Leading readers to archaeological sites from Canada to the Caribbean and through time from the early Norse voyages to World War II, this book describes compelling discoveries unearthed by archaeologists in search of North America's historical past. Through the work of more than 30 archaeological teams, readers learn about the rich diversity of historical archaeology, exploring the who, what, where, when, how, and why of the discipline. Written for a popular audience and for practitioners of historical archaeology, the tales in Unlocking the Past are organized into five themes. ""Cultures in Contact"" unravels the contributions of architecture, landscape, food, dining, burial practices, and other factors to our understanding of everyday life in the past. ""Challenging and Changing Environments"" highlights the techniques, resources, and questions that historical archaeologists use to understand the roots of ways of thinking about and acting on the land. Through burial remains left beneath streets and tall buildings, ""Building Cities"" portrays urban life in large cities like New York, World Heritage cities like Quebec, and industrial cities like Oakland, California. ""Making a Living in Rural America"" explores the rural tradition in North American history as archaeologists ""read"" the traces of ancient farms, ranches, potteries, and mills. ""Cultures in Conflict"" introduces the archaeology of colonial wars, the U.S. Civil War, the epic Battle of Little Bighorn, and World War II.