What license does fiction writing give you? As a former archaeologist, I get many questions from fellow writers about antiquity. Usually I have to honestly answer “I don’t know what the current scholarship says on that.”
I think the devil is in the details. If you want to write about characters who are archaeologists, they probably shouldn’t uncover a mummy every ten minutes. Archaeologists spend much of their time in labs, in front of their computers, pouring over various lengthy tomes. Fieldwork is a tiny part of what they do. Of course, you won’t want to highlight the computer part. Pretty dull stuff.
I wrote some pretty absurd stuff into Mayan Nights, and I’m currently doing the same in the sequel, Mayan Secrets. Still, there are some subjects that I consider inviolate. Isn’t that silly? They are:
Pyramids. The ones in Egypt. The damned Egyptians built the damned pyramids. No one else showed them how, aliens included. They even drew pictures showing how they did it. Stop watching bogus History Channel shows that intimate we don’t know how they did it. We do. We even know where the people lived who did the work, where they are buried.
More Pyramids. The Egyptians did not “teach” the Mayans how to build pyramids. Honest. Don’t go there.
Easter Island. Those big heads (some have partial bodies, you know). Aliens didn’t do that either.
The Mayans had some kick-ass mathematicians and astronomers. They were smart. Aliens didn’t teach them anything.
Atlantis–my absolute favorite. Where is it? Enough already. Everytime someone asks that I hear strains of “Under the Sea” in my head. Don’t worry about Atlantis. It’s not Minoan Crete. Honestly. The Minoans did not live in a Utopian society.
While we’re on the topic, the Minoans did not worship “the one goddess.” A lot of women would have you believe because they find a fat female statue or a woman holding up snakes that the whole culture was a matriarchy. Bull. (I don’t mean the minotaur).
I’ll avoid the whole “what race invented what” Al Sharpton debate here.
Okay, thanks, I just needed to vent. Now off to write my fantasy about the aliens who built pyramids all over the universe. Seriously. And the Mayan gods who speak with archaeologists.