1491: New Revelations
of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann
this terrific book should be worth three college credits in archology or
anthropology. It was long, but I couldn’t put it down. The author is a writer,
not an academic, so not given to turgid prose and with no agenda axe to grind.
When I was in school, the “settled science” was that the Indians arrived in
north America via the land bridge from Siberia. (Mann calls them Indians
because that is what he says they mostly call themselves.) He reports research
that places them here much earlier. The book also destroys several other myths.
There were great cities in the Americas to rival anything Europe had, through
only Cahokia is north of the Rio Grande. Everyone knows about the Maya, the
Inka and the Aztec. There were other empires that rose and fell before the
first Europeans arrived with their diseases. Many fell to conquest by other Indian
empires. The Indians were colonialist conquers as much as the European, Asians,
etc. Others appear to have fallen victim to climate change—without SUVs! “Super
El Ninos” in the Pacific caused droughts that lasted for years. Cahokia seems
to have ben a victim of it’s own success, with expending crop areas changing
the climate and causing drought. This book is well worth reading.