Minerva Magazine 191

Cover Story

Megalithic Malta There is much we don’t know about the people who lived in Neolithic Malta, but they left their mark on the islands through vast temples and tombs. Luc Amkreutz and Sharon Sultana explore what these impressive structures and the figurines…

Features

Nefertiti The wife of the ‘heretic’ king Akhenaten, Queen Nefertiti is today one of the most iconic of all ancient Egyptians, thanks to her painted bust revealed to the world in…
Rome’s hidden mosaics With small tiles of marble and glass, Roman mosaicists created intricate mythological images, realistic scenes from nature, and other complex compositions to decorate the floors and walls of tombs, sanctuaries,…
Egyptology: obelisks and ambitions Flinders Petrie is called the father of Egyptian archaeology; well, he was assisted on all of his excavations by his wife Hilda, who has never really achieved the due recognition…
St Francis of Assisi: a tale of two plates In September 1224, St Francis of Assisi had a vision in which an angel marked him with the wounds of Christ. As Norman Hammond explains, this was a popular scene…
Spinning Salamis Soon after the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC came another famous battle as allied Greek city-states fought to resist the invading armies of the Persian Empire. The Greek victory…

News

Routes to the past: ancient finds at construction sites Among the many discoveries are the oldest known pistachio nut in Britain, found at the bottom of a well and dated to AD 24-128.
Ship-shape finds from a sunken city The newly discovered Ptolemaic galley was found under 5m of dense Nile clay and building remains.
A shaman’s snake staff? In Finno-Ugric and Sámi cosmology, snakes are associated with various symbolic meanings, and shamans had the ability to transform into these creatures.
England’s oldest stained glass The figure of Nathan possibly dates to AD 1130-1160, making it perhaps the earliest surviving stained glass in England, and among the oldest in Europe.

Views

Words of wisdom: ‘Not everything people laugh at is witty’ Books, Ideas And here’s another point to take note of, that not everything people laugh at is witty.
Exhibitions from around the world – August 2021 Museum, What's on Due to changing coronavirus measures, the dates listed below may have changed since we went to print, and museums and galleries may close. Check the websites and social-media accounts of…
Egyptology: obelisks and ambitions Comment, Feature Flinders Petrie is called the father of Egyptian archaeology; well, he was assisted on all of his excavations by his wife Hilda, who has never really achieved the due recognition…
Mogao Caves, 1943-1944 The Picture Desk The oldest of the Mogao Caves temples that survive date from around AD 420. Among them is Cave 275, built during the Northern Laing period (AD 420-439).
Honor Frost (1917-2010) People Frost fitted herself out with an improvised breathing hose at a party in order to explore a 17th-century well.

Reviews

Words of wisdom: ‘Not everything people laugh at is witty’ And here’s another point to take note of, that not everything people laugh at is witty.
The City of Babylon: A History, c.2000 BC – AD 116 The history of the Mesopotamian city of Babylon had a powerful legacy even within antiquity. Today, many are familiar with the city, situated in modern Iraq, for its numerous appearances…
Exhibitions from around the world – August 2021 Due to changing coronavirus measures, the dates listed below may have changed since we went to print, and museums and galleries may close. Check the websites and social-media accounts of…
A Short History of Humanity: How Migration Made Us Who We Are Over the last decade, revolutions in the scientific analysis of archaeological material have allowed us to delve deeper into the origins and migrations of modern humans. Through the lens of…
Thames Mudlarking: Searching for London’s Lost Treasures In the 19th century, mudlarks were people (mainly children) who would scour the muddy banks of the Thames for items like coal and metal that they could sell on. Nowadays,…

From the editor

The Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo may be small, but they boast an impressive variety of archaeological sites, among them some of the oldest freestanding structures in the world. Vast megalithic temples and underground tombs were built from around 3600 BC, but abandoned about 1,000 years later. At these sites, archaeologists have found striking sculptures with corpulent shapes, whether they are a few centimetres tall or two metres tall, showing how the islanders could play with scale. But what did they represent? For our cover feature, Luc Amkreutz and Sharon Sultana examine this fascinating culture.

Next, we head to Rome, where many mosaics were uncovered during construction work in the late 19th century. These mosaics once adorned homes, shrines, and tombs in and around the ancient city, but after their rediscovery many have been little-seen by the public as they are kept in museum stores. Dalu Jones guides us through some highlights of this intricate ancient craft, on view in a temporary exhibition.

While these mosaics are not particularly well known, our next feature focuses on a much more famous subject: the ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti. Nefertiti’s face is a familiar one today – thanks to the discovery of her painted limestone bust – but, as Aidan Dodson writes, this was not always the case. Our third feature charts the queen’s remarkable career through dramatic changes implemented by her husband Akhenaten (the subject of Philip Glass’s sensational opera) and through their turbulent aftermath.

In September 480 BC, a fleet of Greek ships defeated the invading Persian armies in a naval battle in the Bay of Salamis, not far from Athens. With help from the Athenians, the Battle of Salamis has come to be viewed by some as a key episode in shaping the western world. David Stuttard tells us how the battle was won – and how the victory was spun as a tale of Greek heroism in the face of tyranny.

Also in September, in 1224, the man who became St Francis of Assisi had a vision in which he received the wounds of Christ. Assisi has attracted pilgrims for centuries, many wanting souvenirs in the form of painted plates. Norman Hammond takes a look at a Renaissance example that offered something different from the usual maiolica wares.

Finally, we speak with Egyptologist Toby Wilkinson about his recent book, which explores the people and politics at play in Egyptian archaeology between the decipherment of the Rosetta Stone and the discovery of the tomb of Akhenaten’s famous son, Tutankhamun.