This week: the ‘Qurna Queen’

It is a curious coincidence that the 100th and 200th anniversaries respectively of perhaps the two most famous events in Egyptology should both fall in 2022. First up, in September, came the 200th anniversary of the decoding of the Rosetta Stone by the French philologist Jean-François Champollion – a breakthrough…

Ancient Queens

Which powerful queen was co-ruler of Ancient Egypt for 22 years from around 1473 BC?…

This week: Dunkirk

The events of late May and early June 1940 have long been the stuff of patriotic British legend, celebrated in classic war movies (most recently Christopher Nolan’s 2017 blockbuster), and hailed by Winston Churchill as a ‘miracle of deliverance’. For generations of Britons, this miraculous narrative has run along conventional…

This week: Roman silver

Back in 1919, when the spectacular Traprain Hoard was unearthed at an Iron Age hillfort outside Edinburgh, it must have been tempting to view this unmatched assemblage of Late Roman ‘hacksilver’ (silver items and objects which have deliberately been cut, chopped and crushed into fragments) simply as evidence of the…

This week: Public executions

These days in Britain, we like to think of public executions as belonging to a distant and more barbaric age – one far removed from the modern world in which we now live. It is sobering, therefore, to reflect that when crowds flocked to see the last public execution in…

This week: Danish treasure

No written records exist to explain why people in early medieval Europe chose to bury collections of their most valuable objects or artefacts – known to archaeologists as ‘hoards’ – though logic suggests that burying your treasures at moments of danger may have seemed like a sensible precaution at the…

Denmark Quiz

Denmark's current monarch, Queen Margrethe II, traces her lineage back to which 10th-century king?…

This week: Ancient writing

Today, we live in a world of too much information: one in which a staggering 231,400,000 emails are sent out on average every single minute, according to the consumer data company Statista, along with countless million more text messages and social-media updates, and even the occasional old-fashioned letter. Against this…

Historic Texts Quiz

In which Roman fort were the wooden tablets found that contain the earliest handwriting ever discovered in Britain?…

This week: Archaeogenetics

In the decades since the cracking of the human genome, the study of ancient DNA – known as archaeogenetics – has had a dramatic effect on our understanding of the distant past. The analysis of genetic material preserved in archaeological remains, such as bones and preserved tissues, has provided us…

This week: Mithras

There are some things we can say with certainty about the Roman god Mithras. We know, for instance, that this wonderfully enigmatic deity flourished between the 1st and 4th centuries AD, but was inspired by the much more ancient Indo-Iranian god Mithra. We know that his cult was popular among…

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…

Japan Quiz

Dated c.14,000–300 BC, which is the earliest major culture of prehistoric Japan?…

This week: submarines

Underwater warfare came of age on 15 September 1914, when Germany’s U-21 became the first submarine to sink a ship with a self-propelled torpedo. The U-boat’s devastating surprise attack, off the Firth of Forth, sank the British cruiser HMS Pathfinder in just six minutes, with the loss of all but…

Submarines Quiz

Which historical figure is said to have observed undersea life from a submersible glass sphere in 332BC?…

This week: the Spanish Armada

With 130 ships, 2,431 guns, and 30,000 men, Philip II’s invasion force was, according to one English admiral, ‘the greatest and strongest combination that was ever gathered in all Christendom’. If it had been successful, the history of the past five centuries would look very different: with England a possession…

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