Friday, April 16, 2021

The Historical and Legendary Stone of Destiny

Sometimes while researching story elements, writers stumble on some pretty amazing things. That's how I learned about the Stone of Destiny, a sacred rock with a history that stretches far back into the early UK, and with a legend that reaches back even deeper into our past. 

Here's what I found, with a brief wrap on how it all ties to one of my SFR works-in-progress. 

What is the Stone of Destiny?

It's an oblong block of red sandstone that's been used for centuries in the coronation of monarchs. The stone has had many names--The Stone of Scone, the Coronation Stone, Jacob's Pillow, the Tanist Stone, Lia Fail, and in Scotland Gaelic, clach-na-cinneamhain

What's the significance of the stone? It's complicated.

A Brief History (Short Version)

Legends of the Stone of Destiny's arrival in Scotland date back to about 700 BC. (Yes, 700 years Before Christ! More about that below).

Chapel at Scone Castle, where a replica
of the Stone of Destiny is now displayed.
Historically, we know the sacred stone was kept at Scone Abbey which is located near Perth, Scotland, and is believed to have been brought there from Iona (a small island off the western coast of Scotland) by Kenneth McAlpin in 841 AD (aka King Kenneth I, also referred to as the founder of Scotland). 

For centuries after, the Stone of Destiny was a sacred relic used in the coronation of Scottish monarchs.

Four hundred years later, during a 1296 invasion by King Edward I of England, the stone was moved from Scone to England and began playing an integral part in the crowning of the English monarchs and later, the monarchs of Great Britain. 

But its history in legend begins much, much further back in time. Some claim the Stone of Destiny dates back to biblical times and was once known as the Stone of Jacob and Jacob's Pillow--the very stone Jacob rested his head on when God revealed the ladder of angels to him in a dream at Bethel. Later, Jacob stood the stone on end as a monument to his spiritual experience, as referenced in Genesis 28: 10-22. 

The stone was later believed to have been transported to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah, via Egypt, Sicily, and Spain about 700 BC, and set up at the Hill of Tara, a neolithic site in County Meath where legends claim the ancient kings of Ireland were proclaimed. A few sources refer to Fergus Mor bringing the stone to Scotland more than 1200 years later, around 500 AD.

(Geologists, however, have determined that the artifact was quarried in the vicinity of Scone. But still other stories claim that the actual Stone of Destiny was hidden in a river by monks, or taken to the Isle of Skye, and a replacement stone was offered up to Edward I, so the mystery--and confusion--of its true origins deepens. Like I said--it's complicated--but here's a reference from the World History Encyclopedia if you'd like to read more details.)

Coronation Chair with 
the Stone of Destiny
under the seat.

After the Treaty of Union of 1707, the Stone of Destiny played a role in the coronation of the monarchs of the United Kingdom, where it was placed on a special shelf built under the seat of the actual Coronation Chair, and is part of the ceremony to crown new monarchs, and was last used in 1953 during the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, who still reigns today. 

But three years prior to crowning of Queen Elizabeth, the Stone of Destiny had been abducted and spirited away! The proper ownership of the stone has been disputed throughout the years, and this led to a stone-nabbing event by a group of Scottish national students on Christmas Day, 1950, after they broke into Westminster Abbey and made off with the Stone of Scone, believing it was the rightful property of Scotland. 

The sacred relic wasn't in Scotland for long. It was returned to Westminster Abbey four months later. 

In 1996, the Stone of Destiny was finally given back to Scotland with the agreement it will be returned to Westminster Abbey to be used in the coronation ceremony for any future monarchs. The artifact was carefully removed from its special shelf built into the Coronation Chair, a tedious six-hour task that was conducted by conservation experts, and taken by police escort on its 400-mile journey back to Scotland.

 This was a Really Big Deal, as this brief video shows. (Under 3 mins.)  

The Stone of Destiny in Modern Media

The Stone of Destiny has had movies made about its adventures (The Stone of Destiny, 2008) or been referenced on the big and small screen, such as The King's Speech and Highlander: The Series and two episodes of Hamish McBeth (Destiny, Part I and II). It was the central focus of a "stone-nabbing attempt" in the 2008 novel Rommano Bridge, and Terry Pratchett borrowed from its legend in creating the Scone of Stone involving the coronation of dwarf kings in his book The Fifth Elephant (Discworld Series). 

