Presenting “the real deal” of American antiquity—as opposed to the hyped fare of many cable TV shows—Kenneth Feder invites readers to explore the stunning technological, architectural, engineering, and artistic achievements of America’s first peoples.
Part travel guide, part friendly reference, Ancient America showcases fifty iconic and publicly-accessible sites located across the contiguous United States—including monumental pyramids of earth, “castles” ensconced in cliff niches, and vast rock art galleries. Among the places profiled are four World Heritage Sites (Chaco Canyon, NM; Mesa Verde, CO; Cahokia, IL; Poverty Point, LA); numerous Historic Landmarks and National Monuments (including Crystal River, FL; Town Creek Mound, NC; Casa Grande, AZ; and Hovenweep, UT); and stunningly diverse sites ranging from Serpent Mound (OH) and Horsethief Lake (WA) to Canyon de Chelly (AZ) and Nine Mile Canyon (UT).
In addition to practical visitor information, Feder tells the fascinating stories of each site as revealed by archaeological research. Introductory chapters delve into the deep past of Native America; historical and cultural details as well as original photography round out the site entries. Readers will be inspired to visit these remarkable places where the past continues to resonate in the present.
This ‘reference-y’ book takes a very different perspective from typical U.S. guidebooks. It provides the reader with the 50 ‘best’ places to visit and things to see but recommends sites of historic interest—specifically, pre-Columbian sites that highlight the lives of the first North American peoples living in what is now the continental U.S. The sites included in this work range in location from Pennsylvania to California and Florida to Washington, although the majority are concentrated in the Midwest, Southeast, and Four Corners regions. The book is personal to the author, who visited every site, often with his family. Entries are written in a conversational tone, and each site is illustrated with photos taken by the author. Sites are grouped into three main categories: ‘Mound Builders,’ ‘Cliff Dwellings, Great Houses, and Stone Towers,’ and ‘Rock Art’—with the majority of sites in the last category. For each site, the author provides his journal entry from the site visit, what visitors should expect to see, and why the site is important. Sites are also ranked on a number of factors useful for visitors, including ‘Ease of Road Access,’ ‘Natural Beauty,’ ‘Kid Friendliness,’ and the overall ‘Wow Factor.’ Most sites are either national or state parks, although a few are privately owned attractions. This work will be very useful for anyone wanting to see what remains of the first inhabitants of our land. Part travel guide, part reference book, and part personal narrative, it will inspire readers to visit places that will connect them to the early peoples of North America. ( Booklist)
This accessible reference offers a balanced mix of pleasing travelog and educational fact as it details 50 unique archaeological sites spread out across the contiguous United States. . . .Feder is keen to note the fine points, such as the pigment source for cave paintings or specifics of ancient burial practices. This attention to detail, in addition to his enthusiastic tone, will certainly engage readers. . . .Including literature and website information for further reading, this book would appeal to travelers, historians, and archeology buffs alike. ( American Reference Books Annual)
The magnificent archaeological sites left by America’s native peoples are wondrous enough without the myths and exaggerations that often contaminate popular discussions about them. There is no one better than archaeologist and CSI Fellow Kenneth Feder at debunking the misconceptions and stereotypes and then showing in reader-friendly prose what’s real and true. The fifty sites in the welcome and lively new book Ancient America reveal an extraordinary legacy of intelligent and capable ancient peoples and cultures. With black & white and color photos. ( Skeptical Inquirer)
A major strength of this guide is the author’s stories about the history and importance of the location in the context of American archaeology. The history of the research is often described, which gives the reader a sense of what it takes to develop a complex archaeological site into a public park…. [Ancient America] is a thoroughly enjoyable guide to America’s prehistory. ( American Archaeology)
Many Americans are largely unaware of the fascinating Native American sites that dot our landscapes and can be visited by the public. From tall mounds, akin in function to the ancient pyramids, to haunting images etched in desert stone, there are many sites to see off the beaten tourist trails. They can tell us a lot about the people who made this continent their home hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago. In his Ancient America: Fifty Archaeological Sites to See For Yourself, author Kenneth L. Feder gives you a wonderfully friendly tour of 50 such sites…. As a professor of anthropology, Dr. Feder is extremely knowledgeable, but his conversational tone makes this is a genuinely accessible guide…. For travelers who prefer to shunpike their vacations, away from the interstates, or armchair travelers who often enjoy a good guidebook without leaving their front porch swings, Ancient America is a ticket to history and discovery. ( Central Rappahannock Regional Library)
Ken Feder is one of those rare scholars who can make seemingly esoteric concepts accessible and enjoyable to a general audience. And now he’s written a travel guide, but it is unlike any I’ve read—not just a list of places to visit but a guided tour of ancient America and its peoples that is both educational and fun. Think Carl Sagan meets Bill Bryson. (Michael Alan Park, Central Connecticut State University)
America has a hidden history, but fortunately for us, archaeologist Kenneth Feder knows where it’s hiding. He’s been there and back again and in this wonderfully entertaining guidebook he shares his personal recommendations for the top fifty ancient American sites you should see before you die. Pick any ten of these sites to visit and, with Feder as your guide, your views of America’s ancient past will be transformed.
Ancient America is a unique gazetteer and guide to fifty major archaeological sites in North America. Feder provides engaging description and wise guidance, as well as his own journal entries when visiting the sites. Both students and general readers could not wish for a better companion. (Brian Fagan, University of California Santa Barbara, author of Ancient North America)
The magnificent archaeological sites left by America’s native peoples are wondrous enough without the myths and exaggerations that often contaminate popular discussions about them. There is no one better than archaeologist and writer Kenneth Feder at debunking the misconceptions and stereotypes and then showing in reader-friendly prose what’s real and true. The fifty sites in this welcome and lively new book Ancient America reveal an extraordinary legacy of intelligent and capable ancient peoples and cultures. Let Feder be your personable guide and host. (Kendrick Frazier, editor of Skeptical Inquirer, author of People of Chaco: A Canyon and Its Culture)
Ancient America takes readers on a journey to prehistoric North American archaeological sites, some well-known and others little-known, each significant in its own way. Feder’s style is sometimes whimsical but always informative, and he relates his own personal experiences at each site. He encourages the reader to add these sites to their travels and to learn more about the amazing accomplishments of the diverse cultures that once inhabited ancient America. (William R. Iseminger, Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site)