The online Free Dictionary defines ‘serendipity’ as, "the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident." I thought about serendipity when I picked up my books on hold and found out that instead of Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian (featuring an Italian detective who is investigating a gruesome new case by digging into the past of the murder victims as well as her own buried past), I had mistakenly reserved a similar title: Lives in Ruins by Marilyn Johnson, subtitled Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble. Now that involves digging of a whole different kind!
Marilyn Johnson was curious about what drives archaeologists since the work is often hazardous to their health and there is little profit or fame in it. After reading her introduction I was curious too.
In her effort to unearth an archaeologist's passion, Ms. Johnson decides to go on digs with them, interview them, listen to, and live with them. She writes about uncovering hidden battle sites, exhuming secret cemeteries, and excavating on a deserted island.
Here are a couple of the subjects:
Patrick McGovern, an expert on the archaeology of ‘extreme beverages’, his term for beer, wines, ale and mead.
Volunteer archaeologist Erin Coward, who helped sort through the remains, human and otherwise, of the World Trade Center site after 911.
Intrigued I sat down with my cup of hot coffee in hand and began to read. An hour later, I was still sitting there, my mind buried in in the remants of shipwrecks, Revolutionary War graves and the unoffcial saint of archaeologists, Indiana Jones. My coffee had gone long since gone cold and my husband was asking, "Don't you have to go to work today?"
Putting the wrong book on hold was a ‘fortunate accident’ indeed!