Issue 54


Europe’s oldest Neolithic bow

The excavations at La Draga in Spain – which is among the earliest known agricultural settlements on the northern Iberian Peninsula – have uncovered the oldest complete Neolithic bow to have been found in Europe. Dated by its context to c.5400-5200 BC and made of yew wood, the bow was found by Autonomous University of […]


First farmers in Cyprus

A recently discovered Neolithic site on Cyprus is the oldest farming settlement on any Mediterranean island, reshaping our understanding of the movement of prehistoric farmers. Excavations at Klimonas have uncovered the remains of a village, dated by stone tools and buildings found at the site to c.9000 BC – centuries earlier than previous evidence of […]


Unpicking ancient art

New research using computer technology to unpick overlapping layers of rock art has shed light on how the ideas and interests of prehistoric communities changed. Between c.4500-3000 BC, early artists at Nämforsen in Sweden, and Zalavruga in Russia, tended to carve elks in silhouette, Cambridge University archaeologist Mark Sapwell said. But by 2000 BC these […]


Ancient curses deciphered

New research has deciphered two 1,600-year-old curses from the Late Roman Empire. Written in Latin and Greek on thin lead tablets, the inscriptions include drawings of their intended victims and a snake-haired figure thought to be Hekate, Greek goddess of witchcraft. The tablets were originally acquired by the Museo Archeologico Civico di Bologna in the […]


Cutting-edge research

Archaeologists studying 31 obsidian knives from Cantona, a pre-Hispanic site in Mexico, have discovered minute traces of 2,000-year-old human blood, skin, and hair on the blades – the first direct evidence of such tools being used for human sacrifice. Previously researchers had relied on cut marks on the bones of presumed victims to reconstruct how […]


Canaanite cache discovered

Archaeologists from Tel Aviv University have discovered a 3,000-year-old hoard of jewellery while cleaning a prehistoric pot. The vessel was found in 2010 at Tel Meggido, an important Canaanite city-state in northern Israel, but remained uncleaned while awaiting molecular analysis of its contents. When conservators emptied the pot, however, they found a cache of well-preserved […]


Hard to swallow

While most of our early ancestors preferred to eat soft foods such as grass and sedge, Australopithecus sediba enjoyed more roughage, including tree bark and papyrus in their two million-year-old diet. Rich in protein and soluble sugars, bark and papyrus are eaten by many modern primates, but previous research into 81 other hominids had not […]


New World Heritage Sites

Twenty new cultural sites have been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, including the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Lying 10km outside Jerusalem, the site has been identified in Christian tradition as the birthplace of Jesus Christ since as far back as the 2nd century AD, and 4th-century mosaics survive there from the first […]


Heritage campaigners have created ‘Wikiloot’, an online database of stolen artefacts, to bring members of the public into the fight against the illegal antiquities trade. Spearheaded by Jason Felch, author of Chasing Aphrodite, an exposé of the smuggling of a Classical statue out of Italy, the initiative collates documents and photos to help track down […]


Fishing first

Södertörn University archaeologists have found 9,000-year-old fishing traps in the Baltic Sea off the coast of Sweden, making them the oldest yet discovered anywhere in the world. The team say this evidence shows that people were fishing in fixed spots long before the development of permanent agricultural settlements in the region. This article is an […]


Charles Higham: Arriving in Ashwell and an African exodus

When did our ancestors leave Africa to colonise the globe? Our cottage in Ashwell looks out over the village church, which boasts the highest parish steeple in Hertfordshire. A glance over the churchyard one wet May morning revealed a van drawn up, and familiar gear being off-loaded: picks and shovels, tarpaulins and sieves. All the […]

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