The Phaistos Disc

This enigmatic fired-clay disc, dating to around 1700-1600 BC, was discovered in the palace of Phaistos on the Greek island of Crete.…

All you need to know about iklwas

Weapon specifications Most African tribes use a form of assegai, a light throwing-spear used in both hunting and war, typically around 6-feet long with a 6-inch steel head. Some of the most aggressive Bantu tribes of southern Africa have developed a shorter version of the throwing-spear, and one group –…

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,…

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…

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Timeline: the Spartans

Traditional foundation date for Olympic Games c.776 BC Homer’s epics The Iliad and The Odyssey composed c.750 BC Sparta conquers Messenia c.700 BC Messenian Revolt followed by Spartan Reconquest c.650 BC At this time, radical changes took place in Sparta, with a new constitution (the Laws of Lykourgos), the development…

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,…

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…

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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 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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A postcard from Athens

Athens conjures up ancient Greece and the civilisation symbolized by the fastidious re-building of the Parthenon. Yet Athens boasts possibly the most extensive remains of any Roman city in Greece. Why should this matter? Well, for the imperial Romans, Greece was a role model that they sought both to emulate…

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