Africa

Blombos Cave: 100,000 year old paint in a shell

The discovery of two art toolkits, dating to 100,000 years ago, in a south African cave, show early humans were capable of sophisticated abstract thought and possessed a high level of technological know-how. Two abalone shells containing an ochre-rich mixture – probably used for decoration, painting, and skin protection – were found at Blombos Cave […]

Luxor: Rising damp

A multi-million dollar project to help preserve Luxor’s world-famous temples has resumed after being delayed for nine months by the Egyptian revolution. Subterranean water was damaging the foundation stones of Karnak, the Ramesseum, and the temples of Seti I, Merneptah, and Haremhab. Now, the USAid-funded initiative has been channelling this water into an enormous reservoir […]

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Cairo: Egyptology in crisis

As the Arab Spring flooded through Egypt’s Tahrir Square, the old political order was swept away – and with it went Egyptology’s most controversial exponent, Dr Zahi Hawass. Tom St John Gray followed events earlier this year and now considers the consequences.

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Infra-red imaging used to discover thousands of ancient Egyptian sites

Archaeologist Sarah Parcak, who teaches at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, admits to being astonished by her own achievement: ‘I couldn’t believe we could locate so many sites all over Egypt,’ she told the BBC recently, ‘using the new technique of infra-red satellite imaging.’ No less than 17 lost pyramids, more than 1,000 tombs, […]

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Stay at home males and roaming females

The results of a major study of early hominid teeth suggest that our male ancestors tended to stick around close to where they were born but that our female forebears moved away from their birthplace to mate with males from other tribes. These findings come from looking at the isotopes in fossilised teeth, which reflect […]

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Book Review: Carthage Must be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization

This is an excellent account of the rise and fall of a great ancient civilisation. It starts in Phoenicia and describes the great expansion of the Phoenicians along the north coast of Africa, the foundation of Carthage and its eventual destruction. The author, Richard Miles, a Classicist at Trinity Hall Cambridge, has now written what […]

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Libya: Libyan Uprisings

The Sirte Basin in northern Libya, the current battleground for Colonel Gaddafi’s troops and rebel civilian forces, is no stranger to conflict. Nadia Durrani gets the full story from Charles LeQuesne.

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Egyptian Enigma: The Starving of Saqqara

Packed in a crate with artefacts from the Middle East, the eery figures arrived in Montreal, Canada, in the mid 1950s. A simple hand-written label read: The Starving of Saqqara. But nothing else is known of this mysterious sculpture. A rare find, or a clever fake?

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Culture Clash: A tale of two Libyas

The present uprising in Libya has focused the world’s attention on the region. But this part of North Africa has a troubled past. Archaeologist Philip Kenrick discusses a country of two halves.

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Ethiopia: Land of Angels

From the imposing stelae at Axum to the churches at Lalibela carved out of solid rock, Ethiopia has an incredibly rich heritage. Travel writer Judith Baker takes us on a journey through the North to discover more.

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Ethiopia: When climate changes

Over the past two summers Timothy Clack and Marcus Brittain have directed the first archaeological teams in the Lower Omo Valley, a remote part of south-western Ethiopia, to research long-term human responses to environmental change. What did they find there?

Classics professor Peter van Minnen works with papyri.

Papyrus Stories

Everyday concerns in ancient Egypt still resonate today, according to the latest issue of The Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists, the journal of those who study texts on papyrus, mainly from ancient Egypt. New texts are continually being found, especially in museum and private collections, because antiquities dealers of the past would often […]

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