Focus on Archaeology

The Great Wall. There’s little doubt that it is China’s most famous sight. Stretching almost four thousand miles across China, it meanders snake-like over mountains and valleys and over vast steppes and arid deserts. Some sections of the wall are in ruins; others are barely visible, all but obliterated by time. Still other sections have been restored.

There is more than one Great Wall, built over a period of almost 2,000 years. The earliest parts were constructed between 453 and 221 B...

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Malaysia Airlines’ ad sounded almost too good to be true: $999 would take us halfway around the world to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s cosmopolitan capital. To that we could add as many (or as few) as we wanted of the dozens of destinations Malaysia Airlines flies to in the Far East. We’d be using Kuala Lumpur as our hub for the Far Eastern destinations, but it would not cost us a penny more to add to our travel agenda, if we chose, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Yangon, Hanoi, Manila. . .

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by Julie Skurdenis

I first made the acquaintance of Erik the Red in the fourth grade. I was intrigued by this 10th-century Viking who left the country of his birth (Norway), settled in another (Iceland), then was exiled and resettled in yet a third country (Greenland).

Of course, as nine-year-olds in a far gentler time — or so it seems many years down the line — we were not told that Erik the Red was not the most savory of characters, that he was exiled from Iceland for murder...

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By Julie Skurdenis, second of two parts (jump to part 1)

In January’s ITN, Julie explored remnants of Chinggis Khan’s empire.

Naadam Festival

The Naadam is Mongolia’s biggest holiday of the year. Held on July 11, 12 and 13, on the anniversary of the 1921 revolution when the Mongolians ousted the Chinese, Naadam originated in Chinggis Khan’s time when Mongolian warriors competed in three “manly” sports: wrestling, archery and horse racing. They still compete, although,...

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by Julie Skurdenis, part one of two

By all accounts, Genghis Khan was not a nice guy. Nice guys finish last, and Genghis Khan was determined not to be at the back of the pack. In the late 1100s and early 1200s, this Mongol warrior carved out a vast empire that stretched from Beijing to the Caucasus Mountains in Western Asia. His capital was in Karakorum in central Mongolia, 240 miles southwest of Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia’s present capital.

With my husband, I traveled halfway ’...

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Neris River and the Pajauta Valley with Hearth Mound in the foreground.
Kernave in Lithuania — royal mounds and excavated artifacts

by Julie Skurdenis

I am standing atop Bulethi Pagoda in Bagan, Burma’s most important archaeological site. I’ve huffed and puffed up a steep staircase to the uppermost platform encircling the structure. The platform is narrow — only three feet wide — and I lean back against the stone to steady myself as I gaze out over the plain far below me.

No exaggeration — I am surrounded by an archaeological sea of stone temples and pagodas, literally hundreds of them dotting the eastern...

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