In 1819, the English physician and polymath Thomas Young – best known to archaeologists for his work in deciphering the Egyptian hieroglyphs – published a pioneering article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica. It offered a tentative decipherment of the Rosetta Stone and outlined the scope of a new science, today known as Egyptology. Towards ancient Egyptian […]
The modern country of Libya – the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya – encompasses one of the richest parts of the Roman Empire, but for the past 30 years it has been off the tourist track due to political difficulties. Now it is opening up once again, but it lacks a good guide book, the […]
Khentkawes is hardly a household name. The historical record passes over this elusive figure without comment, while the scraps that testify to her existence could seem worthy of no more than a stale footnote in the annals of Ancient Egypt. Yet archaeology shows otherwise. It is revealing an exceptional and powerful lady who lived during […]
The butchered bones of cow and goat-like animals from a riverbed in Dikika, in the Afar region of northern Ethiopia, show early humans were using tools 3.4m years ago – more than a million years earlier than previously thought. Until the discovery, it was believed tools were first employed by Homo habilis – hence the […]
Somaliland is not Somalia. Somaliland is in the northern part of Somalia, occupying the area of a former British colony. After gaining independence in 1960, it joined with Somalia Italiana to create modern Somalia. But whereas Somalia is wracked with civil war and crippled by piracy, Somaliland has remained peaceful. Now it has re-asserted its […]
Ancient Egyptians believed death was survivable. Far from resting in peace, their demise catapulted them into a disorientating netherworld roamed by gods and demons. This marked the beginning of a new and dangerous journey. The ultimate goal was to enter the realm of the gods; but to reach this a spirit needed to negotiate the […]
How did a slab of black granite become the key to deciphering hieroglyphs
Among the oldest known examples of symbolic behaviour amongst humans and our close hominid relations is the use of ochre in burial rites, body ornamentation and cave art. Indeed, what is claimed to be the world’s oldest abstract art consists of a block of ochre rubbed smooth and marked with a diamond pattern, dating from […]
Until now the study of ancient DNA has been based on the challenging science of extracting genetic material from fossilised bone, but researchers from the Universities of Sheffield and Oxford in the UK, Australia’s Murdoch University and the University of Western Australia, New Zealand’s Canterbury and Otago Universities, Colorado University in the USA and Copenhagen […]
Estimates for the date at which early migration out of sub-Saharan Africa occurred vary from 200,000 to 80,000 years ago, the older dates being based on estimates of the rate at which genes mutate. Hard archaeological evidence is elusive, but the excavation of what is being called ‘the deepest archaeological trench in North Africa’ has […]
When Nigeria appears on the news, it is too often for internet scams or identity fraud perpetrated on unsuspecting victims thousands of miles away. But the new exhibition at the British Museum brings to the public a very different side to Nigerian culture: the Kingdom of Ife.
From the 14th century AD the city of Timbuktu, in West Africa, became legendary for the wealth it offered merchants crossing the Sahara. However, as Sam Nixon explains, before Timbuktu came Tadmakka.