World

Makpan-cave

Rare child burial in Indonesia

A sub-adult burial dating to the early-mid Holocene, c.8000 BP, has been found in Makpan Cave on Alor Island, south-eastern Indonesia. To date, only a few complete pre-Neolithic burials have been found in Island South-east Asia, despite the region’s vast size.

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A feline find

A geoglyph has been discovered on a hillside in the Nazca desert of Peru during the emergency project ‘Cleaning, Conservation and Restoration of the Geoglyphs of the Mirador Natural, Nazca’. Researchers were modifying a viewpoint in January 2020 when they observed lines that did not appear to be natural on a nearby. After securing drone images and processing these photos, they were able to identify a feline figure, which was cleaned and conserved at the end of the project in November.

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An unexpected tomb

Discovering a previously unsuspected Roman cemetery would normally rank as the archaeological highlight of a building project. Recent work on Corsica, though, revealed an even greater surprise.

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The late Roman villa of Caddeddi

Sicily was famed in antiquity for its agricultural prosperity. An eloquent witness of its late Roman wealth is provided by the great villa near Piazza Armerina, a UNESCO World Heritage site, but the villa, built c.AD 320/330, is not unique in Sicily. Tucked away in the south-east corner of the island in the province of Syracuse, 5km south of the wonderful baroque town of Noto, is another rich Roman villa. It is not as large, but it was also constructed in the 4th century and also boasts fine mosaics. The site is little known, however, and barely gets any visitors at all.

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Ship shape: Viking burial found

A Viking ship burial has been discovered at the site of Gjellestad in south-eastern Norway. It was first identified during a ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey, and is now being excavated by the Museum of Cultural History, Oslo.

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Richard Hodges: The Death of Pan

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.

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Uncovering Kalkriese

Since its discovery by the British officer Tony Clunn in the late 1980s, the German site of Kalkriese in Lower Saxony, north of Osnabrück, has been considered the scene of the AD 9 Varus Disaster, so impressively described by ancient authors such as Tacitus and Cassius Dio.

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Object Lesson: Sumerian Plaque

This low-relief limestone carving, dating to c.2400 BC, formed part of a larger votive wall plaque in a Sumerian temple in southern Iraq, during what is known as the Early Dynastic III period. It would have been fixed to the wall next to a door, and could have been used to securely shut it by tying a rope attached to the door around a peg in the centre of the plaque.

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Accessibility at ancient Greek sanctuaries

A study of the architecture of ancient Greek temples and sanctuaries dedicated to healing has determined that these spaces were deliberately made accessible to individuals with impaired mobility.

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Pre-Hispanic flood-management in the Pampa de Mocan

For thousands of years, areas along the north coast of Peru have been subject to huge flooding as a result of El Niño, a periodic warming in the atmosphere of the Pacific Ocean, which causes torrential rainfall in the eastern Pacific. El Niño events are unpredictable, occurring anywhere from every 6-7 years to every 10-20 years, and are generally seen as a disruptive force, but recent archaeological work in the Pampa de Mocan, a coastal desert plain in northern Peru, indicates that this was not always the case.

Leather-balls

Earliest evidence for ball games in Eurasia

Three leather balls have been discovered in the prehistoric Yanghai cemetery in north-west China that pre-date by several centuries all existing evidence of ball games in Eurasia.

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Early human footprints in Saudi Arabia

A set of human footprints found in an ancient lake deposit in the south-west of the Nefud Desert is believed to represent the earliest securely dated evidence of modern humans in the Arabian Peninsula.

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