Latest Dev

Latest Issue: Issue 398 - April 2024

Research, Method & Debate

Luke Dale, Aaron Rawlinson, Pete Knowles, Frederick Foulds, Nick Ashton, David Bridgland and Mark White
View abstract

Hypertrophic ‘giant’ handaxes are a rare component of Acheulean assemblages, yet have been central to debates relating to the social, cognitive and cultural ‘meaning’ of these enigmatic tools. The authors examine giant handaxes from the perspective of the British record and suggest that they are chronologically patterned, with the great majority originating from contexts broadly associated with Marine Isotope Stage 9. Giant handaxes tend to have higher symmetry than non-giants, and extravagant forms, such as ficrons, are better represented; they may therefore be linked to incipient aesthetic sensibilities and, potentially, to changing cognition at the transition between the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic.

Ergül Kodaş, Emma L Baysal and Kazım Özkan
View abstract

Lack of contextual evidence for the use of small personal ornaments means that much of our understanding of ornamentation traditions within archaeological cultures is reconstructed from ethnographic comparisons. New in situ finds from the areas around the ears and mouth in burials at Boncuklu Tarla, a Neolithic settlement in Türkiye, add a novel dimension to the interpretation of stone ‘tokens’ or ‘plugs’. This article presents a new typology for these artefacts and argues for their use as ear ornaments or labrets in a practice involving significant and lasting corporal alteration.

Roey Nickelsberg, Thomas E. Levy, Ruth Shahack-Gross, Anthony Tamberino, Scott McAvoy, Gal Bermatov-Paz, Nimrod Marom, Ehud Arkin Shalev, Ehud Weiss, Suembikya Frumin and Assaf Yasur-Landau
View abstract

Sedentary occupation of the southern Levantine coast spans from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic C to the Early Bronze Age Ib phase (c. 7000–3100 BC). Sites dating to the Early Pottery Neolithic (c. 6400–5500 BC) are scarce, however, potentially reflecting the effects of the 8.2ka climatic event. Here, the authors present the investigations at the submerged site of Habonim North off the Carmel Coast. Typological and radiocarbon dating indicate an Early Pottery Neolithic occupation and evidence for continuity of subsistence and economic strategies with both earlier and later Neolithic cultures. The results indicate the resilience of coastal communities in the face of significant climatic uncertainty and contribute to understanding human responses to environmental change.

Jane S. Gaastra, Dan Lawrence and Valentina Tumolo
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Historically, urban centres are seen as consumers that draw in labour and resources from their rural hinterlands. Zooarchaeological studies of key urban sites in Southwest Asia demonstrate the movement of livestock, but the region-wide application of these findings has not been tested and the logistics of urban provisioning remain poorly understood. Here, the authors analyse zooarchaeological data from 245 sites in the Levant and Mesopotamia to examine patterns of livestock production and consumption over a 5000-year period. They find that although preferences varied over time and space, urban sites consistently relied on rural satellites to overcome local limitations to support their large and diverse populations.

Robert Hofmann, Nils Müller-Scheeßel and Johannes Müller
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Explanations for the emergence and abandonment of the Chalcolithic Trypillia mega-sites have long been debated. Here, the authors use Gini coefficients based on the sizes of approximately 7000 houses at 38 Trypillia sites to assess inequality between households as a factor in the rise and/or demise of these settlements. The results indicate temporarily reduced social inequality at mega-sites. It was only after several generations that increased social differentiation re-emerged and this may explain the subsequent abandonment of the mega-sites. The results indicate that increases in social complexity need not be associated with greater social stratification and that large aggregations of population can, for a time at least, find mechanisms to reduce inequality.

Yufeng Sun, Melissa Ritchey, Hua Zhong, Liya Tang, Elena Sergusheva, Tao Shi, Jixiang Song, Haiming Li, Guanghui Dong and Xinyi Liu
View abstract

Broomcorn millet and foxtail millet were first cultivated in Neolithic China then the process spread west across Asia during the Bronze Age. But the distinctive ceramic, and later bronze, vessels utilised in East Asian cuisines for boiling and steaming grains did not move west alongside these crops. Here, the authors use measurements of 3876 charred millet grains to evaluate regional variations and implications for food preparation. In contrast to wheat grains, which became smaller as their cultivation moved east, millet grains became larger as they spread from northern China into Inner Asia and Tibet. This indicates the decoupling of millets from associated cooking techniques as they reached geographical and cultural areas.

