Three thousand years ago, the daughter of a priest from the temple of Amun at Karnak was laid to rest in the nearby Valley of the Kings. The tomb already had an occupant, but grave robbers had long since done their worst. So the ransacked body was carefully rewrapped, laid to one side, and lightly covered with earth. Then the mourners brought in her splendid sarcophagus, propped a painted stele against the wall to face her, and left, sealing the shaft behind them. Not since the discovery 90 years ago of the young pharaoh Tutankhamun have archaeologists entered an undisturbed tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Meet the Chantress of Amun.

Selinunte in Sicily is a site as famed in Classical times for its magnificent temples as it is today. Now, archaeologists have discovered a Greek temple that is not only the earliest on the island, but the oldest to be found so far west. Sicily’s fertile soils have always been a highly valued resource, so it should be no surprise that this first temple was almost certainly dedicated to Demeter, goddess of the harvest.

Until its sudden economic collapse in the 18th century, Pingyao in China was a prosperous centre of commerce. Its swift decline left no resources for modernisation, so the city was spared revolutionary rebuilding. But its residents are trapped in a city frozen in China’s imperial past. While this is a boon for the tourist industry, the city’s residents long for the comforts and amenities of the 21st century. Can the two be reconciled?

The name of Vanuatu’s Martyr Isle reflects the fate of those first bold missionaries who ventured here. Now, archaeological evidence reveals what remains of this clash between cannibals and missionaries in the South West Pacific.

How were the islands of the Pacific first reached? In the first of a two part series, Brian Fagan, himself an intrepid sailor, reflects on the history of seafaring, and in particular on how our earliest ancestors ventured out to explore the oceans.

In the late 19th century, Kaiser Wilhelm II ordered his army to reconstruct the Roman fort at the Saalburg, in Germany. But was it accurate? Andrew Selkirk has revisited it and reveals details of the latest, rather different reconstruction. Is the typical version of a Roman fort all wrong?

Finally, congratulations to our columnist Charles Higham, who has just been awarded the British Academy’s Grahame Clark Medal – well deserved recognition for a worthy recipient!