King Midas: From Myth to Reality
The man with the golden touch actually ruled an Iron Age kingdom in central Anatolia By G. Kenneth Sams

Over the past half century, archaeologists have uncovered dozens of burial tumuli near the ancient site of Gordion, about 60 miles southwest of modern Ankara, Turkey. Built of earth over single-chambered wooden tombs, these mounds probably housed the remains of royal 016families who ruled from the Phrygian capital of Gordion during the first […]

When Civilization Collapsed
Death of the Bronze Age By William H. Stiebing Jr.

It was a cataclysm of immense proportions: Near the end of the 13th century B.C.E., the great Bronze Age civilizations of the Aegean and Near East suddenly collapsed. In the latter part of the Late Bronze Age (c. 1400–1200 B.C.E.), Mycenaean civilization flourished in Greece and Crete. The Hittites controlled most of Anatolia […]

A Subterranean Odyssey

Do you detest sparkling sunlight and fresh air? Would it be too onerous to visit beautiful, exotic lands? Would it bore you to tears to travel through time or touch a piece of history? If the answer to any (or all) of these questions is no, then you may be a perfect candidate to […]

Alexander in the East
Tutored by Aristotle, mentored by Ares, Alexander the Great set no limits upon his ambition. By Frank Holt

Alexander the Great never reached his goal of conquering all the inhabited earth. This was simply beyond his army’s endurance. But he did get as far east as ancient Bactria, in modern Afghanistan. More than two thousand years later, archaeologists have begun to recover evidence of Greek settlers Alexander left behind at a […]

“Schliemann of the mind” By Richard H. Armstrong

In an 1896 lecture on the causes of hysteria, Sigmund Freud provided his audience with an elaborate archaeological analogy: “Imagine that an explorer arrives in a little-known region where his interest is aroused by an expanse of ruins, with remains of walls, fragments of columns, and tablets with half-effaced and unreadable inscriptions. He […]

City of Myth
In search of Hurrian Urkesh By Giorgio Buccellati, Marilyn Kelly-Buccellati

The thousands of mid-second-millennium B.C. documents unearthed at Boghazkoy, Turkey, the site of the Hittite capital of Hattusha, include several collections of myths dealing with ancient heroes and gods. In the most important group of these myths, however, the heroes and gods are not Hittite; they are Hurrian, and their stories are set not […]

Imagining Buddha
Greco-Roman influences on the world’s earliest sculptures of Buddha By Rekha Morris

In the 19th century, officers of the British Raj began to collect large quantities of ancient Indian statuary, often hauling away dozens of camel loads from a single site. Some of the most intriguing carvings came from a territory called Gandhara, in far northwestern India between the Indus and Kabul rivers. Gandharan statues and […]

The Birth of Kingship
From Democracy to Monarchy in Sumer By Jacob Klein

If you read later Sumerian literature, you will think that Sumer was always a monarchy ruled by a king. That is what these later kings wanted you to believe. But this is not necessarily so. How monarchy came to Sumer is in fact a fascinating, if somewhat obscure, historical development. Sumer was an early […]

The Buddhas of Bamiyan
John C. Huntington

Legendary Bamiyan! As our car neared the valley, I had no idea what to expect. Afghanistan and its friendly people promised a magnificent climax to the 18 months I had spent in Asia in 1969 and 1970. It was an up-and-down ride, crossing three or four high passes. Eventually ruined forts, villages and […]

When a Mittani Princess Joined Pharaoh’s Harem
Politics as usual in the mid-second millennium B.C.E. By Gernot Wilhelm

Around 1354 B.C.E. a caravan of hundreds of donkeys laden with valuable treasures departed from Washukkani, the capital of the Mittani kingdom in present-day northern Syria. Protected by a formidable military corps of chariots and infantry, the caravan headed through Syria and Palestine to the Egyptian capital of Thebes—a 1,400-mile journey that would take […]

