In an effort to better acquaint you, the reader, with the VQR staff, members of our team will share excerpts from our personal reading—The Best 200 Words I Read All Week. From fact to fiction, from comedic to tragic, we hope you find as much to admire in these selections as we do.
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Today the Ga-Mohana Hill sits amidst a fairly flat and dry landscape, offering up views of the Kalahari dunes. The closest towns are nearly 2.5 miles away but new archaeological research suggests that the semi-arid desert has been a site of human congregation—and maybe even spiritual significance—for tens of thousands of years. In a study published in Nature, researchers found calcite crystals and ostrich eggshell fragments that show signs indicating that humans collected them. Not only is it difficult to find deposits in layers of rocks like these, it is even more unusual to find deposits that are this ancient—these finds are estimated to be around 105,000 years old.
The Kalahari, covering a large swath of Southern Africa, receives an erratic amount of rain every year, with heavy thunderstorms in summer months and extremely dry winters. But rains in the Kalahari drain instantly through its sand dunes, creating an effective drought. Despite this, archaeologists challenge the notion that the coastal environments of southern Africa were the only home for early humans. “It tells us that people were capable of exploring completely different environments, they were not tied to the coastline,” Michael C. Meyer at the Institute of Geology at the University of Innsbruck, Austria and also one of the authors of the study says. This new evidence suggests the Kalahari could have supported people as well.
Business Manager Diane John
“Crystals and eggshells tell a 105,000-year-old story of humans in the Kalahari Desert”, by Nikita Amir, in Popular Science
It’s in these long stretches of being unoccupied and unwitnessed that I feel most like myself. It’s when I have good ideas, write my favourite sentences, feel most enamoured by the world. So for me, the question of having children quickly invites a second: could I give up this easy, thrilling solitude? And, honestly, though it feels wrong and selfish, I know my answer. Maybe this is why society conspires to get its girls married and mothering young, shipped straight from their parents’ homes to their husband’s and then immediately badgered for “good news”. There’s a dangerous thing that happens if a woman feels free, even momentarily. She might refuse to ever feel any other way again. And free women pull all sorts of structures apart. This solitude vs. parenting dichotomy hasn’t classically existed for men. Plenty of fathers have disappeared into rooms of their own without feeling guilty or exceptional for it. When the world locked down, a tweet by writer Roseanne Cash erupted into every corner of the internet: “Just a reminder that when Shakespeare was quarantined because of the plague, he wrote King Lear.” Parents quickly added an asterisk: Shakespeare could write King Lear in quarantine because his three children were away and in his wife’s care.
Editorial Assistant Ishani Singh
“Is motherhood the end of alone time?”, by Rega Jha, in She the People