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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
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 […]
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 […]
In 1640, a bronze tablet was discovered during construction work on a palace in Tiriolo, southern Italy. Dating from 186 BC, it records a decree issued by the Roman senate strictly regulating the cult of Bacchus, which it seems had gotten too big for its boots. But despite its ostensible threat to authority, worship of […]
Around 8,000 life-size terracotta warriors and horses were created in battle formation to protect the burial place of China’s first emperor. But what can modern technology reveal about these faithful soldiers?
Before September, the people in this picture had never picked up a chisel. Now, only a few months into World Monument Fund’s conservation stonemasonry training programme, they can carve arabesques for zakhrafa jambs, prepare rectangular billet mouldings, or work an ovolo return. Not yet perfect maybe, but still astonishing progress, made more remarkable still given […]
We travel down the spectacular long and winding Siq that leads to Petra. There, the Nabataeans founded one of the most beautiful, and perhaps also unlikely, cities in the ancient world. What persuaded these nomads to turn their hand to urbanism, and how did they find wealth in the wilderness?
If there has ever been a historical figure readymade for a biographical documentary, it’s Gertrude Bell (1868-1926): archaeologist, explorer, spy, British political powerhouse, and the uncrowned ‘Queen of the Desert’. Hers is a story that requires no Hollywoodisation, and Letters from Baghdad lends almost none. In a bold approach, directors Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum […]