Best of 2017 Roundup

There’s been a lot in the news this year – not all of it great (mostly the gameshow antics coming out of the US) – but there have been some great discoveries this year that will reinforce your love of the world and all the history in it. One thing I noticed while going back over my posts from this year is that I apparently only started regular weekly roundups in July. The routine has turned out to be a good one, and there’s lots to look back on and enjoy again.

This “Best of” list has nothing to do with clicks, likes, celebrity, or star-power. Rather it’s a selection of the stories from this past year that I found particularly endearing. Enjoy!


My ongoing love of very old votive objects – particularly Venus figurines – was well fed this year with this discovery from Turkey.

The seat of the ancient kingdom of Rheged has been identified in Scotland.

The ongoing construction of Metro Line C in Rome has yielded some fantastic finds, including the barracks of the Praetorian Guard.

New evidence suggests that Greek theatres had moveable sets.

Evidence that Phoenicians manufactured disposable figures of gods makes for an all new dimension to this commercial, seafaring people.

What is being called “Little Pompeii” has been discovered near Lyon in France.

The USS Indianapolis has been discovered in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the Philippines.

Connections between the Viking and Arab worlds are becoming more clear following the identification of Arab text on Viking silk.

A possible inscription by the mysterious Sea Peoples is being translated from Luwian.

One of many stories of repatriation this year, marble from the Nemi ships is being returned to Italy.

Previously classified documents regarding President John F. Kennedy have been released and are being reviewed.

Better late than never, Ovid’s exile has been overturned.

Excavations have identified Caesar’s original landing site in Britain.

Archaeologists are releasing images of the items discovered in the Griffin Warrior tomb at Pylos.

And my person favourite of the year: wolves have been seen around Rome again for the first time in decades.


It seems like a long time ago, but ISIS/ISIL/Daesh destroyed much of the ancient site of Palmyra, including the famous Tetrapylon back in January.

Also from January is a rather appalling story of plans to build a freeway under Stonehenge. Paving paradise and putting up a parking lot seems positively ideal in comparison.

A live cannon ball discovered in Quebec City during routine construction dates back to the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in the 1700s.


The history of citrus fruit is ever changing, most recently due to the work of archaeobotanist Dafna Langgut.

A watercolour painting of a bird has been discovered in Antarctica.

A triceratops was discovered during construction work in Denver, Colorado.

What appears to be a figure with a feathered headdress was unearthed in Siberia.

Possibly the oldest original manuscript of the 100 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade has been saved from auction after France declared it a national treasure.

The oldest known compound eye has been identified from a fossil more than 500 million years old.


The Roundup #84

The best news of the week has got to be the identification of the landing site Caesar used during his abortive invasion of Britain. The Guardian, Archaeology, and the Smithsonian have all reported on it.

And after you’ve had a look through those, here’s the rest of this week’s roundup. Enjoy!


A 230 foot long geoglyph likely from the Paracas culture has been rediscovered and restored in Peru. The Smithsonian reports on it here.

New evidence suggests that the Sutlej river in India originally took a different path, creating an ideal environment for the agriculture needed to sustain the Indus Valley Civilization.

Cave camels? They’re no sabre-tooth tigers, but new evidence from the Ural Mountains suggests that a cave painter may have travelled a long way after seeing one to add it to other animal figures painted on the walls.

Analysis of human remains from 5,000 BC suggest that women in that time were noticeably stronger than women today, particularly modern rowers and runners.

And the brightly painted head of a sphinx from DeMille’s 1923 film The Ten Commandments has been discovered in the California desert.

From the Smithsonian:

After being reopened in 2016, analysis of the materials used to build the famous Tomb of Jesus of Nazareth shows that it was restored during the time of the emperor Constantine.

A huge cache of over two hundred fossilized pterosaur eggs has been discovered in China.

The discovery of large cauldrons in Leicestershire, England suggests that the Iron Age site was a central hub for ceremonial feasts.

The Roundup #79

Of course the major news of this past week was the release of previously classified documents regarding the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy. People are going to be sifting through that material for years to come, but I did enjoy the Guardian live-blogging the release.

