Trojan War: the archaeology of a story

Many cities have fallen to subterfuge, fire, and the sword over the millennia, so why does our fascination with Troy remain so keen? Perhaps it is because Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey have become potent examples of the power of words. These tales of derring-do and destructive depravity coloured the Greek,…

Nefertiti: recreating an icon

The painted limestone bust of the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, recovered from the royal city of Amarna, is familiar across the world. This bust has inspired many copies – some very accurate, some far less so – so that many of us first ‘meet’ Nefertiti via one of these replicas. Recently,…

The Trundholm Sun Chariot

What is it? This unique Nordic bronze piece was discovered in Denmark and dates to the Early Bronze Age, c.1400 BC. It illustrates the eternal journey of the sun, as depicted by a divine horse pulling an ornate golden disc, all on rotating wheels. The Sun Chariot is 54cm long,…

Iran

It was a splendid tour: we stayed in 9 different hotels over 16 days, which meant that we were always on the move. But this was just what we wanted, for we explored the heart of the historic country and saw – if briefly – most of the best-known archaeological…

James Cook’s Thunderbird club

What is it? This ceremonial yew-wood weapon – dating to the late 18th century – was made by the Nuu-cha-nulth people of the Pacific North-west Coast of Canada. Measuring 25cm in length, the club handle is decorated with black human hair and inlaid with snail-shell opercula and the teeth of…

Curious Travellers: preserving endangered heritage across the world

Heritage is about more than monuments. It is also about people: how they interacted with the buildings in daily life and how their sense of belonging has shaped them. This is why organisations such as UNESCO were established to protect the world’s cultural heritage from damage through natural disaster, neglect,…

CALAKMUL

Alice Stevens ventures deep into the Mexican jungle where, surrounded by the echoing screech of howler monkeys, Calakmul rises above the canopy, and takes a stand as the most impressive Mayan temple remaining today.…

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Scanning the Pharaohs

The results of CT imaging on Hatshepsut, Ramesses III, Tutankhamen, and a host of other New Kingdom mummies are revealed in a gripping new book by Zahi Hawass and Sahar Saleem, as Kimberley Watt illuminates.…

The Statue of King Idrimi

What is it? This splendid statue depicts Idrimi, the king of Alalakh, an ancient city near the Syrian–Turkish border. Dated to the 15th century BC, it is carved from hard, white magnesite stone, with inlaid glass eyes, and sits a metre high atop a black basalt throne, carved with two…

Earthquake! How the earth shook up the past

When earthquakes strike, the consequences can be catastrophic. Yet what do we really know about their impact on past cultures? All is revealed in Andrew Robinson’s latest unputdownable book Earth-Shattering Events: Earthquakes, Nations and Civilization.…

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Gozo, Malta

From Malta, we now travel to its sister-island Gozo, where Nadia Durrani encountered two new major restoration projects.…

The secrets of Angkor Wat: how archaeology is rewriting history

The stupendous temple of Angkor Wat and its forested environs are currently the focus of a major project involving LiDAR aerial laser-scanning and more. The archaeology is radically changing our understanding of this staggering site, but how? Brian Fagan and Nadia Durrani get the inside story from project co-director Roland…

The Pacific god A’a

What is it? This divine sculpture was made on Rurutu, one of the Austral Islands in Polynesia. When it was given to British missionaries in 1821, its name was recorded as A’a. A’a was said to have been named after the ancestor who founded the island of Rurutu and who,…

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