Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Whisper of Ancient Times

I am fascinated by ancient civilizations. Those dimly-lit times that we always seem to gloss over in school sing a more compelling song than recent history.

The maps in my history textbooks taunt me with place names I have never heard of.

"What is the Parthian Empire?" I wonder.  "What is the Kingdom of Trebizond? What about Mitanni, Elam, Sogdia?"

Just as alluring are the ones about which I know but which I do not know.

"What was going in Carthage, Tunis? What about the Celts, the Germanic tribes, Gaul, Wallachia and Moldavia and Romania? Who built the nuraghe? And Stonehenge, and other megaliths? Pre-Columbian America? What were early civilizations in Central Asia and Eastern Europe like? What about Mongolia and Southeast Asia? The cradle of civilization: tell me about Sumer, Akkadians, Phoenicians, the Hittites."

Even the Early Middle Ages interest me: what was it like to live in a time when you could write "here there be dragons" on a map?

And what about earlier? What caused people to form city-states? Why did people start farming? Who hunted the mammoths? Who made cave paintings? What was it like to face Homo sapiens neanderthalensis?

I want to plunge the depths of human history. I want to look back at the dawn of humanity, into that rising sun.

Ancient history is just a whisper. But I will heed its primordial notes as though they were a clarion call.

I want to know.

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Dewey Decimal system: 930.

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