Archaeology – January/February 2009

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the most perfect town in the world

ON THE COVER . . . MAYA MAKEOVERModified noses, reshaped breasts, tummy tucks - our $13.2 billion-a-year cosmetic enhancement industry reflects an abnormal concern with youthful beauty. But we're not the first people so obsessed. The ancient Maya also went to extreme lengths - teeth filing, forehead flattening, body painting - in an effort to achieve physical perfection. What did they expect to see when they looked into their pyrite mirrors? Pg. 36.

TOP 10 DISCOVERIES OF 2008Archaeology selects the most exciting stories of the year, from colossal Roman statues, to Paleo-Indian poop, to a Peruvian masked mummy. This special section also includes a listing of the world's most endangered archaeological sites. Pg. 20.

WITNESS TO GENOCIDEIn the middle of a war zone, forensic archaeologists uncovered a secret massacre of Kurdish women and children, and in doing so helped convict Saddam Hussein of crimes against humanity. Pg. 28.

UTOPIA DERAILEDArchaeologists excavated the remains of George Pullman's "beautiful and harmonious" model community, the 19th-century railcar magnate's vision of a working-class paradise. Dubbed "the most perfect town in the world" by the London Times, the community's residential sections were ordered sold off following the 1894 nationwide railroad strike, putting an end to Pullman's utopian dream town in what is today Chicago's far South Side. Pg. 46.

SWEPT AWAYThe tempestuous North Sea pounds England's eastern coast, sometimes taking large bites from it. A case in point is the disappearance of the medieval trade center of Dunwich, which now lies buried in sediment off the coast. Nautical archaeologists have recently identified the remains of a number of the town's churches, gobbled up by the unrelenting surf. Pg. 43.

FAMILY HISTORYArchaeologists and an Italian CSI unit investigating human remains found in an undisturbed third-century a.d. tomb are piecing together the personal story of a wealthy suburban family, and a broader story about the ancient Roman countryside. Pg. 50.

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Shelley Kapitulik
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