Thursday, September 30, 2010

1863 Around the World and Just Outside Your Door

Islands of the Cyclops at Dawn Sicily Italy - ...Image by gnuckx via Flickr

President Lincoln freed African American slaves. King George assumed the throne in Greece. Thomas Crapper invented a new toilet in England. Colombia was formed. Cambodia became a French Protectorate. The Red Cross was organized in Geneva. Rugby was invented. Coastal Holland experienced devastating floods. In America, it was a period of constant war. North versus South. Federal versus Native American.

No matter where you live in the world, how would you react if a little bit of 1863 suddenly visited you one day? Maybe it would be something you spotted just as dusk was settling in. Or maybe it would arrive with a knock at your front door. Or perhaps you were lost and directions given pointed to something from 1863. Perhaps the experience would be fleeting, a few moments at most.

Would you tell someone? Or would you ignore it and hope it wouldn't be repeated? These are questions that characters in Gettysburg Passage face. They are modern men and women, living today,  just like you. Suddenly their world changes just a little bit. What should they do? What would you do? What if your decision could change the fate of the world. Would you act? Even if you faced great danger?

To learn more, go to and look up Gettysburg Passage, by John Callahan. Just $2.99 by download to your Kindle, PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad and Android smart phone. It's easy. Do it!

Tags: ancient civilizations, Sumer, Babylon, Indo-European, Greece, Hittites
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Does Character Define Destiny?

Ten Indus scripts discovered near the northern...Image via Wikipedia
In my action and adventure book, Gettysburg Passage, from Amazon, the main character struggles with a challenge that some might call his destiny. The action in this story takes place today and involves successful young professionals living in the Washington area in the U.S. These young people work hard and play hard and question whether they really have time for an adventure that might change their lives.

The main character, Rick Reynolds, is actually called upon to risk his life for something he is not sure is worth it -- a recently discovered sacred object from an ancient civilization. He is called upon to act, to preserve this ancient symbol -- and he is unsure if he should get involved. His friends have lots of opinions but at crunch time, at least early in the story, they aren't much help.  This quandry calls to mind this quote on destiny:

"Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny"

For Rick, his character is clearly his destiny in this novel. If you would like to learn more, look up Gettysburg Passage by John Callahan under the book section of Amazon. com.  Readers have posted some amazing reviews.

Key terms: archaeology; lost civilizations; Crete; Egypt; Mesopotamia

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Emerson said a hero is persistent

L1005335Image by Ignis [Ad.G] via Flickr
Much of this blog has fun with archaeology and the discovery of evidence of ancient culture and civilizations, the evolution of language, the historical migration of peoples, and the emergence of spirituality, complex settlements, cities and human organizations, all the elements that make up the raw material for a meaty, three-part series of fictional action & adventure stories! Many of my interests can be boiled down to "how did we all land right here right now?"

Those are all macro issues and a potential reader might rightly say, those topics are too big to wrap my head around and besides, who cares? So in my book I bring it all down to an individual and personal level, and address issues like, what is heroism? In my book, Gettysburg Passage from Amazon, we follow an everyday modern person, Rick Reynolds, who as the story evolves is asked to make choices that might be considered heroic. And he is not the only one. Several of his friends, including an emergency room nurse, and two high tech sales people -- even a priest and a college anthropology professor -- all are asked at different times to take on very hard, thankless tasks.

In our society today we spend a lot of our time avoiding these situations. It is not that we are selfish and uncaring. More likely I think it is that we are all so busy. But no matter how we try to avoid it, at certain points in our lives we are all asked to take on hard, thankless jobs. It could be the care of a loved one or neighbor, the organization of a community activity, the fixing of a problem at work where you will probably not receive appropriate credit. In my experience most of the time people do these things and they don't go looking for glory. They just get it done.

As Emerson predicted, people are persistent in their everyday heroic acts. An admirable thing.

