It leads us down paths of new knowledge. It lures us to relinquish precious hours of writing time to pursue the tiniest piece of historical accuracy. But as writers of stories set in historical locations, particularly the American Old West, research is as much a part of our writing process as plotting and characterization. Our stories are incomplete without them.
In a previous blog post, I wrote about the TimeLife books and Old West maps I use in my writing to make sure I get my historical details as correct as possible. Today, I’m sharing another avenue of research—archaeology journals—specifically these two:
- Archaeology, a publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
- American Archaeology, a publication of The Archaeological Conservancy
Both journals offer a wealth of information in a quick-read format. While there are feature-length articles, there are also tantalizing snippets of archaeological findings that get me interested and searching for additional information.
An example of a feature-length article is from the May/June 2014 edition of Archaeology titled, “Searching for the Comanche Empire” by Eric A. Powell. You can read the full article and view several images on-line here — www.archaeology.org/comanche — so I won’t go in to a lot of detail, but suffice it to say, the article is a ‘must read’ for anyone interested in the history of the Comanche nation.
This is the opening of the article:
“In a deep gorge in New Mexico, archaeologists have discovered a unique site that helps tell the story of a nomadic confederacy’s rise to power in the heart of North America.”
As a brief summary, archaeologists who have been studying a Comanche encampment in New Mexico’s Rio Grande Gorge near Taos, came across “previously unknown panels of rock art”, which are now challenging the “idea that they [Comanche] left no physical traces behind.
For me, this is as fascinating as it is exciting.
As an aside, a year’s subscription to each magazine (quarterly) is roughly $25. While I’ve embraced digital print with open and welcome arms, for research purposes and looking at images and maps, there is something to be said about having the physical copy, so I’m like a giddy little school girl when my journals arrive in my snail-mail mailbox. ;-)
Until next time,
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