It was a typical summer day: birds, boats, sea, and ice. The difference was, the birds were Arctic geese, the boats were converted canoes, the sea was −10°C, and the ice was the size of a large car, rather than bobbing in a refreshing drink. I was standing on the northern coast of the small island of Uglit, where I camped for five weeks last summer while excavating ancient Arctic houses.
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The Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha was obsessed with defending his ‘paradise on earth’. He feared invasion by NATO troops using a combination of amphibious landings and parachutists. As a result, he covered the country with thousands of mushroom-like bunkers, concealed trenches, and anti-aircraft guns. From the sea to the mountains, Albania became a fortress. This extraordinary martial investment had one unexpected outcome. During construction of an anti-aircraft installation close to Fshati i Vjetër, ‘The Old Village’ high on Mount Mile, overlooking Butrint, ancient Buthrotum, and the Straits of Corfu, an exquisite bronze statuette of the god, Pan, came to light in 1981.
Journeying south from the Serbian Danube presents an opportunity to revel in Roman opulence, as Oliver Gilkes reveals. The Danubian provinces of the Roman world do not get much of a look in as far as history goes. That is not to say there is no history – there is a lot – but seeking out modern accounts is not so easy.
Italy is in lockdown as I write and it feels like Christmas Day, such is the silence. Yet the cuckoos have dodged passport control and are here to herald each day. The fields, incidentally, are now flush with spring flowers. The government decree forbids travel, so I resort to assembling reports on old excavations for a new tome and, as it takes shape, I dwell on whom to dedicate it to. Archaeology is as much about people as it is about the past. So, just as I rework interpretations about past discoveries with each new piece of evidence, so I inevitably revise my thinking about people.
Oliver Gilkes tours the Danube, in the first of a two-part exploration of Serbia’s archaeology. The mighty Danube runs for almost 2,000km from southern Germany to the Black Sea. It forms the backbone of central-southern Europe and was for millennia not only a trade and communications artery, but also a frontier and barrier. Last year, […]
Exploring a Founding Father’s mobile home Why was a 19th-century New York house relocated twice – and how was it done? Carly Hilts travelled to Harlem to find out. In 2008, the inhabitants of Harlem – an uptown neighbourhood of New York City – were met by an extraordinary sight: a house, more than 200 […]
No matter how many years I have spent in the Mediterranean in wintertime, I cannot get it into my head that it rains a lot. This New Year in western Crete the rain was biblical save for one magical sunlit day. Chania, in western Crete, seemed to be the vengeful target of black brooding skies […]
It is one of the delights of visiting new places that you sometimes find an entirely unexpected archaeological site, which gives you an insight that is entirely new. And this is what happened when Andrew Selkirk visited Barcelona and discovered that there is, in fact, a Roman Barcelona. Barcelona is not normally considered to be […]
It is a country of enchantment which poets have staked out and which they alone may lay claim to. It is nearest thing to Paradise this side of Greece… I believe that the Cro-Magnon man settled here because he was extremely intelligent and had a highly developed sense of beauty. Henry Miller, The Colossus of […]
Zeugma – now a name to conjure with. Site of a bridge across the Euphrates, connecting the Mediterranean to Persia and, by way of the Silk Road, inland Asia. For those in the know, this Roman town possessed mosaics equal to those at ancient Antioch’s mosaic museum and in the Bardo Museum in Tunis. Unlike […]
CWA explores standout ancient sites in the north-west of the Mediterranean island. In the middle of an open plain, a magnificent structure stands out against the blue sky, dominating the flat green fields that surround it. With a long ramp leading up to a tiered, truncated pyramid, this prehistoric monument has been likened to a […]
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 […]