Category: Africa


Libya Archaeological Guides: Tripolitania

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 […]


Egypt: Queen of the Desert

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 […]


Tool use pushed back 1 million years

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 Archaeology in a break-away state

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 […]


Death on the Nile

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 […]


Rosetta Stone

How did a slab of black granite become the key to deciphering hieroglyphs

Ochre production site discovered in South Africa

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 […]


Eggshell unlocks ancient DNA

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 […]


When did humans reach North Africa?

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 […]



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.

868 (1)

Lost Tombs of Thebes

The Valley of the Nobles, just east of the Valley of the Kings, contains
some of the most spectacular ancient Egyptian tombs. However, most remain unknown to the general public. Now, Egypt’s leading archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, has initiated major investigations, as illustrated in his splendid new book The Lost Tombs of Thebes, from which edited extracts follow.



The oasis town of Ghadames is an architectural gem in western Libya. It once lay on the trans-Saharan trade-route described in the previous feature. Words and pictures Fiona Dunlop.

«< 5 6 7 8 9 >»