Stone of Destiny, Meet Stone of Tixor

Imagine my surprise when I discovered the existence of the Stone of Destiny in a documentary in 2021. Turns out, my future novel Draxis (working title) has it's own Stone of Destiny, called the Stone of Tixor (pronounced TIKE-soar), a rock that also plays an important role in the confirmation of monarchs. 

Originally, the idea of the Stone of Tixor evolved from a different legend--The Sword in the Stone--another rock that played a role in determining a future king. (One account--probably fictionalized---claims the Sword in the Stone and the Stone of Destiny are one and the same.)

Strangely, the Stone of Tixor has some very eerie parallels to the Stone of Scone--even though I'd never heard of it at the time I penned the original draft. The Stone of Tixor is a historical artifact that confirms the claim of a High Queen--a term which has a particular meaning and significance in this civilization. And it does so by reacting to the presence of mitochondrial DNA in an individual who carries ancient royal blood, so to speak. 

This doesn't happen by magic. The structure of the rock was altered at the molecular level by advanced scientists in the distant past so that it reacts in a specific way to a person who carries the maternal lines it was created to "sniff out." 

Problem is, if a candidate is presented to the Stone of Tixor for confirmation and the rock fails to validate their claim as a descendant of this special line, they face summary execution. Immediately. Would-be impostors, be gone!

And this creates a dilemma for Katrina Wells, a woman who has been abducted from her home and brought to Draxis to be declared High Queen, apparently in a case of mistaken identity. The first order of business foisted on her by her abductor is that she must pass the Test of Tixor. If she fails, she's dead. But if she refuses the test, she's just as dead.

For Katrina, it's the very definition of a no-win situation. 

Brief excerpt from  WIP:

Scene set-up: Katrina has been taken to the Hall of Tixor by an advisor to face her test.

Katrina turned a slow circle, taking in her surroundings. Skylights lit the gleaming floors of polished marble. More than a dozen ivory columns rose like silent, watching sentinels to the high ceiling. At the front of the room, a half-moon shaped dais surrounded a large, milk-white boulder. Katrina moved closer to get a better look. It seemed an ordinary rock with a rough surface, several inches taller than her height of five foot seven.

            “The Stone of Tixor,” her advisor said.

Spying a black device in an alcove on the opposite wall, she frowned. The object formed a giant X with silver glinting at the topmost points of two diagonal supports, looking malignant and…hungry.

            “What is that?”

            He followed her gaze and waited a beat before he spoke. “It is a tantier.”  

            “A tan-teer? What does it do?”

The advisor’s voice lowered. “In your words, it is a guillotine.”

            Katrina shrank back. “Why is it here?”

            He dropped his head. “It is here in the event you fail the test.”

            Katrina’s hand flew to your throat. “I’ll...I’ll be...beheaded?”

            “Only in the event you are not the rightful queen.”

            “But I’m not! That's what I've been telling you. I never made any such claim and I can't be who you think I am.”  She stared at the tantier, swallowing down cold horror. "You've made a mistake, and it's going to cost me my life."

            “Have faith,” he insisted quietly.

Until next time.

Thursday, April 15, 2021


A couple of big things happened on the literary front this week. And though I usually just keep my head down and write, these events were specific to my two chosen genres—romance and science fiction—so I paid attention.

On Tuesday the World Science Fiction Society announced its nominations for this year’s annual Hugo Awards for the best works in science fiction and fantasy, Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book. Unique among literary awards, these SF honors are chosen from among the nominees by the members of the World SF Convention (WorldCon) every year. That means not only authors, editors and publishers get a say in who wins the awards, but also fans of the genre. Due to the limitations of the COVID pandemic, the 79th Annual World Science Fiction Convention, DisConIII, will be virtual, streaming from Washington, D.C.

In the past democratic ideal has sometimes worked more like mob rule in science fiction. Just a few years ago, the genre was turned upside down at the time of the Hugo nominations by the very idea that a woman—or a person of color—might win the top award. The World SF Society, which administers the award, and the Science Fiction Writers Association were roiled by a very open, very ugly controversy pitting the old guard of white, cishet males against a younger cohort of diverse authors—female, POC, LBGTQ+, the disabled, and their allies.

