Constantinople came with a problem. This ‘new Rome’ served as Constantine the Great’s imperial capital and held a commanding position on the Bosporus waterway. Being perched on the channel splitting Asia and Europe brought a cost, though, as it left Constantinople facing the sea on three sides. For drinking water, the newly minted capital was reliant on a minor stream and an aqueduct built to supply its predecessor, Byzantium. As Constantinople grew, so too its water supply proved inadequate for a thirsty city. Legend had it that the solution came from tapping the distant waters of the mighty Danube River. The truth was scarcely less astonishing. An extraordinary network was built to carry water to the capital, showcasing its power.
Status was also on display at Pacopampa, an ancient ceremonial gathering place in the highlands of Peru. Recent excavation work has revealed a remarkable tomb. Within lay the remains of an individual who was accompanied by a wealth of grave goods, including a set of 20 Strombus shells. This rich burial dates to a surprisingly early stage of activity at the site, raising intriguing questions about when and why elites emerged in the region.
Power was being signalled in a different way by the deer stones in Mongolia. Various images grace these magnificent monoliths, including striking, stylised representations of deer. Numerous explanations have been proposed for these monuments over the decades, such as that they show gods. Now research is pointing to a fascinating possibility: that they represent actual individuals.
Excavations in Sweden unearthed another way to indicate eminence, by burying an individual in a prestigious setting at the middle of a church. Examining the deceased revealed that his corpse was treated in a most unusual manner. A search for parallels presents an explanation for this surprising burial rite.
Finally, our travel section sees Richard Hodges visiting Newgrange and Knowth, in Ireland, to cast an eye over developments in the quarter-century since a new visitor centre opened.
- Spectacular bronzes found in Italy
- Hominin footprints in Spain
- Funerary finds in Fayum
- Understanding Neanderthal communities
- Remarkable early medieval burial
- The Palaeo diet
- New temple in Vulci
- Re-examining Ötzi