What I’m doing today:

Clay model of a Silk Road trader riding a camel

Silk Road trader riding a camel – Musee Guimet, Paris

I’m working on a children’s book – a graphic novel – where medieval traders travel from Timbuktu to Brazil, across five continents (and even touching Australia!) in the year 1000 AD.

Timeline of 1000 AD

The traders sell glass and shell beads, copper bracelets, furs, elephant ivory and walrus ivory, silk dresses, paper, sacks of wool, steel knives, gold and silver coins, cotton scarves, iron ore, medicine, dried fish, leather purses, nutmeg and pepper, tobacco, turquoise, and cacao beans (what chocolate is made of).

History of chocolate

And yes, far too many of these traders also sell enslaved prisoners. But many things can happen on a long trip in the Middle Ages, and some of these traders end up enslaved themselves!

History of slavery

If you have suggestions for things you’d like to see in this book, let me know! I like to crowdsource ideas.

It’s a long road to publication, and the illustrator needs time to draw all the pictures, but look for this book to be on shelves – and on Amazon! – sometime in 2020. I’ll keep you posted!


A new blog!

This is me, Karen

I’ve been writing blog posts twice a week for What’s Up Archaeology (check them out!), but that was only for three months and time’s up! so I thought I would continue over here on the same schedule – new blog posts roughly twice a week. So this is the first blog post over here.

Who am I?

If you’re new here, I’m Karen. I write most of these articles, and I run the site. If you want my formal biography, it’s over on the sidebar. Here’s the biography I wrote for the other blog, which is much funnier:

My funny bio

After a mostly misspent youth as an anarchist revolutionary, Karen Carr entered the University of Michigan (PhD 1992) intending to explore ways of improving (or abolishing) systems of government and returning power to the people.

This is my book! You could buy it!

To her surprise, she found that governments sometimes accomplished good things as well as bad, as she showed in Vandals to Visigoths: Rural Settlement Patterns in Early Medieval Spain (UM Press 2002). More recently her research on Roman pottery at Leptiminus in North Africa has been published in articles and supplements of the Journal of Roman Archaeology.

Karen resigned tenure at Portland State (in Oregon) eight years ago to focus on creating inclusive, progressive public history, mostly through her website, Quatr.us Study Guides. [THAT’S WHERE YOU ARE NOW!] She is currently in Providence, RI, writing a series of children’s history books, and working on a geography of the early history of swimming. …She’ll be blogging in the hope that her research and your feedback will combine to produce paradigm-shifting stories.

When she’s not writing, Karen runs a monthly free store, raises her youngest child, bakes, dances, bikes, and protests. You can find her anytime on Twitter or Instagram.