In Gettysburg Passage, Rick Reynolds is pushed, pushed, pushed by forces outside of himself. Improbable, impossible things are glimpsed in the hazy, late evening summer darkness. A stranger rides up on a horse to his bedroom window just before dawn. He is somewhat familiar with the forces behind these actions but he doesn't understand them fully. He is reluctant to face up to what might be going on. Why should he? For the first time in his life he is becoming a professional success. He is making good money. Rick owns a mountain cabin. He enjoys outdoor activities and the company of friends. Why should he threaten this picture by getting involved in something that will likely rip him away from his comfort zone?

Does he take on the responsibilities of becoming a hero? And what of his friends? What choices do they make? Would you put your life at risk to accomplish a great task? Would you take it on with the awareness that no one would ever know what you did?

We read of heroes in the epics from ancient Greece, Egypt, Gilgamesh in Sumer, Rome, in the old Norse stories. But heroes are actually created every day right here around us. And we never learn about most of them.  If you would like to see how Rick and his friends do with the choices they need to make, please go to and look up Gettysburg Passage by John Callahan. To read it you need a Kindle or an app for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android. The apps can be easily and effortlessly downloaded right from the book listing and the whole process only takes a few seconds. I also look forward to hearing from you on Twitter. You can find me @JohnJ_Callahan.
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Monday, September 20, 2010

From Uruk, Athens and Rome, to Washington and the Dark Ages Again?

City-states of the Fertile Crescent in the 2nd...Image via Wikipedia
If you -- yes, you browsing the internet right now! -- were picked out of the crowd to drop what you were doing to "save" an ancient people, at the probable cost of your modern existence, would you consider it? There's no time to say goodbye because what if that ancient society was absolutely dependent right now -- life or death -- on you making an affirmative choice? Now double down....What if today's modern society would cease to exist unless you say yes?

No? Then poof!! In the blink of an eye existence suddenly is undone, changed, rearranged, cities gone without a trace. Innovations left on the workbench or forgotten in the clouded minds of inventors. Poetry never written, canvases left blank, rivers never spanned, endless fields once again thick with swaying grain in a strong afternoon wind, never seeing the passing ancient road to a distant capital.

How can this be? This is the stark choice facing a character, Rick Reynolds, in the new novel, Gettysburg Passage, from As you might imagine, Rick basically doesn't want to help! Who would? He is reasonably successful, makes a good living, has a circle of good friends, enjoys getting outdoors on weekends and holidays. Like most young, middle class people living in the early 21st century from Mumbai to Shanghai to Denver to Frankfurt, Rick enjoys the fruits of modern existence: low-cost health care, decent pay, plentiful food and abundant recreational opportunities.

But Rick has a choice to make. He is needed. What will he do?

Who needs the help anyway? Is it the inhabitants of the proto city of Eridu in the Fertile Crescent? Or perhaps peasants groaning under the lash of Eannatum of Lagash, the first ruler in history known to have dominated his neighbors in a reign of terror? How about the Hattians, under pressure from the encroaching Indo-European Hittite tribes advancing from the East?

Should you somehow make it back there, five, ten, fifteen thousand years ago, how will you defend this ancient proto civilization? Would you raid an armory? Could you learn the long bow and judge the right size for your arms? How about the sword? If given the choice, could you judge a blade's worth, or the fit of proper armor? Would you choose the spear or the battle ax? The hammer or the javelin?

Or would your principal weapon be your brain, your experience, your heart?

There are a lot of questions raised in this blog and only some of the them are addressed in Book One, Gettysburg Passage. But questions are asked and decisions are made. To learn more, go to and download the novel for your Kindle, or download the free Kindle app for your iPad, iPhone, Android phone, PC or Mac. My readers are enjoying the book using all of these readers. You can download the book in less than 60 seconds. Why not do it now? Action, adventure and fantasy awaits!
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Friday, September 17, 2010

Washington, Gettysburg, the Black Sea and the Pontic-Caspian Steppe

The wider area of the Urals, showing the trans...Image via Wikipedia
Concerning my novel Gettysburg Passage, readers have told me that they quickly begin to get a feeling that the action-adventure story operates on several levels. On the easiest level, people living today around Washington, D.C., in the Northeast and in Paris, get caught up in what is to be done with a discovered historical artifact that my be immeasurably valuable. Obviously one could just bundle it up and go drop it off at the Smithsonian and be done with it. But we are talking adventure here with a dash of fantasy, and that option isn't desirable. So dealing with the artifact becomes a central driver in the plot.

