Secrets of a Maya sweat bath

Recent research on an intriguing assemblage of artefacts excavated from a Classic Maya sweat bath in Guatemala is revealing new details about ritual activity at the unusual structure. This sweat bath at Xultun, named Los Sapos (‘the toads’), was explored by archaeologists from the San Bartolo-Xultun Archaeological Project (directed by…

Green-fingered finds

Home-improvements and gardening have been on the rise under lockdown in the UK, and, in a few cases, work in the garden has led to archaeological discoveries. One household in the New Forest area in southern England uncovered a Tudor coin hoard while pulling up weeds in their back garden.…

Painting prehistoric pigs

A Sulawesi warty pig painted in red ochre on an Indonesian cave wall may be the world’s oldest known representational image of an animal, dating back at least 45,500 years, according to a study recently published in Science Advances. Archaeologists from Griffith University and Pusat Penelitian Arkeologi Nasional (ARKENAS) found…

A pyramid puzzle

A missing piece of wood, one of the three objects collected from the Great Pyramid of Giza by engineer Waynman Dixon in 1872, has been rediscovered in a cigar box in the University of Aberdeen’s museum collection. Two of the objects Dixon discovered in the Queen’s Chamber of the pyramid…

Frescoed food-shop unearthed at Pompeii

Recent excavations in the Regio V district of Pompeii have unearthed a well-preserved Roman thermopolium – a hot-food shop – in its entirety. The counter, with a painting of a Nereid (a sea nymph) riding on a seahorse was partially excavated in 2019 as part of the Great Pompeii Project.…

Assessing the accessibility of Atxurra

Cave painting is one of the earliest forms of human culture, one of the first outlets of our creativity. But the meaning that these paintings had to the communities who created them remains a bit of a mystery. Who painted them and for what purpose? In this month’s ‘Science Notes’,…

Reviving Ousdale Broch

A recent conservation project has breathed new life into an Iron Age broch in northern Scotland. The Ousdale Broch, just south of Berriedale in Caithness, used to be considered one of the best-preserved brochs in the region. At some point between 2013 and 2015, however, a calamitous combination of damage…

Great Pyramid artefact found in Aberdeen

In December 2019, a small fragment of cedar, which had been missing for more than 70 years, was rediscovered within the collections of the University of Aberdeen. The fragment may, at first glance, seem unprepossessing, except for the fact that this small find is one of only three artefacts ever…

Caistor Roman Project gets a boost

Caistor Roman Project (CRP) – a community archaeology group centred around the Roman town of Venta Icenorum at present-day Caistor St Edmund in Norfolk – received an unexpected morale-booster in August: an emergency grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which enabled them to follow up on geophysics carried out…

Evidence of Roman reprisals in Essex?

A recently revealed Iron Age settlement in Cressing, near Braintree in Essex, appears to have been almost completely destroyed during the second half of the 1st century AD. Dating to around the time of the Boudican uprising of AD 60/61, could this be evidence of Roman reprisals against local groups…

Bronze Age monument uncovered in the New Forest

Community excavations on the Beaulieu Estate in the New Forest have uncovered an enigmatic Bronze Age monument, as well as evidence for Mesolithic activity, greatly adding to our knowledge of how this area of Hampshire was used during prehistory. Aerial photographs and LiDAR surveys provided the first hints of a…

Unusual burial discovered in Leith

A recent excavation along Constitution Street in Leith, in advance of an extension to the Edinburgh tram line to Newhaven, has uncovered hundreds of human remains from a late medieval cemetery and, underneath it, a mysterious stand- alone burial. The cemetery was first discovered back in 2008, during the initial…

Britain’s first 5th-century mosaic identified?

New dating evidence from Chedworth Roman Villa in Gloucestershire may have identified Britain’s first-known 5th-century mosaic, researchers have announced. Founded in the 2nd century and reaching its zenith 200 years later, the Cotswold site is one of the country’s largest and best-preserved Roman villas. Over the years, excavations have uncovered…

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.…

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.…

A study in purple

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

Paranthropus robustus

The discovery of a two-million-year-old skull in South Africa is shedding important new light on microevolution in an early hominin species, as Jesse Martin and Angeline Leece reveal.…

Victims of Vesuvius

The remains of two individuals who died during the eruption of Vesuvius have been found at a suburban villa near Pompeii.…

Cooking cereals in prehistoric China

A project looking at the history of crops in prehistoric China has identified differences in regional diets and changes over time, which may be connected to varying cooking practices in these areas.…

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