It is a building like no other at Akrotiri. Now known as the ‘House of the Benches’, it is tucked away on the edge of the famous Bronze Age town. Inside, there is no sign of the domestic set-up suggested by its modern name. Instead, archaeologists have found traces of perplexing and mysterious activity. Among them are a set of humble clay chests containing artistic treasures that were already a thousand years old when they were deposited.
At Arzhan, in the Russian republic of Tuva, archaeologists exploring a burial mound in 2001 feared the worst from the tell-tale traces of a grave robbers’ shaft driven into the heart of the monument. Fortunately, these ancient despoilers were off target, missing the central tomb and its extraordinary contents. Alongside two bodies was a wealth of spectacular artistry, which changed our view of nomadic life forever.
The choice of artwork inside the 9th-century church of Sant’Ambrogio, in Italy, also draws attention to an otherwise modest establishment. It was spared later renovations before being abandoned in the 16th century, making the ruins an outstanding example of a Longobard church. The group’s initial animosity towards St Ambrose makes him a curious figure to whom to dedicate the church, perhaps reflecting its position at the crossroads of empires.
Prehistoric cuisine is the most surprising feature of the Mesolithic and Neolithic site at Friesack, in Germany. Use of cutting-edge scientific analysis indicates that caviar was on the menu, revealing one of the delicacies enjoyed by Neolithic foodies.
In our travel section, Richard Hodges scales the hilltop eyrie on Apalirou to seek the truth about its medieval occupation, while Tom St John Gray visits Singapore and Java to weigh up the legacy of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles.
Akrotiri The rise and fall of a prehistoric harbour town
Arzhan The golden burial of a Scythian king
At the crossroads of empires Inside the Longobard church of Sant’Ambrogio
Spotlight: Neolithic foodies How we know that caviar was on the menu 6,000 years ago
- The bell, the well, and the Mongolian citadel
- Revealing Wari ritual at Pikillaqta
- Samples of seasonings shed light on Mantai’s trading past
- Analysing ancient American DNA
- Palaeolithic hunter-gatherer site excavated in southern France
- First temple of the Flayed Lord found
- Painting Paracas pottery
- Weaving weavils into design
Ancient Egyptian tombs at Gebel el-Silsila and Saqqara
Iron Age women at Non Ban Jak, Thailand
Uncovering Borneo’s Palaeolithic cave art
Ancient Andean textiles in Brussels at the Musée Art & Histoire’s exhibition Inca Dress Code
Gardens of the Roman Empire; Pharaoh’s Land and Beyond; Insularity and Identity in the Roman Mediterranean; Transforming the Landscape; Stuff
Returning to the Arctic wrecks HMS Erebus and Terror
Rethinking the role of the replica in museums
Crossword and cartoon
Archaeology in the age of mumbo-jumbo
Sarcophagus of the Spouses
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