Africa

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Egypt: Peckish Mummies

Egyptian birds were expected to live on in the afterlife, just like their human counterparts, according to new research published in the Journal of Archaeological Science. Using computed tomography (CT) scanners to examine two mummified ibises and a hatchling, an international team of scientists discovered that embalmers had returned the adult birds’ gizzards filled with […]

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Egypt: Fit for a pharaoh

Working at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, André Veldmeijer and Salima Ikram came across an old photograph illustrating a forgotten collection of ancient Egyptian leather horse-trappings belonging to the same museum. Suddenly, they had a new and exciting challenge on their hands.

Egypt: James Henry Breasted

He founded the Oriental Institute in Chicago, was the first American to achieve a doctorate in Egyptology, and his book is an enduring classic a century later. Yet few today even know his name. Here, Andrew Robinson reviews a new biography that should bring James Henry Breasted the recognition he deserves. James Henry Breasted has […]

Lake Turkana: the world’s oldest advanced tools

Handaxes and flakes recovered from the shores of Lake Turkana, in the remote north- western part of Kenya, are being hailed as the oldest ‘advanced’ stone tools yet discovered in the world. The mudstone sediment in which the tools were found has been dated to 1.76 million years ago, some 360,000 years older than the […]

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 […]

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 […]

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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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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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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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