Travellers in Time

1024px-Calvert_Island,_BC,_shore

Daryl Fedje was feeling his age, kneeling in a waterlogged pit, trowel in hand, mud everywhere, water pooling a dirty brown in the low spots. It was a cold, gray April morning on the central British Columbia coast, with rain lashing the overhead tarp, and Fedje, an archaeologist at the Hakai Institute and the University of Victoria, and one of Canada’s leading researchers on the early human history of the Americas, was dueling with doubt. Still lanky at 62, with gray hair curling out from his ball cap, he wondered yet again if he was wasting time and hard-to-find money chasing a figment of his imagination. Read More

Photo of Calvert Island, B.C. courtesy of A. Davey and Wikimedia Commons. 

On the Run in Brazil

1024px-Yanomami_Woman_&_Child

In a spacious, art-filled apartment in Brasília, 75-year-old Sydney Possuelo takes a seat near a large portrait of his younger self. On the canvas, Possuelo stares with calm assurance from the stern of an Amazon riverboat, every bit the famous sertanista, or Amazon frontiersman, that he once was. But on this late February morning, that confidence is nowhere to be seen. Possuelo, now sporting a beard neatly trimmed for city life, seethes with anger over the dangers now threatening the Amazon’s isolated tribespeople. “These are the last few groups of humans who are really free,” he says. “But we will kill them.” Read more

Photo courtesy Cmacauley and Wikimedia Commons

Unplundered

Man's_Tunic_LACMA_70.3.1

In the late afternoon light along the Peruvian coast, local workmen gather as archaeologists Miłosz Giersz and Roberto Pimentel Nita open a row of small sealed chambers near the entrance of an ancient tomb. Concealed for more than a thousand years under a layer of heavy adobe brick, the mini-chambers hold large ceramic jars, some bearing painted lizards, others displaying grinning human faces. As Giersz pries loose the brick from the final compartment, he grimaces. “It smells awful down here,” he splutters. He peers warily into a large undecorated pot. It’s full of decayed puparia, traces of flies once drawn to the pot’s contents. Read more

Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and of Wikimedia Commons

Kickstarting a Human Revolution

Pinnacle_Point_Archaeological_Site,_Mossel_Bay_South_Africa

Some 110,000 years ago, foragers picked their way across a rocky shore in what is now South Africa, winding between tidal pools and beds of slick, glistening rock. For weeks, the small band had relished the thought of the day’s harvest and the feast to follow. Watching each night as the moon waxed in the sky, they had trekked to this shoreline, taking shelter in an old sea cave on the headland. This morning, as the full moon vanished below the horizon and the waves retreated, they walked out on a rocky realm littered with shellfish.  Read more

Photo by Andrew Hall