Contrary to the far-out stereotypes about hippie communes, what stuck with Jon Mooallem after his visit to the ruins of one, was the idea of family. In "The Grateful Dig: An Archaeologist Excavates a Tie-Dyed Modern Stereotype," Mooallem, a San Francisco-based contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, describes his tour of the Chosen Family compound with an archaeologist who is studying its remains. The commune became famous for its bacchanalia, but started out as a father's attempt to raise his kids with other families. "There was just something powerful about the fact that a family established this place to be not just by themselves, but to spend time with each other." Mooallem's most recent book is the Atavist e-book American Hippopotamus.
For more on the science of society, and to support our work, sign up for our free email newsletters and subscribe to our bimonthly magazine. Digital editions are available in the App Store (iPad) and on Google Play (Android) and Zinio (Android, iPad, PC/MAC, iPhone, and Win8).