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 #76

Discoveries, discoveries, and more discoveries! From the Antikythera wreck, no less!

Here’s this week’s roundup. Enjoy!


Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities has announced the discovery of pre-dynastic rock carvings that are approximately 15,000 years old.

An antebellum flour mill has been identified in Alexandria, Virginia.

Melting snow has revealed further artifacts from a cache of Bronze Age items in Switzerland.

The remains of an Old Kingdom obelisk have been found in Saqqara, Egypt.

Some unusual Bronze Age stone objects have been discovered in northern Wales.

From the Smithsonian:

The Lion of al-Lat, damaged when Daesh took Palmyra in 2015, has been restored and put on display at the National Museum of Damascus.

The oldest known flower, some 130 million years old, has been identified by paleobotanist Bernard Gomez.

From the Guardian:

The tomb of Saint Nicholas appears to have been identified in Turkey.

A bronze arm recently retrieved from the Antikythera shipwreck site suggests that further discoveries may be buried in the sand under the wreck itself.

The Roundup #35

And (mostly) on time no less! Here’s this week’s roundup of archaeological fascinations throughout the English-reporting world. Enjoy!

From The Guardian:

The Guardian has published a guide to the destruction suffered by the ancient city of Palmyra between last year when Daesh/ISIL/ISIS took it over and it’s return to the hands of Syrian forces this March.

The ongoing search for the route Hannibal took through the Alps in his assault on Italy in 218/217BCE continues, with researchers from York University analyzing mud for the remains of animal excrement that would identify at least whether the elephants were there. has also reported on this.


Caesar may be a fascination of history, but we mustn’t forget that he was also a mass murder. Evidence uncovered by Dutch archaeologists point to one such massacre during Caesar’s time in Gaul in the 50s BCE.

Some extremely well preserved curse tablets from the Piraeus Museum are currently being studied.

From the Smithsonian:

Evidence from Israel suggests that neolithic peoples in the area were strip miners. There’s been a fair amount of archaeological work coming out of Israel about this time period of late.

And from Biblical Archaeology:

More on the study of the name Ba’al in Biblical literature and its disappearance in the 11th or 10th century BCE. Ba’al was a storm god of the Canaanites, Tyrians, and Carthaginians, and the name of our favourite general of the ancient world, Hannibal, means ‘beloved of Ba’al’.


The Roundup #33

And here’s my roundup from the week of March 21st to 28th inclusive. I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly looking forward to being back up to date.

The highlight of this week was that Syrian forces retook Palmyra from Daesh which, I’m sure, has anxious archaeologists desperate to get out there and survey the damage.


A ‘house of the dead‘ – a building that collapsed and was made into a burial chamber – has been discovered in the United Arab Emirates.

This feature looks at the ongoing archaeological work at Kaminaljuyu, a massive metropolis in Guatemala.

Butchered brown bear bones – something that won’t ever make it into an alphabet book for kids – have proven that Ireland was inhabited 2500 years earlier than previously thought.

From the Smithsonian:

An absolutely fascinating museum project in Poland, where children from 6 to 14 curated the show, demonstrates the value of a fresh pair of eyes (among other things).

A tiny gold crucifix found in Denmark suggests that Christianity came to the Vikings earlier than previously thought.

In History Today:

A feature on the strange life of Pontius Pilate.

In LiveScience:

A stunning find – a lavish apartment in the villa complex at Tivoli – includes colourful mosaics and other decorations. This one I’m going to keep my eye on.

From the Guardian:

Two German warships have been discovered in Portsmouth Harbour, near where King Henry VIII’s ship Mary Rose was recently discovered. Makes you wonder what else is down there…

And from the University of Cincinnati:

Work is ongoing at the site of a recently discovered Bronze Age warrior’s tomb in southern Greece.


The Roundup #16

Happy Thanksgiving, Canada! May your fridge be crammed full of food for days on end!

The pool stage of the 2015 Rugby World Cup is over and, sadly, most of the interesting teams to watch will not move into the quarter finals. Japan was intoxicating to watch. Canada played like they’re ready for the big leagues. And Samoa and Georgia were solid in the best possible way.

This week was a strange one for archaeology news. There were a whole series of articles that will, at the very least, raise eyebrows and, alternatively or in complement, make you laugh out loud.

So, without further ado, here’s this week’s roundup.


A fifth Viking ring fort – possibly built by Harald Bluetooth has been discovered in Denmark. Excavations will begin in the new year.

Scientists have sequenced an prehistoric African, nicknamed ‘Mota‘, and discovered that he was used to both high altitudes and was a distant relative of neolithic farmers from Ethiopia.

The grave of a young prince, likely a member of the aristocratic Marcomanni, has been discovered in the Czech Republic.

Archaeologists have determined that much of the gold used in Ireland throughout the ages in fact came from Cornwall.

Excavations are currently underway at the site where a Spitfire went down during the Second World War.

