Charles Higham: A prehistoric mystery

The McDonald Institute at Cambridge University has, for many years, held special symposia on topics that traditionally lie on the ‘edge of knowability’. These involve about 20 specialists, each of whom delivers a brief summary of a pre-circulated paper, before the floor is opened to discussion. I have been lucky enough to be invited to […]


20,000-year-old huts in Jordan

Excavations in Jordan have unearthed 20,000-year-old huts that could reshape our view of how humans lived before the development of agriculture. The research, recently published in PLoS One, suggests hunter-gatherers in this region had fixed settlements with extensive trade networks 10,000 years earlier than previously thought. ‘Kharaneh IV is one of the densest and largest […]



When were the South Sea Islands first inhabited? The discovery by Matthew Spriggs and Stuart Bedford of a remarkable cemetery, with nearly 100 burials and a superb collection of pots, has thrown new light on the earliest population of this remote area.

Tell Brak

Syria: Tell Brak

Civil unrest, violent clashes, an oppressive authority: we could be talking about Syria today. But this is 6,000 years ago, during the Late Chalcolithic Period.

Charles Higham On...

Charles Higham: The dating game and the saga of Ban Chiang

Very early in my archaeological career, I encountered an intense debate on the chronology of the earliest Neolithic in the Near East. It was rather like the race to the Pole: who had the earliest date? The English champion was the redoubtable Dame Cathleen Kenyon, her American adversary was Robert Braidwood. It was a case […]


Special Report: Will China’s future destroy its past?

China’s heritage sites are fast disappearing – to tomb-robbers and thieves, or to make way for industrial projects and new developments. These sobering conclusions are the result of research carried out by the country’s own governmental organisation. The State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) recorded a total of 766,722 ancient ruins, temples, and other sites […]


Russia: Gone Fishing

The discovery of 7,500-year-old fish traps in a Russian river valley has given new insight into prehistoric European settlement patterns. The Mesolithic nomadic hunter-gatherers were believed to move with the seasons to follow food sources. Now excavation at a site in the Dubna river basin outside Moscow shows evidence of continuous year-round occupation. The three-year […]


Earliest Christian Arabic text

Archaeologists have discovered the only Crusader-period Christian inscription to be written in Arabic. The marble engraving, once part of the city wall at Jaffa in Israel, was long-believed to date to the Ottoman period (1517-1917). Now Professor Moshe Sharon and Ami Shrager, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, have shown that the text, a unique […]

Siberia: Barking up the wrong family tree

A 33,000-year-old canine skull is challenging accepted theories on dog domestication. Rather than being descended from a single ancestry, it appears dogs were becoming man’s best friend in different parts of the world, and at different times. The remains were discovered in the Altai Mountains in Siberia by a team led by Nikolai Ovodov, of […]

Arabia's Stonehenge

Yemen: Arabia’s Stonehenge

While surveying the inhospitable Red Sea coastal plain of Yemen, archaeologist Ed Keall took a wrong turn on his way back to base camp. As he tells Nadia Durrani, his mistake turned out to be monumental.

 © UNESCO/Niamh Burke

India: Hampi

The former capital of one of the greatest and wealthiest empires of the Indian subcontinent for 300 years until its destruction in 1565 is facing a new and very modern danger: bulldozers. Paul Woodfield visited the site.

East Timor: Early deep-sea fishermen

The idea that the early humans who migrated to South-east Asia and on to Australia 50,000 or more years ago lacked the skills to build boats has been dealt a blow by evidence for deep-sea fishing 42,000 years ago. Researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra have found 38,000 fish bones from 2,843 […]

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