Issue 50

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.

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.

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 […]

Lake Turkana: the world’s oldest advanced tools

Handaxes and flakes recovered from the shores of Lake Turkana, in the remote north- western part of Kenya, are being hailed as the oldest ‘advanced’ stone tools yet discovered in the world. The mudstone sediment in which the tools were found has been dated to 1.76 million years ago, some 360,000 years older than the […]

USA: Staffordshire Hoard goes stateside

The Staffordshire Hoard, the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon treasure to be found in the UK, has gone on tour to America. more than 100 artefacts, including some of the collection’s most famous finds – like the gold and garnet sword-fitting, the helmet cheek-piece, and the folded cross – are now on display at Washington DC’s […]

Kent’s Cavern: Long in the tooth and getting longer

New thinking on the movement of Homo sapiens has also emerged from the UK. A fragment of upper jawbone with three teeth from Kent’s Cavern in Devon was initially dated to c.37,000 BC, but re-examination suggested conservators’ glue had contaminated these results. Now, after radiocarbon dating animal bone excavated from above and below the maxilla, […]

Torquay: A coffin fit for a king

In the museum world’s equivalent of finding an heirloom in the attic, the curators at Torquay museum discovered they own an ancient Egyptian sarcophagus that was intended for royalty. The coffin, carved from a single piece of cedar, was originally believed to date from c.700 BC; it had been re-used 200 years later to hold […]

Magdalenenberg: Germany’s ancient moon calendar

In his first-hand account of the Gallic Wars (Commentarii de Bello Gallico), Julius Caesar observes that the Gallic people have a moon- based calendar, and that the big event for them was what astronomers now call the Lunar Standstill, which occurs every 18.6 years. Lunar Standstills are marked in several ancient cultures (including sites in […]

Luxor: Rising damp

A multi-million dollar project to help preserve Luxor’s world-famous temples has resumed after being delayed for nine months by the Egyptian revolution. Subterranean water was damaging the foundation stones of Karnak, the Ramesseum, and the temples of Seti I, Merneptah, and Haremhab. Now, the USAid-funded initiative has been channelling this water into an enormous reservoir […]

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