In September the British Museum will be launching a major new exhibition on Sudan. We take a sneak-preview…
The Olympic Games are coming up' said the publisher: 'How about a Greek issue?' The editors have done their best to oblige. Here, the first part of the magazine is a celebration of Greek archaeology.
We start with the preparations for the Olympic Games in Athens itself. A new metro has been built, and though the tunnels have been dug well below the archaeological levels, there were still new stations to be constructed and shaft holes to be built. In all, a lot of archaeology. The result has been a triumph. On several of the new stations, show cases have been built to display the objects found, so we take a look at some of these new stations, and at some of the 30,000 objects recorded.
And then, out to the islands. Firstly, to Paros where we track down a 7th century massacre that has just everything. Firstly there are the bodies themselves: there are the semi-cremated remains of some 140 warriors in two large graves. Then there are two magnificent Greek pots illustrating the massacre. And finally, is this not the battle commemorated by the poet, Archilochos? In other words, we have bones, pictures and a written account, all of the same event. What more can you ask for?
Next, to neighbouring Naxos. This is one of our favourite islands, so when we heard that two temples had won a Europa Nostra Award, we could not resist the opportunity to re-visit them, and offer you a travelogue of one of the world's great little islands. Everything on Naxos is early: its great days came before it was conquered by the Persians in 490 BC, so we could not help but open with a front cover picture of the sun setting behind the great 6th century temple of the tyrant Lygdamis. We then look at the 'new' temples near Sangri and Iria, as well as the underground museum in Naxos town itself, where the ritual mysteries of Dark Age worship have been preserved - a real treat for all connoisseurs of exotic burial rites.
And then for a change of pace, we take you to the Sudan, and a preview of a major exhibition on its treasures - due to be held at The British Museum later this year. In addition to a taster of some of the gems due to go on show, we look at several of the sites under exploration.
Crossing from Africa over to the Arabian Peninsula, and up into the Gulf, we take a close look at the Islamic Period discoveries made on Bahrain's islands. Since most archaeologists have looked only at the pre-Islamic remains on Bahrain, a focus on this more recent archaeology comes as a welcome surprise. For millennia Bahrain had lain at the centre of a huge trading network, and the archaeologists found some compelling remains, including Medieval gold coins, high quality glazed vessels, and of course the local pearls that traditionally brought much wealth to the area.
Finally, we have postcards from Singapore and from Kerala; and News from around the world; but the Editor's recent excursions to Japan and Korea must remain for future issues . . .