This week: Japanese stone circles

A fascinating exhibition opening at the Stonehenge Visitor Centre this autumn shines new light on a remarkable group of ancient stone circles. Spread across 17 sites, and mostly dating from c.2500 to 300 BC, these extraordinary monuments served for centuries as the focus for ceremonies associated with solar alignments and the seasons, as well as with death and the afterlife. Such is their importance that these stone circles were even granted UNESCO World Heritage status last summer. Even so, they will be unknown to many here in Britain.…

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Animal habits

One common motif is that of a knight in armour engaging in combat with a snail. Another is that of the killer rabbit, shown wielding sword, axe, or bow and arrow as it fights against those hunting it.…

Evolution in the air: the urban conundrum

The human ape, with our big, social brain, is well suited to a life of dense social interaction. So, when faced with limited resources and growing populations, similar solutions tend to present themselves – in very different corners of the planet.…

Ancient newsreels

It portrays a ferocious Maya chief clad in a jaguar skin, with a jaguar’s head on his own, spearing an unfortunate captive. First seen by an outsider in 1946, the paintings are as close a reflection as you are likely to see of life in an elite Maya centre.…

War Classic: The Campaigns of Napoleon

Chandler sees Napoleon as a gifted improviser whose operations were nonetheless underpinned by certain consistent principles. Amongst his key skills as a commander were a personal charisma that inspired and moulded others to his will…

Valley of the Kings, 1923

‘Yes, wonderful things’ is the oft-quoted response Howard Carter gave when, on 26 November 1922, Lord Carnarvon asked if the archaeologist could see anything through a hole in the inner doorway of the tomb of the young king Tutankhamun.…

Falconer figurine

What is it? This small, carved figurine depicting a falconer was discovered in Oslo, Norway. The object, made of bone, antler, or…

Why the Armada failed

It was one of the greatest disasters in Spain’s history, yet it came within hours of success. Here,…

Ramming speed

Patrick Boniface takes a look at the role of the ram in naval history.…

Visions of Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt has provided endless inspiration for artists and designers, whether ancient or modern. Benjamin Hinson and Anna…