Giza is one of the most celebrated archaeological sites in the world. Although it is revered for its spectacular pyramids, research over the last few decades has shed light on a living community that grew up to service the dead. In our cover feature we examine their role in dispatching the deceased on a voyage to the afterlife.

In 1740, the passengers and crew of the Rooswijk found themselves on just such a journey, when their ship foundered en route to the East Indies. Now excavation of the wreck is revealing how an international company used silver to forge a trade empire, and adapted ships to travel the world.

Slaves and their descendants working in the Bahamas also took a keen interest in ship design. An armada of engraved vessels sailing on walls and doorways in plantation buildings faithfully mimic the design of different types of vessel, but what do these images mean?

The Romans had no doubts about the meaning of conquered groups aping their lifestyles: such readiness to adopt new ways was simply a symptom of their enslavement. It could not be more fitting, therefore, that recent research has revealed that the famous Roman toga concealed signs of foreign influence within its stitching.

In Iran, the great ruler Shah Abbas took pains to position his new Persian capital beyond foreign, or at least Ottoman, clutches. At Esfahan, a spectacular complex featuring mosques, a palace, and a polo field was founded. This now ranks as one of the world’s great architectural treasures, with even essential city infrastructure like bridges becoming beautiful spaces where inhabitants could mingle.

In Albania, essential infrastructure in the form of a major new pipeline is producing important archaeological evidence. Careful excavation of the sites is simultaneously conveying a sense of the country’s past and its future.

FEATURES

Rescuing the Rooswijk Excavating a Dutch East India Company merchantman

How the pyramids built Egypt Taking a new look at life and death in Giza

Enigma of the shallow seas Unlocking the secrets of a maritime mystery on dry land

Spotlight: New threads Tracing textile fashions in ancient Greece and Italy

NEWS

  • Exploring pre-Columbian cave art
  • Unearthing the tomb of a Maya king
  • Royal flagship found
  • New finds from Punic War battle site
  • Palaeolithic family matters

NEWS FOCUS
The ancient Darband-i Rania pass, Iraqi Kurdistan

CHARLES HIGHAM
Poznan´ and Biskupin, Poland

HORIZON
Ancient Athens through virtual reality

TRAVEL

IRAN: Andrew Selkirk explores the Safavid city of Esfahan

ALBANIA: Richard Hodges investigates Albania’s archaeological awakening

CULTURE

MUSEUM
Musée de Cluny – National Museum of the Middle Ages, France

REVIEWS
Golden Kingdoms; The Etruscans; The Power of Place; Roman Artefacts and Society

SPECIAL REPORT
Restorations at Venice’s popular piazza

CHRIS CATLING
Seaside ruins and saintly relics

FORUM
Letters, crossword, cartoon

THINKING ALOUD
The Sokal affair

OBJECT LESSON
Agatha Christie’s ivory from Iraq

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