Issue 57


Early seafaring: Continuing Beyond the Blue Horizon

Venturing across the Blue Horizon In the second part of a feature drawing on his book Beyond the Blue Horizon, Brian Fagan braves the monsoon waters of the Indian Ocean and describes the seafarers who plied them. Imagine a broad ocean where the winds blow in opposite directions for six months at a time. Such […]


Turkey: Secrets of the Chariot Makers

Solving the mysteries at Van How were some of the first chariots made? Prof. Erkan Konyar of Istanbul University believes he has the answers. His theory turns on a series of strange rock ‘symbols’ found at the early 1st millennium BC site of Van, in Easern Turkey. Nadia Durrani writes. In the early 1st millennium […]


Crusader castles

For God or for Mammon? The 13th-century Northern Crusades not only converted the local tribes from paganism to Christianity, they also converted the landscape from dense forest to open farmland. Were these men of God intent on saving souls or plundering natural resources? Lisa-Marie Shillito looks for answers in the archaeological record. When we hear […]


Straits of Florida: Black Rats & Spanish Pearls

Shipwercked off the Florida Keys In 1622, the Tierra Firme fleet, laden with gold, silver, pearls, and rats, was sunk off the Florida Keys. Sean Kingsley and Ellen Gerth describe 20 years of research into the world’s first deep-sea wreck excavation, and discover a time capsule of daily life from the dying days of Spain’s […]


Petra: Behind the monumental façades

Strabo, in his opus Geography, writes dismissively that the Nabataeans ‘consider dead bodies as they do dung, just as Heraclitus says: “Corpses are more suited to be thrown out than dung.” And therefore they bury even their kings by dung-heaps.’ Scholars have puzzled over these words for decades, as the sheer splendour of their tombs, […]


Koldewey at Babylon

The dig The site of Babylon – one of the oldest, richest, and most fabled cities of Antiquity – had attracted a succession of European antiquarian investigators during the 19th century, but it was not until the arrival of a German Oriental Society (Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft) team led by Robert Koldewey (1855-1925) that scientific excavations were […]


Ice Age art at the British Museum

Perhaps one of the most exquisite works of art in the world today is that created by a man or woman about 13,000 years ago. Skilfully carved from the tip of a mammoth tusk, it depicts two reindeer swimming one behind the other and is naturalistic, detailed, and charmingly tender. It was found at Montastruc, […]


Book Review: Living with Myths

Living with Myths Paul Zanker and Björn C Ewald Oxford University Press, £150.00 ISBN 978-0199228690 Similar mythological motifs were used to decorate both Roman homes and their tombs, but these were more than picturesque ornamentation, revealing their commissioners’ concerns and aspirations This generously illustrated book explores allegorical uses of myths to praise the deceased, as […]


Book Review: Egypt in England

Egypt in England Chris Elliott English Heritage, £25.00 ISBN 978-1848020887 Although not as widespread as other imported styles such as Gothic and Classical, the art of Ancient Egypt has had a lasting influence on English architecture, often appearing in the most unexpected places – as this beautifully illustrated new book reveals. The first half comprises […]


Book Review: Earthquake

Earthquake Andrew Robinson Reaktion Books, £14.95 ISBN 978-1780230276 The Indian Ocean earthquake and Boxing Day 2004 tsunami, the 2010 earthquake on Haiti, and Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami are recent reminders of Nature’s destructive force. In this immensely readable book, packed with scientific and literary detail, Andrew Robinson looks at the historical and archaeological records […]


Book Review: Vessels of Influence

Vessels of Influence: China and the birth of porcelain in Medieval and Early Modern Japan Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere Bristol Classical Press, £12.99 ISBN 978-0715634639 The relationship between China and Japan over the past 1,000 years is a fascinating one. Until about 1600, China was well ahead, and the Japanese admired all things Chinese. Then, with […]


Book Review: The Idea of Order

The Idea of Order Richard Bradley Oxford University Press, £60.00 ISBN 978-0199608096 Why did circular houses dominate so much of Europe’s prehistoric landscape? And why, once they were eclipsed by the evolution of rectangular domestic buildings, did the circular archetype remain popular for ritual and ceremonial sites? Richard Bradley, Professor of Archaeology at Reading, begins […]

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