Focus on Archaeology

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 ’...

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...