Leptis Magna: Jewel of the Maghreb
Preserved by desert sands and political isolation, this Roman city in modern Libya is still dazzling to the eye. By Arthur Segal

The Arab historians and geographers who accompanied the Muslim invaders of northwestern Africa in the middle of the seventh century C.E. said it was like a large island—surrounded on the north and east by the Mediterranean Sea, on the west by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the south by a sea of sand, the […]

Ephesus Uncovered
From latrines to libraries By Peter Scherrer

Unlike other great Hellenistic/Roman cities—Alexandria, Antioch, Rome, Constantinople—Ephesus was abandoned in antiquity. These other cities continue to thrive today, which, unfortunately for archaeologists, means that they cannot be excavated, at least not completely. The principal remains we have from ancient Alexandria, for example, are catacombs and debris from the harbor floor; archaeologists digging at […]

Earthquake Storms
What triggered the collapse? By Amos Nur, Eric H. Cline

It sounded like the roar of a high-speed train—but it caused far more devastation. The earthquake that hit northwestern Turkey at Izmit, near Istanbul, on August 17, 1999, measured 7.4 on the Richter scale and killed 17,000 people. The tremors destroyed entire buildings, collapsed bridges, burst dams and caused landslides. Three months later, another […]

When We Arrived
From Homo erectus to modern man, our ancient ancestors took eons to arrive on the scene By Susan McCarter

Around 90,000 years ago, modern humans appeared in the Near East. They weren’t the first humans to make this journey, and as they moved north and west, they encountered earlier immigrants. In some places, the newcomers settled right next to their archaic cousins, living in close proximity for tens of thousands of years. Then […]

How to Reduce Archaeological Looting
Open the market and enlist the collectors! By Richard L. Stroup, Matthew Brown

Readers of Archaeology Odyssey are no doubt aware of the magazine’s dedication to finding a realistic and effective solution to the problem of rampant archaeological looting. As economists, we first became interested in archaeological regulations and markets in artifacts after reading about the public uproar concerning the fate of an ancient stone formation in […]

Eros in Egypt

We moderns tend to believe that ancient Egyptian art contains little that is overtly sexual. Egyptian painting seems to lack the strong sensual qualities of much classical art and its descendant, the richly textured art of the Renaissance. This impression is mistaken, however. In paintings and reliefs in Egyptian temples and tombs, the sexuality […]

The Fihrist
How an Arab book seller saved civilization By J. Harold Ellens

In a fiery speech delivered at Clermont, France, in 1095 C.E., Pope Urban II called on Western Christians to expel the “Infidel” from the Holy Land. Thus the Pope unleashed the Crusades, during which European armies gained control of most of the Levant, including Jerusalem. The Pope also unleashed something else—a kind of […]

Debunking the Copy Myth
Roman sculptors did not just imitate Greek masters; they produced beautiful, original works in their own right. By Miranda Marvin

Who would think that a marble statue weighing more than a ton could be invisible? Yet that is the fate of hundreds of Roman statues in museums all over the world. Huge, white and shiny, they line galleries of classical art, but no one ever sees them. Their labels make them invisible. Each is […]

Ideology from Artifacts
How ancient objects reveal the social reality of their time By Bryan E. Burns

We tend to think of ancient objects as either useful or beautiful—or both. A bit of text scratched on a clay tablet is used to communicate or record information; a finely filigreed golden earring is thought to be lovely; an elegant stairway, perhaps leading into the adyton (inner chamber) of a temple, may be […]

Europe Confronts Assyrian Art
One civilization comes in contact with another By Mogens Trolle Larsen

One morning in February 1846, a little over 150 years ago, the young Englishman Austen Henry Layard was returning to work after visiting his friend Sheikh Abd-ur-rahman, the head of a local Arab tribe. Layard had been in northern Mesopotamia for only three months, where he had begun to excavate a large mound called […]

