The Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha was obsessed with defending his ‘paradise on earth’. He feared invasion by NATO troops using a combination of amphibious landings and parachutists. As a result, he covered the country with thousands of mushroom-like bunkers, concealed trenches, and anti-aircraft guns. From the sea to the mountains, Albania became a fortress. This extraordinary martial investment had one unexpected outcome. During construction of an anti-aircraft installation close to Fshati i Vjetër, ‘The Old Village’ high on Mount Mile, overlooking Butrint, ancient Buthrotum, and the Straits of Corfu, an exquisite bronze statuette of the god, Pan, came to light in 1981.
Tantra has inspired striking imagery: heavily armed gods and goddesses committing violent carnage while adorned with human body parts, or enacting acrobatic acts of union. To the initiated, these graphic scenes often symbolise victories over internal obstacles, such as greed, or the coming together of wisdom and compassion. Others, though, have taken this art at […]
Italy is in lockdown as I write and it feels like Christmas Day, such is the silence. Yet the cuckoos have dodged passport control and are here to herald each day. The fields, incidentally, are now flush with spring flowers. The government decree forbids travel, so I resort to assembling reports on old excavations for a new tome and, as it takes shape, I dwell on whom to dedicate it to. Archaeology is as much about people as it is about the past. So, just as I rework interpretations about past discoveries with each new piece of evidence, so I inevitably revise my thinking about people.
High on a hilltop near the village of Ploçe, Albania, lie the ruins of the ancient polis of Amantia. The city was founded in the 5th century BC and is first mentioned in ancient sources around the middle of the 4th century. It experienced an economic and cultural boom during the Hellenistic period, and from 230 BC started to mint its own coins.
The Ancient Egyptian cemetery at Saqqara received burials for thousands of years. One consequence of this is a remarkable concentration of funerary monuments, including Pharaoh Djoser’s magnificent step pyramid, and an array of impressive tombs. A connection between one of these edifices and objects in the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden, sparked a long-running fieldwork programme, […]
The archaeological legacy of the Trojan war is immense. Greek vases pull no punches when they show Homeric heroes engaged in brutal combat. Key scenes from the conflict and its aftermath play out across ancient sarcophagi, wall paintings, and even fine tableware. Yet there is a strong chance that none of these events ever really […]
Giza is one of the most celebrated archaeological sites in the world. Although it is revered for its spectacular pyramids, research over the last few decades has shed light on a living community that grew up to service the dead. In our cover feature we examine their role in dispatching the deceased on a voyage […]
Ice Age art is as awe-inspiring as it is perplexing, an astonishing and unprecedented explosion of human creativity. Much of what we thought we knew has been radically revised in the light of new findings and scientific advances. Palaeolithic specialist Paul Pettitt adroitly explores the latest discoveries, as outlined in the new edition of Paul Bahn’s classic book, Images […]
The Moche were the first empire-builders of the American continent, more than eight centuries before the Incas, and just as deserving of fame as those Johnny-come-latelys. But they had no written language, and did not hang around long enough to be recorded in the histories written by European fortune-hunters who plundered their material legacy almost a millennium later. Now, […]