies from Egypt to Rome.
We then move to Spain to explore the story of our own development. Excavations at the southern Spanish sites of Orce and Cueva Victoria in Spain are rewriting the story of the early hominid colonisation of Europe. At these rich sites, the archaeologists have revealed the very oldest-known evidence of humans in Western Europe and are thus unlocking the secrets of the first human dispersal out of Africa.
With Africa in mind, the year 2007 is the 200th anniversary of the British abolition of the slave trade. It is also the 50th anniversary of Ghana’s independence, and this issue offers two timely articles on Ghana: David Miles opens with a piece on the archaeology and heritage of the region. Among the earliest European settlers in Ghana were the Danes, and Professor Klavs Randsborg reports on his team’s dig at a Danish colonial site at Frederiksnopel, the earliest European plantation in Africa, established to export luxury raw commodities from the Danish Gold Coast in modern Ghana.
Postcards come from Richard Hodges who writes from Italy; and Tim Darvill and Yvette Staelens who write from southern France where they have been looking at how the richly-painted Palaeolithic cave of Niaux has been presented in replica.
Finally, it is all change at Current Archaeology. The magazine is expanding, so the offices have moved to the Barley Mow Centre, in Chiswick (the former Sanderson’s Wallpaper factory, now smart offices). All subscriptions should be sent to this new address, listed on the left, though Andrew and Wendy Selkirk are still at Nassington Road, where they will still be dealing with some editorial matters and will delighted to hear from friends, old and new.

Back Issues

CWA 20

  CWA 20 was published in December 2006 and contained articles on the Roman Port of Ostia, palaeontological finds at the Spanish site of Orce, a look at the history of Ghana over the past 200 years, and a preview of the forthcoming British Museum exhibition on Polynesian "tapu".  


Spain, Early People

At the sites of Orce and Cueva Victoria in Spain, the story of the early hominid colonisation of Europe is being rewritten


Ghana: Roots to Forts

What is the state of Ghana’s archaeology and heritage? English Heritage’s Chief Archaeological Adviser David Miles reports


Polynesia: Art and Divinity

What is taboo? The current exhibition at the British Museum reveals all by looking at Art and Divinity in Polynesia, 1760-1860


France, The Grotte de Niaux

Prof. Tim Darvill and Yvette Staelens of Bournemouth University send a missive from the Grotte de Niaux, a cave bursting with Palaeolithic rock-art

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Ara Pacis, Italy

Richard Hodges visits architect Richard Meier’s new building that encloses the Ara Pacis, the monument to peace erected by Emperor Augustus

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Ancient Americans

A rich feast of books crossed my desk this year. Unfortunately, I did not have the time to read most of them. But I found Ancient Americans an engrossing read, written as it is by an outsider, not an archaeologist. Despite the best efforts of archaeologists and other scholars, the popular image of the Americas […]

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