Guardian

Iraq's 'Garden of Eden' recovers from Saddam Hussein regime

While in power, Saddam Hussein drained the vast marshes of southern Iraq, destroying the ancient way of life of the people there and removing the habitat of many wild species. Now, the land and its culture have partially recovered, thanks to the efforts of both local people and Iraqi conservationists.

Confirmed as Tintoretto, painting still baffles scholars

When the National Trust took over the Kingston Lacy mansion, the filthy old painting on the wall could not be identified. Now, after cleaning, the painting is confirmed as the work of Renaissance master Tintoretto, but art historians aren't sure who the allegorical figures in the picture are meant to represent.

Good King Henri IV enjoys renewed popularity in France

Peace-loving, religiously tolerant, a ladies' man and the coiner of the phrase "a chicken in every pot" -- 400 years later, France still thinks Henri IV is le Grand.

Would-be thieves find "clone of Stone of Scone" not a workable plan

In a caper worthy of Donald E. Westlake, a group of robbers carried out a careful plan to swap a 500-pound replica Stone of Destiny for the one in Scone Palace, Perthshire, only to discover they had stolen -- a replica.

Saxon stone monument up for auction agitates scholars

An elaborately carved Anglo-Saxon stone is up for auction in a move that has upset scholars of the period.  Nick Evered bought his house eight years ago with the stone already in it, and decided to sell it in order to be relieved of responsibility for the ancient artifact. The Evereds' home sits on the site of the hermitage of eighth-century St.Pega, Britain's first female hermitic saint.

Town's Artifact-hunting Traditions Lead to Heartbreak

In Blanding, Utah, collecting pre-Columbian artifacts was an accepted pastime for ecades. But new enforcement of antiquities law has brought the FBI down upon the town and angered and divided the people there. 

Robin Hood: the Man, the Myth, the Movies

In a wide-ranging feature article, Stephen Moss discusses the development of the Robin Hood legend, its possible historical bases, and the new film starring Russell Crowe.

"Anonymous" looks at the subject of Shakespeare authorship

Ronald Emmerich, who directed such major films as 2012 and Independence Day, will take on a less earth-shaking project with his new project Anonymous. The film will investigate whether Edward de Vere was the real author of Shakespeare's plays.

Campaign to save Colchester's Roman Circus a success

Officials from the Colchester (England) Archaeological Trust report that they have reached their goal of raising UK£200,000to buy and preserve the only Roman chariot-racing circus ever found in Britain.

Stonehenge surrounded by Stonehedge

A new study of the landscape around Stonehenge seems to suggest that Stonehenge was once surrounded by two low, concentric hedges. The media have dubbed the foliage "Stonehedge."

Gregorian Code fragments found in medieval book

Scraps of packing material in the cover of a medieval book have been identified as pieces of the 4th century Gregorian Code, a Roman law book, long believed to have been lost.

Raphael: undone by passion?

Renaissance master Raphael died at the age of 37, at the height of his career. For centuries, historians have blamed his early death on his passion for his mistress, La Fornarina. Jonathan Jones has the story on The Guardian's Art Blog.

Archaeologist offers "tastes of the past"

Archaeologist Jacqui Wood is not afraid go back to the basics with her cooking. The author of Tasting the Past: Recipes from the Stone Age to the Present, Wood cooks in the style of the Romans and the Celts.

Scholars hope to give John Dee a make-over

For centuries, John Dee, royal wizard to Queen Elizabeth I, has gotten a bad rap. Now a group of scholars wants to restore his image by showcasing his accomplishments. The group met in September, 2009 in Cambridge for a two-day conference.

The riddle of the skulls

Archaeologists in Dorset, England are trying to uncover the mystery of a burial pit full of skulls dating to Roman times. The 45 skulls discovered so far all appear to belong to young men.

Last chance to see the Mary Rose

This summer, the salvaged remnants of the Mary Rose, the 16th century Tudor warship, will go into a sealed chamber in preparation for a newly-designed museum. The current display, "a spooky monument and a time machine," is housed at Portsmouth's historic dockyard.

650-year-old perfume bottle survives the Black Death

Maev Kennedy takes a tour around the treasures of the Black Death exhibition at The Wallace Collection, London, including a tiny perfume bottle that was owned by a victim of a superstitious anti-plague pogrom.

Westminster Chapter House to undergo renovation

The Chapter House of Westminster Abbey is crumbling, its stonework decaying and pocked with WWII shrapnel scars, its stone carvings damaged, but there is relief in sight in the form of a £2m restoration program to repair the 13th century octagonal building.

Henry VIII: "the man who really invented England."

Historian and curator David Starkey hopes to give those visiting the new exhibit on the life of England's King Henry VIII a fresh look at the monarch. Starkey said the exhibition would go beyond most people's perceptions of Henry and find "the man who really invents England."

Divers seek treasure-laden Armada ship

Marine archaeologists, led by a Scottish royal, are searching the silt of Tobermory Bay near Scotland's Isle of Mull for the wreck of a Spanish Armada ship reputed to have carried a hoard of treasure.

Afflication of the "Ugly Duchess" indentified

The painting entitled "Old Woman," but better known as the "Ugly Duchess," is one of the most popular in London's National Gallery. It depicts the face of a grotesquely-featured woman, and was painted by Flemish artist Quinten Massys in 1513. Now, experts believe that they have identified the illness suffered by this woman as a rare form of Paget's disease, which deforms the bones. (photo)

Film calls SCA "Nerds who can kick your a**"

A review by Steven Wells of the British online paper The Guardian looks at Quantum Hoops, a new documentary film by Benjamin Nugent that follows "a college basketball team composed of hyper-intelligent super-students, and their desperate attempt to win just one game and in so doing break an amazing 21-year losing streak."

Westminster Abbey's "carpet of stone" revealed

A two-year restoration project has revealed the breathtaking details of a medieval mosaic pavement, depicting the end of the world, in the floor of London's Westminster Abbey. The floor was originally constructed in the 1260s by Henry III>

John the Bruce?

Publishers of a new book by Senator John McCain claim that the American presidential candidate is a descendant of Scotland's great hero, Robert the Bruce, a claim that historians call "baloney."

Arab scientists filled Dark Ages with light

Writing for The Guardian, Jim Al-Khalili sheds light on the contributions of Arab scientists in the Middle Ages.

"Give us back our wee men!"

Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister, has expressed a grievance over the continued absence of the Lewis Chessmen from Scotland. The chessmen, ivory pieces carved sometime during the 11th century, are housed in various museums in England.

Emperor Valens cursed

Sometime in the 4th century, someone was REALLY cheesed off at the emperor — at least enough to curse him by defacing his image and wrapping lead around his face.

Revisionist Joan of Arc angers historians

A new book by French journalist Marcel Gay claims to prove that Joan of Arc was a French royal who did not die on the stake but was rescued by the English.

"I, Claudius" may return to the silver screen

The Guardian reports that the rights have been obtained to produce a big-screen version of Robert Graves's novel I, Claudius. The film could star Leonardo DiCaprio.

Preserving Timbuktu's precious manuscripts

Due to the climate, it's common to find ancient documents in boxes or caves, or even hidden beneath the sand of Timbuktu, but now a push is on to save many of these precious manuscripts.