Student helps unearth the story of a 3,000-year-old tragedy

Master’s research reveals clues into the lives of four people who perished in a fire in the late Bronze Age

Student helps unearth the story of a 3,000-year-old tragedyMore than 3,000 years ago, four people were incinerated and crushed in a blazing fire in the south central city of Azekah, Israel. Their remains were trapped in rubble until discovered by Tel Aviv University archeologists in 2012. That’s when Karl Berendt began volunteering at the excavation site as an undergraduate student at the University…

Archeology can play a powerful role for Indigenous rights

New director of U of A institute sees her mission as reimagining the relationship between archeology and Indigenous histories

Métis archeologist Dr. Kisha Supernant views her mission as nothing less than a radical reimagining of her discipline. “Archeology’s history is grounded in settler colonialism – this idea that non-Indigenous people come onto the land and interpret Indigenous history by studying their material,” says the new director of the University of Alberta’s Institute for Prairie and…

If China invades, will Taiwan be on its own?

China insists that unification with Taiwan is non-negotiable. If it can’t be achieved peacefully, it’ll be done militarily

If China invades, will Taiwan be on its own?Taiwan – an island off the southern coast of China – is home to over 23 million people. It’s also a prosperous democracy, albeit one that’s become something of a diplomatic outcast. The island came into China’s political orbit during the 17th century and was formally annexed in 1683. The origins of the major Chinese…

Snake jaw structure yields new understanding of evolutionary origins

Study re-examining what early snakes might have looked like

Snake jaw structure yields new understanding of evolutionary originsNew research led by a University of Alberta graduate student could lead to reimagining what early snakes might have looked like, suggesting that some of the world’s supposedly simplest snakes have a more complex evolutionary history than traditionally thought. Snakes are broadly divided into two groups based on their feeding mechanisms: macrostomatan snakes, able to…

The Bay of Pigs fiasco upended J.F.K.’s presidential honeymoon

In his first serious foreign policy test in 1961, the new American president flunked badly. He was in way over his head

The Bay of Pigs fiasco upended J.F.K.’s presidential honeymoonThings were going swimmingly for U.S. President John F. Kennedy immediately following his January 1961 inauguration. Despite being elected by a mere whisker, his approval ratings were stratospheric and much of the media was in love with him. It was as if he was a political superman. Then came the fiasco at the Bay of…

We minimize, revise and ignore history at our own peril

Confronting the horrors of our past and trying to make things right isn’t an easy task but a peace comes from doing the right thing

We minimize, revise and ignore history at our own perilIt seems that everywhere we turn we find a new scandal, some memory from the past that haunts us. Though virtually every state and institution has something to hide, there’s something liberating in speaking the truth. While his tenure hasn’t been without controversy, many around the world have been relieved to see the openness and…

Compassion and reform, not walls, will halt the flood of refugees

The only way to stop people from fleeing their countries is to hold their governments' culpable for their citizen's suffering

Compassion and reform, not walls, will halt the flood of refugeesEven when boundaries define arbitrary lines between territories, they embody deeper symbolic, cultural, historical and religious meaning that’s often contested for legitimacy. Our belief that borders are indisputable has at times led to remarkable efforts to establish permanent barriers as statements of sovereignty and against foreign intrusion. The Great Wall of China, built for defence…

Is Canada on a well-worn path to destruction?

There are surprising commonalities in the rise and fall of 11 historic empires. Canada is on the same path

Is Canada on a well-worn path to destruction?Could Canada soon meet its end, given its many divides and increasing public debt? If Sir John Glubb is right, the answer is yes. Glubb’s 1976 work, The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival, found surprising commonalities in the rise and fall of 11 historic empires. Although they spanned 3,000 years and varied geography,…

An Irish hero for St. Patrick’s Day

Sarsfield was the de facto commander of James’s forces in Ireland. The mission failed but his reputation for gallantry was assured

An Irish hero for St. Patrick’s DayThis being the season of St. Patrick’s Day, an Irish-themed column seems appropriate. And a recent news story provides a suitable prompt. Born between 1655 and 1658, Patrick Sarsfield was a dashing Irish hero. He was brave, patriotic and charismatic. And the fact that he was mortally wounded leading a cavalry charge at the 1693…

Ancient moccasin suggests Dene migrated farther south than thought

Artifact found in a cave in Utah reveals precolonial connection between Canadian Subarctic and American Southwest

