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Editor's Letter: Our Need to Know

Our need to know who we are pushes us to discover what we've been. Some answers come to us from a variety of quarters and in a variety of ways in this issue. In "Saga of the Northwest Passage," reporter Allan Woods takes us to Mercy Bay in the high Arctic, the locus of activity surrounding the excavation of HMS Investigator. This vessel originally set out in 1850 to rescue other ships of the British Navy that were looking for the Northwest Passage. Instead, Investigator became trapped in ice and eventually sank. Now a Parks Canada underwater team is bringing her crew's heroic story back to life.

Human endeavor could be seen as operating on an equally grand scale in the engineering works of the Roman Empire. Archaeologist Rabun Taylor, in "Rome's Lost Aqueduct," writes of his team's search for the sources of the monumental Aqua Traiana far north of Rome—and offers an invaluable primer in hydraulics in "How a Roman Aqueduct Works." By contrast, artifacts of the slightest, most delicate sort are beginning to tell a tale in the Persian Gulf. As archaeologists unearth evidence of pearl diving and trade going back some 7,000 years, contributing editor Andrew Lawler's story, "The Pearl Trade," tells us that human fascination with pearls for personal ornamentation may have been the region's first economic driver—long before the age of oil.

In "Letter From Tennessee: Return to the Trail of Tears," writer Marion Blackburn brings us word of excavations in the Cherokee National Forest. There, archaeologists from two universities and the U.S. Forest Service are uncovering evidence of both the trail itself and Fort Armistead, one of the many stops along the way for the 13,000 Cherokee who were forcibly relocated out of the Appalachians in 1838. The work is instrumental in keeping evidence of this chapter in United States history from being lost forever.

And, in "New Life for the Lion Man," by executive editor Jarrett A. Lobell, we are treated to what a more than 30,000-year-old work of art would have looked like as archaeologists endeavor to restore it. We aren't ashamed to say that we fell in love with "Lion Man."

Of course there's more—from new evidence of a Viking king to the latest findings of Coronado's ignoble expedition, from new discoveries at Teotihuacan to the preservation of punk rock graffiti.

Claudia Valentino
Claudia Valentino
Editor in Chief

Features

Saga of the Northwest Passage
Discovering evidence of an ill-fated mission in the frigid waters of the Arctic
by Allan Woods

New Life for the Lion Man
Using recently uncovered fragments, archaeologists may be able to finally piece together one of the world's oldest works of art
by Jarrett A. Lobell

Rome's Lost Aqueduct
Searching for the source of one of the city's greatest engineering achievements
by Rabun Taylor

Coronado's Deadly Siege
Hundreds of metal artifacts pinpoint the possible site of a bloody battle between conquistadores and a Puebloan people
by Julian Smith

The Pearl Trade
Archaeologists excavating on the shores of the Persian Gulf search for what may prove to be the source of the world's longest-lived economy
by Andrew Lawler

Departments

From the President
Dedicated and True
by Elizabeth Bartman

From the Trenches

World Roundup
Infant remains tell how common breastfeeding was in nineteenth-century England, a luxury Swiss watchmaker is inspired by the Antikythera mechanism, where diplomats visiting Japan once dined, and drought reveals remains of space shuttle Columbia.

Letter from Tennessee
Excavations at the untouched site of a U.S. Army fort are providing a rare look at the Trail of Tears, along which thousands of Cherokee were forcibly moved to Oklahoma.

Artifact
A coin from a more than 1,000-year-old Viking hoard reveals the name of a previously unknown king.

January/February 2012 | May/June 2012

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