It could have been a scene from an Indiana Jones film: archaeologists trail through sub-tropical vegetation to track down looters stealing antique gold from burial sites. Suddenly, before them, an ancient stone stairway leads steeply up through the dense undergrowth to the edge of an abandoned, once-great city that nobody knew was there. But this is better than fiction. This actually happened – in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta,Colombia.
Its original name is long forgotten, so the archaeologists called it Ciudad Perdida, Spanish for ‘Lost City’. Older than Machu Picchu in Peru, and destined to be just as famous, a new program of research, excavation, and preservation is set to put this remote city firmly back on the map.
In southeastern Turkey, excavation at Göbekli Tepe is revealing an Early Neolithic sanctuary. Great limestone monoliths were carved with exquisite depictions of animals and strange beings, and then deliberately buried. Why? The site predates even the earliest farming communities of the ‘Neolithic Revolution’, prompting another question: what came first, religion or civilisation?
Living deep in the hostile heart of the Sahara Desert, the Garamantes were written out of the history books. Yet they built a thriving trade with their Roman neighbours to the north. Dismissed as nomads and barbarians, recent research reveals they were anything but!
Little, too, is known of the Lapita culture of the SW Pacific. Yet, with over 500 Austronesian languages covering an area from Easter Island in the South Pacific to Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, this is arguably one of the biggest language groups in the world. Now, excavation of a burial ground on a tiny island in Vanuatu has revealed wonderful material evidence of this culture: stunning pots and exotic burial practices.
And, for those of you hoping to enjoy a summer of sport, we have a ‘guide’ to the Greek Games of 388 BC to help get you in the mood.