Petri Dish of History

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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…]

Legacy Building

Making ice cream with Pa

Making ice cream with Pa

I was lucky enough to have all four grandparents deep into adulthood. Each brought something different to the mix that is now me. From Grampie I learned generosity. As a young man back in the early 1930s, he made some money on the stock market. Before investing into what would become his future company, he decided to tithe 10% to a missions project in China. Through the years, Grampie always credited his success to writing that first $2,000 check – even though it hurt. For the rest of his life he gave and gave and gave. And God gave more.

I learned adventure from Gramsie. She loved to travel. Grampie did not so he sent his grandkids instead. Being the eldest granddaughter, I got to go a lot. There was the Grand Tour of Europe at age 16, and China at 23. But my favorite was the year I turned 20 and fell in love with the Holy Land. For me there was a story around every corner: [Read more…]

The Genius of Two

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With Susy Flory (R) on the Mount of Olives with the golden Dome of the Rock in the background, built on the exact spot where King Solomon’s Temple once stood.

History is full of creative duos. Some spurred each other on through competition – others through unity and collaboration. Joshua Wolf Shenk’s “Powers of Two” (Aug 2014) highlights the collaborative process through many notable dyads: Lennon and McCartney, Jobs and Wozniak, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, Wilbur and Orville Wright, Matisse and Picasso.

Many others come to mind: Woodward and Bernstein, Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder, even Rocky and Bullwinkle. The list goes on. But one team most people have never heard of is the artistic pairing of Bezalel and Oholiab. Funny names? That’s because they lived 3300 years ago in the south Sinai Desert. They were tasked with the construction of the Tabernacle – the mobile predecessor of King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. The Book of Exodus sets the creative pair in historic context:

[Read more…]

What is History?

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Bull sculpture at the ancient ruins of Ephesus

A college professor once told a story of a student who turned in his essay exam within minutes of it being administered. Of course everyone present, including the professor, thought the kid was just being a smart aleck. Turns out he got an A. Why? Because he nailed the essence of history in five simple words:

“History is because History was.”

And so it is.