Jacques Francis

He was not, Jacques Francis insisted as prosecution witnesses tried repeatedly to have his testimony thrown out, a slave. They called him ‘blackamoor’ and ‘infidel-born’, but he called himself famulus rather than servus – a member of the household, a worker alongside free servants. At this historical distance, it seems…

Grand Designs at Heraculaneum

One of the most lavish dwellings in Roman Herculaneum, the House of the Bicentenary reopened to the public in 2019 after decades of conservation efforts. Francesco Sirano, Director of the Parco Archeologico di Ercolano, and Leslie Rainer from the Getty Conservation Institute tell the story of this magnificent house,…

Amelia Edwards

This major figure in Egyptian archaeology was also a novelist, journalist, artist, erstwhile musician, and dauntless travel writer.…

The Secret History of Writing

This intelligent, articulate, and visually imaginative three-part BBC documentary series about five millennia of writing – shortened into two parts for US transmission as A to Z in the PBS series NOVA – is particularly welcome, and will probably be watched for many years.…

The Children of Ash and Elm: A History of the Vikings

There has been much debate about what to call the people of medieval Scandinavia now known widely as ‘Vikings’. The term stems from the Old Norse vikingr, used to describe someone who went on seafaring expeditions, but this was not tied to identifying any particular cultural group, nor did it…

The Greek dead and the Great Beyond

The ancient Greeks thought much about the dead – how their remains should be disposed of, how their spirits might be summoned, how malignant they could be if unavenged. Classicist David Stuttard brings us face to face with the Greek dead.…

More mummies unveiled at Saqqara

As well as the coffins, which date to the Late Period (525-332 BC) and Ptolemaic Dynasty (323-30 BC), Egyptian archaeologists found shabtis, amulets, four gilded funerary masks, and 40 statues of Ptah Sokar, a prominent god of Saqqara.…

Roman discoveries at ancient Augustodunum

Excavations directed by Carole Fossurier found a range of different burial practices. There were mausoleums, a wooden building, and a tile structure, which resembled burials of the early empire, as well as five sandstone sarcophagi and 15 lead coffins.…

Animal archaeology

News about an 800 year old turkey-feather blanket found in Utah, the Nasca feline in Peru, and investigations into British pet cemeteries.…

A study in purple

Today, more than 1,000 of these mummy portraits survive in museums and collections around the world.…

Etruscans: pushing boundaries

When the Etruscans expanded to the south and the vast plains of Campania, they found a land of cultural connections and confrontations, as luxurious grave goods found across the region reveal. An exhibition at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples sheds light on these ancient Italians at the frontier. Paolo…

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Deir el-Bahri, 1894

The exquisite results can be seen in Paget’s watercolour of bulls from one wall, and Howards Carter’s reproduction of a scene in which Thutmosis I and his mother Seniseneb make offerings to the god Anubis.…

Cuzco: the centre and head of all the land

Cuzco was the heart of the vast Inca empire, but all changed in the 16th century when the capital was conquered by Spanish invaders. Michael J Schreffler investigates the Inca city, and how it went from the centre of one empire to the periphery of another.…

Nefertari: into the Valley of the Queens

The Great Royal Wife of Ramesses II, Nefertari, was buried in one of the most spectacular tombs of Egypt’s Valley of the Queens. Well-educated and well-travelled, Nefertari played a crucial part in the political life of the pharaoh, and her importance was reflected through her magnificently decorated tomb. Minerva's Lucia…

Minerva Magazine 187

• Queens of the Nile: royal wives & goddesses
• Transformation at the heart of the Inca empire
• Herculaneum: a grand Roman house trapped in time
• Face to face with the Greek dead
• Legacy of the Etruscans in Campania…

The riches of Ravenna

In a small city on Italy’s Adriatic coast, faces of all-powerful emperors, empresses, and bishops gaze out from glittering mosaics. But why are these magnificent decorations here? Judith Herrin explores the history of Ravenna, a well-connected city and one-time capital of the Western Roman Empire.…

Tantra: from ecstasy to enlightenment

Lindsay Fulcher enters the transgressive realm of Tantra. This rebellious Indian cult, which has overturned religious, social, sexual, and political norms from AD 500 to the present day, is currently being celebrated in an exhibition curated by Imma Ramos at the British Museum.…

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