The Sangamo Frontier: History and Archaeology in the Shadow of Lincoln

By Robert Mazrim | Go to book overview

Introduction
Journey to Sangamo

You have lived in the old house as long as you can remember. Each room has been permanently mapped in your head and is filled with more memory than furnishings. All corners are familiar, and each object has a story. With each passing year, you become less aware of the details of your surroundings, and the place becomes a comfortable blur.

Gradually, however, you find yourself looking at some of the rooms differently. You begin to spend more time in the basement—in areas that you had taken for granted for years. Not all at once, but over a few months, you begin to realize that there are rooms down there that you never knew existed; there are doors obscured from view by furniture so familiar that you looked right past them. One room, two, and possibly several more.

Inside these rooms are books. Some are written in languages that you recognize, and others appear foreign. Some water damage, some wormholes, and missing pages. You begin to read the stories. As strange as the texts appear, these stories are about places that you recognize as familiar and close by—up the road, or behind the place you used to ride your bike as a kid. There are even a few stories about the yard behind the house.

Those hidden rooms, those strange books, and those surprising and slightly surreal stories, are what archaeology has given to me. Archaeology is a science that relies on objectivity and a controlled examination of data. But once one acquires these things—kind of like the rules of

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