Friday, May 27, 2011


Prehistory, Archaeology, and Promised Valley Rebellion

The Wikipedia article "Archaeology" explains that "[o]ver 99% of the history of humanity has occurred within prehistoric cultures, who did not make use of writing, thereby not leaving written records about themselves which we can study today. Without such written sources, the only way to learn about prehistoric cultures is to use archaeology. Many important developments in human history occurred during prehistory, including . . . the creation of agriculture. Without archaeology, we would know nothing of these evolutionary and technological changes in humanity that pre-date writing. Further: "The discipline involves surveyance, excavation and eventually analysis of data collected in order to learn more about the past."

The events in my four-novel Promised Valley series, of which Promised Valley Rebellion is the first, take place before the invention of writing and during the creation of agriculture. The overriding conflict is between early farmers, representing the future and innovation, and hunters, representing the past and tradition. Everything in the novels therefore depends upon the findings and conclusions of archaeologists.

In mainstream historical fiction, the writer must research the historical record, which consists of the findings and conclusions of historians, except when the writer has the time and makes the commendable effort to visit museums and libraries and study the original documents themselves. No serious writer would wish to be caught telling us that Elizabeth I was the daughter of Henry VII or that the President of the Confederacy in the American Civil War was Robert E. Lee.

In the prehistoric branch of historical fiction, however, the writer has a bit more freedom to invent. In my own case, for example, I have no need to prove that a Promised Valley existed at a specific time and place and that a farmer king named Tall Oak and a hunter king called Lightning Spear fought vicious wars to retain or regain possession of it for their peoples.

But I do have other burdens, all of which require me to pay close attention to what archaeology tells us. For example, I can't have prehistoric people eating eastern hemisphere wheat bread along with western hemisphere tomatoes. I can have them eating onions and lentils, though, along with drinking beer made from barley. I can also have them fighting their battles and hunting with arrowheads and spear points made of flint but not iron, copper, brass, or steel.

In the latter three novels in the series, horses, which I barely mention in Promised Valley Rebellion, take on such a great significance in the lives of the warring valley people farmers and hill people hunters that some characters compare the animals to the gods. I'm confident I can do that. I've carefully read what the archaeologists tell us.

I would like to thank Ron for sharing this post with us today.  You can learn more about the novel, Promised Valley Rebellion, and about the author at his website.

Read my review of Promised Valley Rebellion HERE.

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