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Ragstone-to-Riches

Review – Ragstone to Riches

Ragstone was quarried from the upper Medway valley in Kent on a vast scale during the Roman period: the walls of Roman London were built with it, and the Blackfriars ship sank with a cargo of the stone. Little is known about the industry, though, and Simon Elliott’s survey is therefore hugely welcome.

Roman-science

Review – The Science of Roman History: biology, climate, and the future of the past

The Science of Roman History is an innovative book, bringing together many different areas of archaeological science to comment on the Roman Empire. It is an enormous undertaking to synthesise over 500 years of human history, spanning regions as far apart as the Levant and the British Isles, and obviously many nuances must be abridged or omitted. Nonetheless, the editor and contributors make a valiant effort to create a foundation on which to build and are ultimately successful in creating a baseline of knowledge.

Reindeer-hunters

Review – Reindeer Hunters at Howburn Farm, South Lanarkshire

This fascinating volume focuses on a Scottish settlement site that has its origins in the Late Upper Palaeolithic (LUP), inhabited at a time when the glaciers in northern Europe were in retreat. The book presents the results of a large excavation where a considerable lithic assemblage was recovered.

Sacred-Britannia

Review – Sacred Britannia: the gods and rituals of Roman Britain

What did the Romans do for us? Aside from sanitation, roads, and many other technological and engineering innovations that were introduced to these shores during imperial occupation, their arrival also transformed Britain’s religious landscape. With the Roman army came not only knowledge of the Classical pantheon, but also more exotic mystery cults and gods from the eastern fringes of the empire – including Christianity.

Witch bottle (c) Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford copy

Review – Spellbound

Would you walk under a ladder? Could you stab the image of a loved one? A new exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford brings together artefacts, documents, and artwork to explore the magical thinking behind questions like these over the centuries. Lucia Marchini went along to find out more.

Fan

Excavating the CA archive: Bryony and John Coles

In my archival ‘excavation’ of Doggerland (CA 342), I mentioned that it was Bryony Coles who coined the name of this site and led early research into its landscape, and that I planned to return to her work in a later column. Here I make good on my promise, for hers is a story well worth exploring. Beyond Doggerland, Bryony Coles is best known for her work on the Somerset Levels in the 1970s and 1980s. It was here that she and her collaborator (later husband) John Coles led many seasons of fieldwork on a range of prehistoric sites. In the process, they effectively invented the formal discipline of ‘wetland’ archaeology.

AC8_9321 copy

Out of the Ashes: Seeking the origins of the first people of Stonehenge

In a research project originally published in Scientific Reports, Dr Christophe Snoeck and researchers from the University of Oxford, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the Université libre de Bruxelles, the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, and University College London have used isotope analysis to examine some of the cremated human remains excavated at Stonehenge, with fascinating results. Their findings highlight not only how mobile some Neolithic populations were, and how important Stonehenge was to them, but also the lengths to which they may have been willing to go to bury their dead on the site.

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