Issue 48

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Keros: island of broken figurines

Post excavation analysis of the finds from Professor Colin Renfrew’s excavations on the island of Keros are beginning to throw new light on the enigmatic rituals of the Aegean Bronze Age. The puzzle that Professor Renfrew and his colleagues on the Cambridge-Keros project have been seeing to resolve is not just why the island was […]

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Inca civilisation founded on llama dung

The fact that llamas defecate communally so that their dung is easily gathered underpins the cultural achievement of the Inca civilisation and leads directly to the construction of Machu Picchu, says Alex Chepstow-Lusty, a British palaeoecologist working at the French Institute of Andean Studies in Lima. Chepstow-Lusty has studied pollens and oribatid mites from the […]

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Infra-red imaging used to discover thousands of ancient Egyptian sites

Archaeologist Sarah Parcak, who teaches at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, admits to being astonished by her own achievement: ‘I couldn’t believe we could locate so many sites all over Egypt,’ she told the BBC recently, ‘using the new technique of infra-red satellite imaging.’ No less than 17 lost pyramids, more than 1,000 tombs, […]

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Amazon culture comes to Denver

Shaped from the clays of the Amazon estuary, the elaborately decorated red, white, and black ceramics of the Marajó culture are a highlight of the Marvelous Mud exhibition at the Denver Art Museum (until 18 September 2011). They are the work of an ancient Amazonian culture largely unknown to all but a handful of specialists, […]

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Hidden Treasures

Crete is well-connected by ferry to a number of the islands that lie close by. So if you want to go somewhere really off the beaten track, here are a few suggestions: be prepared for very simple accommodation and a chance of adventure, however. If you take the Piraeus ferry north from Kisamos at the […]

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A postcard from the Forty Saints

Today the Forty Saints sits discreetly above the crowded bay of Saranda (Hagioi Saranta), in southern Albania, overshadowed by telephone aerials. Enter the arcing harbour and your eye is drawn to a melée of small boys plunging into the water, little sun-tanned minxes in an otherwise sleepy, almost dreamy, tourist town. Saranda’s ancient history, when […]

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Book Review: The Marshall Albums: Photography and Archaeology

Much of the Indus Valley civilisation was revealed to the world on Sir John Marshall’s watch as director general of the Archaeological Survey of India. This extraordinary time was captured on film, and the images have recently been published in a new book. Andrew Robinson takes a look.

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Book Review: The Statues That Walked

The enigmatic moai that brood over Easter Island (Rapa Nui) in the South Pacific are one of archaeology’s great mysteries. When Europeans arrived in 1722, an estimated 3,000 seemingly impoverished people and numerous moai dwelt on the islands. Almost immediately, the mythmaking began, of a once prosperous, statue-building society that dissolved in the face of […]

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Book Review: Carthage Must be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization

This is an excellent account of the rise and fall of a great ancient civilisation. It starts in Phoenicia and describes the great expansion of the Phoenicians along the north coast of Africa, the foundation of Carthage and its eventual destruction. The author, Richard Miles, a Classicist at Trinity Hall Cambridge, has now written what […]

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Book Review: Resurrecting Pompeii

Since it was first excavated in 1748, the drama of Pompeii has excited the imaginations of archaeologists and tourists alike. Our impression of the site is informed primarily by a storytelling approach based largely on circumstantial evidence, and promoted by 18th- and 19th-century archaeologists who were not averse to holding ‘excavations’ to impress celebrity visitors: […]

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Touching the Divine

The British Museum’s exhibition, Treasures of Heaven, is more than a collection of beautiful artefacts – it is the exploration of a cult of personality. But is this a Medieval phenomenon, or a precursor to the celebrity worship of today?

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Peking Man

Peking Man represents the spread of a new species of hominid, Homo erectus, in an earlier ‘Out of Africa’ migration beginning about a million years ago

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