Crossing the Caucasus, Europe’s highest mountain range, is not for the faint-hearted, and nowhere is so bleak and so inhospitable as Dariali Gorge. It is here, legend tells, that Prometheus endured his cyclical punishment for stealing fire from the gods. And through here the Huns forced their way south to plunder the riches of the Roman Empire in the 4th century AD.
Now, for the first time, an archaeological expedition has braved the hostile terrain to reveal evidence of a strategic gateway fought over for millennia. Deep in the heart of Etruria is a monumental tomb that looks more Greek than Etruscan. Defying tradition, its architecture mimics the palaces of Philip II of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great, more than 1,000km away. Who built this strange anomaly?
Following in the footsteps of the Bedouin in the Negev Desert, we look at rock engravings that blend prehistoric art with more recent symbols. Are these messages or markers – or both?
Not just for sailors and hipsters, it seems tattoos were also popular in ancient Egypt. An astonishing recent discovery reveals a penchant for body art on women of the New Kingdom.
Who were the barbarians? For a long time the answer was those outside the ‘civilised’ Roman world. But a new project examining Iron Age peoples across Europe is revealing surprisingly fluid and highly adaptable societies whose sophisticated art and extensive trade connections challenge long-held beliefs encouraged by Classical writers.
We travel to Pompeii to explore newly opened sections of the 1st century AD town, then visit the hobbit-like houses of the Luberon in France, before finally heading for Greece, where traces of ancient pyramids have puzzled archaeologists for more than 1,500 years.
IN THIS ISSUE
ITALY: An Etruscan puzzle Investigating the monumental tomb of Grotte Scalina
ISRAEL: Negev Desert Following in the footsteps of the Bedouin
EUROPE: Meet the barbarians Taking a fresh look at the Iron Age of south-east Europe
Franklin’s frozen ship
Sun storms illuminate the past
Biblical scroll deciphered
Spanish cave art saved
Ancient sailor emerges from deep
Oldest manuscript in the Americas
Black Sea shipwrecks
Chilean rock art revealed
Māori on the move: should museums repatriate their dead?
Lady of Çatalhöyük
Latest discoveries from Khok Phanom Di
FRANCE: THE LUBERON Richard Hodges travels to a lost world in rural France
GREECE: PYRAMIDS OF THE PELOPONNESE Mysterious ancient ruins that have puzzled travellers for millennia
Iceman Ötzi in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology
plus reviews of:
The Silk Roads: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan
Maize for the Gods: Unearthing the 9,000-year History of Corn by Michael Blake
At Home with the Aztecs: An Archaeologist Uncovers their Daily Life by Michael E Smith
Cleopatra’s Needles: The Lost Obelisks of Egypt by Bob Brier
An Archaeological History of Indian Buddhism by Lars Fogelin
Prehistoric winter sports and everlasting vellum
In defence of typology