Focus on Archaeology

by Julie Skurdenis

Most visitors to Dublin wouldn’t automatically link the city to the Vikings. And if they did, it would be the Vikings as marauders and destroyers rather than as anything good.

The Vikings, or Norsemen, first appeared in Ireland at the end of the eighth century AD. In Dublin, they first arrived in 837, reputedly aboard 60 long ships that sailed down the Liffey River. Repulsed, they returned four years later, this time as settlers, farmers, merchants and...

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by Julie Skurdenis

This is a story about Cartagena’s Old Town, perhaps the most beautiful colonial-era city in South America. It’s located in northern Colombia on the Caribbean. Not surprisingly, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This is also a story that could be told in one word: walk. Or perhaps in a few words: walk, walk and then walk some more. Cartagena, whose full name is Cartagena de Indias, is without doubt a city that should be experienced on foot, not just its main...

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by Julie Skurdenis

Twenty-five years ago I made my first “pilgrimage” to two of Ireland’s holiest places: the Hill of Tara and Newgrange. With me was my newly adopted Chilean daughter, 4-year-old Katie. What Katie remembers from that trip are the sheep nibbling Tara’s grassy mounds and the eerie darkness of the Newgrange tomb.

It was time to update those memories, so, on a trip to Dublin in March ’09, Katie and I decided to revisit both sites.

It’s not easy to see both...

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by Julie Skurdenis (Second of two parts)

Early in our January ’09 trip to El Salvador, my husband, Paul, and I visited four of the country’s major archaeological sites: Joya de Cerén, San Andrés, Tazumal and Casa Blanca. We saved Cihuatán for last.

Cihuatán is special in many ways. It is El Salvador’s largest archaeological site, spreading over an area of more than one square mile. Excavation is currently in progress and, from everything we heard, Cihuatán is destined to become...

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by Julie Skurdenis

(First of two parts)

El Salvador, the smallest of the seven countries comprising Central America, is part of Mesoamerica, the cultural entity stretching from mid-Mexico to mid-Central America.

The earliest hunter-gatherer Mesoamericans migrated from Asia across the Bering Strait probably between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago. By the third millennium BC they had become agriculturists. From that point on, the population expanded, cities developed and...

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by Julie Skurdenis

Over the many years I’ve been traveling, I’ve visited hundreds of archaeological sites around the world, but it was only when I visited the Faroe Islands in August ’08 that the archaeological site — a thousand-year-old Viking farm — was close enough to be my neighbor.

My husband, Paul, and I had rented a house in the village of Kvivik on the island of Streymoy. Looking out the kitchen window, I could see the site. From the living room, there it was. From...

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Not many archaeological sites can claim they were founded by survivors from the Trojan War or that they were visited by Aeneas. Butrint can claim both. Butrint, located in southern Albania close to the Greek border, is the country’s best-known archaeological site. It also is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

Legend ascribes Butrint’s founding to Helenus, son of King Priam of Troy, who was a survivor of the Trojan War. In Virgil’s Aeneid, written in the first century BC, a...

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Its name means “mound of the dead,” but in its time Lothal was anything but moribund. It was a thriving seaport, part of one of the world’s oldest civilizations.

In the same way that Egyptian civilization developed along the Nile, Mesopotamian on the Tigris-Euphrates rivers and Chinese along the Yangtze, there arose a civilization in the fourth millennium BC in the Indus River Valley in the area that is now Pakistan and northwestern India. It was called the Harappan Civilization,...

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