Though that process was painful, it did eventually break through the barriers to progress SF had built since the halcyon days of the New Age. And this year’s list of nominees is almost all women, people of color and representative of other diverse backgrounds. Amazingly, it looks just like any group of authors you might meet!

The Romance Writers of America® went through a similarly wrenching self-examination over the last two years, recognizing that the organization had A LOT of work to do in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion. Year after year, our own contest to honor excellence in romance, the RITA®, ended up with virtually NO nominees of color, LBGTQ+ authors or any other authors representative of marginalized communities. Worse, the nominated books themselves were seldom representative of the world at large, with almost every one full of white, hetero couples unchallenged by any disability.


Given the RITA®’s many problems, a reorganized RWA® decided to retire the contest and institute a brand-new contest with more objective judging standards. This is the first year of the Vivian® Contest for excellence in romance writing, and the finalists were just announced this week. It may be too early to tell whether the hoped-for improvements can truly be found in this year’s nominees. There are a few more people of color among the Contemporary Romance author nominees, and from the book descriptions that translates directly into more POC in the heroes and heroines that populate their nominated books. (One of the nominees is an old friend from my days in the Virginia chapter of RWA, Tracey Livesay. Congratulations, Tracey!) There is at least one LBGTQ+ author (congratulations,Laquette!), though there may be others I don’t know about. The Historical Romance—Long category remains the stronghold of veteran, best-selling authors, but inroads have been made by a new generation in other categories. Congratulations, in particular, to our Golden Heart sister Valerie Bowman for her nomination in the Historical Romance—Mid category.

I regret to say the Speculative Romance category remains dominated by paranormal romance, though we did have a nomination in the Best First Published Book category (Choosing Theo: The Clecanian Series (Book One) by Victoria Aveline). One big reason for that is probably that SFR authors remain gun-shy about submitting to RWA contests. I really hope we get over that.

On the other hand, I was a judge this year, and I have to say I wasn’t overly impressed with the SFR books I was given to judge. That wasn’t unusual. I’m a harsh, but fair, judge. Not many of the books I read in any category made the grade. The great thing about the Vivian® Contest is that there is an objective scoring system in place. Judges can’t just say, “Not a romance,” and get away with it anymore.

This is Vivian®’s first year, and there are bound to be criticisms. I thought there were a few tweaks that could have improved the score sheet, myself. Still, I hope to have a book to enter next year, and I encourage more of you to enter, too.

Cheers, Donna


Friday, April 9, 2021

What Running Injuries Taught Me About Writing

Last fall I injured myself…twice!

You may know from reading the blog that in addition to being an author I am a martial artist. But did you know I’m also a lifelong runner? My love for running started in the 6th grade with track. In middle school, I found road races and cross country. I ran competitively in high school and lettered in cross country, indoor tack, and outdoor track every year for all fours years earning a total of 12 varsity letters. I was recruited to a Division I university where I competed mostly in the 800, 1500, and 3000 meters as well as cross country. I even met my husband at a road race! Over the years we’ve run many races together—at our own paces, of course, as he’s a lot faster than me. I’ve run trail races, tough mudders, and a few half marathons. I had even trained for a marathon and completed my first twenty mile training run…and then I got injured.

What does this have to do with writing? Stick with me.

As any athlete who is sidelined by injury knows, taking time off is hard. What’s even harder is training again after you’ve lost your cardiovascular fitness. It’s like starting from scratch. Fortunately, my time off wasn’t long, and I was running okay for a 47 year old lady. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get my fitness level back to where I wanted before injury struck again this fall. Twice! 

I had a tear in my right posterior tibial tendon—an overuse injury—and a pulled left hamstring—from sprinting across the field when I was injured. duh! These injuries benched me for six months!! This was the longest time in my life that I went without running. When I started again—very slowly—my cardio was nonexistent. 

Running hurt. 

Running still hurts.  

The weather in NJ is getting warmer, and yesterday was a perfect day for a nice run in shorts and a tank top. I was able to run two miles slow, walk .3, run another mile, and walk .2 for a total distance of 3.5 miles. It hurt. It was slow. I was winded. But it was better than not running at all. 

By now, you’re probably demanding to know what this has to do with writing.

