Though recorded in historical sources, the indigenous people in the south-west corner of the Iberian Peninsula have largely eluded archaeologists. We know they traded their silver and gold with the Phoenicians, and we know they had a coastal city called Tartessos, because the Greek historian Herodotus wrote of it in the 5th century BC. But both the people and their city have long since disappeared from the landscape. Now, finally, archaeologists in Spain are discovering new sites that reveal the unique structure of this ancient society.
A 16th-century BC statue in the British Museum, featured on our cover, will be the figurehead for refugees fleeing conflict in Syria. Thanks to recent advances in scientific techniques, an exact facsimile is being created to head an exhibition celebrating the magnificent heritage of this culturally rich part of the world, while highlighting the suffering currently inflicted on people of the region.
We return to Ethiopia to find a second ‘Sleeping Beauty’, stone remains that look suspiciously like those of a palatial compound, and a rock-cut tomb fit for a king. What was going on in this forgotten part of a kingdom that flourished under the Aksumite Empire?
Excavation in an ancient monastery in Sicily revealed a Late Antique grave with multiple occupants. It dates to the time the Plague of Justinian swept across Europe. Could there be a connection?
El Palenque lies in the Oaxaca Valley of Mexico, home of the Zapotec civilisation from the 10th century BC to the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century AD. A husband-and-wife team, digging here for the past two decades, reveal their latest find: a purpose-built palatial complex, belonging to the huge regional centre, that heralded the arrival of Mesoamerica’s first states.
With the holiday season fast approaching, we’re launching the annual CWA Photo Competition. So, don’t leave home without your camera, and enter your best pics of heritage sites (and sights) you encounter on your travels!
KING IDRIMI: How 21st-century science came to the aid of a 16th-century BC exile
ETHIOPIA: Forgotten kingdom Searching for lost royalty from the days of the Aksumite Empire
ITALY: Gangivecchio An Early Byzantine tomb reveals its secrets
MEXICO: El Palenque Finding the earliest palace complex of Mesoamerica’s first states
Mosaic clues to a lost Roman city
The original Palaeo diet
Origins of the ‘hobbits’
Untangling a lost Inca language
Asia’s oldest colonial cemetery
First encounters of an island kind
Stars in their eyes
Simon Stoddart: why Europe matters
Chris Stringer on a relic species, Homo naledi
John Aubrey and Non Ban Jak
SPAIN: Andrew Selkirk continues his exploration of Cartagena
SICILY: Richard Hodges tours the island’s Greek temples
National Museum Zurich
BOOKS: Mountains and Lowlands: Ancient Iran and Mesopotamia, plus the latest book reviews
Trump’s wall, Lisbon’s past, and the Black Witch
CWA PHOTO OF THE YEAR 2018
Letters, crossword, cartoon
The disappearance of intellectual grit
James Cook’s Thunderbird club