In search of the time traveler
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We just know they are out there, but we can’t spot them by
their attire. If they called us we would never know they
belonged to the cult. We could be sitting next to one on
the bus and never have a clue.
But we’re positive they are
out there. We hope, for the sake of our culture, that we might encounter one today, tomorrow, someday.
I refer to the cult of the time travelers.
These are the folks who eschew sun and sand
and hours spent sipping umbrella drinks
while holding onto Oprah’s latest recommended life-changing book. The time travelers have an interest in the past, and they
travel in the present primarily to gain insight
into how things might have been a very long
They don’t pick destinations because they
are trendy. They pick their vacation destinations because they are important. If we want
to appeal to the growing number of travelers
who are seeking more than body rest (and
snippets of glib commentary from guides
who have trouble remembering what country they are in), it might be good to look at
some of the places that time travelers most
want to see.
In January, Ar- cheology Magazine REALITY CHECK
named the 10 Top
Discoveries of 2007.
This is not the stuff of tabloids. Nothing was
discovered in Area 51 in Lincoln County,
Nev., aside from the usual spaceships, aliens
and flying broomsticks being tested out at
the Groom Lake Air Force base.
What fascinates me about the list of “
discoveries” is how relatively unknown some of
these findings remain. This stuff is as excit-
For centuries, archeologists have had
a keen interest in
developments in the
Middle East. After
all, most have believed that humans’ oldest
cities are buried under the fertile riverbanks
of the southern portions of Mesopotamia,
an area now known as Iraq.
The development of the world’s first cities has been an interest of archeologists for
some time. In the 1930s, Agatha Christie’s
husband, British archeologist Max Mal-
lowan, began digging at Tell Brak in northern Syria. Last year, a team of Harvard and
British archaeologists made new discoveries
that indicate that Tell Brak, which formed
from a central core with satellite communities growing inward, might actually be one of the world’s first
Tom Dillehay of Vanderbilt
found squash seeds in ancient
buried house floors in the Nan-choc Valley of Peru. This indicates that planting from the
fertile crescent reached the New
World much more quickly than
anyone had realized. The cultivated seeds are dated at 10,000 years.
And then there is the Nebo-Sarsekim
Tablet, discovered by an Austrian Assyriologist, Michael Jursa. Jursa was studying some of the records from the ancient
Babylonian city of Sippar when he noticed
an entry for a 1.5-pound gold donation
to a chief eunuch. He recalled that Jeremiah had a reference to this person, and
he found the spelling to match that in the
It is extremely rare to find historical references to people mentioned in the Bible,
other than kings or queens.
Jursa made this discovery in the British
Museum, and it is just one of the many reasons a good consultant can excite the time
traveler about a visit to London.
ing as life gets for time travelers,
but for the rest of us, life goes on.
Adding some of these destinations to itineraries that appeal to
the well-educated traveler could
be a wonderful niche business.
In the Tai Forest of the Ivory
Coast, for example, a Canadian
archeologist named Mercader Richard Turen
found an amazing grouping of
stone hammers. I doubt I have caught your
interest at this point. But consider: Embedded in the hammers were pollen seeds that
are not eaten by humans. Testing indicates
that these hammers, some 4,300 years old,
were used by primitive apes to crush nuts.
The archeologist believes that the use of
stone tools may actually come from some
ancestral species of ape that lived as much
as 14 million years ago. That would mean
that primitive man wasn’t the first to use
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Contributing editor Richard Turen owns
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gage industry meltdown due to questionable
subprime lending practices.
I believe such firms have a vested interest in predicting $150- to $200-per-barrel
oil prices this year: specifically, to encourage through commodities trading some
percentage of profit, however small, against
their massive recent losses.
These types of analytical reports, far from
being observations by impartial experts, are
in my opinion the urgings of cheerleaders
aiming to drive the oil market skyward.
Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and others now need nothing more urgently than
to help their battered clients invest in oil at
$130 per barrel in hopes of selling out once
it moves toward their $200 goal and sparking the possible bubble burst you have described.
Unfortunately, the travel industry may
find itself where the mortgage lending in-
dustry now resides by the time these analysts
have had their way.
John Stone, media relations manager
Travel Insured International
30-year veteran is seeing
more agent appreciation
“just wanted to say how much I enjoyed
ichard Turen’s column [Reality Check:
A letter to the moms of America’s travel
agents,” May 19] and to also say thank you
for writing it.
I have always felt proud to be a travel
agent, but reading that column, expanded
my feelings. I have been an agent for 30
years; starting at 19, after one year at a business school, with a travel/tourism major.
I love what I do and now work only in
the corporate travel department, booking
for the top executives of our corporate accounts.
I have seen more of an appreciation
for the travel agent in the last couple of
years, after everyone thought that booking
through the online sites would be easy for
them. Most have come back!
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