Ancient moccasin suggests Dene migrated farther south than thoughtA piece of leather from an 800-year-old moccasin found in a Utah cave has helped researchers retrace the ancient steps of a remarkable migration that saw some Dene (Athapaskan) people leave their homes in the continent’s Subarctic and eventually create new homes scattered across the southern United States as Dineh (Navajo) and Ndee (Apache) ancestors,…

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown

Queen Elizabeth must juggle her duties with her family responsibilities. But in her case, the stakes are higher and the scrutiny is intense

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crownThe House of Windsor is making headlines around the world for all the wrong reasons. “The Firm,” as Prince Philip is fond of calling the British Royal Family, doesn’t look kindly on bad publicity. Ringing in my ears is a line from William Shakespeare’s play Henry IV: “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”…

A worldwide celebration of two centuries of Greek independence

Effective this year, the Greek government will give Greeks living abroad the right to vote in national elections

A worldwide celebration of two centuries of Greek independenceOn March 25, 2021, Greece will commemorate the 200th anniversary of its national day. This bicentenary will be marked with great pomp and ceremony in Greece and in Greek communities of the diaspora around the world. Most countries celebrate their national day at the end of a revolution or the termination of hostilities after a…

Are owls wise, all-seeing and good luck – or harbingers of calamity?

One superstition about owls had it that making a potion from the ash of owl eggs improved vision

Are owls wise, all-seeing and good luck – or harbingers of calamity?Folklore abounds with superstition related to owls. I thought it might be fun to share some superstitions I’ve gleaned about owls, since this is the best time of year to see them. These nocturnal creatures often appear in horror films since tufts of feathers on the top of some owls’ heads give them the appearance…

Baseball showed how racism can be overcome

Racism is pointless and will inevitably fail, as it did in baseball. But it is part of our history

Baseball showed how racism can be overcomeMy earliest memories of baseball revolve around the 1969 Chicago Cubs. Enthusiasm just resonated off Wrigley Field as the great Ernie Banks chimed, “Let’s play two!” Regardless of the disastrous finish to that season for the Cubbies, a love for the game was planted in my soul as a seven-year-old. These heroes were larger than…

Silent Witness of a Holocaust Suitcase

A Canadian family helped solve the mystery of a teenage girl’s life and death at Auschwitz

Silent Witness of a Holocaust SuitcaseHana Brady could be another Anne Frank except she did not leave a diary. But the suitcase that 13-year-old left behind when she died in a gas chamber at Auschwitz concentration camp continues to teach millions of children around the world the importance of respect, empathy and compassion. It bears silent witness to the agony…

Understated George Shultz left a lasting legacy

As Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state, he played a key role in bringing about the end of the Cold War

Understated George Shultz left a lasting legacyGeorge Shultz, who died on Feb. 6 at the age of 100, was an important 20th-century figure. He was one of the good guys. An economist by profession, Shultz was born in New York in 1920. He graduated from Princeton in 1942, served in the Marine Corps during the Second World War and subsequently earned…

Strange weather and the words we use to describe it

Some arise from folklore, some carry historical inferences and others are the result of superstition

Strange weather and the words we use to describe itThe media has created some of its own climate words and sometimes uses superlatives somewhat carelessly – worst storm ever, highest rainfall ever, greatest flood ever. And what the heck is a polar vortex? A Washington Post readers’ poll coined the word snowmageddon but it has no meaning in meteorological terms. Yet it’s used by…

If you like medieval drama, The Last Kingdom fits the bill

While not scrupulously accurate, it is still quite engrossing

If you like medieval drama, The Last Kingdom fits the billAn electrician in to do some wiring work a couple of months ago ran his eye over the media shelf, noticed the Vikings DVD set and announced that The Last Kingdom was better. So in the midst of a pandemic winter, we tracked down the extant four seasons and gave it a whirl. The series…

Integrity and accountability are key to democracy

Failure to accept responsibility, especially by those in government, will create polarization and resentment

Integrity and accountability are key to democracyWhile most people agree that those who attacked the American Capitol buildings on Jan. 6 should be arrested and charged for their crimes, some say the politicians who may have been behind the attack shouldn’t even be investigated. Their argument is that there’s already enough polarization in the United States and this would make the…

What Marx and Jesus have in common

Movements always endure if they embrace equality, justice, pursuit of truth, and a deep respect for each person with no exceptions