Well, this past Tuesday I finished writing my September release, Wilde Temptation, and sent it off to my editor (yay!). As I was running I reflected on how my writing habits changed as I neared the end of the story. I wrote 5 - 6 days and averaged 5600 words per week. And then one day I wrote 5,006 words in a single day that started at 9:30AM and continued for 17 hours until 2:30AM. The story flowed because I knew where everything was heading, but when I hit the last scene of the last chapter, I hit the wall. I just couldn’t stay awake. I slept for 4 hours and finished the book in the morning, but it took a toll on my body. I was exhausted for a few days after.

Yesterday, as I was running and feeling good about turning in my project, I couldn’t help compare these two activities. Since I hadn’t run in a week due to total “book focus” I discovered what little cardio I had gained from a month of training was lost again.

Isn’t that the same with writing? When you take too much time off, it’s difficult to get back into the swing of things.

Running and writing (and probably most everything else) seems to benefit me most when I do it with consistency and balance. When I find myself stepping away from the writing to do marketing, social media, live or virtual events, newsletters, blogs, etc, I find it’s harder to get back into the swing of things.

It's like I have to retrain my brain to write.

I do better when I am consistent, and I don’t feel like I’m tearing my body down. 

My goal going forward is to work on consistency (my martial arts side is thinking balance) in writing. It’s a matter of finding the perfect amount of words I can write each day that will offer benefits rather than hindrance. I am keeping track, and it appears 5000 words a week is doable. 

What goals do you set for yourself? Are you balanced with splitting your writing time with other activities? Have you ever wrote so much (over trained) that you needed time off to recharge and heal? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Stay safe out there!

K.M. Fawcett 

Romance with a Rebel Heart

Friday, April 2, 2021

Future armies

In the last several years we've had many memorials of past wars. 2014 was the the hundredth anniversary of the start of World War 1, In 2018 we commemorated the end of that war (the war to end all wars!). We still remember the anniversary of D-Day, 6th June 1944. Pictures of men in trenches, men sloshing through the shallows at Normandy, pointless bayonet charges against machine guns. 

But war has changed, at least if you're in our first world.

And as usual, SF got there first. Remember the Trade Federation's droid armies in the Star Wars prequels? Sure some of them were props so the Jedi could slash about with their light sabres without actually... you know... splattering body parts everywhere. (I was about to write 'blood' - but lasers cauterize wounds). 

The Israeli army is actively working on robot soldiers - and they're getting good. This video is about 4 minutes long.

The Trade Federation also had automatically controlled fighters. And the US military is doing that sort of thing right now. Someone sitting in front of a screen somewhere in the US can direct a heavily armed drone to a target in Afghanistan and take out a moving vehicle. Boom. No one on our side even gets dirty. 

Then there's the power of nanotech. We might actually find flesh and blood soldiers will be a thing of the past and droid armies will be so yesterday.

But assuming we still have real live soldiers, there is other tech. How about a soft suit which could assist people by giving them an exo-skeleton with engines to give them extra strength? Or liquid armour, as well as an exo-skeleton? References were made to Batman's suit, and Iron Man's capabilities. Then there's Star Lord's wonderful helmet in Guardians of the Galaxy. It forms around his head when he presses a button.

And I thought to myself, I'm already using tech like that in my stories. In my Dryden Universe stories the military uses liquid armour - that is, a seemingly ordinary material which becomes battle armour at the press of a button. Helmets sit in the neck piece of the space suit until required.

And that segued on into thinking about the changing face of battle. Maybe we're not all that far from the way we're headed.

Friday, March 26, 2021


We all know that Captain James T. Kirk died (rather ignominiously, IMHO, but that’s another post) in STAR TREK: GENERATIONS, the seventh in the original film series of the TREK franchise. But William Shatner, the actor who played him in The Original Series and most of those films, just turned 90 years old this week (on March 22). That’s right, count the years, 90.

Even he can’t quite believe it. “It’s a bit embarrassing,” he said in an interview on Fox News. “Who wants to be 90? I don’t want to be 90, but I’m 90!”

Not that his age has slowed him down any. He has a new movie out, SENIOR MOMENT, about a former NASA test pilot who loses his driver’s license after drag racing around town, and, forced onto public transportation, meets a new love. The film is packed with star power—Christopher Lloyd, Jean Smart, Esai Morales—and a certain kind of corny charm, judging by the trailer. It debuts today both in theaters and on demand.

