Excavations are exposing the insatiable appetite for self-promotion displayed by the owner of a modest late Roman villa estate at Gerace, Sicily. There, Philippianus delighted in having his monogram stamped on tiles and even included it in his bathhouse decor. Was he aping contemporary elite fashion in Rome? Our cover feature explores how fieldwork is providing clues about the personality of a character otherwise unknown to history.

In Guatemala, the names of Maya kings and queens that ruled over the city of Waka’ were set down in ornate glyphs. When warriors from a rival city ransacked the palace at Waka’, they seemingly desecrated a royal tomb. But another burial, secreted deeper within the palace mound, eluded them. Its discovery by archaeologists offers a new look at a ruling dynasty whose deeds were inscribed on magnificent stone monuments.

Archaeology has not been filling gaps in history so much as vying with it at the Greek city of Thespiai. Intensive survey is challenging ancient allusions to the site by using architectural elements and artefacts such as pot sherds to build up a biography of the city.

Pots also proved essential to the story of Sialk, although in this case it was their appearance in an antiquities market that alerted scholars to the existence of a major site. Exploration over the last 85 years has revealed stunning traces of Iran’s prehistory, and an epic story of change, creativity, and calamity.

Calamity would have been no stranger to the men of the 7th cohort of vigiles: ancient Rome’s first responders. In our travel section, we take a look at how the eternal city has weathered climate change and pestilence. Finally, triumph over adversity is also evident from a trip to Vela Spila in Croatia. There, archaeologists are teasing out the traces of human activity over the millennia in a spectacular natural cavern.

FEATURES

Gerace Philippianus and his rural estate in late Roman Sicily

Palace of the Maya Time Lords Discovering two royal tombs at El Perú-Waka’

Recovering a lost city Tracing the rise and fall of Thespiai

Spotlight: Sialk Discovering Iran’s prehistory

NEWS

  • Massacre at Sandby borg
  • New light on the Nasca lines
  • Rediscovering a church’s royal roots
  • Unearthing early evidence of Stone Age innovations
  • Hidden homes in the Amazon
  • Commander’s house uncovered in Rome
  • Neanderthal tender loving care
  • Meeting Malta’s first inhabitants

NEWS FOCUS
LiDAR and lost sites in the Maya jungle

CHARLES HIGHAM
Solving the mystery of Vanikoro

HORIZON
Sunken secrets in Mexico’s Sac Actun cave

TRAVEL

ITALY: Richard Hodges goes on the trail of pestilence and climate chaos in Rome

CROATIA: Delving into the remarkable cave of Vela Spila

CULTURE

MUSEUM
The Epic of the Suez Canal at the Arab World Institute, Paris

REVIEWS
On the Ocean; Dolmens in the Levant; Beyond the Nile; Contemporary Archaeology and the City; A Little History of Archaeology

SPECIAL REPORT
Maya Guatemala goes digital

CHRIS CATLING
Changing perceptions of past populations, Neanderthal painters, and ivory artworks

FORUM
Letters, crossword, cartoon

THINKING ALOUD
Hidden histories of ancient homosexuality

OBJECT LESSON
The Pylos Combat Agate

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