Recent Archaeomags

i-0430eaa400ffe85b481441fe47405316-asw_23_3-cover.1.jpgThe non-profit Center for Desert Archaeology is located in Tucson, Arizona and publishes a fine magazine, Archaeology Southwest. These generous people contacted me one day out of the blue and offered me a complimentary subscription. On Monday issue 23:3 (summer ’09) reached my mail box on snowy Boat Hill, and I was soon enticed to read it from one end to the other thanks to its fine graphic design, its lovely photographs and its exotic theme. I learned a lot!

Archaeology Southwest 23:3 is dedicated to Paleoindian archaeology in Arizona, New Mexico and the Mexican state of Sonora. The Paleoindian is the first phase of human settlement in the Americas, lasting for a few thousand years up to 8000 cal BC. Most of the articles cover sites of the Clovis and Folsom, the first two uncontested archaeological cultures in the area, both dating to the 11th Millennium cal BC.

This field of research has recently received a huge boost of an unusual kind. Affluent retirees Joe and Ruth Cramer are particularly interested in the peopling of the area, and they felt research wasn’t advancing fast enough. So they decided to do something about it. Starting in the early 90s, they’ve endowed five dedicated Paleoindian research centres at various universities. And of course the field has taken off at unprecedented speed. Funny how the offer of a salary will motivate an archaeologist. And I look forward to the next issue of Archaeology Southwest.

Staying among the US mags, I have also received the Jan/Feb issue of Archaeology magazine. I was particularly interested in feature pieces on the Stone Age of India (how I would love to work there one day!) and on the first Minoan ship wreck found so far, off the coast of Crete (only its cargo of amphorae remained).

The magazine’s copy-editors may want to pay some extra attention to headline grammar though. On p. 17, a full-page ad is proudly headed “King James would loveth this new study Bible!” (italics in the original). Argle. On p. 27 is a quatrain by Omar Khayyam headed “Rubaiyat”, which is actually the plural of ruba’i, “quatrain”. It’s like printing one of Shakespeare’s sonnets under the heading “Sonnets”. It bothered me, and I don’t even know Arabic nor Persian.

Meanwhile, the UK’s best selling archaeology magazine, Current Archaeology, stays true to its fine form with issue #239 for February. I especially liked the long feature piece on Lanton Quarry for its fieldwork-centric, site-centric perspective. It’s a lively presentation of the various activity phases documented during a salvage dig for a quarry, natch.

I was also very intrigued by the story of a large precious-metal hoard salvaged by divers from the bed of the River Wear at Prebends Bridge in Durham. Among other fine things, it includes an inscribed ceremonial silver trowel once used to lay the corner stone of an Indian church. The objects were deposited in the river for reasons unknown by Baron Ramsey, retired Archbishop of Canterbury, in the 1970s or 80s. Batty clergyman goes pagan in his dotage!

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