Monuments Woman

Monuments Woman

Indiana Jones was a woman. Join host George Gavrilis as American archaeologist Laura Tedesco takes us on her 11-year journey to help save Afghanistan's cultural treasures from looters, earthquakes, and the Taliban. The making and release of the podcast took place during an intense time, from Summer 2021 during the U.S. and NATO troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, through the August 2021 Taliban takeover and the subsequent months.


February 22, 2022 38 mins

Laura and George answer questions submitted by our listeners.

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In this candid finale, Laura and George talk about the highs and lows of her decade in Afghanistan and an uncertain future. A mystery lover is revealed.

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February 1, 2022 27 mins

Laura shares a memory about a media appearance and George talks about his time as an election monitor in Kabul.

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January 25, 2022 35 mins

Before her first trip to Afghanistan, Laura "Jason Bournes" her way through a barricade of cars. Years later, she corners Matt Damon in a conversation about Kabul.

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January 18, 2022 35 mins

Laura investigates a loud crash on her roof and visits a close friend from Afghanistan, triggering memories of a project that aimed to fix what the Taliban destroyed.

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January 11, 2022 27 mins

Continuing their discussion about Herat, George and Laura talk about a frightening day that marked Laura's last visit to Afghanistan's cultural capital.

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January 4, 2022 26 mins

After unleashing a pent-up rant, George and Laura talk about Herat and the restoration of its legendary citadel.

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December 14, 2021 18 mins

Laura and George discuss the work of a team of University of Chicago archaeologists who use satellite photos to track looting in Afghanistan and catch up on Laura's French husband.

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December 7, 2021 19 mins

If you had to leave your home with one suitcase, what would you take? That's a question that became real for many Afghans as the Taliban swept over the country.

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November 30, 2021 29 mins

The saga of the National Museum of Afghanistan continues as Laura and George talk with Toño Foraster Mariscal, the Spanish architect who in 2013 won the competition to design a new museum and who believes that architecture cannot be the protagonist of the story.

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November 16, 2021 28 mins

After channeling Redd Foxx while nearly choking to death, George talks to Laura about her jaunt to Zabul province and her quest to find historic sites to preserve.

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November 9, 2021 34 mins

Laura hires an intrepid and seasoned photographer to shoot Afghanistan’s heritage sites. As it turns out, this is no easy mission, as Robert Nickelsberg tells us in his own words.

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November 2, 2021 30 mins

After Armenia, Laura heads to a dig in Syria. In between stories of wild dogs and being detained by police, she teaches us a thing or two about Mesopotamian civilizations.

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October 26, 2021 28 mins

After her cat survives a fight with a venomous snake in her front yard, Laura reminisces about an Urartian archaeological dig in Armenia in the 1990s and an unexpected marriage proposal.

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October 19, 2021 21 mins

So how does one exactly become an archaeologist? Laura’s answer transports us to the 1990s to graduate school in a gritty New York and digs in broiling Cyprus and a newly independent Armenia.

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October 12, 2021 28 mins

With Kabul's internet at a slow drip and telecom companies losing staff and clients left and right, Laura and George manage somehow to connect with an Afghan colleague and friend. Jamal stayed in Kabul after the Taliban took over, and has a story to tell.

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October 5, 2021 20 mins

The Taliban are racing towards the gates of Kabul. Everyone is heading for the exits, even Afghan friends Laura and George thought would never leave. They reminisce about Laura's life in the confines of the US Embassy and the city just beyond the compound.

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September 28, 2021 25 mins

The discussion of the atmospheric Afghan north continues as Laura takes us on a sweep of its archaeological history. She uses words like "silverback" and "tumuli" that George had to look up and has now added to his everyday vocabulary.

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September 21, 2021 28 mins

Laura and George head to the north of Afghanistan, where archaeological riches abound and challenges mount as the once rebellious north comes under Taliban control.

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September 14, 2021 33 mins

Laura had an idea: a book on heritage work across Afghanistan, that tells the stories of how Afghans live and observe the archaeology and history around them. This book has become a document of what might be lost in the years ahead, now that the Taliban have taken over the country. 

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