Wouldn't it be cool if even a few of the old stories were true? Legends say that giants walked the Earth; Atlantis vanished under the sea; and Greece and Troy fought a devastating war over a beautiful woman. Amazing, but true: all these stories are based on facts.
Archaeologists digging in China discovered the fossils of Gigantopithecus, a giant ape standing 9 or 10 feet tall. These huge but probably gentle apes died off 500,000 years ago. Traditionally, villagers collected their bones and made them into medicines. They called their finds dragon bones. Some have wondered whether pockets of the animals may have survived into later centuries, giving rise to the legend of Big Foot.
Many Americans are largely unaware of the fascinating Native American sites that dot our landscapes and can be visited by the public. From tall mounds, akin in function to the ancient pyramids, to haunting images etched in desert stone, there are many sites to see off the beaten tourist trails. They can tell us a lot about the people who made this continent their home hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago.
In his Ancient America: Fifty Archaeological Sites to See For Yourself, author Kenneth L. Feder gives you a wonderfully friendly tour of 50 such sites. Some are located in state or national parks. Some are found as local museums. All are worth a look. As a professor of anthropology, Dr. Feder is extremely knowledgeable, but his conversational tone makes this is a genuinely accessible guide.
The Atlas of Mysterious Places is filled with wonder, adventure, and amazing photographs. A perfect book for an armchair explorer and dreamer, especially during these winter nights, it conjures landscapes of civilizations waiting to be rediscovered.
Do you like learning about mummies? Well, Bodies From the Bog, by James M. Deem, tells us about a type of mummy that you have probably never heard of before. One morning in April 1952, Danish workmen digging in a peat bog made an astonishing discovery. Their shovels struck the head of a dead man – his face flattened by the weight of the peat and his skin as brown as the earth in which he lay. Who was he and how had he come to be there?
Her wit is as dry as a whisper in a mummy’s tomb when she describes the life of a citizen of old Egypt from the squalling dawn of his existence to his final preparation for the afterlife. But for all her panache, in penning Red Land, Black Land Barbara Mertz has created no gripping historical romantic suspense novel—although she’s written many of those, too.
You may know this author better as Elizabeth Peters, she of the Amelia Peabody mystery series, or by her other nom de plume--Barbara Michaels. Yet Barbara Mertz is her real name, and it’s under that identity that she earned a doctorate in Egyptology from Chicago’s famed Oriental Institute some decades ago.
"By the King's Patent Granted" was a common embossing on English medicines of the 18th century. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries patent medicines reigned supreme as cures for everything from "hooping" cough to kidney ailments.
Kokopelli's Flute by Will Hobbs
Tepary Jones hiked to the ruins of the ancient city on the night of a total lunar eclipse. He had always felt the magic of the forgotten spaces, but tonight the place seemed especially alive, its pictures of animal and mystic figures telling pieces of stories long forgotten.
The standing stones of Salisbury plain, once a Neolithic gathering place of star watching and blood sacrifice, is eerie enough by moonlight. But something roams the jagged countryside, hiding from the sunlit world.
The Doom Stone by Paul Zindel
It is a great thing to have a truly cool aunt. Think real-world Indiana Jones, and you have Jackson's Aunt Sarah. On any given summer break, she might be found in any part of the world, excavating fossils of long ago hominids. Last spring break it had been Ethiopia. They'd slept in hammocks in the jungle to keep out of reach of the giant rats that prowled below.
This article first appeared in the Fredericksburg Times magazine. It was later rebound with a collection of other articles on archaelogy by Mr. Butler and others as the book, Fredericksburg Underground. It is reprinted here with Mrs. Elizabeth Butler's permission.
Beneath the silt of the Rappahannock and its shores lie objects and structural remains related to the earliest periods of Leaseland and Fredericksburg activity.