But lots of other things have been announced this week as well. So here’s your roundup for this go around. Enjoy!

From the Smithsonian:

A nearly complete fossilized skeleton of an ichthyosaur has been discovered in Gujarat.

A 450 year old text of samurai sayings has recently been published in English as The Hundred Rules of War.

The remains of unusual structures in the Arabian desert have been identified by amateurs using Google Earth.

Cuneiform tablets have been unearthed in a destroyed building in Kurdistan.

From Haaretz:

Biologists have identified a succession of bacteria that destroy ancient parchments by first turning them purple before they begin to more obviously decompose.


Excavations are ongoing at Thouria in Greece where a theatre orchestra section with potentially moveable sections has been discovered.

A Coptic tombstone has been unearthed near the Avenue of the Sphinxes in Luxor.

An unusual figurine with what appears to be a feathered headdress has been discovered near the Ob River in western Siberia.

The mythological founding of Singapore may not be so mythological after all, as the island’s largest archaeological dig near Empress Place has revealed.

A shipwreck has been discovered in eastern China, likely from the Yuan Dynasty nearly 700 years ago.

And a Bronze Age battlefield has been identified in Germany.

From the CBC:

The HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, Royal Navy ships that Franklin took on his fateful Arctic expedition, are to be formally handed over to Canada and the Inuit people by the British government.

The Roundup #71

Taking a break from an appalling number of job applications to get back to the world of archaeology. Check out my Twitter feed @gladiatorgirl for a bunch of really fascinating finds that haven’t made it to the other resources I use to compile my weekly roundup! Additionally, and belated as it is, there’s a new Dead Links piece coming soon. Yeah, yeah, cheque in the mail… Watch for it all the same.

And, without further ado, here’s this week’s roundup. Enjoy!


The tomb of a 16th century playwright has been discovered in east Jianxi, China.

Mycenaean chamber tombs – one intact, one looted probably in the 1970s – have been identified in Greece. Also known as tholos tombs, you can read more about them here.

During an ongoing underwater survey of the ancient coastline of Salamis, archaeologists have discovered what appears to be a public building near the ancient port.

Hilarity ensues with ongoing discussion about lead poisoning in Roman towns, this time at Ostia.

And archaeological evidence from California suggests that ancient peoples may offer solutions to how to manage the perennial wildfires in the state.

From the CBC:

Astronomers have discovered the remains of the star that went nova in 1437 CE and was recorded by Korean astronomers of the time. Unlike the film Prometheus, these people did some maths.

From Global News:

A triceratops skeleton was discovered, much to everyone’s surprise, during construction of a new police station in Denver, Colorado.

The Roundup #58

Everyone lost their minds this week, and with good reason, when a feathered dinosaur tail complete with a few vertebrae was discovered encased in amber in Myanmar. The CBC and The Economist were two such sites that picked up on this story. There was also the remarkable Twitter spat between a (clearly uneducated) member of UKIP and Cambridge Professor of Classics Mary Beard, although the outrage was limited to the tweets from the UKIP dude. Professor Beard engages angry people on Twitter with a grace and consideration that I certainly wouldn’t have the fortitude for. Kudos!

Otherwise, without further ado, here’s this week’s roundup. Enjoy!


Evidence of malaria in the remains of people from Italy has been confirmed by geneticists at McMaster University in Canada.

‘Tis the season for reporting on diseases, it seems. Evidence from pots from an Iron Age fort in Germany suggest a hemorrhagic fever was present in the population in the last half of the first millenium BCE.

Facial reconstruction from the skull of Robert the Bruce offers us a glimpse of what the Medieval Scottish king may have looked like.

From the Smithsonian:

A two thousand year old pet cemetery has been discovered in Egypt. Stephen King and Molly aka The Thing of Evil would be pleased.

From the CBC:

Further evidence regarding the doomed Franklin Expedition suggests that low zinc levels may have exacerbated low immune function that contributed to the deaths of the crew of the HMS Erebus and Terror.

From the Guardian:

Shellfish from which the famed Tyrian purple was drawn appear to have vanished from the eastern Mediterranean, a likely result of rising ocean temperatures and loss of habitat.

