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Prehistoric pop culture: deciphering the DNA of the Bell Beaker Complex

More than 4,500 years ago, a hugely popular cultural phenomenon – today known as the Bell Beaker Complex – captured the prehistoric imagination, flourishing across much of Europe. Archaeologists are still deliberating over how this Complex, first identified in the 19th century, developed so quickly and effectively. Now the largest ancient DNA study to-date has shed revolutionary new light on the question, with surprising implications for our understanding of ancient populations – particularly that of Britain, which seems to have undergone an almost complete genetic turnover in just a few centuries.

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Normal for Normans? Exploring the large round mounds of England

Most of England’s monumental mounds are assumed to be Norman castle mottes built in the period immediately after the Conquest – but could some of them have much earlier origins? Jim Leary, Elaine Jamieson, and Phil Stastney report on a project that set out to investigate some of these mighty constructions.

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Iron Age interior design

Across Dorset, impressive earthworks mark the location of Iron Age hillforts. Until recently, though, little archaeological attention had been paid to what lay within these mighty ramparts. Now, thanks to modern geophysics, the picture is beginning to come into focus.

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The Ness of Brodgar

For over a decade, archaeological research at the Ness of Brodgar in Orkney has uncovered an astonishing array of Neolithic structures, including a spectacular settlement, monumental buildings, and hundreds of examples of prehistoric artwork. Nick Card brings us the latest news from the Ness.

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Feeding the ‘builders of Stonehenge’

A newly opened exhibition at Stonehenge documents the diet of the community thought to have been responsible for erecting the main phase of the monument – including the surprisingly far-flung origins of some of their food.

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Ice Age Jersey

If you gazed out across the English Channel 15,000 years ago, the view would be very different to what you might expect today. Excavations in Jersey have uncovered the remains of a Magdalenian hunter-gatherer campsite, founded long before the Channel Island was surrounded by sea.

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Leicester’s Roman high life

The largest excavation undertaken in Leicester for over a decade has shed vivid new light on the city’s early Roman history, as well as revealing evidence of luxurious dwellings, including one of the biggest fragments of mosaic floor found in the city in 150 years.

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Secrets of Sutton Hoo

Sutton Hoo is best known for the elite Anglo-Saxon cemetery excavated there in the 1930s, but more recent campaigns tell an even richer tale. The royal burials sprang from an earlier cemetery, and were followed by dozens of graves of execution victims. How does the sequence track the journey of Anglo-Saxons, from pagan immigrants to […]

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Under the chancel: discovering a ‘hidden’ crypt in a Lambeth church

Archaeological work at the Garden Museum, housed in the former Lambeth parish church, delivered a major surprise. In January 2016, as builders set to work on a concrete slab, a hole appeared underneath. This cavity led to a long-forgotten crypt where, by the light of mobile phones, coffins could be seen stacked in the gloom. […]