Posts Tagged: Anasazi

More historical fiction from ancient Americas

16 April 2012 Comments (1)

This time the action shifts to Mesoamerica.

Having witnessed the fall of the ancient Cliff Dwellers-Anasazi, the main characters, Tecpatl and Sakuna, are now have to deal with an entirely different situation.
It is the middle of the 14th century and the mighty Tepanecs are ruling the whole Mexican Valley.
Every city-state, every village, every settlement fears them, careful to send a tribute each month when the moon is full. The Aztecs, relatively safe upon their small isolated island, are also careful to behave. No nation dares to angry the mighty Tepanecs.

Yet, the trouble, when begin, is coming from within. The old Emperor dies, leaving peculiar instructions. The Second Son is to rule the Empire. He is the one to succeed the beautiful marble throne of Azcapotzalco. But the First Son, who have to reconcile himself with ruling a distant unimportant city-state, is not happy.

As the story unfolds, the main characters from At Road’s End, are finding themselves caught in the maelstrom, doing their best against the forces that are threatening their lives and their family along with the whole Tepanec Empire.

An excerpt from The Young Jaguar, Pre-Aztec series, book #1.


She was pleased, he could see that. Her eyes glittered against the flickering light of the torch. A long tendril slipped from the fashionably pulled hair, sliding down her high brow, fluttering against the gentle curve of her cheekbone. He wanted to reach out and touch it. He closed his eyes.

“It’s good you came.” The husky voice rang near his face, soft and warm. “My father will be here shortly. He’ll know what to do.”

“Here?” He straightened abruptly, causing the slave to spill some of the ointment. “Not the Revered First Son surely!”

She laughed, straightened up, and the magic was gone. “Yes the Revered First Son. How many fathers do you think I have?” Her grin widened, became unbearably smug.

”I have to go,” he said, too frightened to get angry with her.

“Calm down. Don’t panic. I agree you are in not the best of conditions to meet the mighty Emperor, but it will happen tonight. So make the best of it.”

“Your father is not the Emperor.”

“He will be.”

He fought his rising panic. “Why would he bother meeting me? I’m not even a warrior yet. I’m not of any significance.” He swallowed. “How does he know I’m here?”

“I sent him word.”

“Why?”

“What did you want me to do? Make you climb down and over the wall with this cracked head of yours? You came here uninvited, remember? Now you have to face the consequences.” She leaned forward once again, but there was nothing girlish or soft in her features this time. The large eyes bore at him, strangely alight. “Many important events are happening all around us. Didn’t you notice that? And I think it’s time you grew up. You and your friend were used to climbing walls and running around the markets, I can tell. But this time you went too far. There is no going back this time, you see? The crime of breaking into the Palace is punishable by death. But you knew that, of course.” Her smile was as cold as the tiles of the marble floor. “You knew it, but you did it all the same. Well, now you can only try to make the best of it. My father needs good warriors. You will make such one. But you will have to be loyal, completely loyal. Do you understand me? He may help you out of your trouble–I hope he will–but he’ll expect much loyalty in return. Loyalty and hard work, of course. You can give him both. Oh, you can be sure to be rewarded for these. I’ll make sure you will be.”

There was a promise in her eyes. How quickly she was changing. One moment girlish and playful, the next–cold and threatening, then again so playful his imagination went wild. He took a deep breath.

“I can still climb down this balcony, you know?”

She was taken aback, surprised. “You wouldn’t!”

“Want to see?” He rose to his feet, slow and reeling, but managing not to fall.

“If you step onto this balcony, I’ll scream.” Her voice took a shrill tone.

They glared at each other.

The mysterious Anasazi and historical fiction

27 January 2012 Comments (0)

Around the eleventh century, the modern-day Southwest canyons were alive with architectural wonders, cliff cities and sprawling fields belonging to the Ancient Cliff Dwellers, more known to us as Anasazi.

Those ancients built their multi-storey great houses of hundreds of spacious, well-conditioned rooms with such skill, the ruins of those complexes survive to the present day.

They irrigated their fields with an intricate system of canals and reservoirs, collecting the sparse rainwater carefully and effectively, succeeding in supporting extremely large communities. They connected all of their cultural centers and the rest of the farming settlements with a network of well-planned and well-kept roads, so the trade with the south and the northwest flourished, with all manner of goods available to these sophisticated desert dwellers.

But there was one thing the fascinating ancients had not managed to achieve. They hadn’t been featured in historical fiction. There were some great mystery thrillers dealing with Anasazi, but never a downright HF.

So, I decided to rectify this matter. Months of research resulted in At Road’s End. Packed with action, love, lust, fighting and cultural misunderstandings, as all the happenings in one of the glorious cities of Anasazi presented from the foreigner’s point of view, this novel deals with the Cliff Dwellers and their impact on our modern Southwest.

A group of traders from the distant Central American lands crosses into Arizona’s desert, accompanied by the arrogant warrior who doesn’t want to spend his time on such a dismal expedition. Well, little did he know about troubles and adventures that were laying in wait for him among the Cliff Dwellers, definite to change his life.

Cahokia – the cherry upon the icing of the Mississippian cake.

31 August 2011 Comments (0)

It was settled around the 7th century, gradually evolving into a great urban center, populated more densely than London of the same time. For decades thousands of workers had shifted more than 55 million cubic feet of earth, building a great network of mounds and ceremonial plazas.

