Ancient history news

Birth of the Sahara

This should actually be, 'the birth of the modern Sahara' as apparently the desert has come and gone on a number of occasions. At ... more clues to the episode separating the Pre Dynastic from the Old Kingdom periods in Egypt. In an analysis of a sediment core off Aden Peter de Menocal and Jessica Tierney found that the Sahara dried out in as a little as a hundred years - 5000 years ago. Trees and savannah grassland were part of the Sahara landscape prior to 3000BC - but at that point the climate changed abruptly.

The Seed of the Woman

Arthur Custance, 'The Seed of the Woman', Joshua Press, Ontario:2001 (reprint of a 1980 book) (see also and

Women in Christianity

It is well known that early Christianity appealed to women but less is known about how those women were influential in the spread of the new religion. Ken Cooper of the University of Manchester seeks to redress what he sees as a later 'airbrushing' of women out of the history of the Church, in what became a male orientated organisation. One only has to think of monks and celibate priests, deprived of female company, that visualised those glimpses they had of them, as the 'great temptation' - to be avoided if possible.

Bayesian Statistics

We've had Bayesian statistics applied to C14 methodology - providing an average date to get a more reliable fix on a situation for the archaeological community, but Bayesian statistics are also used in climate science - which may help people better understand how they are applied to C13 dating schemes. Apparently, it is a method which is open to a certain amount of abuse - if not applied correctly. Go to

Mungo Troy

At ... is an hypothesis by Mungo Jupp, on the demise of the cities of Mycenae and Troy. He claims a plasma event was responsible - and a full length video can be seen at

More on Egyptian chronology

Science News at ... says about that statistical analysis that just 150 artefacts were involved (new C14 dates) taken from textiles, reeds, hairs and bones, plus 100 older C14 dated artefacts (added to boost the base). This was not just a Bayesian study of C14 dates but the findings were fitted into the chronology already established, particularly the sequence of pottery styles. They were of course looking for parameters to align their C14 dates.


At ... excavations at Gabii, to the east of Rome, have revealed a buried structure made of giant stone blocks resembling a Lego construct - but it failed to mention the bits that are pushed in to hold them up. What has been found is a construct that did not use cement to bind them together, an archaeological marker that everyone in the business understands. It is the size of a football pitch and dates back to around 300BC, and had two terraces connected by an elaborate staircase.

Cinnamon and the Phoenicians

At ... the discovery of 27 flasks going back to 1000BC (Iron I) found 10 of them were containers for cinnamon. This spice is found in southern India and another form of the spice is found in China and SE Asia, suggesting the spice trade had long tentacles (possibly via Arabia). Although the headline is that the flasks come from Israel (that is actually the borders of modern Israel). The flasks were found in what was Phoenicia.

Dating the Thera eruption

At ... ignoring the equation of the Thera eruption with the Atlantis legend what we seem to have here is a new C14 date that appears to support the argument the volcano blew around 1600BC. Some weevils found in storage jars on Santorini (Thera) have been used to date the eruption - overcome by the ash and buried with the town. They have been dated between 1744 and 1538BC, which would support a date of around 1600BC as deduced a few years ago from a branch of an olive tree.

The origins of the English language

In MJ Harper's book, The History of Britain Revealed:the shocking truth about the English language, Icon Books:2006, the author makes some funny but very irreverent remarks about academics - even to the point of accusing them of cognitive dissonance.