This week: Crete 1941

The daring German capture of Crete in May-June 1941 is not often mentioned alongside more celebrated military upsets. But still, there were many levels on which Operation Merkur (Mercury) – as it was codenamed – was a victory against the odds.…

This week: Links of Noltland

The perfectly preserved Stone Age village of Skara Brae is perhaps Orkney's most celebrated ancient site, offering stunning proof that these northerly islands were once at the cutting edge of Neolithic civilisation. But Skara Brae was only inhabited from about 3200 to 2200 BC – after which date, according to…

This week: Olympia

As fans of the world's most celebrated sporting contest know, the modern Olympic Games are no stranger to accusations of cheating. Things were no better, however, at the Ancient Olympics, the four-yearly panhellenic Games, which were first recorded in 776 BC and held at Olympia in the northwestern Peloponnese.…

This week: Spiro Mounds

It was considered one of the finds of the century, when – at the height of the Great Depression of the 1930s – a group of American prospectors calling themselves the Pocola Mining Company uncovered a burial chamber in eastern Oklahoma that had remained undisturbed for more than 500 years.…

This week: Maryport

It was a ploughman's chance discovery that led to one the greatest Roman finds of the Victorian age – described by John Collingwood Bruce, the 19th-century historian of Hadrian's Wall, as a 'sudden acquisition of treasure' such as had never before been seen in the region.…

This week: Time Team

Last year, we could barely contain our excitement at news that Time Team, the much-loved archaeology series that became a long-running Sunday-afternoon TV favourite, was planning to pick up its trowel again after a near-decade-long hiatus.…

This week: Submerged cities

According to Plato, it was a fabulously wealthy island – larger than Asia Minor and Ancient Libya combined, and situated just beyond the Pillars of Hercules. Its powerful princes conquered much of the eastern Mediterranean, subjecting whole populations to slavery, until an alliance led by the Athenians staged a fightback,…

This week: Gold in the Caucasus

It remains one of the best known of all Greek myths – not least, for a certain generation, because of the lurid 1963 Hollywood film adaptation. But if the story of Jason and the Argonauts' quest for the Golden Fleece continues to grip the popular imagination, the question of how…

This week: 1942

It was an unprecedented moment in the House of Commons, as MPs and peers packed tight into the chamber on 8 March to hear a video address from Volodymyr Zelensky – the first ever given by a foreign leader. Dressed in army fatigues, the Ukrainian president cut a heroic figure…

This week: Waterloo Uncovered

It is regarded as one of history's greatest battles, the moment that brought the Napoleonic era to its end, and a triumph that ushered in four decades of peace in Europe. But Waterloo was no easy victory. Instead, as the Duke of Wellington wrote to his brother William, "It was…

This week: Britain and Brittany

Boris Johnson is not, of course, the first political leader to take a dim view of the free movement of people and goods between Britain and the Continent. More than 2,000 years earlier, Julius Caesar ordered the destruction of ships engaged in cross-Channel trade from ports along the Brittany coast…

This week: Anthony Kersting

Taken in the 1940s, Kersting's powerful black-and-white pictures document life among the much-persecuted Yazidi community in what is now the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq. They include captivating portraits of individuals as well as stunning architectural views…

This week: Christianity in the Caucasus

These days, the rugged and beautiful Caucasus Mountains – which stretch almost 800 miles between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea – are sadly perhaps most closely associated with the vicious series of ethnic and territorial disputes that have flared up along Russia's troubled southeastern border since the break-up…

This week: Elusive Sculptures

Very often, the stories we tell about archaeology are of objects being dug up, excavated, or otherwise unearthed. Sometimes, however, little actual digging is required, because the object being searched for has been there all along – right in front of the eye, hiding in plain sight, just waiting to…

This week: Stonehenge

As the UK's most famous ancient monument, it is a sight familiar to millions around the world. But despite its popularity both as a tourist attraction and as an icon of Britishness, there is a sense in which Stonehenge has always felt strangely isolated.…

This week: Butrint

With sea levels predicted to rise by as much as +2.0m by 2100, a recent UN study found many of the Mediterranean's greatest archaeological sites to be at serious risk of damage or loss. This week on The Past, we look in detail at how one site – the magical…

This week: Palmyra

Halfway between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates, the Syrian desert city of Palmyra was once known as the 'Venice of the sands' – a name which reflected not only the magnificence of its architecture but also its importance as a trading centre for the camel caravans which for many centuries…

This week: Crécy

Throughout history, military commanders have employed new tactics and groundbreaking technologies to gain an edge over their opponents. This week on The Past, we learn about the game-changing impact of the English longbow, as used to devastating effect against the French in the early part of the Hundred Years'…

This week: Thomas Clarkson

Almost half a century before the ownership of slaves was finally outlawed across most of the British empire, a devout young student at St John’s College, Cambridge, entered an essay competition and won first prize. That 1785 essay – entitled ‘Is it right to make slaves of others against their…

This week: John Craxton

These days, John Craxton is perhaps best known for the vibrant, sun-drenched illustrations he produced as book jackets for his close friend, the travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor. As a young painter in the 1940s, however, he was a leading figure in the post-war British art scene, alongside Graham Sutherland,…

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