Archaeology

Blowing up the Parthenon: the power of a symbol

The Parthenon is one of the most famous and recognisable buildings in the world. Bronwen Neil The Conversation Designed as a testimony to Athenian greatness, visible miles from the Acropolis (the citadel) on which it stands, the Parthenon still stands proudly among the remains of a massive complex of buildings that celebrated Athens’s deities. It is a witness to the lasting legacy of the ancient Greeks and their architectural ingenuity. But it is also a very good reminder of the ... Read More »

History of Pictish stones ‘rewritten’ by breakthrough research

The history of Pictish symbol stones in Scotland is being “rewritten” with new research finding the mysterious monuments were being created hundreds of years earlier than previously thought. Alison Campsie The Scotsman A breakthrough in the understanding of the ancient stones has been made following excavations at Dunnicaer sea stack, the site of a Pictish fort just south of Stonehaven in Aberdeenshire. It is now believed that the site is home to the oldest Pictish stones in Scotland with a ... Read More »

World’s oldest intact shipwreck discovered in Black Sea

Archaeologists say the 23-metre vessel has lain undisturbed for more than 2,400 years Kevin Rawlinson The Guardian Archaeologists have found what they believe to be the world’s oldest intact shipwreck at the bottom of the Black Sea where it appears to have lain undisturbed for more than 2,400 years. The 23-metre (75ft) vessel, thought to be ancient Greek, was discovered with its mast, rudders and rowing benches all present and correct just over a mile below the surface. A lack ... Read More »

The Myth of Whiteness in Classical Sculpture

Greek and Roman statues were often painted, but assumptions about race and aesthetics have suppressed this truth. Now scholars are making a color correction. By Margaret Talbot The New Yorker Mark Abbe was ambushed by color in 2000, while working on an archeological dig in the ancient Greek city of Aphrodisias, in present-day Turkey. At the time, he was a graduate student at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, and, like most people, he thought of Greek and Roman ... Read More »

Cultural heritage has a lot to teach us about climate change

Museums, archaeological sites and historical buildings are rarely included in conversations about climate change, which tend to focus on the wider impact and global threats to our contemporary world. Authors: The Conversation Yet these threats impact everything, from local cultural practices to iconic sites of outstanding universal value. In light of this, it’s worth exploring the relationship between our heritage and the changing global climate in more detail. More powerful storms, flooding, desertification and even the melting of permafrost are ... Read More »

Enormous, rare Viking ship burial discovered by radar

Archaeologists in Norway using ground-penetrating radar have detected one of the largest Viking ship graves ever found. Andrew Curry National Geographic Archaeologists have found the outlines of a Viking ship buried not far from the Norwegian capital of Oslo. The 65-foot-long ship was covered over more than 1,000 years ago to serve as the final resting place of a prominent Viking king or queen. That makes it one of the largest Viking ship graves ever found. Experts say intact Viking ... Read More »

36 Hours in Athens

From the ancient Acropolis to a daring Renzo Piano-designed cultural center, the Greek capital is luring record numbers of tourists to explore its monuments, new and old. Chaney Kwak The New York Times There are cities that count their age by years; then there’s Athens, which can tabulate its history by millenniums. From battles and setbacks this ancient metropolis has rebounded again and again, proving itself to be resilient like no other. Sitting on a parfait of civilizations, the Greek ... Read More »

5 Unforgettable Retellings Of Homer’s Classic Greek Stories

Whether it was in high school English class, a college history lecture, or while watching The Simpsons, you have learned about or at least heard of the ancient Greek author Homer and his two epic poems, the Odyssey and the Iliad. Sadie Trombetta Bustle Perhaps you slogged through his centuries-old work begrudgingly, but if, like me, you loved reading about vengeful gods, deadly love affairs, and bloody battles, then you’ll be delighted to know there are several fiction books inspired by Homer’s stories. Set during the ... Read More »

