Water break! The call goes out every half hour, echoing off the rust-colored sandstone cliffs and across the mocha waters of the Colorado River. Puffs of dust rise as the archaeologists drop shovels and clipboards, sit down in the dirt, and rehydrate. Talk stays to a minimum. Even in October, the bottom of the Grand Canyon is brutally hot in the afternoon, and the view is enough to silence most chatter. The river sweeps in a wide curve toward the faint hiss of rapids at Unkar Delta, a low, broad mass of sediment that marks the mouth of Unkar Creek. The cliffs rise straight up almost a mile to the canyon's eastern rim.
My latest article for Archaeology magazine, on a recent series of digs at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. (Abstrast only online, unfortunately.)