Anthropology / Everything Human

The Problem With Heritage

Column / The Dirt

  • The Dirt

    Cultural heritage - In 2012, Islamic extremists severely damaged nine historic mausoleums in Timbuktu, Mali. Local masons, like the man shown here, rallied to rebuild them before they were further degraded by exposure to the elements.

    The Problem With Heritage

    From Palmyra in Syria to Timbuktu in Mali, a wave of destruction has erased monuments to humanity’s past. Does their loss really matter?

  • The Dirt

    The “domestication” of water has been central to the development of agriculture.

    Domesticating Water

    For thousands of years, humans have worked to control water. But how will the looming water crisis change our trajectory?

  • The Dirt

    Lucas van Valckenborch painted a cold winter landscape set near Antwerp, Belgium, in 1575. Europe was then in the midst of the Little Ice Age.

    Cold Enough for Ya?

    Every winter, on either the first or second cold snap, I hear the question “Cold enough for ya?” as I get on the bus, exit the Metro, or eavesdrop on colleagues’ conversations. We hear these words often and smile or join in the complaint. Weather is inherently used to initiate a conversation, resuscitate a stalled one, or to serve as a point of shared misery. But in archaeology, …

  • The Dirt

    Past Imperfect

    Let’s start with some old dirt. Who were the first people to arrive in North America more than 12,000 years ago? Did these intrepid explorers originate in Siberia and cross the frozen straits of Beringia? Or were they mariners who bravely struck out into the Pacific, heading east into the blue unknown? Who were the people to first call North America home? For more than a century, archaeologists …