Human Journey

Heart Like a Wheel

The hut is tiny and windowless and constructed of round river stones, and it stands alone in a high wild valley in Afghanistan.

From 20 paces away you can hear it hum: Its walls emit a strange, wavering sound like an extended sigh—a soft, dry, droning song that rarely ceases. Occasionally a man and a boy duck out of the blackened doorway into sunlight. They are covered from head to toe in white dust. They look like pale beings from another world. They wipe their faces with a rag. They go back inside.

Is this some sort of ceremonial site? Is the rock hut a shrine to a forgotten cult? Are the man and boy ghosts?

The answer to all these questions is: yes.

Read the full story, or explore more content from the Out of Eden Walk at

Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent and National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek’s 21,000-mile Out of Eden Walk is a multiyear experiment in slow journalism. Moving at the beat of his footsteps, Salopek is walking the pathways of the first humans who migrated out of Africa in the Stone Age and made the Earth ours. Along the way he is covering the major stories of our time—from climate change to technological innovation, from mass migration to cultural survival—by giving voice to the people who inhabit them every day. His words, as well as his photographs, video, and audio, are creating a global record of human life at the start of a new millennium as told by villagers, nomads, traders, farmers, soldiers, and artists who rarely make the news. Join the journey at and on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @OutofEdenWalk.

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Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

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