Recent Archaeomags

Current Archaeology #287 (February) has news of a roundhouse foundation that really caught my eye. English Iron Age roundhouses are usually visible simply as a circular ditch or a post circle. This house, at Broadbridge Heath in Sussex, had a foundation ditch shaped like a slightly open number 6: a spiral! I also enjoyed Nadia Durrani’s eight-page feature on the historical archaeology of Early Modern London theatres and bear-baiting rings.

Chris Catling asks an interesting question regarding the ownership to land and to any ores under that land in the UK: these can and often do belong to different people, but it isn’t quite clear who owns the archaeological deposits between the land surface and the ores. So who pays the archaeological contractor when the land owner wants to develop land that sits on ore deposits belonging to someone else? “If I don’t get to profit from the minerals under my lawn, then why should I have to pay for the archaeology there?”

Current Archaeology #288 (March) has an eight-page feature on recently identified Lower to Middle Palaeolithic sites eroding out of the coast of Norfolk and Suffolk. The site name to remember is Happisburgh (pronounced Hazeburra), and the media interest is due to a major new exhibition on Palaeolithic Britain at the Natural History Museum in London.

Current Archaeology #289 (April) returns to Hazeburra with news about the much-publicised find of human footprints from 900,000 years ago, preserved in fossil mudflats from the mouth of an ancient version of the River Thames.

In September of 2011 I wondered about the floor plan of a major post-borne wooden building at the Roman port of Maryport on the Irish Sea. It post-dates the departure of the legions and has altars to Jupiter used as ballast stones for the posts. Now we get a five-page feature about continued fieldwork at the site, which has begun to hint that what succeeded the Roman fort may have been a well-funded ?monastic Christian community. My Chester colleague Meggen Gondek and her Aberdeen collaborator Gordon Noble, meanwhile, report on their continued fieldwork at the mid-1st Millennium Pictish elite site of Rhynie.

I was fascinated to learn from Tim Tatton-Brown’s piece that there was a High Medieval stonework industry in Germany where people quarried the thick and solid calcium carbonate layers inside the area’s Roman aqueducts! There are pillars made of the stuff in the cathedrals of Canterbury and Rochester! Reminds me of the portable altars they made about the same time from reused porphyry tiles quarried in the ruins of Roman bath houses. We get those all over Scandyland.

British Archaeology #135 (March/April) inevitably also covers Hazeburra and the Palaeolithic exhibition, but they’ve done something fun: talked to the Dutch Kennis brothers about the making of two amazing wax models for the exhibit (picture above). They’re a Neanderthal and an early modern human, incredibly lifelike and nothing at all like the ugly mugs most of us are used to from media and museums.

Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

39 thoughts on “Recent Archaeomags”

  1. That lion’s skull at the Palaeolithic exhibition has a round hole in it

    …to state the blindingly obvious.


  2. I’m impressed by the spiral roundhouse, that design should be good for keeping the cold out.

    Edinburgh is also pronounced “Emburra”; I’m not even going to attempt Göteborg.


  3. I always find it suspicious that the village of Corfe is built from all this solid stone, while the castle above is looking very ruined.


  4. @Birger – it’s not just me, then, he really does have something in this mouth? I reckon he’s an early ancestor of Wayne Slob.

    But the wax models are fabulous – there are more on the Kennis’ website (


  5. Science had an image of the face of a red-headed Neanderthal lady a couple of weeks back.
    Jane, we have found the ancestor of Peter Griffin.
    Martin, I suspect the remains of the Swedish castle Stegeborg has a lot of stone houses in the neighbourhood.


  6. Most people on the island of Taiwan today are both ethnically and genetically Chinese, but there’s also still a minority population with deeper roots there who descend from the folks who populated Oceania.


  7. Martin @15: I thought it was the other way around: the people who populated Oceania descended from the Taiwanese. The various Polynesian languages are more closely related to each other than to some of the indigenous languages of Taiwan. To analogize to Indo-European languages: the Polynesian languages would be related like English, Swedish, German, etc., whereas the indigenous Taiwanese languages would be about as distant from Polynesian languages as English is from French, Russian, or Hindi.


  8. We are in agreement: I just meant that the folks who live in backwoods Taiwan today are not individually the ones who colonised Polynesia 1000 years ago.


  9. Birger, several countries (some of them European) have restrictions on what names parents can give their children. There was the recent case in Iceland of the girl who was identified in court records as “Girl” because her parents wanted to give her a name that the authorities thought unsuitable for girls. Some of the names banned in Saudi Arabia may be going too far, e.g., Binyamin, which is apparently banned because the current Israeli prime minister happens to have that name. But they are also banning names of foreign origin, which many other countries do–I don’t agree with the practice, but it’s hardly unprecedented. And I can understand why a bunch of religious fanatics would be sensitive about names that imply blasphemy, such as Abdul (“worshipper of” or “slave of”) paired with anything that isn’t a name for Allah. Or that a monarchy would be skeptical of names that suggest nobility (Amir) or royalty (Malik).

    We often forget in the West that names have meanings. That’s partly from the tradition of using Biblical names, which are often Hebrew or Greek, and other traditional names whose meaning has been forgotten. But other cultures remember.


  10. No indeed. Jrette is a very well-informed 10-y-o thanks to Kamratposten and parents who speak frankly about intimate matters. When that day comes, she’ll know how stuff works, and also that she’s entitled to saying “yes” and “no” as she pleases.


  11. @Birger – I could easily have lived for a good deal longer without learning about purity balls, thanks. That’s a well creepy concept.


    1. One sad aspect of these sex-hostile Evangelical groups is that their kids are the ones who find themselves pregnant and be-condylomed at 16, simply because they have no idea how sex works. And then the whole anti-abortion ideology kicks in, of course.


  12. Sorry for using Martin’s blog as a dumping ground for the bizarre, but this is fascinating like a train crash is fascinating. Someone has been skipping history/archaeology class.

    WTF? Spirits in bloodlines? Are modern Europeans cursed because of that Aesir stuff? And Leviathan makes no sense if you live away from the coast. Same goes for totem poles in Virginia.


  13. Hahaha! Yes, the designers cannot be expected to be fluent in English, not if the Hong Kong branch outsorced the manufacture to the mainland.
    — — — — — — — —
    (OT) New Dwarf Planet Found at Solar System’s Edge
    Intermediate between Oort Cloud and Kuiper belt. But no *big* Planet X out there -it would have showed up in infrared. Maybe a Mars- or Earth-sized body could be there.


  14. I should have said *were* real. It raises the question of when a population is extinct. Ancestral north eurasians are not totally extinct, they survive in people living today. Those people do not claim to be ancestral north eurasians, though. I suspect for some of them, that is because they have never heard of ancestral north eurasians, but once they do, they will be busily retrospectively recreating ancestral north eurasian culture, performing ceremonies, wearing funny hats, etc.


  15. Birger @36: The US east coast is usually six hours behind Sweden (always, if you begin and end summer time the same dates we do); EDT = UT – 4:00. So yes, the 15 April event won’t be visible from Sweden, or anywhere else in Europe for that matter. Greenland would probably miss the totality phase as well, or at most (in the southwest) catch a brief glimpse before sunrise.


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