Excavating Orkney and Shetland

before I leave the Mainland, I must mention one other site of this era, the stunning Neolithic house at St Ola, just south of Kirkwall... Here was discovered the oldest art yet found on the islands.…

Becoming an archaeologist

Archaeology is not immune to wider social changes... the #BlackLivesMatter movement focused attention on the colonial pasts of many nations and on the challenges of the post-colonial present.…

Seasons and the city

Even reputable observers like Pliny the Younger often ended up at the mercy of the competence of later scribes. As his writings only survive as copies, it may be no more than a scribal slip of the hand that immortalised August as the month when Pompeii met its fate.…

A chicken coup

An infant who died at birth during the fourth Bronze Age phase was interred with a hen’s egg over the left hand; perhaps the infant was holding it when placed in the grave. What better symbol can be found for the regeneration of life itself than an egg?…

War Classics: Crucible of War

Venturing beyond the ultimate British victory in North America, Anderson delves into parallel conflicts in Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, and India, as well as a subsequent uprising by Native Americans in Pontiac’s War of 1763…

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Excavating the Highlands

To many, this part of the country is the ‘definitive’ Scottish landscape of their dreams, the stuff of countless movies and TV shows. To less romantically inclined archaeologists, it is a place forged by the environmental extremes experienced there.…

Saving landmarks and ancient traditions

Why not mark the start of the other calendric festivals and their associated deities with holidays?... Time to bring back bonfires, dancing at dawn, May Day frolics, and the dressing of rivers, springs, and wells.…

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Hilda Petrie (1871-1956)

Having learnt Arabic, Hilda would hire and pay their workers. She slept in a hut at Tarkhan with 80 skulls by her bed, living off canned pilchards and bully beef.…

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Janus: two-faced god of beginnings

As we enter a new year, many of us find ourselves both reflecting on the past and making plans for the future. This dual outlook is embodied by the two-faced god Janus, who governed the first month of the year in ancient Rome…

Unlocking Prehistoric Houses

Down we probed into each and, before long, another surprise. Each contained a human skeleton, ranging from an adult woman to a child and, finally, a new-born infant. They were burying the dead under the floorboards!…

Small is beautiful: exploring the drawbacks of megacities

Haunted by Ostrogothic and Hunnic raids, Panticapaeum still survived as a Byzantine citadel. It lived through a succession of Khazar and Slavic lordships to become the modern city of Kerch, now once more trying to persist through a precarious situation in the current war in Ukraine.…

DNA, diets, and dealing with the weather

Svante Pääbo is the second member of his family to be elected a Nobel laureate: his father, Sune Bergström (1916-2004) shared the same Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1982. Is there a gene, one wonders, for Nobel-Prize-winning science?…

War Classic: Zola’s ‘The Debacle’

La Débâcle prefigures both the changing nature of warfare, and the ongoing struggle of France’s national identity. Within 22 years, another generation would be sacrificed defending their homeland.…

Ancient DNA and ‘Anglo-Frisians’

I have a personal dislike of the term ‘Anglo-Saxon’ to describe the people and culture of southern and eastern Britain from the 4th to the 8th centuries because it is anachronistic – it implies homogeneity where I see much more interesting diversity…

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Excavating Scotland

Moving geographically west to east, we then come to Bearsden on the north-west outskirts of Glasgow. This site is, if not the most excavated of Antonine sites, then certainly that most visited by Current Archaeology.…

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