September was a month full of significant discoveries. The likely discovery of Milton’s edition of Shakespeare has been heralded as a major event in English letters. It would take something of this magnitude to completely outshine the discovery of a heretofore unknown manuscript of John Locke. Sorry Locke! “Reasons for Tolerating Papists” is not as snappy as Milton’s marginalia.
It was also an important month or so for women in archaeology. A twelfth-century statue bearing the face of Eleanor of Aquitaine is turned up in the restoration of Bradwell Abbey. An MA student modeled the face of an ancient female Druid. And a recent study shows that Bronze Age women traveled very far and were prime movers of cultural exchange in that period.
There were other prehistorical discoveries. In Australia, one of the earliest Aboriginal-occupied sites has been found dating to 600,000 years ago. And even deeper in the past is a lost continent, named Greater Adria, that lies “largely below Southern Europe.” This is the latest entry in a developing “atlas of the underworld,” a representation of plates that long ago underwent subduction.
A major new work highlights a neglected aspect of American Indian assistance in the anti-slavery politics of the nineteenth century—”the Indian-operated Underground Railroad.”
The 60th anniversary of Hawaii’s statehood passed last week. Prof. Kēhaulani Kauanui reflects on the complex genealogies of power that make this anniversary not a story of federal integration but the dissolution of Hawaiian sovereignty. This is coming to a head now as activists are fighting against the installation of a new 1.4 billion dollar telescope on Mauna Kea which they see as a violation of the sacred mountain.
Historical memory is often transmitted in its most vivid and lasting forms through the arts. This too has consequences. Ishmael Reed takes issue with the popular musical Hamilton’s depiction of its namesake’s history with slavery. If “Miranda has the right to take liberties with their histories, but in doing so, he covered up their crimes.” But a new musical in South Africa, Venus Versus Modernity, offers a genealogy of modernity that emphasizes its violence through the dramatization of the life of Saartjie Baartman who was horrifically exploited as a caged exhibition for the eyes of Europeans.