But there are clues sprinkled liberally throughout that other forces are in play. In that spirit, I would like to briefly highlight an area of the world remote from the heavily forested eastern Seaboard of the U.S. I will then tie this discussion back to the completed first novel and other volumes to follow.

The Pontic-Caspian Steppe is a vast grasslands that is actually part of the great Eurasian Steppe. It stretches from Hungary in Europe around the Black Sea and Caspian Sea all the way to Mongolia. Steppes in general have cold winters and hot summers, are mostly flat, support trees only along streams and rivers and are dominated by plentiful grasses. The Pontic-Caspian Steppe resides in Asia closest to Europe and it here that researchers believe that humans used their inate intelligence to develop complex social organizations.

It is on this vast steppe that the seeds of ancient civilizations took root. Here tribesmen and women first cast up their gazes to the great sky God with chanted names strikingly like Deus and Zeus. The tribes first tamed horses (ekwos,equus/equestrian) and trained them for warfare, crafted the wheel for carts and chariots, made weapons like spears, swords, knives, bows and hammers. Livestock was gathered and grazed to form tribal and family wealth. Cereal grain seeds were collected for primitive farming. Most importantly, many modern languages used throughout the West and in India were first formed here. The language is called Proto-Indo-European. Many, many things valuable to us now were first conceived of on the Pontic-Caspian Steppe.

It is here on this vast steppe that tribes organized concepts of uplifting spirituality and social organization, and violent theories for vast warfare and plunder campaigns. And somehow, influences stretch back and bounce forth, from the spicy bog fires in camps along the Caspian Sea where storytellers chant to rapt listeners heroic poetry somehow influencing and being influenced by those frequenting the affluent and trendy pubs and restaurants of the western suburbs of modern Washington, D.C.

The journey begins in the novel Gettysburg Passage, available from Amazon and instantly downloadable to your Kindle or as a Kindle app on your iPad, iPhone, Android phone, Mac or PC. Please buy it, read it and review it today!

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Theban Desert Road Survey

View of Kharga Oasis with the Temple of Hibis ...Image via Wikipedia
If you follow this blog you understand that nearly every week new evidence surfaces that sheds light on newly discovered lost cities, frontier towns and important remnants of ancient civilizations. The more we look using sophisticated archaelogical tools, the more we find. While modern scholarship is wonderful, perspectives on the past constantly evolve and the stories told in universities, books and in the media are at best a partial view of what really happened -- the million friendships, treaties, visions, dramas, insights, breakthroughs, discoveries, encounters, battles and migrations that led to several billion of us somehow arriving and living in a modern 21st Century world.

The latest example of understanding the past in a new way can be found in The New York Times on September 6, 2010, in an article by John Noble Wilford. The story was also widely reported on many other media outlets. The article said that the Egyptian Government's Supreme Council of Antiquities had announced the discovery of the oldest significant military-administrative city yet found deep in the desert interior. The settlement was located at a caravan crossroads near the Kharga Oasis. The settlement is believed to be about 3,500 years old and located about 100 miles west of Luxor, site of the ancient temple complexes at Thebes.

Thebes, of course, was world famous in antiquity and extolled by Homer in The Iliad: "... in Egyptian Thebes the heaps of precious ingots gleam, the hundred-gated Thebes."

