Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ancient Civilizations Under Our Feet

Fresco from Knossos palaceImage via Wikipedia
As I was bike riding a couple of days ago I passed a woods and, despite my downhill speed, my eyes were drawn deep into the trees lit in pleasing patterns by late afternoon sunlight. As I often do during such moments, I imagined what had occurred in that spot over the years: farming, hunting, fishing, burial grounds perhaps, military skirmishes involving troops from the Civil and Revolutionary wars, interactions between native peoples and settlers, and stretching back tens of thousands of years, maybe activities from lost societies that we have no conception of yet.

As an avid reader of history, conventional wisdom tells us that the first glimmers of organized society are only 12,000 years old or so, with basic settlements, social hierarchy, crude agriculture and the domestication of animals emerging very slowly as the world thawed and the glaciers retreated. This framework works for my book series but I would still be thrilled if evidence appeared of relatively advanced societies -- along the lines of Cretan or Minoan civilization -- were found to exist 20,000 or even 40,000 years ago. Wouldn't that make for some interesting plot lines?

News out of the U.K. this weekend is that the recent dry weather there has caused literally thousands of ancient settlement sites, from Roman ruins to settelments thousands of years earlier, to suddenly become evident because of variations in crop coloring. Soil over some ancient settlement structures, like ditches or holding ponds, may hold moisture somewhat more efficiently and produce a deeper green. An old wall, on the other hand, might rob surface crops of moisure in specific patterns, giving another clue. From the air, faint patterns of old forts, walls, ditches and settlements fairly jump out to an observer or a camera, the English Heritage organization reports.

The more experts look, the more patterns of human exploration and settlement are found. So, to my mind and imagination, rarely is a woods just a woods. If you look and listen closely, the buzz of prior human activity becomes almost a roar. If you'd like to explore how several people from the Washington area reluctantly get involved in often harrowing activities strongly influenced by an obscure ancient civilization, please check out the book Gettysburg Passage now available on
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Launch of Gettysburg Passage Novel from Amazon Featured in Leading Media

Just a quick note that Gettysburg Passage, a contemporary action adventure novel, was launched Wednesday with a national announcement carried by PR Newswire that was picked up by AOL, Yahoo, CNBC, Reuters, Dow Jones and more than 200 other leading wires and media portals. While I would like to think the media was excited about the story, realistically what was newsworthy to them was the fact that Gettysburg Passage is one of the first fiction e-books published to be optimized for e-reader platforms like Kindle, iPad and Kindle apps on PC, Mac and smartphones. The novel has video links, hypertext and encourages the reader to explore issues developed in the narrative. Some experts, like Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, think the reader should have an uninterrupted immersion in the fiction experience. That is not how I see people around me reading today, however. They comment, the talk back, they share, the Tweet. One of my daughters can be quiet for hours as she reads, but she is also capable of providing nearly a running commentary, too. So visit, read a review of the book, perhaps watch one of my videos on YouTube (keywords: Gettysburg Passage) and then consider downloading the novel to your Kindle, iPad, iPhone, Android phone, or download the Amazon Kindle reader application for your PC or Mac. It takes just a moment and you can be reading within 5 minutes. I promise!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Palace of Odysseus Discovered in Ithaca

Ithaca's capital, Vathi, on the south of the i...Image via Wikipedia
Odysseus was the mythical king of Ithaca from roughly the Eighth Century B.C. and a central player in both the Illiad and the Odyssey. Literary experts have long taught that he never existed but was simply a fictional superhero in the Greek national epics. Isn't it surprising then, as archaeologists dig ever deeper into the past, that a royal palace has been excavated on the island of Ithaca, in the Ionian Sea, just where Homer said it would be and the remains date to....the Eighth Century B.C. There is a facinating story on all this just published in the Telegraph in the U.K. by Nick Squires. (Why do all of my best links come from the U.K.?). The link follows below. As I remind my readers, the world as we know it was built from and is supported by past civilizations. Easily 95% of the knowledge related to ancient civilizations has been lost. But we can use information fragments, such as the work being done by the archaeologists from the University of Ioannina, to expand our imaginations and dream of what came before us. In my new book from, Gettysburg Passage, people find an artifact from a past civilization, as luck would have it, under some bushes not far from the White House. It is an ancient royal mace, or perhaps a cheesy copy. But the artifact reveals a world they had no idea was possible and tests their smug assumptions about what matters. They are quickly confronted with a need to take action -- or possibly perish. Why not download the book and find out what happens?
Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gettysburg Passage "Video Trailers" Now Available on YouTube

YouTubeImage via Wikipedia
Gettysburg Passage, a new action-thriller novel available this week from Amazon, is the subject of two brief video trailers on YouTube. Just enter the title as keywords and Part 1 and Part 2 should pop up. Production values are definitely internet quality but I hope you enjoy the brief book promos. We shot at an antebellum farmhouse and at a battlefield site in Fairfax County, VA, just outside the Washington D.C. beltway. This area is intensely suburban today but some special spots are not much changed from 150, 200 years ago. Please let me know what you think!
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, August 13, 2010

King Arthur and the Lost Roman City of Caerleon, Wales

[From the southeast, Cardiff Castle, Wales] (LOC)Image by The Library of Congress via Flickr
In an earlier blog, I mentioned how improved archaeological detection technologies are leading to astounding new finds in archaeology, ancient civilizations, history, climatology, etc. Recent news from Wales proves this fact.