You have to admire a guy who just won’t give up what he loves no matter what the calendar says. Now that James Brown has passed on, Shatner is surely the hardest working man in show business. Or at least the most visible one.

I’ve been a fan of the actor since before I even knew who Shatner was. He attracted my attention when I was a mere youngster (and had the bejeesus scared out of me) in that famous episode of The Twilight Zone in which he battles the gremlin on the plane’s wing that only he can see, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” He was in an earlier Zone episode, “Nick of Time,” about a fortune-telling bobblehead in a small-town diner that almost traps a newlywed couple in a web of fear. When I look back at the most memorable episodes of one of my favorite series, that one stands out, too.

But then Shatner donned the uniform of Captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise, and I was hooked. There are times when the casting of actor with character just matches perfectly, and this was so clearly one of those times. We know it, because the first pilot of Star Trek, starring Jeffrey Hunter as Jim Kirk, demonstrates just how badly the character could have been portrayed—as a wooden, by-the-book flyboy straight out of the Hollywood mold.

But Kirk as Shatner plays him is smart, quick-thinking, intuitive, action-oriented but not impulsive. He is compassionate to those in need and loyal to his friends and crew. He seeks the opinions of his senior officers, but makes his own decisions, often synthesizing the disparate notions of the logical Spock and the emotional McCoy into a reasonable solution to the problem at hand.

William Shatner as James T. Kirk: in command.

And Kirk is human. So human. Passionate. Full of doubt. Willing to take risks and break rules. Sometimes wrong. And given the chance to attain a Paradise of peace and serenity without challenges, he passes, every time. As he tells the renegade Vulcan Sybok in STAR TREK V: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY, “I need my pain!”

Kirk is a complex character that draws on deep reserves of light and dark within himself to command his ship. The classic episode “The Enemy Within,” in which a transporter malfunction splits him into his “dominating” half and his “compassionate” half provides the perfect example. Neither half can command without the other. “Meek” Kirk hates his darker self but must embrace him to become fully integrated again and save the ship.

In fact, I believe the writers of Star Trek: The Next Generation needed three characters to replace Kirk—the cerebral Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart); his action-oriented Number One, Cmdr. William Riker (Jonathan Frakes); and the intuitive Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis). I recently watched the first season of Picard, the Paramount+ series about that captain’s post-Enterprise adventures and found it only mildly entertaining. I love Patrick Stewart as a person and an actor, but Picard just doesn’t do it for me as a captain. He thinks too much.

A few posts back, my fellow blogger K.M. Fawcett challenged us to name our favorite starship captains. As for other Starfleet captains, I enjoyed watching Voyager’s Kathryn Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), but had no particular emotional attachment to her or her crew. I couldn’t get into other older iterations of TREK, for various reasons, so their captains are lost to history. Now, Christopher Pike (as played by Anson Mount in Star Trek: Discovery) has some real potential. He has the presence (and the looks—wowza!), and the powers-that-be have hinted that a series may be in store for him and Ethan Peck as Spock in a prequel to the five-year mission of Kirk’s Enterprise. I’d definitely watch that!

I love Mal Reynolds of the Serenity and James Holden of the Rocinante, but their ships and crews are small and independent. You can’t really compare them to Kirk, who acts on behalf of the Federation and whose actions have galactic scope. (Well, Holden’s affect the solar system, but, too often in the wrong direction because the boy doesn’t think!)

Han Solo, too, is an indie operator. He doesn’t command a crew. (Chewie is a partner.) I doubt that anyone would ever follow him, even if he deigned to lead them.

No, Kirk is my captain. He has always been my captain—my first hero in the TREK fanzines I wrote and the model (at least a little) for Sam Murphy, the space pirate captain of the Shadowhawk, hero of Fools Rush In, Interstellar Rescue Series Book 3.

So, happy birthday, Bill, and thanks for giving us this character for the ages.

Cheers, Donna


Friday, March 19, 2021

Release Day Eve: Lost Serenity #scifi #adventure

Happy Release Day Eve to Lost Serenity! And boy, I never thought we'd get here. It's been a long, dry, hard haul since the release of the last main book in the series - Keir's Fall back in 2017 - with the last side story - A Merry-traxian Christmas - officially released 2019.

