Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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from the trenches
Editors' Picks: Books Volume 62 Number 1, March/April 2009

Three new books about North American cities take advantage of archaeology's power to uncover stories that are often ignored in written records. Studying the objects that people used in their day-to-day lives sometimes reveals intimate histories that might otherwise have remained hidden beneath the concrete of familiar places.

Victoria Underfoot: Excavating a City's Secrets
Edited by Brenda Clark, Nicole Kilburn, and Nick Russell Harbour Publishing, $24.95
Beginning with an elegant array of carved bone harpoon points and flint tools made as early as 3,000 years ago, the book traces the history of Victoria, British Columbia, into the 20th century, exploring a leper colony, the grounds of a mansion, and secret passageways that still exist under the city's sidewalks.

Digging in the City of Brotherly Love: Stories from Philadelphia Archaeology
By Rebecca Yamin Yale University Press, $35.00
Yamin uses archaeology to take readers into the lives of minor historical figures who had big cultural and political impacts on the history of Philadelphia and the United States. Her work includes a look under the surface of Independence Mall, where she helped excavate parts of an estate that housed George Washington and some of his slaves.

Denver: An Archaeological History
By Sarah M. Nelson et al. University Press of Colorado, $29.95
Archaeology shows that Denver was a crossroads of migrating people and goods for everyone from Paleolithic hunters 10,000 years ago, to cowboys of the Wild West. Its downtown still holds the remains of buildings that changed along with the city, such as the frequently renovated Tremont Hotel--Denver's best saloon and restaurant during the 19th century.