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 #60

Welcome to 2017, everyone! Things are still insane, but now we’ve got a whole new year to add to the insanity that happens in it. I took time away from the internets over the holidays, so here’s the latest roundup from then to now. Enjoy!


Drones are taking high resolution photos of caribou fences in the Northwest Territories believed to have been built by the Sahtu Dene a century ago.

Rock art showing a menorah, a cross, and a key have been identified at a site in Israel.

Excavations on the Japanese island of Honshu are yielding new information on the dimensions of a medieval fort that fell to the Tokugawa Shogunate after a prolonged siege.

If you don’t know already, I’m in love with neolithic figurines, and this discovery in Turkey has given me goosebumps. More on this here.

A prehistoric garden has been discovered near Vancouver, Canada.

An Egyptian relief from the reign of Hatshepsut has been repatriated.

In the Smithsonian:

Apparently bats like to argue.

The Roundup #38

Sports are a nice distraction from the wonky weather in Toronto. If we ever get to a point where I don’t have to wear a coat for two days in a row without freezing, I will feel it is a New World.

In the meantime, here’s this week’s roundup. Enjoy!


A cache of Roman coins weighing 1,300 lbs from the fourth century has been discovered in Spain.

Underwater archaeology has a new friend, OceanOne, a humanoid robot designed to explore underwater sites with more precision than other bots.

I’m always fascinated by Venus figures, mostly the much older kind, but this Roman pseudo-venus found in England still holds sway.

Construction work in Amsterdam has uncovered a 19th century slum bordering the city’s Jewish quarter.

A feature on the Hudson-Meng Bison Kill site in Nebraska.

From National Geographic:

Excavations at Jerusalem have uncovered building remains from the Hellenistic Period.

From History Today:

A feature on the correspondent from The Times, George Steer, who witnessed the bombing of Guernica in 1937.

The Roundup #6

The single most incredible thing I’ve seen this week was the discovery by a PhD student of two leaves of a Qur’an that date to within the lifetime (or very shortly thereafter) of Muhammad himself, making them the oldest yet discovered. The University of Birmingham is, naturally, ecstatic.

And with that, here’s this week’s roundup of finds, discoveries, and all-around curiosities.


I’m always fascinated by the so-called ‘Venus figurines’ that crop up in the material culture of pretty much every group of people on the planet at one time or another. This find from Germany of fragments of a figurine similar to the Venus from Hohle Fels discovered in 2008 is the latest.

It seems that the ancient peoples living in what is now Israel were experimenting with farming thousands of years earlier than originally thought.

Evidence of a 5,000 year old crannog – fortified farmhouse on stilts – has been discovered, and is, again, the oldest yet discovered in the United Kingdom.

Archaeologists have identified what they believe is the jaw bone of Philip II of Macedon, uniter of Greece and father of Alexander the Great. Philip’s tomb is believed to be part of the archaeological site at Vergina. For more on the recent excavations at Amphipolis, Robin Ngo has this article in Biblical Archaeology.

Harbours are great places to find new and wonderful things from the past. Recently, New York was the centre of such a discovery as remains from what appears to have been a meeting place for Native Americans was unearthed during construction work to repair a sea wall in the Bronx.

Egyptian reliefs from the port city of Berenice on the Red Sea have been discovered, one of which is in remarkable condition.

And fossil fuel emissions are doing yet more damage to the planet and ourselves as it has been estimated that carbon-14 testing may no longer function effectively as an archaeological dating technique if we keep pumping all this crap into the atmosphere.

From CTV News in Canada:

An 18th century village has been discovered during construction of a highway interchange in Montreal. Work is, naturally, on hold while archaeologists study the evidence.

From Biblical Archaeology:

Those pesky Egyptians are making life difficult for Biblical scholars who are as yet unable to draw a clear link between the book of Kings in the Bible, referring to the attack on Jerusalem by Pharaoh Sheshonq I. The Pharaoh himself recorded his exploits on the walls of Karnak but does not mention Jerusalem at all.

From the Smithsonian:

We’re not so different after all. DNA evidence from ancient Amazonians links them genetically with ancient Australians. I’m anticipating a renewed discussion on how neolithic peoples crossed the Pacific in the near future.

P.T. Barnum never ceases to fascinate. In this article, Helen Thompson recounts the fire that destroyed the American Museum in New York in 1865. At the time, the New York Times wrote that “it’s like cannot be seen again”.

And this is a fascinating meta-archaeological story about a 19th century artist, who created a Greco-Romanesque sculpture of a female Greek slave, and then tried to patent it.

And from LiveScience:

Toronto researchers are trying to build a digital database of all the holy sites in Iraq that have been looted and destroyed by ISIS/ISIL in the last several months. Godspeed, fellow Torontonians!