Saturday, April 28, 2012

1491


This fascinating book by Charles C. Mann book uses new evidence and recent scholarship to paint a vivid picture of the Americas -- pre-1492.

There is so much  information ( you can read a good summary HERE)  that is new and startling ( to me, at least) that I'll just note three of the points that surprised me.

One: When European settlers arrived, they found a sparsely populated land -- not realizing that  diseases brought by explorers many years before had wiped out at many as 10 million natives in North America and many more than that in Central and South America.

Two: What seemed to those settlers like virgin land had, in fact, been shaped by thousands of years of occupation and manipulation -- fires to open up areas for grazing animals being one example.

Three: I know, of course, about the cities of the Aztec and Maya in Mexico and Central America, as well as those of the Inca in Peru. But I didn't know that, in what is now Illinois, in the 1100s there was a city of fifteen thousand people that covered five square miles -- larger than London at the same time.  Check out Cahokia
There's so much more -- and so much to think about. When I remember what the textbooks of my youth had to say about the original inhabitants, I am once more reminded that what we're  taught in school isn't necessarily true.

And talk about illegal immigration. . .
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17 comments:

Brian Miller said...

this is a really great book....read it...and def will get you to thinking about the history we have been sold...smiles.

happy saturday!

Elora said...

Fascinating! May I also suggest Gavin Menzie's book entitled 1421: the year China discovered the world." It's the incredibly detailed study of the Chinese navigational feats some 70 years prior to Columbus's "discovery" of America. Much evidence to point to other "truths..."

Here's a website that will walk you through...and BTW, don't go to any PBS site that has anything to do with this incredible book. They muffed their opportunity, dropped the ball, so to speak. A video that should have been highly touted, came up empty, gave short shrift to the extensive research done by Gavin Menzies.

http://www.1421.tv/

Elora

KarenB said...

I just got this book out of the library and it's sitting over there on the CD cupboard patiently waiting its turn. I need to read Their Eyes Were Watching God first for book club.

NCmountainwoman said...

This subject fascinates me. When we lived in WI we found there are many effigy mounds. Some are rectangular or conical and some of them are in the shapes of animals or birds. Truly amazing. I will definitely look for this book. Thanks

Barbara Rogers said...

I am glad to hear about this book, will definitely look for it. As always, I'm interested in how archeology uses pottery to learn about ancient cultures...wonder how the artifacts substantiate this more accurate version of our history.

Sue P said...

This sounds wonderful! I still have a week of medical leave before I go back to work and will use the time to read this one. Thanks for the heads up.

JJ Roa Rodriguez said...

the post is very informative... and the responses from followers are awesome... something to check out and read... thanks for sharing!

JJRod'z

Novice Naturalist said...

After a total of 14 years working as a college English teacher among indigenous peoples, I KNOW what we were (and are) being taught in school is way off. Thanks for posting about this book. I am putting it on my must read list, right now~

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Love the cartoon -- 1491 sounds like a book worth checking into. -- barbara

Darla said...

Yes, isn't it a great book? I read it a few years ago and, like you, was just amazed. I wish there was some way to get it used as a textbook in junior high or high schools. In fact, I suggested that my niece use it for an essay paper in history.

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

So true. Our ancestors were illegal immigrants, we've just never thought of it that way before. Living in Cherokee County has changed my way of thinking I must say. This book sounds fascinating.
Sam

Inger said...

I have to get that book, it sounds very interesting. I studied up on the Swedish vikings for one of my A to Z posts and my old interest in history was renewed. I like the way you change the colors of your blog.

Mayland Writers' Group said...
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Inger said...

I have to get that book, it sounds very interesting. I studied up on the Swedish vikings for one of my A to Z posts and my old interest in history was renewed. I like the way you change the colors of your blog.

Martin said...

This sounds like a very interesting read. The older I get, the more distance opens up between what I was taught at school, and something much closer to the truth.

Susan M. Bell said...

Definitely putting this on my "must read" list. Sounds very interesting, and enlightening.

jennyfreckles said...

Very interesting - I suppose what we learned at school must always have been partial, knowingly so or not. History is always being uncovered and thus changing.