I started a new book today, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann. It is a history of the Americas, a region I know little to nothing about and I am hoping this book will change. Mann describes his journey into research and historical comparison to uncover the history of a region still showing signs of advanced irrigation systems thousands of years ago. Some of the cities populations are told be larger than that of Rome in the same age.
The preface is a bit dry, admittedly I skimmed part of it, but overall informative. The first chapter gives great insight into the basics of the early culture and various forms of man-made agricultural systems we can still see today.
This intrigues me…so much was happening in the Americas, yet it is hardly known. Europe, as you should know, is one of my dear passions, but why had I learned so much about European history and so little about my own? Oh right..Catholic schools…I learned about the crusades not about the American Indians who formed our country.
Moving on to the second chapter, I was fascinated that “Tisquantum (an ‘Indian’ leader when the Pilgrims arrived)…told the Pilgrims to fertilize the soil by burying fish alongside the maize seeds”. Going to college in Iowa I experienced this first hand. I always wondered why the hell did farmers in Iowa, and Minnesota, put fish around their corn? I had thought it was to stop us college kids from running off the highway to take a few ears of corn…turns out that Tisquantum was kidnapped by Europeans way back when and learned the trick there (as well as the English language).
Chapter 2 really focuses on Indians in the area now known as Cape Cod. Being from Minnesota, I was intrigued that such an established settlement existed so far from the great plains. Instead of teepees, they had “wetu” which is a dome shaped home with bark layers to be inserted or taken out depending on the temperature and weather. According to Mann, even the Pilgrims were impressed by their architecture and harvesting procedures.
Now the important stuff, what wine was I sipping while learning ancient Americas history? Considering it was a Tuesday…a $7 bottle of Montepulciano classy I know. Check out my thoughts on this steal in my next post.