Issue 55

Temple of the Night Sun

Temple of the Night Sun

The mighty temple of a little known Maya Kingdom, and the undisturbed tomb of its first ruler.

Approach to main entrance

Forts of the French Foreign Legion

Tales of the French Foreign Legion in the deserts of North Africa have fired the imagination of many an adventurous school boy. Richard Jeynes was one. Now, as a (grown-up) archaeologist, his investigation of an abandoned fort of the French colonial empire is bringing those stories to life.


Monsters, virgins, and femme fatales

Inspired by an engaging new book about women in the Ancient World, Christopher Catling asks: what do art, literature, and archaeology tell us about the place of women in ancient society?


Facing the past

A fossilised face and two lower jaws excavated in Kenya may confirm that Homo erectus, our direct ancestor, coexisted with multiple species of early humans 2 million years ago. Palaeoanthropologists agree that both Homo erectus and Homo habilis inhabited East Africa during the Pleistocene epoch, but these new discoveries, published in Nature, could settle a […]


Bones to unpick

Construction work in the ruins of Tenochtitlan in Mexico City has uncovered a unique burial at the foot of the Aztec capital’s main temple: the skeleton of a young woman, surrounded by a jumble of almost 2,000 human bones. Lying beneath a slab floor associated with the fifth phase of building at Templo Mayor (AD […]


Roman wreck resurfaces

The well-preserved wreck of a 2,000-year-old Roman merchant ship carrying hundreds of clay amphorae has been found off the coast of Italy. Following a tip-off by fishermen who reported finding pottery fragments in their trawler nets (see CWA 54 for more on the impact of commercial fishing on underwater heritage), researchers from the Genoan Police […]


Roman town resurfaces

Archaeologists have mapped the entire streetplan of a lost Roman town, revealing that what was thought to be a sleepy backwater was in fact a thriving urban centre housing thousands of people. Interamna Lirenas was founded 50 miles south of Rome in the 4th century BC, but following its abandonment 1,500 years ago the colony […]


Terra Nova Revisited

Another sunken vessel recently rediscovered is the Terra Nova, which carried Captain Robert Scott on his ill-fated expedition to the South Pole. It has now been found off the south coast of Greenland. Described by Scott as ‘a wonderfully fine ice ship’, after the polar trek the Terra Nova worked as a sealing vessel and […]


Flying high

Archaeological sites that take years to record using traditional methods could be mapped in minutes, according to new research by Vanderbilt University. At Mawchu Llacta, a 16th-century colonial town in Peru, scientists are testing a remote-controlled flying device called SUAVe (Semi-autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), which is small enough to fit in a backpack and takes […]

Pedal power

In a rather more earthbound initiative, Google Maps staff in Mexico have pedalled tricycles mounted with cameras around 30 pre-Hispanic sites to create 360˚ photo tours of famous monuments including Teotihuacan, Chichen Itza, and Palenque. Recorded with the cooperation of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), the sites can be visited virtually through […]


Mismatched objects

Clay cylinders from the Jordan Valley, traditionally interpreted as 8,000-year-old ritual ‘phallic objects’, have been reassessed as the earliest-known fire-drills. There is evidence for humans making fire up to a million years ago (see CWA 53), mostly limited to the remains of the fires themselves, but Prof. Naama Goren-Inbar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem […]


Heuneburg, Germany

Previously thought to be little more than hillfort, is this actually the first Iron Age city north of the Alps?

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