Issue 49


Jamestown: Captain Smith’s pots

A well shaft that was dug by the first English colonists at Jamestown when they arrived in May 1607 was backfilled in June 1610 because the water had become increasingly salty. The rubbish that went into the well, as part of a clean-up of the triangular fortified site ordered by the English governor, Lord De […]


Cairo: Egyptology in crisis

As the Arab Spring flooded through Egypt’s Tahrir Square, the old political order was swept away – and with it went Egyptology’s most controversial exponent, Dr Zahi Hawass. Tom St John Gray followed events earlier this year and now considers the consequences.



Francophile David Miles pulls on his hiking boots, and sets off in search of Neolithic farmers in the South of France.


A postcard from Knidos

I have returned to Knidos after 40 years. Across the decades you forget the outlines of the trenches and the stratigraphic relationships these contained. Instead, Knidos remains etched in my memory as a panorama encompassing the suggestive silhouettes of many of the
Dodecanese islands, as well as the brilliant crystalline blue expanse of the Aegean.


Vatican: Cults, Christianity and the Vatican

A strange statue standing guard near the Sistine Chapel in Rome intrigues travel writer Nigel McGilchrist. Could the Vatican be sitting on the site of an ancient Mithraic temple?


Book review: Reading Maya Art: A hieroglyphic guide to ancient Maya painting and sculpture

Two decades have passed since the American archaeologist and anthropologist Michael Coe published Breaking the Maya Code (1992). This told the dramatic contemporary story of how the Maya glyphs of Central America were successfully deciphered during the 1970s and 1980s – mainly by North American scholars following a pioneering suggestion in the early 1950s by […]


Book review: When in Rome: 2000 years of Roman sightseeing

There have been many Romes. From the earliest scattered huts on the Palatine to the frenetic modern metropolis, the Eternal City has repeatedly reinvented itself. Augustus boasted of finding it brick, and leaving it marble, while the Popes presided over a landscape of martyrs’ relics, before the Renaissance and Baroque movements recast the urban fabric […]

Book review: Knowledge is light: travellers in the Near East

Centuries before the gap year and package holiday became cultural staples, Western travellers were making long – and often dangerous – journeys abroad, seeking knowledge, wealth, and adventure. This collection of papers by the Association for the Study of Travel in Egypt and the Near East gives a fascinating and deeply personal insight into the […]



A new exhibition in New York reveals the secrets of another strikingly cosmopolitan city, one with a long and turbulent past.


Royal Tombs of Ur

From the underground chambers of the Royal Tombs emerged a picture of a civilisation that was at once dazzling and sinister

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