Archaeologists in Estonia have discovered the most extraordinary site: a mass grave comprising two Viking ship burials. They date to about AD 750, and bear witness to bloody battle on the shores of the Estonian island Saaremaa. A weary gang of warriors laid out their dead aboard one of the ships and covered them with a blanket of shields. Close by, they sat seven dead crew members at their work stations on board a smaller, oar-powered boat. The two vessels would have remained visible, standing sentinel on the shoreline long after the hurried burial ceremony was over and the survivors had left. This site at Salme is unique, not only for the size of the burial that used two vessels, but also because one of them is the earliest known sailing ship to cross the Baltic. I am indebted Loit Joekalda for liaising with the archaeologists in Estonia, and for his wonderful cover image.
Sadly, battle dominates our feature from Mali, too. The modern conflict, as ever, is endangering the country’s invaluable heritage. But, what is the solution?
The nautical theme continues with our Editor in Chief’s report on the extensive excavations at Yenikapi in Istanbul that not only have revealed the magnificent Grand Harbour of Constantinople, but have uncovered the astonishingly fresh-looking footprints of men, women, and children who walked across the soft mud along the shoreline during the Neolithic period.
We have just enjoyed two days wallowing in all matters archaeological during the CA Live! 2013 in London, which, as always, was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends, make new ones, listen to lectures, swap stories, and indulge in some good old fashioned eating and drinking! This year, for the first time, CWA joined in the Awards Ceremony with the announcement of the winner of our CWA Photo Competition.
At last year’s conference, Philip Kenrick gained much admiration from the audience for his lively and insightful lecture on the allure of Samian ware (terra sigillata), traded throughout the Roman world. Here, he revisits the subject for anyone who missed out first time – and for all those who approached me afterwards, asking for more.
March sees the opening of the biggest exhibition to be held at the British Museum for four decades: Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum. The museum’s curator, Paul Roberts, gives CWA readers a peek behind the scenes, and explains how and why he brought this blockbuster to London.