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Editor's Letter: Connecting with the Past

I am frequently cautioned about reading too much of a personal nature into the artifacts and discoveries that are part of the daily conversation here at the magazine. Nonetheless, this particular issue of Archaeology has much to recommend it in terms of the story it tells of humankind's reach, and what one might think of as our species' volition, or will, and the various ways in which it plays out.

One story, "New Evidence for Man's Earliest Migrations," by senior editor Zach Zorich, examines evidence, found at a site called Jebel Faya in the United Arab Emirates, that may indicate that groups of Homo sapiens (that would be us) made their way out of Africa, and across the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula as early as 125,000 years ago. And "Diving Ice Age Mexico," by Christina Elson, takes us forward to about 13,500 years ago to "Naharon Woman," found by cave divers in a cenote, or water-filled cavern, in the Yucatan. She may offer some clue as to when people arrived in the Americas, and where they came from.

From a somewhat later period, we have "The Origins of American Medicine," by archaeologist Rachel K. Wentz, who uses her background as a former paramedic to study the remains and healing practices of 168 individuals buried in a mortuary pond, dating to as early as 9,000 years ago.

From the realm of more recent cultures, deputy editor Samir S. Patel traveled back to his family's Indian state of Gugarat and filed "India's Underground Water Temples," a wonderful look at an under-explored, rich aspect of medieval India's ceremonial and daily life. The photos are his, too.

"The Sacred Landscape of Ancient Ireland," by Ronald Hicks, takes us to the Iron Age royal sites of pre-Christian Ireland, which can only be fully understood through the lens of Old Irish manuscripts.

And a rare archaeological experience comes to us via "North Korea's Full Moon Tower," by Seoul-based journalist Hyung-eun Kim. The architecturally-unique, tenth century site, called Manwoldae, located in modern-day Kaesong, is being dug by a joint team of North and South Korean archaeologists—that being a story in itself.

One of the central experiences of being human, which some might say is a misdirected aspect of our will, is that of war. "Archaeology of World War II," provides a comprehensive look at the world's most extensive conflict. Here we encounter the unexpected ways archaeology is reconstructing not only the physical artifacts of war, but also the human stories that are so much a part of it.

Claudia Valentino
Claudia Valentino
Editor in Chief

Features

Archaeology of World War II
New research reveals the true extent and impact of the world's greatest conflict

India's Underground Water Temples
Stepwells are spiritual monuments to water and stark reminders of its increasing scarcity
by Samir S. Patel

The Sacred Landscape of Ancient Ireland
Excavations and rare manuscripts reveal much about early Ireland's cosmology and its people's deep connection to the land
by Ronald Hicks

Diving Ice Age Mexico
Clues about the earliest Americans emerge from the Yucatán's watery underworld
By Christina Elson

North Korea's Full Moon Tower
A joint project between the two Koreas searches for shared history
by Hyung-eun Kim

Departments

From the President
Your Voice Matters
by Elizabeth Bartman

From the Trenches
Out of Africa and into Arabia, rebuilt Spanish cathedral, and Peru's mummy bundles

Reviews
Through a book and exhibition, new chances to revisit Pompeii and Herculaneum

World Roundup
World's oldest winery, digging up secrets at 007's home office, pet foxes, the inspiration for Moby Dick, rolling the dice at Mohenjo-Daro, and Zeus unclothed

Conversation
Modern artist Duke Riley discusses using archaeology to reimagine obscure episodes in American history

Letter from Florida
A paramedic-turned-archaeologist dredges up evidence of the origins of medicine in the Americas

Artifact
An artificial toe from ancient Egypt is the world's first medical prosthetic

March/April 2011 | July/August 2011

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