The South Wales Argus and other U.K. media are reporting on researchers from Cardiff University who, using geophysical mapping tools, have found the remains of a large walled city that no historians knew existed in an area that was thought to be mostly unoccupied.

Think about that. A very large military settlement of immense importance to Rome, completely lost to history without a trace, then thousands of years later, discovered. It was not some obscure outpost garrisoned by second stringers. There were only 30 Roman legions across the whole empire at the point in history and the Caerleon "lost city" was the base of one of them.

The sprawling complex of Roman ruins looks to have possibly included warehouses, temples, markets, town halls, etc.

Tours of the excavation sites will run Tuesday to Sunday at 11am and 2.30pm between now and September 17, or can be viewed online at

Archaeologists from Cardiff University, and staff and students of University College, London, will begin a six-week dig to help determine how far below the ground the remains are hidden.

Here is the link to the article in The Argus:

More things to think about....does Caerleon, Wales ring a bell? It is believed to be the home of King Arthur's Camelot. Were the legends of The Knights of the Round Table, Uther Pendragon, Merlin,
Guinevere, the sword Excalibur, Tintagel, the final battle against Mordred at Camlann and final rest in Avalon, were these people and events somehow fueled by the Roman presence in Caerleon? Or do the stories stretch further back into the ever shifting and also obscure and mysterious Anglo-Celtic mists?

In my novel, Gettysburg Passage, available soon from Amazon, a group of friends living in and around Washington, D.C. are reluctantly pulled into shocking events powered by just such a "lost" city as Caerleon, once completely lost to modern histories but nevertheless still powerful and reaching out, tugging, pulling and pushing people and events today...

Watch for the news release announcing book availability very soon.....

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Archaeologists Discover Oldest House in Britain

Stone age projekt in Sweden 4Image via Wikipedia
The latest news from the U.K. is that university archaeologists from the University of York and Manchester University have uncovered remains of the oldest home-like structure ever discovered, dating back at least 11,000 years to the Stone Age. In an article in The Independent by David Keys, the paper's archaeology correspondent (isn't that cool?), researchers said the dwelling was found in North Yorkshire near Scarborough. The dwelling could be up to 1,000 years older than previously discovered Stone Age buildings. Here is a link to the article:

My point is that the more archaeologists explore, the more they find and the earlier evidence of civilization stretches back into the deep past. Who knows if evidence of surprisingly advanced civilizations may be found with the continued progress in detection technologies (more on this tomorrow in my discussion of huge new Roman archaeological finds detected using the latest equipment). No, I am not an Atlantis nut, these issues are tied into the plot of my new novel, Gettysburg Passage, available soon from Amazon.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, August 9, 2010

John the Baptist and the Power of Ancient Pilgrimage

Tomb of St. John the Baptist at a Coptic monas...Image via Wikipedia
Media in Eastern Europe are agog with the announcement in early August that remains believed to be of John the Baptist have been dug up on ancient St. Ivan (John) Island, off the Black Sea coast of Sozopol, Bulgaria.

Inhabitants of the island began following Christianity around 300 A.D. and a monastery was built there over the ruins of an ancient Roman temple. Early buildings included the Basilica of the Mother of God. Over the centuries the church and surrounding monastery were abandoned and reoccupied. The Monastery of John the Forerunner and the Baptist was an important center of Christianity. Archaeological research has occurred sporadically since the 1980s and was recently funded by the Norwegian government. A royal residence, a library, part of the fortified wall with the gate and several monastic cells have been unearthed.  The relics, which include part of an arm bone, a skull bone, and a tooth, were found in a sealed marble reliquary in the St. John the Forerunner Church in July by the team of archaeologists led by Prof. Kazimir Popkonstantinov.  A Greek inscription was found quoting a man named Thomas, “God’s servant brought a particle of St. John on the 24th,” a traditional feast day for the Baptizer.

Thousands of pilgrims are streaming to the site from Russia and Europe. How did the relics get to the Black Sea? Why do pilgrims feel the need to visit? What is the significance of being in the presence of something possibly sacred? These and other issues are relevant to the find on this ancient Black Sea island and also relevant to my soon-to-be-published novel, Gettysburg Passage. Look for it soon!
Enhanced by Zemanta