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Machu Picchu, Cuzco and Chan Chan are among the best known of ancient Andean cities. Yet there are hundreds of others, lesser known but as magnificent in their own way, say Adriana von Hagan and Craig Morris, authors of The Cities of the Ancient Andes (Thames and Hudson, $27.50). The authors describe ancient Andean urbanites as if they had lived among them: "Magically, a brightly dressed man appeared on the summit of temple, blowing a trumpet." Their accounts are reconstructed in part from such relics as the the gilded copper feline from the 3rd century (left) and a gold mummy mask, circa the10th. These were found in tombs on the north coast of Peru, in places called Sipán and Batán Grande, thousands of feet above sea level. The artifacts hightlight the quality of the region's metalwork—the cat's fangs, nose, eyes and ears are inlaid with stone and a rare, coral-rimmed shell. The cat also shows that the mountain-dwellers traded with coastal inhabitants: The inlaid shell, Spondylus, is found in Ecuador.

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Happy Birthday to Alvin! August 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of Alvin, the submersible that has been so influential in ocean research, including the discovery of hydrothermal vents. In 2014, a retrofitted Alvin also took its first test cruise.

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