And now the latest story comes out tomorrow, with the main book three due in edits in June and hopefully releasing later this year. So I won't be keeping you hanging for long. Because, oh yes, Lost Serenity ends with a cliff-hanger!

Now, while I didn't struggle with a title on this one, since I had a discarded one to reuse, this story brought up the issue of trigger warnings.

Now, I have certain things that I will not read and that get an author put on my DNR (Do Not Read) list instantly if there's some graphic content I haven't been warned about. And maybe that's not always the author's fault, because we can't think of everything. Plus trigger warnings vary for people, I get that. With Lost Serenity, one of the main themes in the story is something that would not cause me acute distress if I read it in another book - well, not entirely true as it would depend how invested I am in the character and how it affects them - but I am well aware that what upsets one person may be the thing that devastates another.

When I raised the discussion in an author group, there were mixed responses which didn't help me decide one way or the other. I know specific things that upset some of my author friends and have caused them to leave or never become invested in a franchise. Others think trigger warnings are unnecessary and/or overkill, and never/rarely use them. I have three books where I've warned about explicit, violent, and/or gory content because...well, they are actually things that would bother me or, as a mum, concern me if my kids were to read them (that said, two of them have read my zombie stories). But putting one on this particular story might be big spoilers. What to do?!

There was controversy on Twitter (isn't there always?!) back in January where an author not only publicly refused to put trigger warnings on their work but specifically set out an essay in their Author's Note about why they would never, and telling readers not to be a Karen. Well, I decided that's just not me. So Lost Serenity has a trigger warning and spoilers be damned...

How could a moment's anger destroy so much happiness?

It is a question that will haunt him. When an old enemy comes to Kasha-Asor to kidnap their daughter, armed with a weapon that could end everything, Keir is forced to leave an injured Quin on Lyagnius. But his quest for a cure and their missing daughter will come at a terrible cost.

Book #2.5 of the Redemption series. Releases 20th March, 2021 (pre-order available now)

Trigger warning: the loss of a child.

In the meantime, I'd be interested to know why and what trigger warnings you've put on books, or why you don't.

Critter Update
My furred and feathered friends are all doing well, though I think they'd like it to be sunnier, warmer, and dryer, much like myself. Astrid is looking particularly fed up.
Writing Update
I'm still trying to iron out some issues with a paranormal short that will be part of my holiday collection. One day I might finish the Easter one and be able to publish the set. One day... Book three of my Redemption series will go to my editor in June, come what may.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Who Said it had to be Aliens?

Lately, I've been tuning in to a lot of history shows about ancient civilizations and what became of them. What I'm finding as a frequent theme is, "Wow! How did they DO that? It would be almost impossible for us to replicate that achievement even in this day in age!"

And then, often, the answer that seems the logical conclusion for them is: "It must have been aliens that provided the tech."

Wait! Who said it had to be aliens?

Our humans ancestors have been present on this planet for around six million years, and as a species we have been physically and mentally equivalent to modern humankind for probably around 200,000 years. That's a whole lot of time to just be hanging around twiddling our thumbs, considering what we've been able to achieve in just the last few short decades. 

After all, our parents or grandparents went from horse and buggy to space age in just one lifetime.  

According to the general consensus, what we define as "civilization" has only been around for about 6,000 years. Not long at all, in comparison. That period encompasses the construction of Stonehenge and the most ancient pyramids in Egypt. 


It's become obvious that civilization dates back much, much earlier. There have been many discoveries--some quite recent--that have set our previous understanding of ancient civilization on its figurative ear. 

For one, there's Gobekli Tepe in Turkey, featuring elaborate carvings dating to around 11,500 years old (some sources say up to 13,000 years old), and believed to be the world's oldest temple, it covers about 22 acres, though much of it has not yet been excavated. For some unknown reason, the site may have been buried and abandoned at some point in the past. No one is sure why.

Here's a brief video that talks about the discovery and how it has impacted established beliefs about  ancient civilization.


But Gobekli Tepe is far from alone in terms of age, and it's age pales in comparison to some of the far older discoveries of human activity. 

Here are eight of the other oldest known archaeological sites:

Tell es-Sultan  Age: over 10,000 years (circa 9000 BCE). This ruin is the oldest part of the Jericho, and is often referred to as the oldest town on Earth. By 7,000 BCE (around 9,000 years ago) it was a large fortified town, and it is believed that around this time the walls and tower of Jericho were built.

