Issue 40

Hadrian sculpture

CWA 40

Before oil and gas, the Arabian Gulf grew rich on another natural resource: pearls. From the mid 18th until the early 20th century AD the international demand for pearls was insatiable. The local economy boomed. However, almost as fast as it boomed, so it bust. The story of this heady rise and fall is illustrated […]


Qatar, Pearl Divers

Before oil and gas became the major economic driving factors in the Arabian Gulf, another natural resource was the primary export: pearls. But almost as fast as this trade boomed, so it bust. This story of wonder and collapse is illustrated at the abandoned Qatari city of Al Zubarah. Tobias Richter explains.



Mould, decay, mismanagement: having survived for millennia, the exquisite art at Lascaux is critically degrading. International rock-art expert Paul G Bahn reports.


Belize, Sweatbath

What do we know of Maya ritual practices? New revelations of a well-preserved sweatbath at Pook’s Hill in western Belize are hot. Christophe Helmke and Jaime Awe write.


Albania, Butrint

Richard Hodges reflects upon a rich year at the glorious site of Butrint in Southern Albania, and on his search for one of its most distinguished citizens: the 1st century BC millionaire Titus Pomponius Atticus.


Neanderthals, Dental Dating of Demise

Professor Zilhão of the University of Bristol and his colleagues have used red deer teeth and bones from the Portuguese cave site of Pego do Diabo (in the outskirts of Lisbon) to ask how long Neanderthals survived in the Iberian Peninsula. Excavations on Gibraltar have led to suggestions that Neanderthals clung on there until as […]


First Sailors

  Crete has been an island for five million years – so the discovery of artefacts that are at least 130,000 years old on the island implies that pre-modern humans, such as Homo heidelbergensis, must have been long-distance seafarers. Thus reason the members of a team of archaeologists led by Professor Thomas Strasser, of the […]


Dead Sea

Researchers at the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology say they have found evidence that sophisticated behavioural patterns that define what it is to be human go back as early as 750,000 years ago – half a million years earlier than previously thought. The evidence comes from excavations at Benot Ya’aqov, located along the Dead Sea […]


Brian Fagan Digs Deeper

In Brian Fagan’s latest instalment of all things archaeological that are both exotic and entertaining, he reads a Jamestown tablet, gets spiritual with the Hopewell, and finds gomphotheres with Clovis points.


Amazonian Emire Found

Stories about lost jungle civilizations are normally the staple of adventure films or the lunatic fringe. Now fiction has become reality with the discovery of hundreds of huge and hitherto unknown earthworks in the upper Amazon basin, near the borders of Bolivia and Brazil. Wide-scale forest clearance for agriculture has revealed 200 enclosures and the […]


Ancient Roman Law Code Rediscovered

Fragments of parchment bearing part of an ancient Roman law code have been discovered by researchers at the Department of History at University College London. Dr Simon Corcoran and Dr Benet Salway were approached by a private collector who had purchased the 17 fragments of parchment believing them to be biblical texts in Greek. Corcoran […]


Neanderthals Reveal True Colours

Professor João Zilhão and colleagues at the University of Bristol, UK, have found pigment-stained and perforated marine shells at two Neanderthal-associated sites in south-east Spain (the Cueva de los Aviones and the Cueva Antón, both in the province of Murcia) which prove that Neanderthals wore neck pendants and used red, black and yellow pigments for […]

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