In The Lost World of the Old Ones, his 26th book, David Roberts merges his considerable experience of hiking in the desert Southwest with three decades of interest in the prehistoric peoples who lived there. His goal is to offer a general audience “the best and most provocative research conducted in the last 20 years by Southwestern archaeologists,” and this engaging narrative weaves together his understanding of the science with his many backcountry expeditions. This new book picks up where his 1996 classic, In Search of the Old Ones, left off, further examining how the ancient ones created a civilization in this harsh landscape.
Robert focuses on the Four Corners region, particularly southeastern Utah’s Cedar Mesa, Kaiparowits Plateau and Desolation Canyon, and New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon and Jemez Pueblo. Several highlights stand out: On one hike, Roberts and anthropologist Matt Liebmann spot a red racer snake, and then, seconds later, discover an ancient, distinctively designed snake carved into basalt. On a marvelous backpacking adventure, he and a friend explore Kettle Country, the slickrock Diné landscape that Roberts describes as a “trackless labyrinth.”