The Roundup #24

Here’s my attempt to get back into the regular routine of posting once a week. So here’s this week’s roundup.


Westminster Abbey in London, England has an extensive and mighty history. In December, evidence of the removal of bones from the site before construction began are being catalogued and studied to give archaeologists a better idea of what life was like in the area around about the turn of the first millenium.

Paintings from the Chauvet-Pont-D’Arc caves in France have some scientists thinking that the ancient peoples who created these magnificent works of art also depicted the oldest known artistic representation of a volcanic eruption.

Scientists are creating 3-D images of rock art from the Italian Alps dating from the Iron Age and the early Neolithic period.

The 2012 discovery of a mammoth carcass in the Eurasian Arctic suggests that humans were hunting in that region 10,000 years earlier than previously thought.

While searching for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean, Australia’s Joint Agency Coordination Centre have identified a 19th century shipwreck.

The burial site of Han Emperor Jing Di has revealed the oldest evidence for tea, and in China no less.

Italian and Russian archaeologists have identified Nubian inscriptions at a temple site in the Sudan, offering new information on the relations between these peoples and the ancient Egyptians in the area.

Archaeologists have discovered the best preserved Bronze Age village ever found in England. NPR has a feature on it here.

A 2,200 year old prosthetic has been discovered at a burial site in western China.

The only ninth-tenth century artefact found underwater in Poland has turned out to be a wicker fish trap, with the remains of over 4,000 fish in Lake Lednica.


From The Guardian:

The largest – and as yet unnamed – dinosaur ever found, part of a subset of sauropods called titanosaurs, is now on display at the American Museum of Natural History.


From Biblical Archaeology:

I may have already posted this but, here goes: archaeologists working in Turkey have discovered Pluto’s Gates at Hierapolis, said to be a gateway to the underworld.

The Roundup #4

What a week this has been. We lost Omar Sharif and Roger Rees, the 2015 PanAm Games got underway in Toronto, Champagne was made part of UNESCO World Heritage, and we received the best pictures yet from the New Horizons satellite on its way to Pluto. Here’s all the things that happened before that we’re just finding out about again:


A beautiful series of fresco fragments have been discovered in Arles, France, the first such pieces to be found outside Italy.

The bones of 27 US Marines will finally be laid to rest more than 70 years after they died during the Battle of Tarawa in the Pacific during World War II.

The dates for prehistoric man in Scotland have been extended back to 8,000 years, approximately a thousand years earlier than previous evidence had suggested.

A Viking longhouse has been found in Reikjavic, Iceland, to the excitement of archaeologists everywhere.

A new theory about the attic of the Parthenon in Athens has been released, suggesting that the wealth of nations was once stored there.

Analysis of ice core samples from Greenland and Antarctica suggest that a pair of volcanic eruptions may have been responsible for widespread disease and famine in the sixth century, rewriting climate history in Europe for this period. This has also been covered by the Smithsonian.

Archaeologists have unearthed gold spirals in Zealand (in Denmark, not in the Pacific), which had multiple uses and are generally quite lovely to look at.

At the site of Oinoanda in Turkey, a massive stone inscription by Diogenes, who was a student of the Epicurean school of philosophical thought, was discovered towards the end of the 19th century and is part of a new study of the area. Included in the text is the following excerpt:

Not least for those who are called foreigners, for they are not foreigners. For, while the various segments of the Earth give different people a different country, the whole compass of this world gives all people a single country, the entire Earth, and a single home, the world.  

And excavations of the permanent HQ of the Sixth Legion are underway in Israel.

From Biblical Archaeology:

Yet more discussion on whether or not Carthaginians practiced human sacrifice of infants.

The discussion also continues on who built the Cardo in Jerusalem, the two main suspects being the Roman Emperors Hadrian and Justinian I.

And an oil lamp workshop has been discovered in the Galilee.

In Popular Archaeology:

A Roman legionary’s bootprint has been discovered, also in the Galilee in Israel.

And from JSTOR Daily:

New evidence about the colour of dinosaur eggs.