Archaeology Odyssey 8:1, January/February 2005

Editors’ Page: We’ll Keep to the Mainstream

Exploring the Roots of Western Culture

By Jack Meinhardt

Archaeology Odyssey

“How far should we go?” asked Editor-at-Large Hershel Shanks in the November/December 2003 issue of Archaeology Odyssey.

Ever since our first issue in the winter of 1998, we have limited our coverage to the Mediterranean region and Near East, which means that we have focused on the great civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome.

We do indeed venture into territories occupied by less-well-known peoples, such as the Garamantes (who lived in the Sahara Desert of present-day southern Libya), the Sabaeans (the west coast of the Arabian peninsula), the Nubians (southern Egypt and northern Sudan), the Ammonites (west-central Jordan), the Hittites (Anatolia), the Thracians (northern Greece, western Turkey and Bulgaria), the Phoenicians (the Levant and Carthage) and the Etruscans (Italy), among others. And we also sometimes find ourselves in foreign parts, having trailed Alexander the Great into India or Julius Caesar into England.

But our principal mission, as we have seen it, has been to follow the powerful mainstream—the Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Greeks and Romans, because of their spirituality, inventiveness, intellect and practical energy. In doing so, we explore some of the most important tributaries of Western civilization.

Should we go farther? Should we cross the Alps and proceed into Europe? Should we sojourn in Central Asia, India, Indochina and China? Should we colonize the Americas? “How far should we go?”

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