Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ancient American Cities

Numerous ancient cities fire my imagination at what could have been. Here is a quick overview of some, that unlike Atlantis we do have an inkling of their true nature, strange and fascinating in their own light.
The Great Octagon (look toward upper left) near Newark, Ohio is a fascinating work of craftsmanship. It's eight sides are aligned to the phases of the moon. Making it a monumental celestial observatory. It is interesting to note that building such a colossal earthen structure must have occurred during a period of great peace because of how long it would have taken to build as well as the incredible workforce. It has been dated to between 50 AD and 200 AD.
The cliff palaces of Mesa Verde are a wonder and inspire a multitude of possibilities. The numerous watch places interconnecting on cliffs in the region denote a fearful people on the lookout for enemies. I suspect a much more sinister end than just drought. The clues of human sacrifice and cannibalism suggest darker forces at work than just a simple agrarian people.
Chaco Canyon-what is pictured is a portion called Pueblo Bonito today had over 800 rooms, and likely a huge grain storage depot. There were numerous cities throughout the canyon. Roads criss-cross the area and are straight and true averaging 30 feet wide, impressive if all you ever have are people on foot. Makes you wonder if that is all they really had. Items found in the region denote a vast trade empire stretching thousands of miles to the east and south.
Tikal's original name was Mutula and as such I use it in my novel. The name means something akin to New Tula, which is a reference to another great city of legend Tollan the Golden. The influence and trade between both must have been great.

Lubaantun is a truly strange city that seems outside of the norm for Central America, in that it was made from perfectly cut stones that were not fitted with mortar. Supposedly the infamous Crystal Skull of Doom was found here in 1924 by Anna Mitchell-Hedges. I say supposedly because although I would love to think that she did find it on her seventeenth birthday as a regular Nancy Drew/Indianan Jones type thing, it seems a little fishy. Rumors abound that her adopted father F. A. Mitchell-Hedges bought it at Sothebys a few years earlier. Where it came from before that is any ones guess. Still it is a different type of city that sets itself apart from other meso-american ruins and I can't resist using it for an upcoming work. For the sake of the novel I will place the Skull in a position where Anna could find it millenia later. So many things here to inspire and wonder about, there is no end of stories to tell.


Jenn Johansson said...

Wow, The Great Octagon sounds so cool. Great pictures!

David J. West said...

Thanks Jenn, the more I find out about it the more interesting it becomes.

Ann Best said...

Awesome photographs. However, I had to read the text here since your blog background, which I really do like, isn't kind on my eyes. I would have preferred reading your excellent captions while viewing the photos.

I've read M. Gray's review of your novel (the passage she quoted: well done!). And her interview with you.

I'm looking forward to reading the book and will get back to you when I do. May it be successful for both you and WiDo!!

David J. West said...

Ann-Thanks, I've noticed it hard to read some other peoples blogs too sometimes.(But that's my monitors fault more than their blogs)

I was very pleased with her review.

Thanks and I hope so too.

Chad said...

David I know you and I have talked about this before but as you drive I-15 south bound and look east towards Salem near the Relief Mine you can see what to the observant eye seems like what appears to be the remains of a wall within the alluvial fan that flows into the city. I know we have speculated on the natural setting of this area and how it would have made a logical site for a walled city at one time. I know that the areas of the mid west and the great basin once held ancient civilizations and I have always at least hoped that the area in question may hold evidence yet discovered that will one day reveal one of your ancient civilizations. Further more as I study more oral history of the American Indians I come across legends about advanced races of people living in "great villages" where entrance is by invitation only. We have to talk.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

I love love stuff like this. if you ever organize an expedition south, count me in.

Lisa said...

I agree with Tamara! You should totally be a tour guide. Each member of the group could buy a sword and you could teach us how to fight. I can't think of a better guide or a better tour!

Those pictures do invoke a great deal of day dreaming on my part. I would love to be "in" those cities. How great would it be to be granted a brief visit to our favorite part of history.

I've got to check out your book. Maybe through you I could.

Charles Gramlich said...

Yes, I was watching a special about the crystal skulls not long ago and about the city. I particularly love the cliff dwellings. I used their like in the Talera books.

David J. West said...

Thanks Chad, gotta wait for book 3 or 4 in the series for that stuff.

Tamara-ha a lot what is in the book should be closer to you than me, particularly "Tongues of Fire"

Lisa-I actually had a guide I know ask if I would be interested in a tour sometime (don't know how time would allow that right now) but it would be cool. A goal of mine is to have the book take you somewhere else-both strange and exotic but real and tangible.

Charles-fascinating places and I need to get my hands on the Talera Books too. Soon as I have some extra scratch.

Angie said...

So, so fascinating. Have you been to any of these? I have been to Mesa Verde (close to thirty years ago), and to Chaco Canyon (in 2007). Chaco was amazing. Standing there were those cities stood is just deeply moving to me for some reason. I feel the same way whenever I look at ancient petroglyphs. (Petroglyphs is too a word, silly spell checker!)

David J. West said...

Angie, I have been to all but Tikal and Lubaantun. Someday.