The Story I Never Wrote

Last year, I abandoned a story. It happens, journalists don’t write every story they think they might. But this one I still think about. It started innocuously enough. A paper caught my eye about looting and archaeology. The premise was somewhat counterintuitive: the author argued that in places where the economic situation was particularly dire, […]

All the Other Franklins

  “What happened to Franklin is, in its way, a trivial question. He had a wooden ship in the Arctic and no idea what he was doing – what do you mean, what happened to him? But we still ask why. “ – Adam Gopnik, Winter (2011) As of a week ago, we have an […]

Redux: What to Wear on an Ice-Age Sea Voyage?

  If you were one of the 14 (a made-up number) people who read this back when LWON was publishing wonderful posts but was otherwise just a baby staggering around on inept little feet, we apologize for repeating ourselves.  Anyway, you probably weren’t.  One of the 14. Several superb posts on one of my favorite […]

Redux: Survivor Woman

Heather posted this on July 16, 2010, a time when we had probably 13 readers so apologies to all 13. She’s referring to a post Ann wrote about being dead wrong about some science. She also testifies to the physically horrifying life of an archeology writer. Yesterday, my colleague Ann Finkbeiner fessed up to one […]

Secret Satans: Archaeology

“Is it the mummies?” Tom asked. When I confessed my fear of archaeology to the LWON crew, Thomas Hayden immediately blamed the undead. Or long dead. Which was quite reasonable, really. But I’m a lapsed biologist; I like decay. I like a lot of other things about archaeology, too. I like its stories about people […]

Redux: Let Sleeping Neanderthals Lie

This post was originally posted on 8/12/2010, so probably not everybody’s already read it and it’s  really nice.   I (Ann speaking) love Heather’s first story here, and I love her second one.  I love the idea of people saying, “Come warm yourself by our fire.” Last summer, while roaming around Ecuador on a magazine […]

The Oracle and the Monkey

For nearly five decades, a scientific loner guarded a great labyrinth of lines on the desert floor near the small Peruvian town of Nazca. Day after day, until she was too elderly and too ill for such solitary work, Maria Reiche set out into the barren vastness with camera, compass, and papers, mapping thousands of […]

Skeletons in the Closet

I shouldn’t say this. In fact, as someone who covers the field of archaeology for a living, I probably shouldn’t even be thinking this. But I find myself wondering increasingly whether it’s time for some dirt archaeologists to relinquish one of their great pleasures, namely the beloved rite of summer:  field season. I say this […]