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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