Over 120 mounds spread through the busy, bubbling, noisy city, with its crowded neighborhoods, smelly marketplaces and the multitude of different-size pyramids, some ridge-top for the burial purposes, some flat, platform-top for the ceremonial ones. The deceased rulers would be buried there, placed in a bed of the thousands marine shells, arranged sacredly in a form of this or that deity, with a treasure of many valuables – arrowheads, copper jewelry and, sometimes, a pile of sacrificial victims.

Wooden stockade, fortified with watchtowers, enclosed the important, ceremonial center of the city, separating the nobility from the lower classes. The neighborhood of the elite has to be kept quiet, cherished and protected. The royal Great Mound, ten storey tall, spacious and terraced, hosted main temples and the large dwelling of the ruler, who was tracing his dynasty to the Sun God himself. In order to protect the purity of the bloodline, the throne would always pass from the Ruler to his nephew, the son of his blood sister. No mortal noblewoman, married to the descendant of the Sun God, chaste as she might appear, could be trusted with delivering a pure blood next ruler.

Artificially made, adjacent Grand Plaza of almost 40 acres served for ceremonies and games, along with the smaller plazas, encircling the Great Mound. And, of course, astronomical observations were have to be conducted, in order to appease the gods properly. To the west of the Great Mound, Woodhenge – a circle of poles – served to track the movements of the major stars, marking mainly the solstices and the equinoxes.

Cahokia declined toward the 14th century. It may have begun with the climate changes that have, probably, affected the whole region, up to the west coast (approximately around this time, Anasazi had also abandoned their Great Houses in Arizona and Colorado canyons). It may be that the Cahokians themselves helped to affect the climate, deforesting the area unmercifully. Or maybe in such a large, densely populated urban center (up to 40,000 residents at its height) the diseases began to spread, thinning the population out.
Whatever the reason, Cahokia was no more, long before the first contact with the Europeans was made.

The Southwest Ancient Observatories

1 August 2011 Comments (2)

The Ancient Pueblo People would not let the events as summer or winter solstice go unnoticed; or uncelebrated.

Atop the most famous, imposing Fajada Butte in Chaco Canyon three giant slabs of rocks are leaning against the cliff surface, as if trying to hide the spiral petroglyphs carved upon it.
But on the longest day of the year the carvings cannot hide from the power of the sun, when a vertical shaft of light pierces the larger spiral, cutting it in two. Then, half a year later, on the shortest day of the year – the winter solstice – two different shaft of light would embrace the same spiral, reflecting each other perfectly.

The recognition of the both solstices was very important. But to predict their arrival was as crucial, so more sites, such as another great, multi-roomed and multistoried house on Wijiji, would be used to observe the upcoming event, weeks before it would occur. This way, the time was gained to prepare the elaborated ceremonies and the sun would continue caring for the world, moving upon its usual course willingly, appreciating the efforts of grateful humans.

Back atop Fajada Butte, on the spring and fall equinoxes, another dagger of light would reach the center of the smaller spiral, while the large light shaft would shift to the right of the first spiral. And, it’s argued, the same system was used to track the lunar cycle as well.

The Chacoan People would scan the sky carefully, while building their multi-storey, great houses of hundreds, well conditioned rooms. By the 11th century they represented the ceremonial and economic center of the whole region, and their influence spread far and wide. A network of well-planned and well-kept roads connected those hundreds of great ceremonial centers, and probably, the rest of the farming communities. The trade with the south and the northeast had flourished, so event the high-pitched cries of the colorful macaws can be heard in the New Mexican desert.
Nothing seemed to be able to undermine the Great Cliff Dwellers’ ambitious undertakings.

Then the climate began to change…

The New World has never been discovered

27 July 2011 Comments (6)

The discovery of the New World, which was fortunate for some and very unfortunate for the others, had never happened on this small piece of the internet territory.

On the Oct. 12, 1492, the lookout of the caravel Pinta, Rodrigo de Triana, napped on, dreaming about his sweet little home in Seville, while the caravel swept by the misty costs of Guanahani (the Bahamas), not noticing anything out of an ordinary. Or, maybe, a month earlier, leaving the Canary islands, the three caravels turned anywhere but westwards. Or maybe a storm…

This or that way, the so-called Americas were never “discovered” and the coastal waters of the Bahamas continued glittering placidly on the sunny morning of Oct 13, while the Lucayan, Taino and Arawak people went about their usual business.
The Yucatan city states kept flourishing, having thrown off their Mayapan rulers and to their west the Aztecs’ Triple Alliance went on expanding, raiding the neighboring Tarascan Empire, while instituting more reforms separating between the classes.
In North America, the Anasazi descendants were slowly recovering from the Great Drought period, developing irrigation techniques appropriate for a seasonal rainfall and fighting off their newly acquired Navajo neighbors. And to their east, all along the Mississippi and its tributaries, the small towns of the Mississippians descendants tried to live on, according to their illustrious ancestors’ rules, surrounded by the multitude of great and small mounds, the remnants of the glorious past, green with a thick layer of an autumn, water-soaked grass.

Both regions lived in a relative peace, less familiar to their celebrated ancestors. But in the north the Great League of the Iroquois was expanding, flourishing under the wise laws of the Great Peacemaker, fighting their neighbors and spreading their un-heard of democracy far and wide.

And so the 15th century had ended and the 16th had begun, with both Americas living on undisturbed.

But this premise belongs to historical fantasy, while I’m engaged with historical fiction, so my current novel and the ones to come are all about the pre-Columbian past of this beautiful continent.