Saturday, July 31, 2021

In Search of the Old Ones: Exploring the Anasazi World of the Southwest by David Roberts

 genre: non-fiction, history, travel, archeology

I must first note that I purchased this book in a gift shop tourist site out there somewhere probably a decade ago.   Longer?  Yes, it took me until now to read it.  But I was intrigued enough by the ideas that were maybe inside that I never could bring myself to get rid of it.

So, it's dated, for sure, both the information about the historic record and the writing itself.  And the author is not actually a scientist - he's an explorer.  He's curious and knowledgable but he spends a lot of time in the book sharing the theories that other scientists and researchers have about those ancient inhabitants in the southwest that we call the Anasazi.  It's a fluid study because there are always new theories about them - how they lived, how they interacted with other peoples and, overarchingly - why did they suddenly leave the area in one fell swoop hundreds of years ago?

It's a travelogue of his explorations around the environments where the Anazasi lived.  The ruins he describes, the artifacts left behind in such a pristine state due to the climate - it's astonishing.  The cliff dwelling and pueblo ruins part of all of this is what has fascinated me since I was a girl and I'm sure that's why I bought the book in the first place.  He goes into that, both what historians conjecture and again, about his own observations.  Do we get lots of answers?  No, but I don't think that's the point, really.  It's more of a "look at what we think we know!  It's so much less than what we want to know!"  

It took me a while to read because it's not super gripping and because every time I'd read about a new place I'd have to look it up to see it with my eyes :). It makes me want to explore this amazing part of the world again and certainly gives me even greater respect for culture and capabilities of these ancient inhabitants of the Four Corners region.

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