Asia

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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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.

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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Plain of Jars

Clusters of massive stone jars in Laos have inspired considerable curiosity. Little is known about the people who fashioned them, while even the date they were created has not been conclusively resolved. What does new research reveal about these mysterious megaliths?

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Object Lesson: Selden Map of China

What is it? This late Ming dynasty map depicts China, the South China Sea, and surrounding lands. It was drawn in the early 17th century on three sheets of paper by an anonymous cartographer with an eye for detail. Measuring 158cm in length and 96cm in width, the map is too big for practical use […]

Cyrus Homepage

Pasargadae

On the plain of Pasargadae, Cyrus the Great founded a spectacular garden palace. Nothing like it had ever been seen in the region before, raising questions about where the idea came from, how the garden was maintained, and where the inhabitants lived. Recently, an Iranian-French team went searching for answers.

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Travel: Secrets from the Byzantine city of Shivta

How did cities come to flourish in the Negev Desert? George Nash has gone in search of Shivta’s former glory. The Negev Desert of southern Israel holds many secrets from the distant past. Its landscape and environment are no longer what they were during the Byzantine period, which roughly extended from the 5th century AD […]

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Travel: Raffles and Java

The 200th anniversary of Raffles’ arrival in Singapore has galvanised debate about the legacy of this controversial figure. His modern profile owes much to his interest in heritage, which restored his reputation after a debacle in Java. Tom St John Gray has been following in Raffles’ footsteps. Nestled among the skyscrapers and colonial buildings of […]

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Arzhan

The golden burial of a Scythian king In 2001, more than 5,000 gold objects were discovered in an untouched Scythian burial in Tuva, Central Asia. But where exactly is Tuva? We first look at an earlier excavation that pushed back the date of the Scythians, and then look in detail at the latest magnificent discovery. […]

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Object Lesson: Ram in the Thicket

What is it? This ancient Mesopotamian sculpture known as the ‘ram in the thicket’ is actually a ‘goat in a tree’. The goat is rendered in impressive detail, as it reaches up to eat leaves on high branches – a common sight along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The sculpture was made […]

China001

Review: China – visions through the ages

China: visions through the ages Lisa C Niziolek, Deborah A Bekken, and Gary M Feinman (eds) University of Chicago Press, $45 ISBN 978-0226385372 People across China’s vast and diverse landscape have long been creating works in a range of materials, such as bronze, jade, porcelain, and paint, and the results of their handiwork can be […]

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