Sunday, October 23, 2011
On Thursday, October 20, Jeffrey Callison interviewed three of the authors of An Archaeology of Desperation on Capital Public Radio (KXJZ) in Sacramento. Book editors Drs. Kelly J. Dixon, co-director of the dig, and Shannon A. Novak, a bioarchaeologist who examined the bone fragments recovered, and I were on the air for about 20 minutes. You can listen to the show here.
Naturally, there was much discussion of cannibalism. A lot of people seem to think that the goal of the Donner Party Archaeology Project was to prove or disprove cannibalism, but it started in 2003 as a brief dig funded by television program; the goal was actually to continue previous work in the area and look for a hearth. The results were so promising that the archaeologists came back the next year.
True to form, the Sacramento Bee's coverage of the program asserts that "cannibalism continues to be an unsettled question," but "many experts... continue to believe it did occur to some extent." Oh, yeah? Find me an expert that says it didn't happen.
Oh, well, perhaps somebody will read (and understand) the book.