Who were the Denisovans?

By Dr. Terrence Twomey

Our understanding of human evolution is constantly changing. Recent discoveries and advances in our methods have revealed a very different picture than we could have imagined even a decade ago. This review discusses how genetic evidence has identified a previously unknown human species from Denisova Cave in Siberia that was closely related to the Neanderthals and modern humans. A new method of extracting genetic material from ancient humans has produced an almost complete genomic sequence from a young girl that lived about 50 thousand years ago (kya). Genetically we know the Denisovans better than any other extinct human species.

Keywords: Denisovan, Genome, Human Evolution, Neanderthals, DNA

Erroneous Terms in Archaeology and Popular Literature: ‘the Mother Goddess’, or Why I Can Be Tiresome at Social Engagements

By Andrea Sinclair M.A.

This article examines the 19th and early 20th century origins for the term ‘mother goddess’ in literature. This epithet and the equally dubious notion of early matriarchal societies have dogged the steps of archaeologists for decades. In the past (and the present) this term has been generously applied to describe prehistoric goddesses and female figurines of all shapes and sizes from prehistoric and early historic period regions across Europe and the Near East.

Keywords: Near Eastern Goddesses, Greek goddesses, Mother Goddess, fertility goddesses, matriarchal societies, feminism, neo paganism, Victorian archaeology, 20th century archaeology

The Kingdom of Akkad: The rise and fall of the first multinational empire in history

By Joshua J. Mark M.A.

The city of Akkad, located in northern Mesopotamia, gave rise to the first multinational empire in the world stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. Trade, writing, religion, science, and agriculture all flourished in Mesopotamia under the Empire but, today, no one knows for certain where the city was even located. This article provides a brief history of the rise and fall of the great Akkadian Empire.

Keywords: Mesopotamia, Akkad, Ninevah, Ur, Sargon the Great, Cuneiform 

An Egyptian Renaissance: The Kushite 25th Dynasty 

By Dr. Lisa Swart

Far from being a cultural and geographic backwater, the Kushite 25th Dynasty created one of the largest empires along the Nile in ancient and medieval times. A dynasty of charismatic Kushite kings assumed Egyptian titles and postures for over a century. Their sovereignty over Egypt was acknowledged by the Egyptians, all while retaining their own unique identities. The Kushites not only united a previously fragmented Egypt, which had slid into political and economic decline, but reinvigorated Egyptian material culture with a blend of their own distinctive characteristics with Egyptian prototypes.

Keywords: Nubia, Kush, Kushite, Twenty-fifth Dynasty, Piye, Kashta, Shabaqo 

Solar Symbolism in Gebel el Silsila, Egypt

By Drs. Maria Nilsson and John Ward

Continuing on the topic presented in the last number of Ancient Planet Online (2012/2), which introduced the topic of pseudo script in the ancient quarries at Gebel el Silsila in Egypt, this article will look closer at one group of quarry marks and their symbolic association with solar religion during the Ptolemaic and early Roman periods.

Keywords: Gebel el Silsila, pseudo script, solar symbolism, Helios, Ra, Apollo, Horus 

A study of the similarities between Hinduism and Ancient Egyptian Religion

By Charlotte Booth MA

This article presents a comparison between ancient Egyptian religion and modern Hinduism as an alternative to the numerous studies comparing ancient Egyptian religion with monotheism. The study investigates similarities in deities, mythology, behaviour and daily practices as well as attempting to identify any common sources for these religious beliefs. 


Egypt, India, Polytheism, Hinduism, Mythology

Smash and Grab: Thomas Bruce – the not so Honourable Earl of Elgin 

By Ioannis Georgopoulos M.A. 

In 1801Thomas Bruce, British ambassador to the Ottoman Turks, stripped the Parthenon and several other monuments on the ancient acropolis of Athens of most of their precious sculptures and certain key architectural elements thereby causing irreparable damage to the ancient structures. Though Bruce claimed that he was selflessly acting to save the precious artworks from suffering further damage, we learn from posthumously published letters that his motives were less altruistic, but were instead dictated by his personal desire to decorate his newly built mansion. It was only when Bruce encountered financial problems that he decided to approach the British Museum with the intention of selling his ill-begotten loot. After some haggling and what amounted to a superficial inquiry by British Parliament, the price was set and the dirty deal was done. 

Keywords: Athens, Elgin, Parthenon Sculptures, Classical Greece, Looting, British Museum

The Parthenon Sculptures: A brief introduction

By Ioannis Georgopoulos M.A.

What exactly are the Parthenon sculptures? What is all the fuss about? What do they signify and why are they important? Why does Greece want them back? Read this article to find out!

Keywords: Athens, Elgin, Parthenon Sculptures, Classical Greece, Looting, British Museum

Whose Heritage?

An interview with Alexis Mantheakis on the return of the Parthenon sculptures to Greece.

Keywords: Alexis Mantheakis, Athens, Elgin, Parthenon Sculptures, Classical Greece, Looting, British Museum

The Evolution of Roman Forts 

By Jesse Obert B.A. 

In the eight centuries that the Roman Empire dominated ancient antiquity their militaristic culture had a profound impact on the sociopolitical network of Europe and the Mediterranean. Rome’s influence on their conquered provinces is clearly illustrated in the evolution of the Roman fort. The Empire’s military strategy shifted from aggressive conquests to a defensive reactionary force. Initially, these forts were designed to temporarily house campaigning armies, but as borders became permanent and in a near constant state of war, forts had to adapt to allow for long term occupation. Later Roman Emperors utilized the forts as tools to expand Roman authority, demarcate territorial control, and quell unrest. Their importance to the military authority of Rome encouraged these sites to become important centers of trade and culture. What started as a shift in military policy led to the establishment of some of Europe’s most important cities which had a vital impact on European history. 

Keywords: Roman Empire, Fortifications, Warfare, Rome, Classical Archaeology


Souvenir from the Peloponnese: A Modern Tour in Landscape and History [Part 2]

Aikaterini Kanatselou presents the second part of “Souvenir from the Peloponnese”, showcasing sites like Mystras, Monemvasia, Pylos and Olympia among others.

Gertrude Caton-Thompson: Pioneering the Prehistoric

The life and times of Gertrude Caton-Thompson cut an extraordinary figure during the pioneering era of archaeology and one of the first women archaeologists.

A Cameo Glass Patera from Pompeii

A brief description of a cameo glass patera from Pompeii by our newest team member Fiorenza Grasso.  

SOS Ratiaria

Dr Krassimira Luka discusses the escalating problem of looting at the ancient Roman site of Ratiaria in Bulgaria.

Historic preservation and public engagement in the United States

American archaeologist Lemont "Monty" Dobson lashes out on the issue of historic preservation and public engagement in the United States.

Letter to the Editor

A plea from Jim Allen, a concerned British citizen, about the commercial development of a possible historical site that has not been assessed archaeologically.

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