Auto plant closings may be a contributor to the recent epidemic of opioid overdose deaths. Sociologist Rourke O’Brien and his colleagues looked at the opioid-related mortality rates, 1999 through 2016, of 112 manufacturing counties located within commuting distance of at least one auto assembly plant operational as of 1999. In the 29 counties that went through plant closures, the opioid death rate for working age adults saw an 85 percent increase over the rate in the 83 counties where plants remained open. Younger white males were most affected by these “deaths of despair”—a trend that could be addressed, said the scientists, by a “national resilience strategy” to mitigate “the negative health consequences of economic shocks.”

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In the year 2009, residents of a village in northern Ethiopia told an international research team that a hill nearby had long held great significance, but the reason why had been lost. That information enabled the team—including classics assistant professor Jessica Lamont—to find and spend years excavating a previously unknown ancient city. The local people named it Beta Samati, or “House of Audience.” Beta Samati, inhabited from as early as 771 BCE to as late as 645 AD, was an important trading center in the Kingdom of Aksum (80 BCE to 825 AD). The team’s report in Antiquity notes that Aksum was “one of Africa’s most influential ancient civilizations,” though, to date, one of the least documented. Some highlights from the city: coins of the Aksum kingdom, a gold and carnelian ring (shown here), and remnants of ancient Christianity, including a pendant that may read “venerable cross.”

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