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.…

The Princess of Khok Phanom Di

The Princess was not buried alone. Alongside her was a grave big enough for an adult, which contained the ochre covered skeleton of a little girl aged about 18 months, covered in about 15,000 shell beads and, lo and behold, a tiny clay anvil for shaping pots.…

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Seeking a legendary lost city

The civil war had been very disruptive. There had been looting, pillage, and social upheaval. There are records of a most heinous crime, rooting up the boundary markers of land ownership, for which those guilty were impaled.…

Surveying Verulamium

We all gathered round on another day, when a whoop of excitement emerged from the next-door shop, where Professor Frend was working in a cellar. He had just found the lovely bronze statuette of Venus, now a proud exhibit in the Verulamium Museum…

The Treasures of Sanxingdui

The contents of those two pits amaze. They include some of the most remarkable bronzes from the ancient world: human face-masks with protruding eyes, thought to depict Cancong, the mythical first king of Shu.…

Vikings of the Sunrise

Originating in the remote past on the island of Taiwan, these Austronesian-speaking people were ultimately to settle from Malagasy to Rapa Nui, Easter Island. But did they go even further, and reach the Americas before Columbus?…

Tea with the junta

For some unaccountable reason, perhaps a case of mistaken identity, Polly and I were ushered into a private room to sit down to afternoon tea with the junta.…

A new world of communication

One of the most breathtaking experiences in my archaeological life was to mount the steps and look out over the assembled ranks of the terracotta army.…

In praise of volunteers

My excavations, including Khok Phanom Di, have yielded well over 1,000 human graves, and often the dead were interred with multiple mortuary offerings from fine pottery vessels to thousands of ornaments in gold, silver, bronze, iron, carnelian, glass, shell, and agate.…

In Praise of Antiquity

There is no email I await with greater anticipation and, indeed, trepidation, than one captioned ‘Your radiocarbon results’.…

Discovering Denny

Charles Higham looks at how a routine DNA analysis resulted in a stunning discovery about the prehistory of our human past…