Mark Lehner is on a sort of expedition, here in the Magic City Campus school library.
“How nice to see this in my home high school,” he says of The Complete Pyramids, a book Lehner himself wrote about twenty years ago, all about one of humanity’s most amazing achievements.
“Something really clicked when I was there, specifically when I was alone in the Great Pyramid,” he says. “And then the fire was lit.”
The Minot High graduate of 1968 is now a world-renowned Egyptologist. He’s made a living by digging through thousands of years of human history on the Giza plateau — the home of the Great Pyramids.
But for the last three decades, his focus has been elsewhere.
“I realized that I had to turn my back to the pyramid to understand them,” Lehner explains. “Because you don’t understand anything — you don’t understand farming in North Dakota, you don’t understand Minot, you don’t understand the pyramids — without understanding the people who populate and create these places.”
Now he’s working to uncover what he calls the Lost City of the Pyramids — just a stone’s throw from the Sphynx — where new evidence suggests tens of thousands of people lived and worked to build something larger than life.
“One of the most recent National Geographics is all about cities,” Lehner says. “How do they work? Where do they come from? How do they originate? What we’re finding is a very ancient ancestor to cities! Cities like Minot. Cities like New York. It all started with civilizations like this.”
Lehner’s work is literally groundbreaking (he’s about to search for signs of 4-thousand-year-old palace underneath a modern soccer field!) but he’s never so busy that he can’t come home to North Dakota once or twice a year.
This week he’s sharing his work with his hometown — to show the next generation that the world of archaeology is waiting for them if they want it. “It’s a science,” he says, “and you can do any science if you have a passion for it.”
Mark Lehner — a globetrotting ‘people person’ from the prairie — is Someone You Should Know.
Lehner will be giving a free, public lecture on his archaeological finds, tonight in Ann Nicole Nelson Hall at Minot State University.
It starts at 7 o’clock.