Great Reads for a Dime

I got six issues of Archaeology magazine for a dime each, and I must say I’ve been thinking about subscribing. Whenever I see an article in the paper about an archaeological discovery I have to read the whole thing. I’ve always been fascinated by early humans and how they developed the knowledge and skills that created the modern world.

And archaeology is such a new science, with technigues and methodology established very recently, in the mid-twentieth century. There is so much more to learn.

Thumbing through these issues, I found out all about the hoax of Jesus’ brother’s coffin, and lots of other interesting information. I was happy to find out that Kennewick Man, a 9,300-year-old skeleton discovered in Washington State, is not going to be reburied — I didn’t see that in the news.

A group of archaeologists filed a brief in the interests of science, and the court rightly found that there was no cultural connection between the remains of Kennewich Man and any of the tribes seeking reburial. His skull was described by a modern forensics expert as “caucasoid.”

Where is Caucasia, anyway?

Turns out Kennewick Man’s closest living relatives are the Ainu, a tribe of aborigines in Japan, who share his caucasoid features. Ironically or not, they now live on a reservation.

In the May/June 2003 issue I ran into my friend Garrett Fagan of Penn State. I have listened to his 24 brilliant half-hour lectures on Roman history twice, so I consider him an old buddy. He writes about why ‘pseudo-archaeology’ on television is so much more fun to watch than archaeology. Archaeologists are so cautious and respectful of the facts…

Nowhere is pseudo archaeology more in evidence than at Stonehenge at the solstice. I’m not an expert here, but I think it’s pretty obvious that the people who built Stonehenge had no cultural connection with the Celts, who came much later, or with Druidic religion.

The magazine had a pithy comment from an unnamed archaeologist about modern solstice celebrations:

“I have no problem if someone wants to worship fire hydrants if they feel the need, but I do get annoyed when visiting stone circles where fires have been lit. In some places the soil cover over the archaeology is only a few centimeters thick, so fires can damage the underlying deposits.”