Restore the Parthenon marbles to their full beauty in Athens

Janet Suzman wants the marbles joined to their other half in Athens, Benedict Birnberg also argues for their return from London, and Pete Eiseman-Renyard reflects on their care. Letters The Guardian Re the letter from Richard Lambert, chair of the British Museum trustees (Trust us to look after the Parthenon marbles, 27 September), I understood that the museum was there for the people as well as the… As an ordinary person, albeit interested in the return of the Parthenon marbles to their original home, I ... Read More »

How Brexit has revived controversy over the Elgin Marbles in Britain

The Parthenon Sculptures have been the subject of debate for more than 200 years. With Theresa May scurrying around the EU trying to deliver Brexit, Greece is quite right to probe the possibility of bringing the treasures home. Dominic Selwood Independent It seems unlikely that several hundred tonnes of marble from Mount Pentelicus near Athens could have a significant role to play in Brexit. But, following a letter from the Greek government to Jeremy Wright, the culture secretary, that is exactly what is now happening. Lydia ... Read More »

Brazil museum fire: ‘incalculable’ loss as 200-year-old Rio institution gutted

The Museu Nacional houses artefacts from Egypt, Greco-Roman art and some of the first fossils found in Brazil Dom Phillips The Guardian Brazil’s oldest and most important historical and scientific museum has been consumed by fire, and much of its archive of 20 million items is believed to have been destroyed. The fire at Rio de Janeiro’s 200-year-old National Museum began after it closed to the public on Sunday and raged into the night. There were no reports of injuries, ... Read More »

Labyrinthine investigation concludes the Minotaur’s lair never existed

Long held to be a known archaeological site, the Labyrinth of Crete was never built, says a new study. Fotis Kapetopoulos reports. Since the late nineteenth century, archaeologists, documentary-makers and novelists have asserted that the Cretan Labyrinth – the lair of the terrifying Minotaur – was a real place. But now a major paper suggests that the legendary maze was just that – legend, a figment of collective imagination. The labyrinth is popularly held to have been in the Palace ... Read More »

The surprising role cheese played in human evolution

A solid white mass found in a broken jar in an Ancient Egyptian tomb has turned out to be the world’s oldest example of solid cheese. Penny Bickle The Conversation Probably made mostly from sheep or goats milk, the cheese was found several years ago by archaeologists in the ancient tomb of Ptahmes, who was a high-ranking Egyptian official. The substance was identified after the archaeology team carried out biomolecular identification of its proteins. This 3,200-year-old find is exciting because ... Read More »

Ancient Greek music: now we finally know what it sounded like

In 1932, the musicologist Wilfrid Perrett reported to an audience at the Royal Musical Association in London the words of an unnamed professor of Greek with musical leanings: “Nobody has ever made head or tail of ancient Greek music, and nobody ever will. That… Armand D’Angour The Conversation Indeed, ancient Greek music has long posed a maddening enigma. Yet music was ubiquitous in classical Greece, with most of the poetry from around 750BC to 350BC – the songs of Homer, ... Read More »

Time to honour a historical legend: 50 years since the discovery of Mungo Lady

This month we celebrate an event 50 years ago in western New South Wales that changed the course of Australian history. Jim Bowler The Conversation On July 15, 1968, the discovery of burnt bones on a remote shoreline of an unnamed lake basin began a story, the consequences of which remain sadly unfinished today. It’s the story of a legend, the discovery of Mungo Lady, the first in the series of steps that led to the creation of the Willandra ... Read More »

Point of No Return? Britain and the Elgin Marbles

Britain’s ownership of the Parthenon Sculptures has caused controversy since they were first brought to London in the early 1800s. Ioannis D. Stefanidis History Today Keen to keep the Greeks onside, the debate became highly charged during the Second World War. Since they were first ‘acquired’ in 1816, Britain has never seriously considered returning the sculptures collectively known as the ‘Elgin Marbles’ to their place of origin. Successive governments have argued that they are better preserved and more accessible in ... Read More »