Reading: Oh, the places you’ll find yourself
June 21, 2013
As a little girl in grammar school, I loved to draw pictures. Classmates thought I'd become an artist, but we had a wonderful teacher who read stories to us. She brought them to life, along with the realization that writing creates an entire mental picture. During my life, many writing classes introduced me to interesting people who shared their experiences. Most aren't famous, but some inspired research.
Before I got my first computer in 1995, I'd read "The Amazon" by Robin Furneaux, describing explorations in the highlands of Brazil that included explorer Sir Richard Burton's wife's translation of a 1743-1753 manuscript written by Portuguese bandeirestas who discovered lost cities beyond the headwaters of the Amazon. The manuscript was in the great public library of Rio, containing the large, valuable libraries of the old kings of Portugal, the emperors of Brazil and records of generations of Lusitanian viceroys. The bandeiresta's manuscript motivated many explorers like Col. Percy Fawcett to seek the lost cities. The first city he found had inscriptions carved on a great sealed flagstone that matched those he'd seen on a boulder in the jungle near Ceylon. A Sinhalese expert told him the glyphs recorded a great treasure beneath. Fawcett couldn't find the Ceylon boulder again and disappeared (with his son and a photographer) in the forest during his return trip to the Amazon city.
The old manuscript was the perfect compliment to Dr. John Baldwin's "Ancient America," filled with archaeology notes indicating that South America was submerged during a highly civilized period allotted to the Stone Age. This discovery made by James Wilson in 1860, earned him recognition by the Royal Geological Society. Wilson traced six terraces in going up from the sea through the province of Esmeralda's toward Quito, Ecuador. At various points along the coast, he found ancient or fossil pottery, vessels, images and other manufactured articles all finely made. Some were made of gold taken from a stratum of ancient surface earth that was covered with a marine deposit 6 feet deep. The geological formation where these remains were found was as old as the drift strata of Europe and identical with that of Guayaquil in which the bones of the mastodons are found.
The submerged stratum was below the ocean long enough to accumulate the 6 feet of marine muck before rising again to its former position above sea level and reforestation. Scientists placed this civilization in South America with western Europe's Stone Age. Interesting that the Greek philosopher Plato wrote that western Europe was a possession of Atlantis, and the Egyptian priests told historian Herodotus that they descended from the most ancient people on earth who lived in the west.
Apparently, a tremendous earthquake sank parts of South America, caused a tsunami wave that devastated some Mediterranean countries and created a shallow, muddy Atlantic sea that resembled the former Atlantean plain in Plato's story. "And that is the reason why the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is such a quantity of shallow mud in the way; caused by the subsidence of the island." Centuries later, the continent rose to its former position above sea level and was reforested.
During one writing class, a classmate mentioned that he'd lived on the pacific island of Pohnpei for a couple of years, where he'd heard a lecture by Ohio University's Dr. Saxe researching the local ruins. Scientists believed some of the islands were man made. Before moving back to the states, a native showed my classmate a ruined city on a nearby mountain. I mentioned the sunken city off the coast where pearl divers described streets and houses with names. One "house of the dead" had platinum caskets the Japanese melted down and exported. Later, he returned to Pohnpei, and his son informed me that some Australians had filmed the submerged city for posterity.
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Native legends relate the islands were part of an ancient "celebrated kingdom" that corresponds with the fossilized human works heavily scattered throughout the American continent and Pacific area. During Writers Digest School, my thesis about the Cradle of Civilization caused my professor to comment he wasn't aware of this or that, but when I mentioned Dr. Saxe, he became excited that he knew him and was anxious to talk to him about his research.
Research and writing about lost treasures requires a lot of time. You may never strike it rich, but you're guaranteed to have a wonderful time getting to know more about our world.
Bonnie McGuire lives in Nevada City.