Issue 50

This list of names, found at the palace of Ziyaret Tepe, contains words in an unknown language.

Tigris Basin: before the flood

In the last 10 years, a flurry of archaeological excavation ahead of the completion of the Ilısu Dam on the River Tigris has surprised everyone with the sheer quantity and diversity of material uncovered. The Ziyaret Tepe Team reassess this little understood but soon to be lost region before it is too late.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat: Temple of Boom

The ancient temples of Angkor have endured nearly a millennium of conflict and warfare, but will this new visitor boom, asks Tom St John Gray, be the most deadly threat to their survival? The capital of a flourishing empire between the 9th and 15th centuries, Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South- east Asia. This year Cambodia invited visitors from around the world to enter the ‘Kingdom of Wonder’, and tourists responded in their millions.

Patagonia: first people of Patagonia

Patagonia at the end of the Ice Age was not a pleasant place to live: it was a time of great climatic and environmental fluctuations, and, despite the thaw, much colder than today. Yet, into these uninviting conditions at the southern tip of the Americas, came the first early human societies. How did they survive such a bleak environment? Ariel Frank believes three sites in Patagonia have the answers.

Hydria and wreath, copyright Vergina Museum

Vergina: Discovering a king’s tomb

Taking a bulldozer to open an ancient monument is not usually recommended. But, in 1977, that is exactly what Manolis Andronikos did. After considerable debate, he had come to the conclusion that the Great Mound at Vergina was actually the site of Aegae, the religious capital of Macedonia where Philip II, father of Alexander the […]

Rouffignac rock art

A sequence of clear, parallel lines stands out brightly against the red clay wall at the entrance to Chamber A1 in Rouffignac Cave – about a metre off the floor, and drawn without the aid of torchlight. There has been much speculation as to the symbolic meaning and purpose of these fluted lines. Now, Leslie Van Gelder and Jessica Cooney believe they were made by a five-year-old girl, whose marks appear throughout the complex.

Yorktown: America’s first stoneware potter

Archaeologists in Yorktown, Virginia have found a well-preserved kiln site manufacturing fine stoneware pottery at a time when colonial pottery-making was banned: the illegal pottery was set up as a sign of the growing American desire for economic independence from the British Crown, and a desire to end the imposed reliance on imported British-made goods. […]

Armenia: 5900-year-old women’s skirt found in cave

Excavations at Areni 1 Cave in the Vayots Dzor region, on Armenia’s border with Iran and Turkey, have unearthed parts of a well-preserved woman’s skirt of woven straw, which has been dated to 3900 BC. Excavation Director, Pavel Avetisyan, of the Armenian Archaeology and Ethnography Institute, said ‘It is an amazing material with rhythmic colour hues’. […]

Blombos Cave: 100,000 year old paint in a shell

The discovery of two art toolkits, dating to 100,000 years ago, in a south African cave, show early humans were capable of sophisticated abstract thought and possessed a high level of technological know-how. Two abalone shells containing an ochre-rich mixture – probably used for decoration, painting, and skin protection – were found at Blombos Cave […]

Chris Catling on…

Museums of the world not to be missed No matter how unlikely the subject, there is bound to be a museum devoted to it somewhere in the world. Fascinated by sanitation? According to Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, the founder of the Sulabh International Museum of Toilets in New Delhi (www.sulabhtoiletmuseum.org), ‘the toilet is a part of […]

Italy: first modern European

A 45,000-year-old toddler’s milk tooth, found in southern Italy, is evidence of the first modern humans to reach Europe. Stefano Benazzi, of the University of Vienna, and Katerina Douka, from Oxford University, and colleagues, have identified two milk teeth as being early modern human rather than Neanderthal, as previously believed. Both are molars: one belonging […]

Malta: preserving Malta’s heritage

A long-neglected archaeological landscape will now be preserved after being declared a Class A Area of Archaeological Importance by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA). The multi-period site at Tal-Wej, dating from the Bronze
Age through to the 16th century, was being used as an illegal dumping ground for construction rubbish and was under threat […]

Syria/Saudi Arabia/Jordan: Googling the past

Thousands of previously unknown prehistoric stone structures have been found in some of the most remote and unexplored regions of the Middle East, thanks to the use of satellite technology. More and more, archaeologists working in remote locations are turning to virtual landscapes like Google Earth and Bing when neither aircraft reconnaissance nor archive aerial […]

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