Leaving Sin City

Punk Archaeology  |  05/15/2016

Dave and Rob Leave Sin City to Chase Down an Ancient Prophecy

While Sin City wasn’t as challenging a location to shoot as the slippery rock-laden caves of Belize, it was no picnic dodging day drinkers and navigating the splendor of Fremont Street – aptly called the “Experience.” There’s really no better place to capture the ridiculousness of Western excess, so we sucked it up and endured the melee for you: the viewer. The fact that America’s post-pubescent playpen lies so close to ancient cultures and antiquities in the U.S. Southwest creates an interesting dichotomy, and as Rob alludes to it also speaks a bit to our priorities. You might be surprised to learn that there are several sites just outside Vegas where the ancient ancestors left their marks.

Petroglyphs, Valley of Fire State Park, NV
Petroglyphs, Valley of Fire State Park, NV

Red Rock Canyon is a stunning area of great hikes on Eastern side of the Spring Mountains, located to the West of sin city and pleasantly out of view. Valley of Fire is a beautiful region of red rock bordering the Northwest shore of Lake Mead to the Northeast of Vegas. Both areas feature great hikes, some leading to petroglyphs and encounters with bighorn sheep.

In this episode we begin to explore the White Feather or Blue Star prophecy of the Hopi people, who have lived on the same 3 mesas in Northern Arizona for more than 1000 years. The Hopi and other pueblo peoples including the Acoma, Laguna, and Zuni have ancestral ties to Chaco Canyon, a major ceremonial hub in New Mexico that was built in 850 AD and vacated in 1150 AD, and looks to have hosted some 20,000-30,000 people at times from places including what are now Mexico and the Eastern United States. There is a lot of speculation regarding why the ancient ones left Chaco Canyon in such a hurry, burning and sealing their ceremonial kivas on the way out. Most agree that Chaco endured a very dark period before its abrupt decline. Some feel this darkness was evoked via ceremony, others by intervening groups.

Climate may have played a role in Chaco’s decline, as in 1130 a major drought swept the region. Some believe that the extensive deforestation required to build Chaco’s massive structures exacerbated this drought leading to famine, warfare and emigration in much the same way that Dr. Jaime Awe has found that it contributed to the decline of the ancient Maya in Belize (we will explore the work of Dr. Awe in upcoming episodes). An estimated 240,000 trees were harvested to build Chaco’s structures, all from forests 50 to 70 miles away. That’s not only a lot of trees but a lot of commitment, indicating the presence of a strong central power or a powerful shared vision.

Walpi, Hopi First Mesa
Walpi, Hopi First Mesa

We are very fortunate to have met Ramson Lomatewama (Eagle Clan) and Bertram Tsavadawa (Corn Clan), two wonderful people who help us convey Hopi oral tradition and the relation of the Hopi to Chaco Canyon. While we share these traditions we want to underline the fact that these are told from the perspectives of the Eagle and Corn clans and do not necessarily apply to the many other clans of Hopi. This is an often overlooked facet of the Hopi and a very important one to understand. Each clan has its own history, its own creation myth and its own story of how all Hopi came to be. Hopi clans arrived at their “center place” on the mesas over many years, at different times, from different directions, providing support for their globe-trotting creation myth. I wonder how all these clans knew to find their “center place” on the Hopi mesas without conventional means of communication?

Petroglyphs just like those used by the Hopi and their ancestors have been found all around the world, and author Gary A. David has identified many perplexing linguistic similarities between the Hopi, ancient Egyptians and other seemingly disparate cultures. Gary has also identified a 1:1 correlation between ancient Hisatsinom villages in the Southwest and the stars of the Orion constellation, similar to the Orion alignments of the pyramids of Giza in Egypt and Teotihuacan in Mexico. Thankfully Gary was kind enough to allow us to bend his ear and will be featured in several episodes, I think you will find his work very eye opening.

Lastly and least importantly, we’d like to thank the nearby casino and overhead screen operator for catering to our shirt colors. We’d also like to thank the folks who were selling “big balls” in the booth behind us for the unintended humor, we were a bit pensive to stop by and view the collection. And yes, those streets are very sticky.