About 400 years ago, a throng of dusty workmen laid down their shovels and huddled around an ancient painted wall—a fresco, technically—unearthed in a tunnel near Italy’s Bay of Naples. The men were at work on a massive construction project, burrowing through a hill to build a canal for a local armament factory and mill. No one expected to find fine art. But as the workmen dug deeper into the hill, they encountered wonder upon wonder—house walls painted blood red and sunflower yellow, fragments of carved inscriptions, pieces of Roman statues. Read more at Hakai magazine
Around 1923 or perhaps a little earlier, one of the Yup’ik inhabitants of remote St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea decided to sell this fine ceremonial parka to Arnold Liebes, a furrier from a prominent California family. The Liebes owned a string of Arctic trading posts, as well as an elegant department store near Union Square in San Francisco: Arnold Liebes knew all about high-end fashion and style. So on one of his trips to northern Alaska, he purchased this classic Yup’ik parka fashioned from bleached walrus intestine and ornamented with plumes and orange beak parts from crested auklets. Read more at Hakai magazine.
Photo courtesy Hiart and Wikimedia commons.
On a cloudy afternoon in January 1779, British explorer Captain James Cook watched as the Hawaiian chief Kalaniʻopuʻu and his attendants arrived in outrigger canoes for a formal meeting at Kealakekua Bay. The chief, a man in his late 40s or early 50s, was dressed for the occasion in a spectacular cloak made of tiny scarlet- and saffron-colored bird feathers, a garment so soft and sumptuous that it seemed to be made of velvet. As Cook walked ashore to pay his respects, Kalaniʻopuʻu gracefully tossed the rich cloak over the explorer’s shoulders as a present. Then he placed a feather helmet on Cook’s head, and laid “5 or 6 other cloaks, all exceedingly beautiful,” at Cook’s feet, as one of the British officers later noted in a journal entry. More
Photo: courtesy Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum and Wikimedia commons.
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.