Making (Up) History
Darius the Great Invented a Past to Legitimize His Rule By Matt Waters

The ancient Persian empire, founded by Cyrus the Great (559–530 B.C.), was on the verge of chaos. In 525 B.C. Cyrus’s son and successor, Cambyses II, led a campaign in Egypt to expand the empire’s territories. Just three years later, however, Cambyses was forced to return to Persia to put down a revolt by […]

Power Houses
The Seaside Villas of Stabiae By Thomas Noble Howe

Lying in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, or at least in the shadow of the eruption cloud of 79 A.D., only three miles south of Pompeii, is a little-known but spectacular archaeological site: the sea-edge villas of Stabiae. Stabiae is home to a group of enormous villae marittimae, which are set on a […]

“Place of the Beautiful Ones”
When Egyptian Queens Got Elaborate Tombs of Their Own By Heather Lee McCarthy

A sudden, dramatic change in Egyptian queens’ burials occurred at the beginning of the 19th Dynasty (1292–1190 B.C.). On the west bank of the Nile at Thebes, a Y-shaped valley that had served as a cemetery for male officials was adapted as a burial place for royal women. The necropolis was then re-named […]

Discovering Catalhoyuk
While searching for the origins of the mysterious Sea Peoples, the flamboyant British archaeologist James Mellaart found the world’s largest Stone Age city. By Michael Balter

Late in the afternoon of November 10, 1958, a green Land Rover lurched down a narrow dirt road in south-central Turkey, about 30 miles southeast of the city of Konya. Three British archaeologists were packed inside. A frigid wind gusted from the south, blowing swirls of cold dust over the surrounding wheat fields. […]

Guarding the Holy Land
Who Built the Nimrud Fortress? By Ronnie Ellenblum

Nimrud is the largest and most perfectly preserved Crusader-period fortress in Palestine. It sits on the southern slopes of Mount Hermon, in present-day northern Israel, on a north-south ridge of a deep gorge. H.H. Kitchener (1850–1916)—a British engineer who conducted an archaeological survey in Palestine in the mid-1870s and later became the proconsul […]

Asklepios Appears in a Dream
Antiquity’s Greatest Healer By Bronwen Wickkiser

In the fourth century B.C. a man named Antikrates from Knidos, on the southwest coast of Anatolia, was struck in the face by a spear. The spearhead lodged so deeply in his head that it could not be removed. He lost his vision and 016lived with the spearhead in his face. Antikrates probably […]

Excavating Catalhoyuk
In 1993, after a 30-year hiatus, the Turkish government granted British archaeologist Ian Hodder a concession to excavate at Catalhoyuk—a project to which James Mellaart, the original excavator of the site, gave his blessings. By Shahina Farid

From Mellaart’s excavations, we know that the people who lived at Catalhoyuk harvested crops and domesticated animals. They lived in densely packed mudbrick houses, which were occupied for hundreds of years. They expressed themselves vividly in paintings and relief sculptures. But who were they, why did they settle here, and how did they […]

Saved from Vesuvius
Rare Wooden Furniture from Pompeii and Herculaneum By Judith Harris

Herculaneum and Pompeii were both destroyed by the same eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. For archaeologists, however, it must seem that they were leveled by different volcanoes entirely. Pompeii was smothered beneath a shallow blanket of volcanic pebbles (lapillae) and dust. It has been relatively easy to excavate, and today two-thirds of […]

How to Date a Pharaoh
Believe it or not, we do know exactly when ancient events occurred—up to a point... By Leo Depuydt

Ancient history books are full of dates. One reads, for instance, that the Great Pyramid at Giza was built around 2500 B.C., not 3000 B.C. or 2000 B.C., and that Jerusalem was captured by the Babylonians in 586 B.C., not 566 B.C. But how do we know these dates are accurate? Couldn’t ancient history […]

Why Darius Built Persepolis

Persepolis is a mystery. The ancient Persian city boasts some of the world’s most impressive ruins, but no one knows exactly why it was built. The ruling Achaemenid Persian dynasty already had a capital at Pasargadae when Persepolis was founded by Darius I (522–486 B.C.), also known as Darius the Great, and they […]

Don’t Be Fooled!
Despite what many scholars say, ancient “Alashiya” was not Cyprus By Robert S. Merrillees

For some decades now the scholarly world has been perpetuating a scam, one that has several times duped the editors of Archaeology Odyssey. In “The Last Days of Hattusa,”a for example, Trevor Bryce quotes an ancient letter from the king of Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra on Syria’s Mediterranean coast) to the “king of Cyprus,” […]

The Last Days of Hattusa
The Mysterious Collapse of the Hittite Empire By Trevor Bryce

From his capital, Hattusa, in central Anatolia, the last-known Hittite king, Suppiluliuma II (1207 B.C.-?), ruled over a people who had once built a great empire—one of the superpowers (along with Egypt, Mittani, Babylon and Assyria) of the Late Bronze Age. The Kingdom of the Hittites, called Hatti, had stretched across the face […]

Emulating Augustus
The Fascist-Era Excavation of the Emperor’s Peace Altar in Rome By Linda Ann Nolan

The exquisite Ara Pacis Augustae (Altar of Augustan Peace) stands on a busy Roman thoroughfare near the Tiber River. Carved on the walls enclosing the altar is an elegant relief showing, among other things, a procession led by the emperor Augustus (63 B.C.-14 A.D.). Who would have guessed that this unassuming monument would […]

