In July 1916, 450 of the 2,500 British and (mostly) Australian soldiers killed during two days of fighting at Fromelles in northern France were buried behind enemy lines. Many unmarked mass graves were lost for decades. Now archaeological survey has located eight of them just outside the village, and Oxford Archaeology was called in to investigate the remains. Using the latest forensic archaeological science, DNA analysis, and historical research, the team was able to give soldiers back their names, and thus restore their identities and even trace some of their families.
The stunning Mesa Verde National Park in the American Southwest is famous for its photogenic 13th-century cliff dwellings of the Pueblo Indians. But the region enjoys other great archaeological riches: just a few miles away on the plain – and 600 years earlier – Neolithic farmers were establishing maize-growing communities. Excavation helped by the local community is revealing a detailed picture of their lifestyle, society, and ingenuity.
In CWA 63, we brought you news that archaeologists had found the first shrine built at the Buddha’s birthplace at Lumbini in Nepal, pushing back the date of his birth by about 300 years. In this issue, the team from Durham University reveals the full story of their discovery of a 6th century BC wooden structure built around a tree – possibly the very tree that, legend recalls, the Buddha’s mother held on to as she gave birth.
Then we’re off to explore the sanctuary site of Demeter at Eleusis, home of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Still today, visitors bring offerings to the goddess, whose ethereal presence seems to haunt the atmospheric ruins.