Excavating the Land of Sheba
Archaeology reveals the kingdoms of ancient Yemen By T. J. Wilkinson

To most people, Yemen is an obscure part of southwest Arabia that appears to have escaped major currents of history. Yemen’s greatest claim to fame is that it is known as the birthplace of the queen of Sheba and that it was once the center of a series of fabulous kingdoms that developed along […]

Vestal Virgins
Chaste keepers of the flame By Melissa Barden Dowling

In the waning years of the first century A.D., one of the six Vestal virgins who guarded Rome’s sacred flame was accused of breaking her vow of chastity. Sentenced to death by the emperor Domitian (81–96 A.D.), she was dragged to an underground chamber just inside the city walls and buried alive. Her alleged […]

Civilizing the Frontier
The Romans in Britain By Martin Henig

Roman Britain is most familiar as a battleground for legions marching through the pages of ancient writers—Julius Caesar in his Gallic Wars (books IV and V) or Dio Cassius (c. 150–235 A.D.) in his History of Rome. The picture we get, often enough, is of a mighty empire subduing barbarous hordes. The Roman historian […]


Editors’ Page: Ransom Them!
It’s time for a little rethinking By Hershel Shanks
Editors’ Page: Publish Unprovenanced Artifacts
How can you not look at this stuff? By Hershel Shanks
Past Perfect: Dominique Vivant Denon
With Napoleon in Egypt
Editors’ Page: Why Publish Porn?
Because it isn’t (and because it was) By Jack Meinhardt
Editors’ Page: Defining Ethics
When morality becomes moralism By Hershel Shanks
Past Perfect: Over the Bounding Main
Cleopatra’s Needle—from ancient Egypt to Central Park
Origins: …And by the People
Democracy we associate with the modern West and ancient Athens, but little in between. By James Sickinger
Destinations: The Twin Temples of Gozo
Ggantija’s towering walls invite wonder—and speculation. By Linda C. Eneix
Origins: First Glass
Invented only once in ancient Mesopotamia, the art of glassmaking has been preserved by Near Eastern peoples ever since. By Samuel Kurinsky
Past Perfect: On a Cook’s Tour
Presented by a “willing and devoted servant of the travelling public.”
Origins: And the Verdict Is …
In creating the jury system, the ancient Greeks reinvented the idea of justice. By Alan L. Boegehold
Past Perfect: The Omphalos and the Oracle
British novelist Lawrence Durrell reminisces about the Hellenic center of the world.
Past Perfect: In Undiscovered Country
An English Romantic travels a thousand miles up the Nile
Ancient Life: Teitu v. Latithe
From the Etruscan Wrestling Federation
The Forum
To sell or not to sell, along with a reprise of Hittite sword-swallowing
Past Perfect: The Day the Earth Shook
One summer day in 79 A.D., the young Pliny watched as Mount Vesuvius began its reign of terror.
Destinations: City of the Dead
A part-pagan, part-Christian necropolis lies directly beneath the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica. By Julie Skurdenis
Destinations: Gateway to Africa
The early Islamic town of Sijilmasa, in modern Morocco, once glittered at the edge of the Sahara Desert. By Susan Ludmer-Gliebe
Ancient Life: Comic Relief?
Sword swallowers, acrobats and public festivals in the time of the Hittites
The Forum
Our readers let loose on traveling to Baalbek and Pompeian porn!
Ancient Life: Roman Haute Cuisine
Fried flamingo, anyone?
Ancient Life: The Life of the Fairer Sex
Along with a defense of freedom
The Forum
Preserving the First Amendment, righting wrongs, and taking off on Edward Lear.
Ancient Life: Into the Deep
Alexander the Great’s excellent adventure
The Forum
Our readers pipe up on organs—both musical and anatomical.
The Forum
More on porn (of course), as well as Assyrian carving and the origin of “Phoenicians.”
The Forum
The AIA revisited, and a vexed debate over Alexander’s motives in his eastern campaigns.