And students have recreated the red-figure pottery style of ancient Greece.

From The Guardian:

The Black Museum, commonly known as the Crime Museum, at Scotland Yard has officially opened to the public.

A nice little bit of cannibalism for your Thanksgiving weekend, as archaeologists announce evidence that the Aztecs tortured and ate conquistadors and their families.

Today marks 100 years since the British nurse Edith Cavell was executed at dawn by a German firing squad for being a spy.

And a biscuit saved from the Titanic in 1912 is set to go up for auction shortly. Henry Aldridge & Son expect it to fetch 8,000 to 10,000 pounds Sterling.

From the BBC:

King Henry V’s warship ‘Holigost‘ has apparently been discovered in the River Hamble in Hampshire.

From the Smithsonian:

The recent discovery of Homo Naledi continues to create controversy and, better still, debate about its origins and development, as Melissa Fessenden reports. Among other things, it appears that we lost our tree climbing lower limbs before our upper limbs.

A feature on the 19th century Civil War and First Nations photographer Alexander Gardner.

And a huge discovery from the Sulaymaniyah Museum in Kurdistan of new lines from the Epic of Gilgamesh. Open Culture’s post includes a video detailing this discovery.

From HyperAllergic:

News that the Getty Institute has acquired 150 year old photographs of Palmyra and Beirut, part of the ongoing global initiative to inventory historic records of the now nearly completely obliterated ancient cities of Syria.

From the Telegraph:

A 1611 edition of the King James bible has been discovered in a cupboard in St Giles Church in Wrexham.

And from the New Yorker, just because:

Republican presidential candidate and neurosurgeon Ben Carson has declared that citizens of Pompeii could have saved themselves by either outrunning the lava or by banding together to “fight the volcano“. I think I’ll use this as a catch-phrase for “oh wow, someone opened their mouth and said something hilariously stupid”. On the upside, the Smithsonian reports that, even if ancient Pompeiians didn’t fight the volcano, they at least had perfect teeth.


The Roundup #2

A day late but hopefully not a dollar short (unless you’re the Greek government), here’s the second installation of my weekly roundup.

My favourite has to be the discovery of a piece of marble depicting a dolphin in Israel. Running in close second is this article on weapons of mass destruction from the Ancient world. was at the top of their game, news-wise this week:

A wreck off the coast of Italy has been discovered, heavily laden with Roman roof tiles still packed tightly in the hold of the ship.

Archaeologists theorize that two graves from a Greek settlement that seemed ‘peculiar’ are actually zombie burials.

Archaeological work at the Antikythera site will be funded for another five years, a triumph in an age of such austerity.

A bronze age settlement in England that appears to have been destroyed by fire will also continue to be excavated.

And the former home of Lady Jane Grey, England’s Nine Days Queen, is yielding a trove of artefacts from across the ages.

From the Smithsonian:

Recycling makes for delightful finds as one art lover discovered after purchasing what he thought were two pastels by French Impressionist Claude Monet.

And a Peruvian road regularly travelled is still a wonder to those who set foot on it.

From Biblical Archaeology:

Take a look at the toolkit of one of the archaeologists excavating at Huqoq.


The eeriest piece of the week has to be this one from the Guardian detailing the largest single collection of Nazi memorabilia in the world, tucked away in Leicestershire.

And more sad news from Palmyra as the destruction of the UNESCO World Heritage Site by the Islamic State continues.


The Roundup #1

In my first attempt at a regular posted series, and because I’ve now had a least two people tell me how much they enjoy the archaeology articles that I regularly post on Facebook, here is my first Roundup for the week of June 15th to 19th, 2015.

My favourite of the week has got to be the Spartan invasion of the London Underground.

From the Telegraph UK:

Our hopes that Palymra had avoided the destruction wrought by ISIS/ISIL on Nimrud and Hatra have been dashed…to pieces.

From the Smithsonian:

Following the filming of a documentary for PBS, Providence Pictures donated a most interesting contraption to the Colosseum in Rome, complete with revealing wolf!

Despite at least once notable typo, the Smithsonian delves into the world of Proto-Indo-European and show how a single ancient language group affects billions of people worldwide.

Arsonists have destroyed artefacts from the site of Tel Kishon in Israel. Yes, fire still wrecks things, even old things.

And a stunning, creative endeavour by two documentarians from China at the site where the Buddha statues in Bamiyan were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.


Gladiators etched in stone from the ancient Greek city of Aphrodisias. I’m such a sucker for gladiatorial imagery.

Bulgarian officials have confiscated a series of silver coins, some bearing the image of King Philip II of Macedon (father of Alexander the Great) at Sofia International Airport. Well done, Bulgaria!

Evidence of the Biblical king Eshba’al is discovered on a 3,000 year old jar in the Valley of Elah.

Dog mummies abound in the catacombs of Saqqara near the temple of Anubis.

And JSTOR Daily’s latest:

The forgotten pyramids of Sudan.