Giorgi Bedianashvili and Abby Robinson
View abstract

The deposition of intentionally damaged metal artefacts within burials and hoards is a phenomenon attested in areas as disparate as Ireland and the Caucasus during the Bronze and Iron Ages. While ritual significance is often attributed to such damage in burial contexts, the intentions behind the inclusion of damaged objects in hoards remain enigmatic. This article synthesises evidence for the intentional destruction of metal artefacts from 70 sites in the territory of modern Georgia and analyses patterns of deliberate damage over time and space. The study of these damaged artefacts enhances our understanding of ritual practice at a local level and locates the south Caucasus within the wider networks of this phenomenon.

Charles Higham
View abstract

The settlement of Ban Non Wat charts the transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age in north-eastern Thailand. Examination of grave inclusions and mortuary treatment at this important site allows insights into social change during this key period. Increasing complexity and the inclusion of exotic items in the mortuary treatment of some individuals early in the Bronze Age is suggested to show the rise of a lineage of aggrandisers who controlled access to these symbolic articles. But, the author argues, their elevated status was ephemeral, forfeited as local bronze casting became established.

Rudolph Alagich, Lorena Becerra-Valdivia, Margaret C. Miller, Katerina Trantalidou and Colin Smith
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In this article, the authors present an analysis of radiocarbon dates from a stratified deposit at the Greek Geometric period settlement of Zagora on the island of Andros, which are among the few absolute dates measured from the period in Greece. The dates assigned to Greek Geometric ceramics are based on historical and literary evidence and are found to contradict absolute dates from the central Mediterranean which suggest that the traditional dates are too young. The results indicate the final period at Zagora, the Late Geometric, should be seen as starting at least a century earlier than the traditional date of 760 BC.

Maaike Groot, Martijn van Haasteren and Laura I. Kooistra
View abstract

The remains of black henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) are relatively common at archaeological sites as it grows naturally around settlements in north-western Europe. All parts of the plant may be used as a medicine or a narcotic but its natural prevalence in built environments makes it difficult to interpret any intentionality behind its presence in the archaeological record. Evidence of the deliberate collection and use of black henbane seeds in the Roman Netherlands is presented here for the first time. Examination of Classical texts and interrogation of the archaeobotanical data allow the authors to place the discovery at Houten-Castellum of a hollowed bone containing hundreds of black henbane seeds within the context of the wider Roman understanding of the plant and its properties.

Helena Hamerow, Sam Leggett, Christel Tinguely and Petrus Le Roux
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Exogamous marriage alliances involving royal women played a prominent role in the conversion of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms to Christianity in the seventh century AD. Yet the large number of well-furnished female burials from this period suggests a broader change in the role of women. The authors present the results of isotopic analysis of seventh-century burials, comparing male and female mobility and the mobility of females from well-furnished versus poorly/unfurnished burials. Results suggest increased mobility during the Conversion Period that is, paradoxically, most noticeable among women buried in poorly furnished graves; their well-furnished contemporaries were more likely to have grown up near to their place of burial.

Jane Kershaw, Stephen W. Merkel, Paolo D'Imporzano and Rory Naismith
View abstract

The late seventh-century introduction of silver coinage marked a transformation in the economy of north-west Europe, yet the source(s) of the silver bullion behind this change remains uncertain. Here, the authors use combined lead isotope and trace element analysis of 49 coins from England, Frisia and Francia to provide new insights into north-European silver sources during the ‘long eighth century’ (c. AD 660–820). The results indicate an early reliance on recycled Byzantine silver plate, followed by a shift c. AD 750 to newly mined metal from Francia. This change indicates the strong role of the Carolingian state in the control of metal sources and economic structures across the North Sea zone.

Adam Negrin, Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos, Cameron L. McNeil, W. Jeffrey Hurst and Edward J. Kennelly
View abstract

The widespread significance of tobacco in Mesoamerica is documented in historical and ethnographic sources, yet recovery of the organic remains of this plant from archaeological contexts is rare. Here, the authors present evidence for the ritual use of tobacco at Cotzumalhuapa, Guatemala, during the Late Classic period (AD 650–950). Detection of nicotine in residue analysis of three cylindrical ceramic vases recovered from cache deposits near the El Baúl acropolis suggests that these vessels contained tobacco infusions or other liquid preparations. These results suggest an ancient ritual practice involving tobacco for which there was previously no physical evidence in Mesoamerica.

Elias Michaut
View abstract

Modern and contemporary archaeology, the French equivalent of historical archaeology, emerged in the 1970s. Subsequent attempts at theorising this sub-discipline have been hindered by a lack of broad professional recognition and funding. While the archaeology of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries is now more widely recognised in France, studies of the post-nineteenth-century period remain limited to a few specific contexts. Here, the author offers an overview for the Anglophone readers of modern and contemporary archaeology in France and argues that greater theorisation, cross-fertilisation with other archaeological traditions and a diversification of the range of themes considered might enhance recognition of this sub-discipline within and beyond France.

Books and Reviews

Pertev Basri
View abstract

Nestled at the eastern corner of the Mediterranean, the island of Cyprus is a popular locale for archaeological research by resident and foreigner alike despite its modest size. The roots of this popularity run deep; Cyprus can boast for capturing people's attention with its antiquities since the start of the nineteenth century (Clarke 1813, pp.165–97). Authored by veterans of Cypriot archaeology, each of these three books is a valuable addition to the ever-expanding scholarship that is the legacy of this colourful history of aesthetic/financial curiosity transformed into meticulous research. Additionally, these three publications stand out among the avalanche of archaeological research on Cyprus due to their shared links.

Book Reviews

Project Gallery

Free to access

Ivor Karavanić, Ines Krajcar Bronić, Andreja Sironić, Siniša Radović, Marko Banda and Fred H. Smith
View abstract

The project ‘Last Neanderthals at the Crossroads of Central Europe and the Mediterranean’ (NECEM) combines lithic analyses of previously excavated material with new sampling for dating and environmental DNA. New radiocarbon dates from Vindija, presented here, help clarify the chronology of late Neanderthal and early modern human occupations in South-eastern and Central Europe.

Mariya Antonosyan, Mariam Saribekyan, Satenik Mkrtchyan, Anahit Hovhannisyan, Ellery Frahm, Roberts Patrick, Arsen Bobokhyan, Karen Azatyan, Levon Yepiskoposyan and Noel Amano
View abstract

Excavations at Yeghegis-1, a rockshelter in southern Armenia, reveal long-term human habitation from the late fifth to mid-fourth millennia BC. Here, the authors present a preliminary overview of the materials recovered from the site and highlight the potential of ongoing research to shed light on Chalcolithic human lifeways in the region.

Galo Romero-García, Daniel Sánchez-Gómez, José Á. Garrido-Cordero, José M. Martínez-Blanes, Ana C. Sousa and Carlos P. Odriozola
View abstract

PEPAdb (Prehistoric Europe's Personal Adornment Database) is a long-term, open-ended project that aims to improve access to archaeological data online. Its website ( publishes and analyses datasets about prehistoric personal adornment, drawing on the results of various research projects and bibliographic references.

Jacek Gackowski, Łukasz Kowalski, Wiesław Lorkiewicz, Agnieszka M. Noryśkiewicz, Michał Jankowski, Dariusz Kamiński, Paweł Molewski, Tomasz Purowski, Barbara Wagner, Aldona Garbacz-Klempka, Grzegorz Osipowicz, Magdalena Przymorska-Sztuczka, Andrzej P. Kowalski, Mateusz Sosnowski, Andrzej Podgórski and Grażyna Szczepańska
View abstract

In 2023, prospection of a dried-out lake near Papowo Biskupie in north-central Poland identified substantial deposits of bronze artefacts. Excavation revealed further deposits and dozens of human skeletons that date from 1000–400 BC, suggesting that the site held particular significance as a place for sacrificial offerings in the Lusatian culture.

Łukasz Jarmużek, Agnieszka Ryś-Jarmużek, Anna Wodzińska, Anna Gręzak, Claire Malleson and Sławomir Rzepka
View abstract

Excavations at the site of Tell el-Retaba since 2007 have revealed an extensive settlement and associated material culture dating from the Third Intermediate Period (1070–664 BC). This work represents the only large-scale investigation into domestic archaeology from this period in Egypt and the results offer important insights into aspects of urban life for an under-studied phase of Egyptian history.

Oula Seitsonen, Tuuli Matila, Marika Hyttinen and Aleksi Kelloniemi
View abstract

Social inequalities and marginality often go unrecognised in the Nordic welfare states. This project examines the effects of neoliberalism and intersectional inequality in Finland from a contemporary archaeology perspective; the case study is a Second World War German military camp turned into a working-class community occupied until the 1980s.

Submit a book for review



Antiquity reviews books on all aspects of archaeological research. Books for review can be sent directly to the Reviews Editor at:
Dr Marion Uckelmann, Antiquity
Department of Archaeology, Durham University
South Road, Durham
or as pdfs to: reviews [at]
Please only send books that are within the journal's scope.

All books are listed in the ‘Books Received ‘section on this website and in the printed journal. 

Please note we receive many books and offers of review copies, and we are only able to review a selection of these. When we publish reviews, we email notifications to the publishers. Please note that Antiquity is unable to return any books received.