What Marx and Jesus have in commonMy favourite textbook in university was entitled Marxism, an American Christian Perspective. Other students would hear me talk about it and ask, “Aren’t those two perspectives diametrically opposed? Didn’t Marx call religion ‘the opiate of the people’? Aren’t the Christian churches opposed to Marxism?” The most fundamental disagreement between the two schools of thought is…

Eisenhower was cagey but Kennedy rushed in

In 1961, as a young president prepared to take over from an aging one, their perspectives on military responsibility were starkly different

Eisenhower was cagey but Kennedy rushed inIn the third week of January 1961, two American political figures made important speeches. One was the outgoing president, Dwight D. Eisenhower. And the other was the new guy, John F. Kennedy. Eisenhower was first up with his Jan. 17 farewell address. Aged 70, he was at that time the oldest president in United States…

The year the world finally said, ‘Enough is enough!’

It’s difficult to call colonization and the theories that perpetuate and justify it to this day anything but the sinful antithesis of love

The year the world finally said, ‘Enough is enough!’The year 2020 has been like none other. Not only has the world been impacted by a devastating global pandemic, we have finally begun to honestly reckon with the negative impact of colonialism. Boston College moral theology Prof. Mary Jo Iozzio recently stated, “The present state of dis-ease in the United States stems from centuries…

What Jeopardy! teaches us about learning styles

It’s important for schools to have a knowledge-rich curriculum that sequentially builds on knowledge year by year. Alex Trebek taught us that

What Jeopardy! teaches us about learning stylesCanadians were saddened to learn that longtime Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek passed away recently from pancreatic cancer. For more than 35 years, Trebek was a familiar face in our homes. There was no better way of testing your general knowledge than seeing how many Jeopardy! questions you could correctly answer. The outpouring of emotion over…

Identity politics is an evil virus spreading across society

This obsession with identity can do nothing good for a society that values equality of treatment of all its people

Identity politics is an evil virus spreading across societyOn my desk is a commemorative plate honouring the 1966 Grey Cup champions, the Saskatchewan Roughriders. It includes the pictures of Canadian Football League legend Ronnie Lancaster and his teammates. A quick scan of these portraits reveals something odd: just three of the players are black. If one looks at the rosters of other CFL…

Our close bond with dogs has a long history, study shows

Dogs were certainly useful but 'people clearly had emotional attachments to their dogs from the very beginning’

Our close bond with dogs has a long history, study showsThe close bond between humans and dogs stretches back into the last ice age, according to new international research involving a University of Alberta archeologist. Genetic analysis of the remains of 27 ancient dogs shows that at least five major ancestry lineages had diversified by 11,000 years ago, “demonstrating a deep genetic history of dogs…

Charley Pride knocked down country music’s racial barriers

Audiences took a while to warm up to a black country musician. He wasn’t promoted in this fashion and photos didn’t accompany his early singles

Charley Pride knocked down country music’s racial barriersI didn’t grow up listening to country music. Nevertheless, there were country musicians I always liked. Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Charlie Daniels, Roy Clark (who was also a bluegrass legend), Kenny Rogers, Oak Ridge Boys and Alabama come to mind. Then there was Charley Pride. He was in a class of his…

Science shatters misconceptions about Indigenous peoples

Archeologist believes unearthing evidence is the best way to change public perceptions – and public policy

Science shatters misconceptions about Indigenous peoplesMaggie Spivey-Faulkner lives to shatter misconceptions of Indigenous people with the power of science. “As an undergrad, I saw that a lot of American public policy was built on incorrect ideas of native cultures,” said the American archeologist, who joined the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Arts this fall after a stint as a junior fellow at the Harvard Society of…

Time to come to terms with Canada’s original sin

Separating one racial group of people from the rest of the nation and expecting a good result was madness then and is madness now

Time to come to terms with Canada’s original sinCanadians are watching protests on American streets that stem in part from their history of slavery. That original sin dogs America and tears at its soul. But Canada, too, has an original sin. And that’s our history with Indigenous people. It’s not that Canada treated Indigenous people poorly. (It did treat them poorly but that’s…

Margaret Thatcher and the end of apartheid

The Thatcher-Nelson Mandela relationship is a reflection of how very different people can evolve a respectful, albeit wary, understanding

Margaret Thatcher and the end of apartheidMargaret Thatcher isn’t a name most people associate with the end of South African apartheid. But Thatcher biographer Charles Moore begs to differ. And he devotes a lengthy chapter in his third volume about the former British prime minister to making his case. As Moore tells it, Thatcher’s goal was to convince the white South…
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