Italy

Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino today

Richard Hodges: The Battle of Monte Cassino

Driving past Monte Cassino many years ago with the late Mark Pluciennik, professor at Leicester University and one of the most cerebral archaeologists I have known, I pointed out the Benedictine monastery. Mark replied with words I’ve never forgotten: My father was with the Poles who captured the monastery, and my uncle, his brother, as […]

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The pharaohs did not lie in splendid isolation in the Valley of the Kings. While they held a monopoly on the spectacular royal tombs driven far into the bedrock, favoured individuals could also secure space in the cemetery. They had to make do with humbler tombs – often more modest than they would have expected […]

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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 […]

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National Archaeological Museum of Paestum

Fifty years ago, in June 1968, archaeologist Mario Napoli uncovered a beautifully painted tomb in a small necropolis just south of Paestum, the ancient Greek colony Poseidonia in southern Italy. It is known as the Tomb of the Diver thanks to the unique depiction on its plaster and limestone lid of a solitary young man, […]

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Object lesson: the sundial of Marcus Novius Tubula

What is it? This is a Roman stone sundial, a timekeeping device that had become quite common in the Roman world from the 2nd century BC onwards. Carved out of a limestone block (54cm × 35cm × 25cm), the sundial is engraved with 11 hour-lines (demarcating the 12 horae of daylight) intersecting three day-curves (giving […]

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Driving the streets of Pompeii

How did Romans drive around an ancient city? Was it just a free-for-all? Subtle traces worn into the streets of Pompeii by passing carts suggest not. What do they tell us about the city’s complex traffic systems?

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Travel: The Arch of Malborghetto, Italy

Why was a victory monument erected 20km from Rome? David J Breeze explores the extraordinary circumstances that led to an unsung triumphal arch at Malborghetto. For the last 30 years I have visited Rome roughly every other year, taking my sons and now my grandchildren to see this marvellous city, usually staying in the comfortable […]

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Hello, everyone! It is wonderful to be here, and I am looking forward to exploring sites and discoveries around the world with you. First, we travel down the spectacular long and winding Siq that leads to Petra. There, the Nabataeans founded one of the most beautiful, and perhaps also unlikely, cities in the ancient world. What persuaded these […]

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Travel: Molise, Italy

Searching for Samnites in the ‘Region of Little Cities’   Surprisingly few people have heard of Molise. Yet this is one of the most beautiful and the most historically engaging areas of Italy. Emerging from the road-tunnel that leads into the region, you get the impression you are entering a forgotten world – and in […]

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Though recorded in historical sources, the indigenous people in the south-west corner of the Iberian Peninsula have largely eluded archaeologists. We know they traded their silver and gold with the Phoenicians, and we know they had a coastal city called Tartessos, because the Greek historian Herodotus wrote of it in the 5th century BC. But […]

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Turin’s Egyptian Museum

Nadia Durrani and Andrew Selkirk visit Turin’s transformed Museo Egizio. When Turin’s Egyptian Museum (Museo Egizio) was opened in 1824, the hieroglyphic codecracker Jean-François Champollion declared that now ‘The path to Memphis and Thebes passes through Turin’. Yet, by the turn of the current millennium, few visited: its displays and facilities were outdated and cramped, […]

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Marzamemi Shipwreck: Moving Christian Architecture for Justinian’s Empire

Justin Leidwanger and Sebastiano Tusa dive into a 6th-century puzzle off the coast of Sicily.   In 1959, a local fisherman, searching for cuttlefish in the shallow waters off the coast of south-east Sicily, spotted several carved stone blocks nestled among the rocks, reef, and sand about a kilometre from the coastal port of Marzamemi. […]

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