Sumerians are known as the founders of the urban civilization that dominated in southern Mesopotamia in the 4th and 3rd millennia BC. They developed a network of irrigation channels that made it possible to cultivate cereals in desert areas of the Lower Euphrates, introduced an ideographic script, initially pictographic and then simplified to the form of cuneiform characters impressed in wet clay, built the biggest cities in the world at that time, with monumental temples and enormous palaces.
The latest issue of Antiquity published a paper presenting results of biochemical analyses of human bones from a few sites situated in north-eastern Syria, and showing on this basis that in the 22nd century BC, when the Akkadian Empire was declining, there was no change in the local economy which could be a response to a long-term drought, and even if there was a temporary climate change, the local human societies survived it in a good condition.
The circumstances surrounding the birth of the Polish state have been a source of fascination for a long time. Currently there are a number of research projects, conferences and individual studies that are looking at this issue in an interdisciplinary way. However, there are still many questions.
The book The Dawn of the Polish State, both to professionals and to the wider audience, shows a colourful picture of the past from a thousand years ago, but also illustrates the contribution of archaeology to the exploration of the roots of the state, Poland and Poles.
On 17 July 2021, an important and rare discovery was made during archaeological works carried out near the recently restored Mausoleum of Augustus in the Piazza Augusto Imperatore, just off the Via del Corso in Rome. A sizable travertine block (pomerium cippus) was unearthed, which defined the sacred boundary (pomerium) of Rome extended by Emperor Claudius in 49 AD. Although the discovered block is only partially preserved, with he censorial power of the the ruler (line 6) and a final formula:
[au]ctis populi R[omani] / finibus, pomerium / ampliavit terminavitque
(lines 7 – 9)
linking this inscription to the activities of Claudius and similar cippi is most reasonable.
Why is the recent discovery in Rome so unique and of such a great significance?
A series of six mini-lectures was published by ELITES – Symbolic Resources and Political Structures on the Periphery: Legitimization of the ELITES in Poland and Norway, c. 1000 – 1300.The project focuses on the forms and means of symbolic power the members of the political elites in the two peripheral areas of Europe (Norway and Poland) employed to manifest their privilege right to rule to their peers and subjects.
The mini-lectures (in Polish and English, with subtitles) by an interdisciplinary team from the University of Warsaw and the University of Oslo, in partnership with the Museum of the Origins of the Polish State in Gniezno, deal with the legitimacy of elites in Poland and Norway and discuss topics such as:
Despite substantial evidence on the short-term effects of adverse climate shocks, our understanding of their long-term impact is limited. To address such a key issue, research has focused on ancient societies because of their limited economic complexity and their unparalleled experience of environmental and institutional change. Notably, ‘Collapse Archaeology’ literature has reported statistical evidence consistent with the mantra that severe droughts trigger institutional crises. This view, however, has recently been challenged by literature summarized in the paper Climate Change and State Evolution by Giacomo Benati and Carmine Guerriero.
An international team led by Prof. Aleksander Bursche has recently finished compiling the course and processes of migration in Central Europe at the end of Antiquity in a monographic form. The two-volume publication is the result of a six-year Maestro NCN project, during which archaeologists, anthropologists, historians and palaeobotanists studied cultural, ethnic, social, demographic and ecological relations from the late 4th to the late 6th centuries. It resulted in the re-evaluation of written sources, archives, archaeological and palynological materials. A number of excavations were also carried out during the course of the project, as well as numerous anthropological, geophysical and palaeobotanical analyses of the sediments and pollen collected.
After a few months of pandemic delay, the new volume of Bioarchaeology of the Near East has been issued online. This time, there are four regular papers and five short fieldwork reports, as well as the obituaries of Holger Schutkowski and Alina Wiercińska, two longtime members of the journal’s Editorial Board who passed away in the last two years.
Marea was an important port and trading center in northern Egypt in ancient times. Until now, archaeologists have focused on the study of individual single buildings on the site. In 2017, work began on a comprehensive identification of the urban grid, consisting of the buildings, streets, and the port. The results of the study, recently published in Antiquity, indicate that modular construction in Byzantine Marea was part of a larger urban program, one of the few at the end of Antiquity.
There are many myths surrounding metalworking technologies from the time of the ancient Egyptian pyramid builders. The most common are that no tools have been preserved for research and that ancient Egyptians were only familiar with pure copper. Neither is correct, however: a recent study by Czech researchers, published in the renowned international Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, enriched our knowledge of Old Kingdom metalworking technology based on archaeological material originating from Giza.