Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dive Into a Great Read...Interview with Author of 'Exodus Lost' S.C. Compton

Exodus Lost reopens cold cases from antiquity and applies cutting-edge science, classical scholarship, and tenacity to solve them. The adventure begins with Aztec and Mayan chronicles of an epic voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. By mapping the details within these texts, the author tracks down their lost homeland and corroborates the local traditions of an ocean-crossing long before Columbus. This discovery leads to new insights into the origins of Mexican and Western civilizations, the Bible (including new archaeological evidence for two major biblical events), the alphabet, and much more. Enter a world of exploration and discovery, mystery and revelation. Whether your passion is archaeology or religion, history or simply a great adventure, Exodus Lost delivers.      

     Beautifully illustrated with 126 photos, maps, and engravings.

About the Author:

S. C. Compton has been fascinated with ancient civilizations since childhood adventures living in the rainforests of Peru with his grandparents and exploring Incan ruins in the nearby Andes. For his forthcoming book, Compton used satellite photography to find a legendary lost city, became the first American to summit Mt. Cudi (for centuries a sacred site to all Western religions and the only place where they worshipped in unison), visited archaeological sites in Iraq during the war, photographed ruins and artifacts that had never been captured on film before, was captured by PKK guerrilla fighters in Turkey, and also spent countless exciting hours hunched over books, scholarly papers, and a laptop. Compton holds degrees from Shimer College, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago and has studied at Oxford University and in Switzerland at L’Abri. He currently edits academic journals for Oxford University Press and has written one previous book, Exodus Lost.

What inspired you to write Exodus Lost?

          Growing up, I had family connections in Peru (where I spent some time living with my maternal grandparents) and Guatemala (where my father’s aunt, Helen Neuenswander, started a hospital, translated the Bible into Mayan, and did scholarly work). While formally studying Western Civilization, I privately read everything I could find about the ancient civilizations of the Americas and grew interested in a mystery.
When the first Europeans arrived from across the Atlantic Ocean, the Aztec emperor Montezuma welcomed them with a speech telling them that his own ancestors had come from across that same ocean long ago. The Aztecs and Maya both included this tradition of an ancient ocean-crossing in their histories. If it were true it would rewrite history.
When I first looked into it, I didn’t expect to find much. Western academia can be rather condescending toward non-Western historical traditions and tends to dismiss these accounts as primitive myths. But the more I researched them, the more I found them to be remarkably accurate. It turned into a personal detective story. Following the clues from the ancient accounts and weighing them against the latest archaeological, linguistic, and epigraphical evidence led to the Hyksos, who invaded and ruled northern Egypt for a century before fleeing a naval assault and disappearing from history.

How long did it take you to write this book?

I got the idea for the core research in Oxford in 1996. I pursued it as a graduate school thesis from 96 through 99. Then I developed it into a book through 2010. So 14 years. And numerous research trips to archaeological sites, museums, and research libraries in Mexico, Europe, the US, the Middle East, and Egypt.

What books and authors have most influenced you?
          For Exodus Lost, I spent years reading archaeological excavation reports, academic papers, Spanish chronicles from the time of the conquest, early Mesoamerican codices, etc. There are more than 700 endnotes. I documented everything meticulously there for the sake of academics so that I could leave the text itself accessible and interesting for the average reader.

Do you have a current work in progress?

Yes, I’m excited about the new book! It looks at the ancient accounts of a Great Flood and starts by correlating their claims with actual data on the history of the Earth’s climate taken from tree rings, ice cores, sea sediments, etc. It turned out that there is substantial physical evidence for a global cataclysm in the 32nd century BC, just when so many ancient traditions claim that a great flood devastated the Earth. This time saw a rapid drop in temperature, an extreme surge in global precipitation levels, the most intense spike in atmospheric sulfur ever recorded, and the lowest levels of cosmogenic nuclides. Both the physical data and the ancient accounts pinpoint the same place of origin in the night sky. In short, the evidence from all sides indicates a water impact by a Beta-Taurid asteroid.
I thought that would be the heart of the book, but then I started visiting the places associated with the Great Flood in Iraq and Turkey (as well as the British Museum, the Louvre, and so on). The earliest traditions, including those from ancient Assyria and early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all claimed that ship of the flood survivors landed on Mt. Cudi in southern Turkey. However, the area has been dominated by violence for so long that its contents were not well known. I was able to become the first American to summit the mountain and to take the first ever photographs of several significant sites, including what was traditionally believed to be the Ark. Along the way, I discovered a lost city that ancient geographers claimed was the oldest city in the world. I also endured several misfortunes, including being captured by guerrilla fighters. 

Readers can find Compton's latest achievements here: