By Daniel K. Richter

ISBN-10: 0674055802

ISBN-13: 9780674055803

ISBN-10: 0674061241

ISBN-13: 9780674061248

ISBN-10: 0674072367

ISBN-13: 9780674072367

During this epic synthesis, Richter unearths a brand new the USA. Surveying many centuries ahead of the yank Revolution, we find the tumultuous encounters among the peoples of North the USA, Africa, and Europe and spot how the current is the buildup of the traditional layers of the previous.

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It is only a slight oversimplification to say that everything that makes medieval Western Europe and North America seem so incompatible derived from these intertwined practices. Not to put too fine a point on it, the medieval Western European ruling class—all those glorified by titles and called “knights,” “lords,” and “kings”—were the descendants of thugs who had terrorized the region’s population in the chaotic centuries since the end of effective Roman government and, most recently, since the breakup of Charlemagne’s shortlived empire in the ninth century.

This particular tale is apparently not shared by neighboring modern Pueblo peoples, but it is part of a common larger cycle of stories that explain why ordinary people can no longer directly interact with the other-than-human persons known as kachina, ancestral beings who live half the year on earth and half the year in the underworld, who mediate between humans and spirits, and who form the clouds that bring rain to nourish crops. In the Acoma story, some kachina had been killing human people, provoking a battle in which hero figures called the Warrior Twins slew them, only to bring the spirits back to life in the form of human impersonators, or kachina dancers.

Practices varied greatly across time and space, but it was common for burial to be a three-stage process extending over several years. Bodies of the deceased might be either cremated or exposed on a platform until the flesh decayed, or both, with the bones then carefully gathered and stored communally in a “charnel house,” where they would be tended by religious specialists. At some point in the ritual calendar, the charnel house and its contents would be burned to the ground, and everything would be covered with earth.

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Before the Revolution: America’s Ancient Pasts by Daniel K. Richter


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