In my new book, Gettysburg Passage, people living today are given an accidental glimpse of a forgotten world where people built a significant proto civilization and struggled to keep it alive. As you read the story, you begin to wonder what some of the characters might do today to help that ancient civilization survive. Can we influence the past? Isn't it supposed to be the other way around? One way to find out is to go to and download the action-adventure novel onto your Kindle, PC, Mac, iOS iPad or iPhone, or your Android platform.
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Monday, September 6, 2010

Spectacular advanced ancient civilization

View of Amazon basin forest north of Manaus, B...Image via Wikipedia
A central thread of this blog is that there are a million spectacular, jaw-dropping discoveries that are yet to be made about our very distant past. Some of these discoveries are derivative, like the remnants of a lost Roman city uncovered in the inner reaches of deeply forested, boggy Wales countryside or evidence of an Odysseus-related castle on the wind-swept Isle of Ithaca.

Other finds are totally new. In today's Washington Post, a front-page story describes how previous archaeological dogma is being thrown out the window as scientists realize the Amazon rain forest was home to sophisticated ancient civilizations that sustained relatively large towns and supported effective large-scale agriculture.

The novel Gettysburg Passage, available from (the online store, not the rain forest) also throws dogma out the window. The novel hints at an advanced, ancient civilization that existed prior to those (Sumerians, Hittites, Egyptians, etc.) traditionally studied today. The older civilization was in fact the trailblazer and innovator for key technological and religious concepts currently held dear. But the novel's proto civilization faced a grave danger to its very existence. Remarkably, a key to its survival is found today. Can people and decisions made today have an effect on the distant past?  Gettysburg Passage attempts to answer this question in a modern action adventure novel.

What the heck. The only thing at risk is the history of Western Civilization and our very existence. Available as a $5.99 download for Kindle, or as a Kindle app on smartphones, iOS, Mac or PC.

To learn even more, read more of this blog or go to YouTube and type in Gettysburg Passage.
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Thursday, September 2, 2010

The First People

1st Dynastic King of EgyptImage via Wikipedia
Have you ever thought about how the human race got its act together, how the first people emerged? You know, people who cared about their appearance, maybe with a bit of jewelry or makeup, who might laugh at a joke or sway to the pleasing rhythm of a song? People that you could relate with and maybe laugh together at a Geico commerical. It's a given that from a physical and brain development point of view, humans in the form of modern homo sapiens have been ready for prime time for about 200,000 years.

But from 200,000 BCE to say, 15,000 or 10,000 B.C., there is the big gap of prehistory where man presumably developed the ability to communicate in familiar and complex ways. Did it happen all at once about 50,000 years ago or evolve over time? Presumably, a certain advanced language ability allowed the articulation of  abstract thought and perhaps helped formulate the first manifestations of spirituality and religion as seen in cave paintings and burial rituals. Interestingly, crude funeral rituals may go back at least 60,000 to 70,000 years.

Along the way, social activities blossomed, such as communal feasting, gaming, story telling, gossiping, flirting and joking and ultimately fishing and farming and bitching about the weather.  Once folks had put the key cultural concepts together in small communities, they were ready for the next step, building a civilization. It is in these earliest efforts, where communities continued to grow and evolve that we see the emergence of the earliest towns in the Cradle of Civilization from Sumer to Early Dynastic Egypt. Some communities stood out and were able to leave a record and set an example that has be documented and  survived down to our present age.

But some group of people, some community, did it first. Before the history writers were around. They didn't necessarily leave records. Somehow, at least for now, evidence of them has been lost. Fortunately, for those of us today curious about the past, we have Gettysburg Passage, an Amazon book, by John Callahan.  The key characters of Gettysburg Passage are modern, normal people, alive today. But somewhat against their wishes, people in the book are given the responsibility to influence the formation of a critical-mass community back in the most ancient times. Before Memphis in ancient Egypt, before Jericho, before Eridu in Sumer. Members of this ancient, forgotten community are oppressed, scattered and disheartened. Their lands have been overwhelmed, defenses defeated and homes occupied. But no matter how dire their plight, they must follow divine prophecy. They have the job of carrying the precious seeds of a young civilization to a land where they can be planted, sprout and flourish. Our current existence depends on it.

These concepts are explored in  Books I, II and III of the Gettysburg Passage series. The first book is available today for $5.99. Why not visit Amazon today?
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