Plundering the Past
The rape of Iraq’s national museum By Francis Deblauwe

During the second week of April, something terrible happened in Baghdad: Looters broke into the National Museum, smashing display vitrines full of ancient objects and making off with some of the museum’s prized holdings. The damage didn’t stop there; frenzied mobs also set fire to the National Library and then continued on to the […]

The Destruction of the Great Library at Alexandria

On a sunny morning in 642 C.E., armies of Muslim Arabs, in the process of conquering Egypt, destroyed the ancient library at Alexandria, which for a thousand years had been the western world’s most important center of learning.1 The library held a million volumes, including an extensive collection of Greek and Roman literature, as […]

Excavating Hollywood

In 1937, Hollywood costume designer John Armstrong was working on I, Claudius, a film version of Robert Graves’s novel set in first-century A.D. Rome. Asked to design costumes for the Vestal Virgins, the six priestesses of the Roman hearth goddess Vesta, Armstrong meticulously researched the clothing they wore—long, modest veils and robes, as […]

Death at Kourion
In the fourth century A.D., a huge earthquake destroyed one of Cyprus’s glittering Greco-Roman cities.

One of the most devastating earthquakes ever to hit the Mediterranean struck a little after daybreak on July 21, 365 A.D. The fourth-century A.D. Latin historian Ammianus Marcellinus called it “a frightful disaster surpassing anything related either in legend or authentic history.” Ships in Lakonia, in the southern Peloponnesus, were driven several miles […]


Editors’ Page: Crossing Over on Cyprus
Can archaeology bridge the divide?
Past Perfect: In Defense of the Realm
American archaeologist Herbert Eustis Winlock uncovers a mass burial in Thebes
Ancient Life: Childhood’s End
Scenes from a young life
The Forum
A perspicuous reader finds affinities between Archaeology Odyssey magazine and a Victoria’s Secret catalogue