“THE LOST WORLD OF THE OLD ONES: Discoveries in the Ancient Southwest,” by David Roberts, W.W. Norton and Company, $27.95, 310 pages (nf)
After almost two decades, David Roberts, an avid mountain climber and respectful seeker of Native American relics, has written a companion to his book “In Search of the Old Ones.” This companion, “The Lost World of the Old Ones: Discoveries in the Ancient Southwest,” adds fascinating research and experiences to those shared in its predecessor.
In “The Lost World of the Old Ones,” Roberts explores questions of proper artifact preservation as well as seemingly unanswerable questions about the ancient peoples of the Southwest and also relates miraculous stories of relic and ruin discovery and recovery — all as he reminisces about many of his ventures into the secret canyons of the Southwest.
From Range Creek to Desolation Canyon, Roberts explores the nooks and crannies of Utah’s own ancient canyons, describing fascinating ruins from granaries and rock art to perfectly preserved pottery, baskets and blankets. He mourns the desecration of many of these remains and marvels at the pristine condition of several others that have astoundingly remained untouched for hundreds of years.
Through experience, Roberts has learned the importance of leaving the artifacts just where they were abandoned all those years ago, and he is now careful about what he reveals concerning any relic’s location. He has also learned that there is nothing like accidentally discovering any remnant of these ancient peoples on one’s own.
Stories of historical figures are also found in the pages of this book. For example, there’s the tale of Mormon missionary Llewellyn Harris and his search for the “golden Jesus” — a large statue that the Hopi supposedly stole from the Spaniards. Then there’s Waldo Wilcox’s claim that Butch Cassidy went through Range Creek. And there are the yarns about Tabyago, a Ute who went insane and died a mysterious death, and Everett Ruess, the wandering artist who inexplicably disappeared in the canyons of Utah.
While the book is historical and biographical, it reads more like an intense novel with an invitation to explore the canyons that share the lives of these ancient peoples. Roberts hopes that through the journey, readers will come to appreciate and deeply respect these incredible remains.
“The Lost World of the Old Ones” contains no violence or sex. However, there is mild swearing, most of which is found in quoted dialogue.
If you go ...
What: David Roberts book signing
When: Friday, April 10, 7 p.m.
Where: Weller Book Works, 607 Trolley Square, Salt Lake City
When: Saturday, April 11, 7 p.m.
Where: Back of Beyond Books, 83 N. Main, Moab
Katrina Lynn Hawkins is a graduate of Brigham Young University, a Utah native and a freelance writer. Her email is [email protected].