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3 mins read

Ancient visitors to the great family tombs outside the desert city of Palmyra would have come face to face with the dead. Within these edifices, the slots on shelves where the bodies lay were often sealed with sculptures depicting the deceased. Today, thousands of such likenesses are known, creating an extraordinary corpus of ancient art. Studying this is revealing fascinating insights into both life and death in a major trading hub. As well as showing that fashions come and go, the sculptures convey the enduring power wielded by wealthy families.

The significance of kinship has also been under the microscope in Sweden. Seeking family relationships between individuals buried in cemeteries has long taxed the ingenuity of archaeologists. Now, the increasing use of DNA analysis is providing answers. We take a look at three cases where reconnecting relationships brings fresh perspectives on past lives.

In Peru, connections of a different kind attracted the admiration of invading conquistadors. The Inca road network traversed some of the most demanding terrain on the planet, but it depended on ingenious suspension bridges to carry travellers over fast-flowing rivers. These bridges needed regular rebuilding, and it is possible that echoes of this tradition survived until recently in the Andes. Can these help us to grasp the role of local communities in the Inca world?

When it comes to Ancient Greek technology, the advent of modern scientific methods is allowing us to appreciate the full scope of their achievements. Both new discoveries and new approaches are shedding fresh light on subjects such as the strengths – and weaknesses – of Greek ships, the role of music, and the nature of sophisticated mechanical computers.

Finally, after a study outlining the risks of projected sea-level rises for some archaeological sites was published, Richard Hodges and David Prince consider the situation at Butrint.

FEATURES

Facing the Palmyrenes
Exploring life and death in a desert city

Reconnecting relationships
Uncovering genealogy in archaeology

Connecting the Inca Empire
The art of maintaining Central Andean suspension bridges

Spotlight: Ancient Greeks
Science and wisdom

NEWS

NEWS FOCUS
Prehistoric people present

CHARLES HIGHAM
Surveying Verulamium

HORIZON
Roman mosaic in Rutland

TRAVEL

CONFRONTING CLIMATE CHANGE AT BUTRINT
Richard Hodges and David Prince explore the risks that rising sea levels pose to archaeological sites

CULTURE

MUSEUM
Azteken: an international exhibition, now open in Leiden, presents previously unseen Aztec art

REVIEWS
Digging Deep: a journey into Southeast Asia’s past; Forging Identities in the Prehistory of Old Europe; A Maya Universe in Stone; Visual Culture, Heritage and Identity; Return to the Interactive Past

SPECIAL REPORT
Secrets of the Ice

CHRIS CATLING
Celebrity beasts

FORUM
Letters, crossword, cartoon

THINKING ALOUD
Academic mass production

OBJECT LESSON
Cage cup

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