Kooky, Kooky, lend me your trowel

So yesterday, Saturday, I stopped by a local shop to pick up some magazines for a nice sunny day’s reading in the sun. Those glossy pics and pages and the relatively simple English writing style is refreshing, even recreational, after my recent slogging through barbaric Latin. Anyhow, the shop had changed hands and all the magazines got moved around. So, while I was looking particularly for KMT (which I think is absolutley the bestest and beautifullest magazine in the whole wide world), he happened to be out, so I got a Biblical Archaeology Review (if only for pretty pictures; it’s got a fairly good story in there about ancient circumcision, and an okay one about the Dome of the Rock, which I’ll have more to say about later), a copy of Archaeology (including, inter alia, a fairly short but also fairly stupid piece on the Gospel of Judas, and a large one on that Bosnian pyramid guy—free publicity, or maybe they paid him—it’ll be a long time before I buy another Archaeology), and then I saw this other cover right next to it, listing as stories along the left column, among others which I didn’t read, “Phoenician Grapes in Virginia” (I thought, “How interesting; they must be able to tell by genetic sequencing.”), “Canada’s Serpent Mounds” (“Ooo, I love mounds! They must be like the Ohio serpent mound we walked around when I was a kid!”) and some other stuff, which I was too hurried to read. Of course, one has to know that I’m a very rapid shopper, generally despising or uncomfortable to be in anything except a musty bookstore, and I was also chatting with the new owner, an Egyptian I think, and I had two iced coffees rather rapidly losing their iciness, so I didn’t take the time to read anything else on the cover of this magazine, Ancient American (and you all read the name and start laughing!). I thought it was a new magazine devoted to moundbuilders and ancient American cultures and all that truly nifty stuff. Once I got out into the sun with my magazines, my two pints of iced Illy coffee, and even a new copy of Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, sitting by a reflecting pool on the Berkeley campus, I opened the supposed moundbuilder mag and it turned out to be one of those ghastly “Phoenicians in America” things. I can’t even describe how vastly disappointed I was to be deprived of what I thought I was about to read, though the faint undercurrent of disgust is probably understandable, with a slight overtone of embarassment, because on the cover, lower right, in letters nearly as large as the title, it says “Ecuador’s Phoenician Artififacts.” All in all, a distinctly unenjoyable flavor. I’ll, um, er, definitely be taking the whole two seconds to pause and read the entire cover of any magazines I’ll be buying in future.

So, here’s to junk archaeology putting a damper on an otherwise beautiful weekend reading session!


  1. For July 4th you can always rent those Rod Serling documentaries that came out when we were kids. I think the first was titled “In Search of Ancient Astronauts.” I can still see him pacing around Easter Island and doing his “Twilight Zone” narration.

  2. OOO! I only vaguely remember those. Remember the In Search Of show with Leonard Nimoy? I would drop everything to watch those, with their weird/groovy music. I wonder if those will ever come out on DVD.

    I hope you realize that the title of this post was directly inspired by the hammy punnishment of your own?

  3. May I suggest a competitor for the title of “bestest & beautifullest magazine”: Bible & Spade published by the Associates for Biblical Research. It has all the good color photos you’ve come to know & love in BAR, but without all the ads & skeptic bias (which may be good or bad depending on one’s own bias) & certainly without the atheistic bias of Archaeology magazine. The down side is that it’s only issued quarterly & not available on newsstands. The Winter 2006 issue (vol. 19 #1) features the Lion Gate at Hattusas, capital of the Hittite empire, on the cover. Articles include the wealth/power of the patriarchs, the Suez canal relationship to Exodus, & local references in the letter to Smyrna. And by the way, Kevin, I have a vinyl LP of “In Search Of” music–have not yet found it on CD…

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