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Ellen Lucie Wickham
B.A., UNC-Chapel Hill
M.A., Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oxford
Current: Visiting Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford

Despite the initial thrill of uncovering some bit of the past from the dust of whatever dig I might have happened to have insinuate myself into, I quickly learned that my creature comforts were more thrilling.

Why is it that archaeological digs seem to always take place in the hottest of seasons and in the most uncomfortable of places? Between the sweat, the bugs, the often uncomfortable sleeping arrangements, the rain, the sand, the dirt, the bad food, the lack of hot baths, and my ever worsening fear of flying, it wasn't long before my youthful enthusiasm for discovery in the rough had waned.

I drifted from dig to dig, then from job to job at various universities, enjoying the heat, air conditioning, and a solid roof over my head when the weather turned off foul. I developed a consuming interest in early trade routes and my resulting research and publications resulted in some small acclaim. When the offer of a visiting fellowship at All Souls College in Oxford came, I leapt at the opportunity, despite my distaste for the cold stone of the complex. Unlimited time to complete my long postponed doctoral dissertation without having to teach was not to be ignored.

It was while researching early trade routes in Russian documents that I stumbled over something which made my blood run cold with its implications in these troubled days. I knew I had to tell someone, and that the only two people I could trust were my two closest friends from my Oxford days, Alais and Micah.

All Souls College image is by Richard Gallagher, used under the GNU Free Documentation Licence

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