Mismatched objects

Clay cylinders from the Jordan Valley, traditionally interpreted as 8,000-year-old ritual ‘phallic objects’, have been reassessed as the earliest-known fire-drills. There is evidence for humans making fire up to a million years ago (see CWA 53), mostly limited to the remains of the fires themselves, but Prof. Naama Goren-Inbar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem […]


A Yummy Mummy

“Red Blood filled her arteries, and her flesh was still malleable, with no sign of rigor mortis.”


Nomads and Networks at the Smithsonian Institute

Recent excavations at Iron Age kurgans (burial mounds) in eastern Kazakhstan have uncovered spectacular artefacts preserved beneath the permafrost. Once belonging to elite members of the nomadic communities who inhabited the Eurasian steppes in the 1st millennium BC, these objects bear witness to far-reaching networks of communication and cultural exchange extending across Central Asia and […]


Pushing back pottery use

Fragments of 20,000-year-old pottery discovered in south-east China have pushed back the use of ceramics to 10,000 years before agriculture. This shows that pottery was invented by mobile hunter-gatherers, rather than developing from the more settled lifestyles of early farmers, as was previously believed. Found during excavations at Xianrendong Cave, the sherds are 2,000-3,000 years […]


Canaanite cache discovered

Archaeologists from Tel Aviv University have discovered a 3,000-year-old hoard of jewellery while cleaning a prehistoric pot. The vessel was found in 2010 at Tel Meggido, an important Canaanite city-state in northern Israel, but remained uncleaned while awaiting molecular analysis of its contents. When conservators emptied the pot, however, they found a cache of well-preserved […]


Layard at Nimrud

On an overland ride from England to Ceylon in 1839, Austen Henry Layard became fascinated by the newly emerging archaeology of Mesopotomia (in modern Iraq).


Book Review: Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam

Venetia Porter (ed.) British Museum Press, £25.00 ISBN 978-0714111759 Drawing on a recent British Museum exhibition of the same name, this beautifully illustrated catalogue contains stunning photographs of artefacts, sites, and artwork associated with the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, as well as a wealth of information on the evolution of the Hajj and the lives of […]


Book Review: The Archaeology of Northeast China: beyond the Great Wall

Sara Milledge Nelson Routledge, £26.00 ISBN 978-0415513472 Elegantly illustrated and admirably comprehensive in its scope, this synthesis of recent archaeological research into the prehistoric peoples of Donbei – best known in the west as Manchuria – sheds new light on a region rather less discussed than the civilisations of central China. Nelson’s introduction, contrasting the […]


Review: Hajj

Following the success of the British Museum’s recent exhibition Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam, Nadia Durrani was intrigued to find out more about Britain’s first pilgrims to the holy shrine at Mecca. Who were they, and what were their experiences?

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