Ella Al-Shamahi

  • Words Tom Faber
  • Photography Rick Pushinsky
  • Hair & Makeup Jinny Kim

The scientist digging for history in the world’s most hostile landscapes.

Issue 45

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Arts & Culture

  • Words Tom Faber
  • Photography Rick Pushinsky
  • Hair & Makeup Jinny Kim

You might think, with every inch of the earth’s surface meticulously charted and the whole store of human knowledge available on the internet, that there is no place in the 21st century for explorers. Scientist and TV host Ella Al-Shamahi, who was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2015, thinks otherwise—she feels we simply need to update our understanding of what it means to be an explorer today. 

Al-Shamahi specializes in archaeological digs across the world’s most politically unstable and hostile territories, where scientific institutions often fear to tread. These regions include pivotal sites of early human history. By ignoring them, Al-Shamahi believes we’re missing a huge part of our own story. 

Born to Yemeni parents in Birmingham, England, Al-Shamahi bel...

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