Cyrus the Great had an eye for the finer things in life. At Pasargadae he established a fabulous palace, which boasted lavish pleasure gardens watered by ingenious hydraulic works. Today, the lush vegetation is long-gone, but the ruins testify to the arrival of a new approach to palaces, where the buildings played second fiddle to the gardens. Where did Cyrus get his inspiration from?

It is hard to imagine now, but the Sahara was also well-watered once. This green and pleasant land teemed with life. People lived there too, at first foraging and fishing with bone harpoons, but by around 6000 BC they had turned their hands to rearing livestock. As domestic animals appear in the archaeological record, so too does the first flowering of Saharan rock art. Today, these remarkable images tell the story of a vanished world, and how these communities adapted to a new reality.

Change was no less harsh for those enlisted in Napoleonic-era armies. Excavations on the 1809 battlefield at Wagram, Austria, have shed light on the harrowing conditions these soldiers faced. As well as being condemned to live in pit houses – literally covered holes in the ground – while awaiting the enemy’s next move, these combatants could be nursing injuries inflicted by brutal marches and even infections that left them feverish. We know this because after the fighting the pit houses were occupied again: by the dead of both sides.

Seeking the reality of Bronze Age fighting is just one of the questions being tackled by pioneering archaeologists scrutinising the microscopic marks created when objects were made or used. What can this technique tell us about the use of stone axes, whether swords were wielded in war, and how beads came into being?

In our travel section we voyage to Europe’s first central place at Dhaskalio, and inspect the once-lost Roman city of Ulpiana.

FEATURES

The power of Saharan rock art
Creating images in a changing world

The Battle of Wagram
Exposing the brutal reality of Napoleonic combat

Pasargadae
Seeking the origins of a garden palace

Spotlight: The little things in life
Investigating the past one micrometre at a time

NEWS

  • Secrets from Skeleton Lake
  • Face to face with an early ancestor
  • Protective property from Pompeii
  • Charting changes at the former capital of a fallen African kingdom
  • Life and death in late antique Phanagoria
  • Eurasia’s earliest modern human
  • Prehistoric patterns
  • First Americans at Cooper’s Ferry

NEWS FOCUS
Latest discoveries from Egypt’s sunken cities

CHARLES HIGHAM
Cambodia’s Banteay Chhmar makes a comeback

HORIZON
Excavating a Punic-Roman port city on Sardinia

TRAVEL

GREECE
Richard Hodges sails to the Bronze Age settlement of Dhaskalio in the Cyclades

KOSOVO
Meet the Romans at the once-forgotten city of Ulpiana

CULTURE

MUSEUM
A Roman feast at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum and an Egyptian encounter at Sigmund Freud’s London home

REVIEWS
Buried by Vesuvius; Lithic Technologies in Sedentary Societies; Archaeology from Space; The Southern Levant During the First Centuries of Roman Rule (64 BCE – 135 CE); The Secret Life of Memorials

SPECIAL REPORT
Connecting walkers, sites, and communities in Turkey’s Taurus Mountains

CHRIS CATLING
Wine, wood, and World Heritage

FORUM
Letters, crossword, cartoon

THINKING ALOUD
Interpretation and excavation

OBJECT LESSON
A Sasanian king’s silver plate

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