On Thursday 19 September 1991, two hikers made an alarming discovery high in the Alps. Travelling off the beaten track, they saw a human corpse in a gulley, and imagined they had stumbled across an ill-fated mountaineer. Instead, this was just the latest twist in an extraordinary murder mystery. Investigators soon realised that the victim had met his fate in prehistory.
Now, over three decades on, our cover piece reveals how the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology is showcasing the vivid light shed on Copper Age life thanks to the study of this man and his possessions. Another remarkable hilltop discovery was made at Timpone della Motta, in Italy. An ancient sanctuary there has yielded the remains of temples, and a revealing array of offerings to the gods. Ongoing work is showing how such objects could travel long distances before entering the earth, while the wider site has much to tell us about encounters between Greek incomers and locals.
Distant influences are also under the spotlight in the case of the ‘Qurna Queen’. This astonishing intact burial of a woman and child was found in 1908 in Luxor, but fresh research is revealing an important new dimension. Strong Nubian elements are raising questions about how much influence the Kingdom of Kerma wielded over its northern neighbour.
Survey at Qarn bint Sa’ud, in the United Arab Emirates, is also occasioning an opportunity to build on existing knowledge – in this case, of rock art. Fresh details from the current work are laying bare how humans responded to climatic shifts that periodically made the region rather less hospitable.
Finally, 2022 is the 200th anniversary of hieroglyphs being deciphered. To mark this momentous anniversary, the British Museum is holding an exhibition examining how the code was cracked and what it revealed. We learn how thousands of years of history were triumphantly unlocked.
Glass beads, ritual deposits, and laser beams
A sanctuary on Timpone della Motta entangled in networks of trade and resettling
An intact royal burial from Egypt reveals new insights into cultural connections
Unlocking a hidden landscape
Preliminary fieldwork at Qarn bint Sa’ud, Abu Dhabi
The power of words
Racing to read the lost secrets of Egypt
- Elite Wari burials
- Major megalithic site in Spain
- New discoveries in Nîmes
- Early limb amputation in Borneo
- Maya cacao consumption
- Egyptian cheese
- Ancient octopus lures
- Montenegro launches maritime archaeology unit
Pirates, Portuguese, and ladies in purdah
Unlocking prehistoric houses
Ancient mounds in America
ÖTZI’S ONE-MAN SHOW
Richard Hodges explores the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy
Alexander the Great: the making of a myth – a new exhibition at the British Library explores the history of storytelling surrounding this famous figure
Everyday Life in the Ice Age; War, Spectacle, and Politics in the Ancient Andes; Tutankhamun’s Trumpet: the story of ancient Egypt in 100 objects
RUBINA RAJA & SØREN SINDBÆK
Small is beautiful
Mesolithic human bone pendants
DNA, diets, and dealing with the weather
Letters, cartoon, crossword