It sounds more like Hollywood than archaeology: thousands of life-size sculpted soldiers, brandishing real weapons and faithfully guarding an emperor’s tomb for millennia. Yet the terracotta warriors are no special effect. These soldiers are believed to have been individually crafted, capturing an army on the cusp of the Bronze and Iron Ages. The resources and ingenuity used to fashion this force – not to mention the wider mausoleum complex – are staggering. In our cover feature, we examine what this empire for the dead can reveal about the living.

At Mont Castel, in France, the soldiers have proven unexpectedly real. When archaeologists began investigating a plateau dominating a natural harbour on the Channel coast, they were expecting to find prehistoric activity. The discovery that the Roman army had established a base there came as a complete surprise. What was their interest in this coastline?

As the ancient Egyptian empire expanded, it established ‘colonial sites’ at various locations in Nubia, including the Nile island of Sai. Although much of the architecture of this temple town would not be out of place elsewhere in Egypt, can the same be said about the everyday lives of its inhabitants? We examine a meeting place between cultures.

It seems that desirable commodities from countless groups combined in the holds of Phoenician trading vessels. Little is known about such ships, as only a handful of Phoenician wreck sites are currently known, but recent work off the island of Gozo is shedding new light on the secrets of these maritime merchants.

In our travel section, we explore the Peloponnese, following in the footsteps of Homeric heroes and seeking out traces of the Byzantine rebirth of Greece. Finally, a trip to Turkey provides an opportunity to take in some of Istanbul’s ancient churches.

FEATURES

A new Roman frontier? Discovering the Late Republican military occupation at Mont Castel

Sai in the New Kingdom An ancient Egyptian outpost in Sudan

Into the deep Excavating a Phoenician shipwreck off the coast of Gozo, Malta

Spotlight: Army for the dead Inside the first Chinese emperor’s underground kingdom

NEWS

  • Thousands of frozen finds from Norway
  • Early expansion in ancient Egypt
  • Revealing a ritual burial in Pre-Classic Mexico
  • Discovering Dhaskalio’s technological advances
  • Palaeolithic puppy love
  • Pond burial found in Florida
  • Factchecking a pharaoh
  • Hidden figures

NEWS FOCUS
Buried coins from Cluny Abbey

CHARLES HIGHAM
The Third Shanghai Archaeological Forum

HORIZON
Burying the medieval dead in Bosnia-Herzegovina

TRAVEL

GREECE: Richard Hodges tours the Byzantine Peloponnese

TURKEY: Sacred sites in Istanbul

CULTURE

MUSEUM
National Archaeological Museum of Paestum

REVIEWS
The Archaeology of Byzantine Anatolia; China: visions through the ages; Rethinking Prehistoric Central Asia; Greece in the Ancient World; Materialising Roman Histories; Archaeology of the Night

SPECIAL REPORT
Rebuilding Boncuklu’s Neolithic houses

CHRIS CATLING
Ancient DNA, saints, and turkeys

PHOTO COMPETITION
The results

FORUM
Letters, crossword, cartoon

THINKING ALOUD
The power of pencil marks

OBJECT LESSON
Sundial of Marcus Novius Tubula

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