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Southwest United States

Spring 2017

Ends of eras

Yes, Mesa Verde is the richest archaeological preserve in America. A sanctuary of cliff dwellings. Petroglyphs. Thousands of sites holding clues to an ancient civilization. But is it too much to ask for better cell phone reception?

For two days, my wife and I meandered around the park and its environs, climbing with other tourists among the 40 rooms of Balcony House, visiting dozens of kivas—rooms for religious rituals—and walking among striped pieces of broken pottery, or “sherds,” that litter the place. But it wasn’t until we retreated to the park’s Spartan lodgings, also called kivas, that we could tap the wi-fi and fill our … » More …

Prehistoric rock art depicting Nabataen trading caravan—eighteenth century B.C.E. Photo Avi Horovitz
Spring 2015

Gentle commerce

From humankind’s long history of violence, two chapters have come under the scrutiny of Washington State University researchers that point the way to a more peaceful world.

Tim Kohler, who has spent four decades pondering the people of the ancient southwestern United States, saw violence drop in one sector of the region as its people took up a sort of “peaceful commerce” with other groups. And Jutta Tobias ’06 MS, ’08 PhD, after helping Rwandan coffee farmers use computers to broaden their customer base, found they eventually came to think more charitably about people with whom they had been in conflict during the brutal ethnic … » More …

After Artest
Winter 2014

New & Noteworthy for Winter 2014

After Artest: The NBA and the Assault on Blackness by David J. Leonard  SUNY Press, 2012 :: After a brawl at a Pistons-Pacers game in 2004, the NBA adopted policies to govern black players and prevent them from embracing styles and personas associated with blackness. This book by Leonard, associate professor of critical culture, gender, and race studies at Washington State University, discloses connections between the NBA’s discourse and the broader discourse of anti-black racism.

Emergence and Collapse of Early Villages Timothy A. Kohler (editor), Mark D. Varien (editor)  University of California Press, 2012 :: This book examines how climate change, population size, interpersonal conflict, … » More …

Winter 2009

Video: Ancient DNA – bringing the past to life

Taking archeology a step beyond traditional pottery shards, Brian Kemp analyzes ancient DNA (aDNA) from bones, teeth, and desiccated feces (coprolites) to help bring prehistoric Native American cultures alive in ways never before possible. As a molecular anthropologist, Kemp compares archeological findings with genetic information to detect past demographic shifts, population interactions, and movements throughout the Americas.

By plotting aDNA together with artifacts in the ground, specific tribes in the Southwest can be seen to virtually travel across the high desert through the eons. The picture Kemp paints seems so real that one can almost hear the hunter-gatherer songs and shouts drifting in the air.

» More …