Issue 57


Filing down dates

Polynesia was among the last places to be settled by humans, with the Lapita people arriving around 3,000 years ago (CWA 53). Now, according to a report published in PLOS ONE, the start of this occupation can be narrowed down to a 16-year window with high-precision dating. Uranium-thorium analysis is used on materials with high […]


Extra mature cheese

Cheese-making developed in Northern Europe over 7,000 years ago, possibly because our ancestors were lactose intolerant. Pieces of sieve-like pottery, excavated in Poland 30 years ago and dated to the 6th millennium BC, were typologically interpreted as cheese-strainers. Now results, published in Nature, from the analysis of fatty acids trapped in their fabric has revealed […]


Sealing Norse Greenlanders’ fate?

The mystery of what happened to Greenland’s Norse population is one step closer to being solved, as new evidence suggests that the colony did not die out because its inhabitants were unable to adapt to their new environment. The first Viking settlers arrived in c.AD 1000, and over time their population swelled to around 3,000 […]


Harbouring secrets

A team of French and Italian archaeologists have announced the discovery of the lost harbour of Ostia, once ancient Rome’s primary seaport. The commercial centre was founded beside the Tiber in c.620 BC to give Rome an outlet to the sea and guard against enemy fleets entering the river. According to contemporary writers such as […]


CWA 57

The elaborate rock-hewn tombs of Petra, in Jordan, have inspired visitors, poets, and film-makers alike, ever since the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt stumbled across the Khazneh (the Treasury) in 1812. But what lies behind the monumental rock-hewn façades in the ‘rose red city half as old as time’? In the first study of its […]


World’s oldest timber structures

The identification of four 7,000-year-old wells as the world’s oldest-known timber structures suggests that Neolithic communities were capable of much more sophisticated woodworking techniques with stone tools than previously thought, newly published research says. Previous excavations at three Neolithic settlements near Leipzig, Germany, had uncovered four well-shafts, each lined with oak planks preserved for thousands […]


Tombs with a view

More cutting-edge technology has been put to use by Scottish experts in China, creating 3D models of the Eastern Qing Tombs, the final resting place of China’s last Imperial dynasty. Designated a World Heritage Site in 2000, the necropolis was in use from AD 1666-1911 and houses 15 tomb complexes containing the remains of emperors, […]


Gebelein Man: stabbed in the back

Another mummy recently identified as a victim of ancient Egyptian violence is Gebelein Man, one of the best-known occupants of the British Museum’s Early Egypt gallery. Found in 1896 at Gebelein, about 40km (25 miles) south of Thebes, the individual had been buried in a shallow pit, his crouched body wrapped in linen and matting. […]


Unwrapping pharaonic foul play

Ramesses III was murdered, probably during an attempted coup, say archaeologists following new analysis of the Egyptian king’s mummified remains. They believe they have also identified his son, one of the conspirators. The Turin Judicial papyrus records an attempt on the life of the 20th-Dynasty pharaoh in 1155 BC, the final year of his reign. […]

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