Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Freedom, 250,000 B.C., by Bonnye Matthews

Bonnye Matthews writes imaginative stories about ancient peoples, based on archaeological discoveries around the world.  In Freedom, 250,000 B.C.: Out from the Shadow of Popocatepetl, Matthews tells the story of Wing, who lived in what is now Mexico more than 250,000 years ago.  That date is quite controversial.  Years ago some bones with carvings on them were uncovered in this area.  Carbon dating placed their age at 250,000 years, which is tens of thousands of years before other scientists believed humans had come to this hemisphere.  Needless to say, the finding was controversial, contested, and may have been a fraud.

Matthews believes the date is accurate, and has created Wing's story set in that era.  Wing and his people are primitive hunter-gatherers, but practice some medicine, have permanent homes, use weapons such as spears and knives, and build boats.  Sixteen year old Wing tires of his father's verbal and physical abuse and sets out on his own.  After a lengthy journey, he settles in with relatives who accept him as one of their own.  He marries, has children, and eventually returns for a visit to his home village.

Obviously the story is purely fictional, but it's fun to imagine these primitive people raising families, passing along parental wisdom, exploring their world, and even having self-reflective revelations.  They weren't that different from you and me.  Matthews even envisions different animal life.  Camels and lions live in Mexico at this time, and Wing and his family have close encounters with enormous alligators and terror birds (which thanks to Wikipedia I now know are a real thing.  They were called Phorusrhacidae and sound pretty terrifying).  I like the way Matthews weaves geological, paleontological, and anthropological history into a story with adventure, romance, and spiritual enlightenment.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

2016 Reading Challenge: A book about ancient history

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