World News

Pre-Hispanic landscape of Bolivia illuminated

A large archaeological survey across the Carangas region of highland Bolivia has identified 135 hilltop sites, each with a number of circular walls built on terraces, ranging between two and nine per location. Ceramics discovered at the sites investigated so far indicate that they date to the Late Intermediate and Late Periods (AD 1250-1600), suggesting a pre-Hispanic use of the site that may have continued after the Inca settled in the area. Based on the types of ceramics discovered, it is believed that these places may have been used for ritual activities.

In addition to these smaller sites, the team identified a much larger one, called Waskiri, measuring 140m in diameter and located on a small hill near the Bolivian–Chilean border. It is made up of an outer ring of 39 enjoining enclosures surrounding a central plaza, and its characteristics are strikingly similar to one described by the Spanish priest Bartolomé Álvarez, who travelled through this region in the 1580s. The results of the survey were recently published in Antiquity:

Image: P Wertmann

Early saddle found in China

A leather saddle, found in China’s Xinjiang region in 2003, was recently radiocarbon dated to 727-396 BC, making it at least contemporary with – and possibly older than – the previously known oldest examples, which were found at Scythian sites in the Altai region and dated to the 5th-3rd centuries BC.

This latest example was discovered at a site in the Turpan Basin associated with the Subeixi culture. It was buried underneath the body of an adult woman, who had been positioned in such a way as to suggest she was sitting on it. It was found to be made of cow hide and stuffed with straw as well as a mixture of deer and camel hair. The full results were recently published in Archaeological Research in Asia (

Piecing together rare Roman armour

A rare set of lorica segmentata, a type of Roman armour made of strips of sheet metal and probably used by legionary soldiers, was recently pieced back together and conserved at the Kalkriese Museum in Germany. Restoration of the 400 fragments of iron took five years, and revealed that it was originally composed of 30 plates, with brass edges and tin- and silver-foiled embellishments.

The armour was found in 2018 at the site of the Varus Battle – a catastrophic defeat for the Romans in AD 9 – at Kalkriese in Germany. It represents one of the earlier styles of this type of armour, and various repairs and adaptations found on it – highlighting points of weakness in the protective gear – suggest why smiths worked to improve the design over time.