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Trojan War: the archaeology of a story

The archaeological legacy of the Trojan war is immense. Key scenes from the conflict and its aftermath play out across ancient sarcophagi, wall paintings, and even fine tableware. Yet there is a strong chance that none of these events ever really happened. How did this story become so important in the Greek, Roman, and medieval worlds?

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The archaeological legacy of the Trojan war is immense. Greek vases pull no punches when they show Homeric heroes engaged in brutal combat. Key scenes from the conflict and its aftermath play out across ancient sarcophagi, wall paintings, and even fine tableware. Yet there is a strong chance that none of these events ever really […]

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Return to Huaca El Pueblo

Discovering Peruvian pyramid tombs Recent excavations at Huaca El Pueblo, a mud-brick pyramid erected by the Moche, have revealed three remarkable burials dating to the 4th century AD. As well as providing a poignant glimpse of these individuals’ lives, the rites that consigned them to the earth offer clues to help solve the enduring mystery […]

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Bringing a pharaoh’s tomb to Bolton

In 1898, a team led by French archaeologist Victor Loret excavated the tomb of the 18th Dynasty pharaoh Thutmose III. It was given the number KV34, though it had originally been one of the first tombs to be cut into the bedrock of Egypt’s Valley of the Kings over 3,400 years ago. The tomb is […]

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Object Lesson: Selden Map of China

What is it? This late Ming dynasty map depicts China, the South China Sea, and surrounding lands. It was drawn in the early 17th century on three sheets of paper by an anonymous cartographer with an eye for detail. Measuring 158cm in length and 96cm in width, the map is too big for practical use […]

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Tutankhamun: a teenager’s journey to the afterlife

As the centenary of Howard Carter’s discovery looms, the largest collection of Tutankhamun’s grave goods ever to leave Egypt has embarked on a world tour. The objects, ranging from glittering treasures to everyday essentials, were assembled to ease the youthful pharaoh’s passage into the next world. For all their beauty, these artefacts also tell tales of belief, the burden of royal duties, and young love.

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Tutankhamun ruled in interesting times. His father, Akhenaten, had upended Egyptian society by venerating the sun and founding a new capital at Amarna. Doubtless he made many enemies – particularly among the powerful priesthood – along the way. Tutankhamun was left to deal with the fallout when he came to power at just nine years […]

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Richard Hodges: Homage to Dhaskalio

Sailing to a remote maritime sanctuary brings Richard Hodges to Europe’s earliest central place As the ferry slipped through the still-sleeping grey sea heading northwards, I raced to the aft windows to get a last look at Dhaskalio, albeit in silhouette. Dark now, this conical rock reminds me of Tintagel, detached in this case from […]

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Review: Last Supper in Pompeii

The enjoyment of food and drink, the essence of life, was deeply ingrained in Roman society. Beyond mere nutrition, food and wine played vital roles in people’s social lives, business lives, spiritual lives, and afterlives. We have details about Roman dishes from a range of texts, such as Petronius’ Satyricon, with its account of decadent […]

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Ulpiana: The Romans in Kosovo

Excavations in a once-forgotten city are bringing its inhabitants’ stories to light, as Oliver Gilkes reveals. The wide, high, rolling plains and hills of Kosovo are a sudden change from the soaring peaks and rugged hills of the Balkan Mountains. This region of fertile soils and mineral-rich highlands has made Kosovo the target of ambitious […]

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Pasargadae

On the plain of Pasargadae, Cyrus the Great founded a spectacular garden palace. Nothing like it had ever been seen in the region before, raising questions about where the idea came from, how the garden was maintained, and where the inhabitants lived. Recently, an Iranian-French team went searching for answers.

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Cyrus the Great had an eye for the finer things in life. At Pasargadae he established a fabulous palace, which boasted lavish pleasure gardens watered by ingenious hydraulic works. Today, the lush vegetation is long-gone, but the ruins testify to the arrival of a new approach to palaces, where the buildings played second fiddle to […]

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