European museums are under mounting pressure to return the irreplaceable artefacts plundered during colonial times. As an archaeologist who works in Africa, this debate has a very real impact on my research. I benefit from the convenience of access provided by Western museums, while being struck by the ethical quandary of how they were taken there by illegal means, and by guilt that my colleagues throughout Africa may not have the resources to see material from their own country, which is kept thousands of miles away.
Continue reading “Returning looted artefacts will finally restore heritage to the brilliant cultures that made them”
Leaving a major political body is nothing new for mainland Britain. In 409AD, more than 350 years after the Roman conquest of 43AD, the island slipped from the control of the Roman Empire. Much like the present Brexit, the process of this secession and its practical impacts on Britain’s population in the early years of the 5th century remain ill-defined.
Continue reading “The Roman ‘Brexit’: how life in Britain changed after 409AD”
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. 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.
Continue reading “The surprising role cheese played in human evolution”
The recent discovery of a well preserved early modern shipwreck in the mudflats of Tankerton Beach near Whitstable, Kent, is a highly significant archaeological find. Not only can it provide important information on early modern shipbuilding techniques, it can also provide valuable insights into the maritime trade of late Tudor and early Stuart England.
Continue reading “What the 16th-century shipwreck found on the Kent coast can tell us about trade in Tudor England”
Looting of artefacts has always been a sign of military might or economic power. Over millennia, conquering generals would take away with them trophies to adorn their cities. In more recent centuries, the wealthy upper classes would make “grand tours” of classical sites and acquire – through whatever means – anything from vases to statues to entire temple friezes to show off at home. Owning a piece of antiquity was seen as demonstrating wealth, a love of ancient culture and, ultimately, one’s own distinction: having things that nobody else could have.
Continue reading “Illegal trade in antiquities: a scourge that has gone on for millennia too long”