De-cyphering

Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone – photo by Hans Hillewaert/Wikimedia

Growing up in the 1960s, I remember a lot of cool promotional giveaways for kids. There was the toy tanker truck and red fire engine that Texaco gas stations gave out with so many gallons of gas purchased. There was the prize hidden inside every box of Cracker Jacks and Oscar Meyer’s famous wiener whistles. But my all-time favorite was the secret decoder that came with each new pair of PF Flyers – the shoes that made you jump higher and run faster. That little plastic gadget fascinated me. It was five toys in one: a sundial, a magic whistle, a message flasher and decoder dial, all with a special hidden chamber inside. It was the ultimate purveyor of secrets. [Read more…]

Petri Dish of History

Skeletons_close

13th century skeletons holding hands … photo from University of Leicester

Archaeology acts as a microscope to history. It seeks answers from the past to inform the future. Big questions like where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? And smaller fare like why did this royal have a hole in his skull? As a science, Archaeology reaches around the world for those answers. Digs are everywhere: a tel in northern Israel, an underwater city off the coast of Greece, a cave in southwestern France, a temple in Peru, a gorge in China. The answers come slowly – painstakingly so – one five-foot by five-foot dirt Petri dish at a time.

Take the skeleton couple that was just found in Leicestershire England. An archaeology team from the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) discovered them near the small town of Hallatan. (They also found the remains of Richard III in 2012 just 20 miles to the east under a car park.) The entire dig site is fascinating. The standout factor for me, however, is that the two have been holding hands for the past 700 years. [Read more…]