Issue 50

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 […]

Thailand: Special report

Ayutthaya lies on the bank of the Chao Phraya River, a mighty waterway fed by innumerable tributaries that rise in the Phetchabun Range to the east, and the uplands on northern and western Thailand. From the onset of the monsoon in April and May until the rains subside in November, the river turns into a […]

Carnuntum: Gladiator training centre found near Vienna

The former Roman town of Carnuntum, today an Archaeological park on the Danube 24 miles (38km) east of Vienna, is already known for its well-preserved amphitheatre, but archaeologists have now also discovered the first gladiator training school ever found outside Italy. The find was made using state-of- the-art, ground-penetrating radar equipment, so sensitive that, according […]

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 […]

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Charles higham on: Archiving historic moments in archaeology

Imagine being played a DVD of Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, and Alfred Russell Wallace discussing their views on evolution, or Boucher de Perthes, Dean Buckland, and William Pengelly describing their approach to the early human occupation of Europe. This is, of course, impossible: their inner thoughts are sadly consigned to oblivion, and only the carefully […]

Great Excavations

Troy: Great Excavations

Heinrich Schliemann has been described as ‘the creator of prehistoric Greek archaeology’, but he was an amateur when he took up archaeology aged 46 after making his fortune in business.

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Travels to Copan

  I tend to sum countries up by how they treat their archaeological sites and, in common with everyone I know, their airport security. On these grounds, Honduras, one of the world’s poorest countries, is a world-leader. Its only World Heritage Site, inscribed in 1980, is the great Mayan capital of Copan, close to the […]

Arles-Theatre

Travels to Arles

According to Oscar Wilde, ‘the only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it’. With the arrival this summer of a new direct train from London’s St Pancras to Avignon in France, the temptation to spend a few days in Provence was one not worth fighting. But Avignon, temporary home of […]

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