Death in Louisville, Roman Style

A fascinating episode in the history of Roman archaeology in America took place in Kentucky in the early years of the last century. In 1911 Louisville businessman and community leader Rogers Clark Ballard Thruston traveled to Italy, purchased Roman funerary monuments and shipped them to Louisville. A November 1912 article in the local […]

Ancient WMDs
Torches & Poisons & Bees—Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Ancient World By Adrienne Mayor

Most people assume that biological and chemical weapons are recent inventions, that only our advanced knowledge of science and weapons systems has allowed us to make use of toxins, pathogens and incendiary chemicals. Many historians have assumed, moreover, that the rules of engagement in ancient warfare—predicated on honor, valor and skill—would have banned […]

East Meets West
How Greek Art Influenced Monumental Pillars of India’s Emperor Ashoka By Elizabeth Rosen Stone

No two artistic traditions seem more unlike than those of India and Greece. The multi-headed, multi-armed figures of Indian sculpture appear to be mystical and cosmic, worlds away from the earthy verisimilitude of ancient Greek statuary. In its early years, however, Indian sculpture was in fact a product of close associations with the […]

Cyprus & Alashiya
One and the same! By Eric H. Cline

The following letter recently surfaced in the antiquities collection of a noble European family and is published here for the first time. The brackets indicate illegible text that has been restored by the translator.—Ed. [Say] to the [goo]d Ambassador [Rob]ert Merrillees, my fath[er]: message of E[ric] Cline, your son. For me all goes well, […]

Digs 2005
Experience the Past!

After covering so many distressing stories about the looting of some of the world’s most ancient archaeological sites, we are pleased to turn to a brighter task: putting together Archaeology Odyssey’s sixth annual Digs List.

Alashiya Rejoinder

If there is one benefit to be derived from the ongoing dispute over the location of ancient Alashiya, it is the production of new data, such as the previously unknown letter, in alphabetical English, from a well-reputed scribe, which Archaeology Odyssey has now published for the first time. From internal evidence, however, it is […]

Gilgamesh—Like You’ve Never Seen Him Before
A New Translation by Stephen Mitchell By Jack Meinhardt

Gilgamesh is at once our newest and our oldest, most venerable epic poem. Unlike Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, which have been broadly known since their composition around the late eighth century B.C. (except during the medieval Dark Age, when Greek learning was largely lost in the West), the first clay tablets inscribed with the Gilgamesh epic were found just 150 years ago, at the ancient Assyrian site of Nineveh in present-day northern Iraq.


Editors’ Page: Making the Book
How an Issue Falls into Place By Jack Meinhardt
Editors’ Page: Who Owns Archaeology?
Certainly not the “Professional Elite” By Jack Meinhardt
Origins: Counting the Hours
Somebody had to divide up the day, but why the number 24?
Editors’ Page: We’ll Keep to the Mainstream
Exploring the Roots of Western Culture By Jack Meinhardt
Past Perfect: The Bronze Horsemen
How an ancient Roman equestrian sculpture inspired Renaissance artists
Origins: Quod Erat Demonstrandum
Aristotle was the first thinker to know how he was thinking logically.
Editors’ Page: Indiana Jane
Is a Woman’s Place in Archaeology? By Jack Meinhardt
Origins: On Nothing
The simple discovery of zero radically changed how we imagine and act on the world.
Past Perfect: Deciphering Darius
English army officer Henry Creswicke Rawlinson unlocks the mystery of Mesopotamian cuneiform.
Past Perfect: Among Macedonian Kings?
Greek Archaeologist Manolis Andronicos Uncovers a Burial Tumulus in Northern Greece
Past Perfect: In Pursuit of Minoan Crete
American archaeologist Harriet Boyd Hawes ventures into the masculine world of Mediterranean archaeology.
Editors’ Page: Ages in Chaos?
Answering the Revisionists By Jack Meinhardt
Horizons: Angkor Wat: The Universe in Miniature
The temple’s five great towers represent the mountainous Olympian abode of the Hindu gods.
Past Perfect: New Etruscan Jewelry
A 19th-century Italian family of goldsmiths took inspiration from the ancient world.
Ancient Life: An Ancient Scourge
Polio in Pharaonic Egypt
The Guardian Gods: Easter Island
Horizons: The Earth-Movers: Cahokia
An ancient metropolis in North America
Horizons: Armies of the Night: Qin Shi Huang’s Mausoleum
An 8,000-man terracotta army, arrayed for battle in three huge underground pits, fights for a death-obsessed emperor in the afterlife.
Horizons: The Cosmic Mountain: Borobudur
On the Indonesian island of Java stands the world’s largest Buddhist monument, the still center of our changing universe.
Ancient Life: Saffron
The Emperor of Spice
Ancient Life: Pharaonic Fanfare
Trumpets from the New Kingdom
Ancient Life: Going Clean
Togas Washed and Pressed
Ancient Life: Practical Papyrus
The Plant with a Thousand Uses
Horizons: The World’s Western Edge: Skellig Michael
Some 1,400 years ago, a group of monks settled on a lonely, barren island to be as close as possible to God.
Ancient Life: Need a Lift?
Roman Construction Cranes