Issue 59

Roman blockbuster

In December 2006, the New York Metropolitan Opera’s performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute was broadcast live via satellite into 100 cinemas – a pioneering move quickly echoed by other ballet, theatre, and musical companies. Recent years have seen ‘alternative cinema’ embracing static art exhibitions, and now the British Museum has got in on the […]

Meet the mosaic ancestors

Australopithecus sediba had a mixture of primitive and modern anatomical features, and a unique way of walking, newly published research says. The first fossilised remains of the hominid, which lived around two million years ago, were found in 2008 (CWA 41), at Malapa, 48km (30 miles) north of Johannesburg in South Africa. Now, six new […]

Palm reading

Before rice cultivation became prevalent in China, prehistoric inhabitants of its southern coast probably relied on sago palms as a staple food, according to new research published in PLOS ONE. Previously, little was known of this region’s ancient diet, as its acidic soils and humid climate hinder the preservation of plant remains. Now, however, Xiaoyan […]

Prehistoric food processors

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has pushed back agriculture in China by 12,000 years. The roots of agriculture are traditionally traced to tools used to grind seeds in the Middle East around 23,000 year ago. Now research led by Li Liu, Stanford University’s professor of Chinese archaeology, has […]

Ramming home truths

Discovered by British divers off the coast of Tobruk, Libya, in 1964, the Belgammel Ram would have been fixed to the upper bow of a small Greek or Roman warship to break enemy oars. Now extensive tests, led by Dr Nic Flemming of the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, have revealed a wealth of new […]


Chinese coin in Kenya

Excavations on Manda, an island off the coast of Kenya, have revealed a 600-year-old Chinese coin linked to the expedition of Admiral Zheng He, the celebrated Ming Dynasty explorer. Found in a midden by researchers from the Field Museum in Chicago, and the University of Illinois, the small copper and silver disc has a square […]

Easter Island imaging

Cutting-edge computer technology has shed new light on one of the enigmatic Easter Island statues, revealing new details of the cult images decorating its back. Hoa Hakananai’a – a stone head brought to England in 1869, now in the British Museum – has long been of interest to researchers because of its unusual, intricate carvings. […]


Fishing in the Jōmon

Analysis of some of the world’s earliest pots 
has revealed that Ice Age hunter-gatherers 
used them to cook fish. By studying charred food residues inside over 100 pots made across Japan during the J¬ōmon period (14,000-300 BC), an international team of researchers have found the earliest direct evidence for how ceramic vessels were used. While […]


Neolithic novelty north of the Alps

Excavations in Switzerland have revealed the first intact Neolithic burial chamber north of the Alps. The dolmen, at Oberbipp in the Canton of Bern, contains the remains of at least 28 individuals dating to about 5,000 years ago. Marianne Ramstein, director of excavations, explained that examples of such burial chambers are rare, most are in […]


La Tène treasures

Archaeological work ahead of the construction of warehouses at Buchères, near Troyes, France, has uncovered the graves of around 30 Gaulish warriors and women, dating back more than 2,000 years. Excavated by the Institut National de Recherches Archeologiques Préventives (INRAP), the individuals are thought to have belonged to a small La Tène period community who […]


Africa: Namib Desert

A forgotten WWI battlefield lies in Africa’s Namib Desert. Few historical accounts exist of the campaigns fought here, so James Stejskal and John Kinahan look to the archaeological record for evidence of conflicts that helped change the course of world history.


Road to success: Roman globalisation

In 312 BC, Appius Claudius set out to build a road from Rome to the south of Italy. So began the extensive road network that, argues Ray Laurence, paved the way for commercial domination of the Roman world.

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