Of all the reporters, writers and editors at Time Atlantic none has a better nose for hard news than staff writer Maryann Bird, whose duties include compiling and editing the magazine's World Watch section with its roundup of major stories breaking around the globe. But news is more than what is happening this week; there is often significant news in what happened eons ago. So, when Bird was offered a chance to report on the archaeological riches of Turkey, she readily abandoned computer screen and newspages to spend 10 days zigzagging from academics' offices in Ankara to hot and dusty digs in southeastern Anatolia. Working with contributor James Wilde and photographer Ara Guler, she examined archaeological marvels ranging from the StoneAge Gobekli Tepe site, near the Syrian border, to Aphrodisias, once a vast and magnificent city of art and architecture, a jewel of Greco-Roman civilization.
The result is a lavish report in this week's magazine describing how archaeologists are peeling back layers of the past to uncover details of the daily lives of the farmers, artisans and rulers of earliest antiquity. "It was thought-provoking to stand on the banks of the Euphrates River, a beautiful emerald green as it flows gently through Mesopotamia," says Bird. "It must have been much the same when long-gone civilizations existed there." But that vista will soon disappear. Nearby, she noted, "work was under way on a huge dam project that will change the landscape forever."
It was an inspiring experience for Bird, who has added amateur archaeology to her strong interests in the environment and human rights. After completing the Turkey reporting, she even worked as a volunteer on an archaeological project, spending a weekend digging in the mud at the site of a Roman fort in northeast England.
This week's story was not her first report on Turkey, a land that long ago captured her attention. Bird wrote a major Time report in January last year on political tensions between Islamists and secularists. She has also written stories on clashes between the army and Kurdish separatists and on hazards in the busy shipping lanes of the Bosporus. Nor is it likely to be Bird's last foray into Turkey, a country whose fascinating people and history now have claim to a large part of her wide-ranging interests. We look forward to reading more of her reports on Turkish news--present and past.
Editor, Time Atlantic