Tag Archives: Archaeology

Vikings menace a huge LEGO display of Anglo Saxon Britain

Brick To The Past is a collective of British builders who specialize in large-scale historical dioramas in LEGO. We’ve covered some of their previous masterpieces, including a huge Roman camp and section of Hadrian’s Wall, and their recreation of the streets of Victorian London. We recently interviewed leading member James Pegrum about BttP’s impressive Battle of Hastings display. As if that wasn’t enough for 2016, the gang’s latest effort is this enormous diorama depicting a section of Anglo Saxon Britain in 793AD.

England 793

As you’d expect from such a large model, there are numerous areas worthy of your attention. An obvious highlight is the monastery under attack by Viking raiders…

The Holy Island

Click here for closeups of this incredible diorama

Through the Siq to the hidden Nabatean city of Petra

As I wrote in introducing ArzLan’s LEGO Petra, I spent the summer of 1994 on an archaeological dig in Jordan, and visited Petra for one memorable weekend. Both Petra and Jordan as a whole remain one of the highlights of my life. Letranger Absurde has built a lovely microscale version of Al-Khazneh, the “Treasury” (actually an empty tomb), that greets each visitor to Petra as they emerge from the winding gorge called the Siq.


My one critique of this excellent LEGO model is that the sandstone geology of Petra is nearly as spectacular as the many structures carved into the rock face. Although building a detailed tomb using varying shades of tan and red might not have been achievable, plain brown LEGO for the surrounding rocks seems like a lost opportunity.

Al-Khazneh is, of course best known as the entrance to the fictional, trap-filled obstacle course leading to the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The facade is the most spectacular thing about the tomb — the interior is just an empty square chamber, though the acoustics are great for singing.

Want an Egyptian mummy of your own? Build it from LEGO!

We’ve come to appreciate the amazing brick-built animals created by AnActionfigure — each one has seemed more life-like than the last. But life would not be life without death, and so I was quite pleased to see the builder’s take on an Egyptian mummy. I’ve seen a number of mummies, not least of which the great Ramses II himself in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and AnActionFigure has captured the look of a mummy wonderfully, from desiccated flesh and exposed bone to the linen wrappings.

Egyptian Mummy

If that’s not creepy enough, the mummy’s eyes open and close with a switch at the back of its neck.

Egyptian Mummy Egyptian Mummy

Can you dig it?

We’ve see plenty of LEGO mosaics before, but this one has a twist. James Pegrum used LEGO to capture the archaeological discovery of a Roman floor mosaic. This is a teaser for a Romano-Celtic themed collaboration by British building collective Bricks to the Past, due to be unveiled at STEAM next month. Can’t wait to see what other gems are unearthed when the full display is revealed!

Paleolithic cat food

Built for the MOC Olympics contest in a round focused on human evolution, Deus Otiosus created this scene depicting one of our forebears about to become a cat’s lunch. The sculpture and posing of both characters is perfect. And as an added bonus, you can even enjoy this build from all angles thanks to a handy spinning animated version.

LEGO Colosseum epic enough for a visit from the LEGO Pope

The archaeological purist in me had initially passed this up because it’s white (versus the tan-hued limestone and weathered brick of the real thing), but the Internet has convinced me that this LEGO Colosseum by Ryan McNaught — whose equally epic Saturn V rocket we highlighted earlier this year — is too epic to ignore.

LEGO Colosseum

Ryan’s Colosseum is split into modern and ancient halves, with a ruined structure on the left and a shiny new amphitheatre populated by entertained Romans on the right.

His scene is completed by a LEGO version of the nearby Arch of Constantine:

LEGO Constantines arch

Check out lots of photos (many with great little scenes of daily life in modern and ancient Rome) in Ryan’s photoset on Flickr.

Turkey’s Göbekli Tepe in LEGO

It’s not often that a diorama completely defies my expectations. When I saw this brown, tan, and gray scene by Gabriel Thomson (qi_tah), I dutifully clicked through expecting something post-apocalyptic. Instead, I found something far, far more interesting — the monumental architecture of Göbekli Tepe, a Neolithic archaeological site in Turkey from 11,000 years ago that predates agriculture.

Gobekli Tepe 3

Gabriel has faithfully recreated details like the stone walls between the standing stones and even the “bench” that encircles the structure. I also love that it’s a mid-process excavation he’s chosen to illustrate in LEGO, complete with a grad student (my assumption) documenting each strata with a camera as it emerges from the dusty earth.

Petra’s Al Khazneh in LEGO

One of my dearest memories of the summer in 1994 that I spent working on an archaeological dig in Jordan was a weekend trip to Petra. We arrived from Amman late in the evening, but several of my fellow archaeology students couldn’t wait until morning to see the amazing structures carved from the sandstone 2000 years ago, so we snuck across wadi after wadi, avoiding the main paths. Once past the guard posts, we walked through the narrow gorge known as al-Siq — pitch black at night — until the passage opened in front of us to reveal Al Kazhneh, lit only by starlight.

ArzLan built his LEGO version of the Treasury for the Hong Kong Animation Festival, and features Indiana Jones in his Last Crusade visit to this UNESCO Heritage site.

Al Khazneh

The Anglo-Saxon pit-house was a big step backward from the Roman villa

I just finished reading Peter Heather’s excellent The Fall of the Roman Empire: A New History of Rome and the Barbarians. After my visit to Room 49 in the British Museum a couple summers ago, I wrote in my Moleskine “Post-Roman Britain=Post-Apoc.”

So, does this diorama by Harry Russell (Karrde) featuring an Anglo-Saxon pit-house fall under ApocaLEGO?

LEGO Anglo-Saxon Pit-House

Nah. But I’ll use any excuse to blog an archaeologically inclined LEGO model.

(Hat-tip to Legobloggen for helping me to catch up after a busy, busy month.)

Excavation by Barbara Werth

I’m a sucker for archaeologically themed LEGO. As Bruce says, Barbara Werth gets credit for being the first to incorporate the new skeleton horse into a LEGO vignette.