The dramatic origins of ancient Egypt

Abydos cemetery

As well as the awesome temples, tombs and treasure that ancient Egypt has left to us, this civilisation has another claim to fame. It was the world's first territorial nation, and it set the template for countries of today. Now a carbon dating … [Continue reading]

A longevity hotspot in Costa Rica

Nicoya fishing

The isolated Nicoya peninsula in northwest Costa Rica is one of my favourite places in the world – where rainforests populated by parrots, monkeys and armadillos meet golden beaches decorated with shells and coconuts. Perhaps its beauty is rubbing … [Continue reading]

Tales of baking and cosmic lovers


I was exhausted when I woke up this morning (thanks to a teething nine-month-old) but then I saw this, and felt ready to embrace the day. It’s a free e-book called Glossodahlia. On its pages, strange and wonderful plants blossom from battered, retro … [Continue reading]

“The people’s will”: Yehia Gad on Morsi’s fall

Tahrir Sq

Last night, after days of anti-government protest, Egypt's army ousted the country's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, with the apparent blessing of the people. To me, the events seemed hard to understand. After fighting so hard … [Continue reading]

The discovery of tomb KV64

KV64 coffin

"We started cleaning around the shaft mouth of tomb KV40," Egyptologist Susanne Bickel told a rapt audience at the Ancient World conference in London yesterday. "And then we fell into something new." That "something new" turned out to be the first … [Continue reading]

A long-lost piece of King Tut

mummy samples

King Tutankhamun is famously the only Egyptian pharaoh who still occupies his original tomb in the Valley of the Kings, and since 2007 his mummy has been proudly displayed in a smart, glass case. What’s less well known, however, is that this isn’t … [Continue reading]

Egypt’s oldest iron relic made from meteorite

To see a meteorite land would be pretty astonishing today (if anyone out there has, I’d love to hear about it) but imagine the effect it must have had on people living thousands of years ago. So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised at a study … [Continue reading]

A risk analyst’s approach to birth

balance scales

Earlier this week I wrote a blog post for the Guardian, explaining why I chose to give birth to my second child at home under independent care. I had been accused - as women who give birth at home often are - of endangering my baby's life for my own … [Continue reading]

How I write about science


To accompany its 2013 science writing awards, the Wellcome Trust is running a series of Q&As on science writing. My contribution is posted today, on the Wellcome Trust website and on the Guardian science blog. I get asked to discuss “how to … [Continue reading]

Mummies and the Paleo Diet

Peru mummy

I love studies on mummies for the intimate details they give into people's lives thousands of years ago - from the healing tattoos sported by ancient Peruvians, to the Tyrolean Iceman's last meal (venison) to the fact that ancient Egyptian high … [Continue reading]