Thursday, November 10, 2005

Innovators of Our Time in Smithsonian Magazine

There's a terrific article in the November '05 Smithsonian Magazine. They are marking Smithsonian Magazine' s 35th anniversary by revisiting scientists, artists and scholars who have enriched the magazine's and our lives. The good news is that there are a couple of archaeologists profiled:

1)Richard Leakey, now 61, son of Mary and Louis, the wonderful paleoanthropologists who put the Rift Valley on the map when it came to early hominids. His finds in Kenya, and now his working for world health, make a fascinating story. The quote from Leakey that appeals to those of us who teach the young about early humans: "I'm still keenly interested in what makes us human," he says. "I'd like to know when and how humans first left Africa and what events -- cultural and physiological -- made us into modern humans." I'd like to know that too!

2)Mark Lehner. Lehner has probably done more than anybody to advance our understanding of the ordinary Egyptian who built the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx at Giza. His focus has been to look at the creation of centralized states in the 3rd millennium BC of which the pyramids and the Sphinx are the most dramatic manifestation. He has opened a window onto the daily lives of the people who built the pyramids. Possibly most ingtriguing is that the pyramids were not built by slaves. The people who built the pyramids were probably a few thousand highly skilled and well-compensated full-time craftsmen and a cast of manual laborers. And all of them were well-fed.

It's one issue of Smithsonian Magazine worth saving for your library! (Other profiles include Bill Gates, Sally Ride, Gordon Parks, David Attenborough, James Watson and Andy Goldsworthy). Don't know some of these folks? Get the magazine!

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