Tell Qaramel. Age: over 12,000 years (c.10,900 BCE). A settlement now located in present day Syria. Tell Quaramel was discovered in the 1907s, but escavation didn't begin until 1999. More recent research suggests that Tell Qaramel might be even older than original estimates.

Lascaux Cave Age: about 17,000 years (c.15,000 BCE)  This cave complex in France has one of the most extensive collections of ancient cave paintings found in the world. It has over 6,000 depictions of animals including bison, ibex, horses, stags and aurochs, along with humans. 

Cave of Altamira Age: over 27,000 years old (c. 25,000 BCE) This site in Spain was first escated in 1879, but many scholars of the day rejected the site because the cave paintings were so different from other ancient paintings found in France. In 1902, it was revisited and the work found there taken seriously. Originally open to the public, it was closed in 2002 due to damage caused by artificial lighting and a mold that began to form on the images. In 2014, the site was reopened to the public on a limited basis--but only to five visitors who must wear protective suits and are chosen by lottery. 

Murujuga.  Age: about 30,000 years old (c. 28,000 BCE). Western Australia. Sacred indigenous land containing one of the largest--and oldest--collections of petroglyphs in the world. It contains at least a million individual images, including now extinct animals. The Aboriginal people are believed to have been living in the area for over 50,000 years.

Chauvet Cave. Age: about 36,000 years old (c. 34,000 BCE). France. A cave settlement with cave paintings considered among the best preserved in the world. Evidence shows there may have been two periods of settlement of the caves, with the second being 31,000 to 28,000 years ago.

Cave of El Castillo. Over 40,800 years old (c. 38,000 BCE). Spain. World's oldest known cave paintings to date, causing researches to question if the art was created by modern humans or Neanderthals because of the extreme age.

Theopetra Cave. Over 135,000 years old (c. 133,000 BCE). Greece. Following decades of research and excavations, it was revealed in 2012 that the settlement in Theopetra Cave was the oldest archaeological site in the world. Theopetra Cave holds artifacts that date to the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic periods and includes a 23,000 year old wall that was believed to have been built as protection from cold winds. It is the oldest known man made structure in the world.

Because many of these ancient sites were located inside caves, they were protected through eons of time to be discovered by modern scientists. But what about all the structures and belongings and art work that didn't stand the test of time and the elements? How much has been buried or turned to dust, and how far back does civilization truly extend? How advanced were some of these ancient cultures? 

How much of what once was has been lost to time?

The Legend of Atlantis tells of a civilization that once existed and was thriving around 12,000 years ago by some accounts. It was said to be very advanced and wealthy culture with flying ships and other amazing technology. 

But if it--or a civilization like it--ever existed, why haven't we found any evidence of it?

It's interesting to note that the Younger Dryas Event, an apocalypse that befell the Earth approximately 12,000 years ago (give or take a millennia) occurred at roughly the time this civilization was said to have been swallowed by the sea. 

Though it hasn't yet been determined what exactly triggered the Younger Dryas, most agree it resulted in a huge flood of water entering the oceans from melting ice sheets, so much water that it affected weather, rapidly changed the climate, and triggered a mass extinction event that killed off all the large land animals such as mammoth, camels, horses and saber-toothed cats in North America. Maybe the culprit was an asteroid, or a volcanic eruption, or some other natural catastrophe. We're not sure. Whatever the cause, it was a powerful enough event that it could have destroyed entire civilizations. Think what something like this could wreck on our modern society? 

But if a civilization like Atlantis did once exist, what happened to all that technology? Hmmm. Could it be that the survivors settled throughout the world and passed down some of their knowledge and techniques. Maybe to the pyramid builders of Egypt, Central America and Asia? Or maybe they passed on knowledge to the inhabitants of Easter Island who built huge, multi-ton stone statues--the moai--that their legends claimed were walked into place by levitation. Or maybe some of the survivors weren't confined to Earth. Why did the people of Nazca build great images that could only be viewed from above? From the air or from space? 

And some even claim there is evidence of a nuclear war in India--some 8,000 to 12,000 years ago. Nuclear capabilities?

Where did that knowledge come from? 

Well...who said it had to be aliens? Maybe we were once capable of all of this and more, and whether by disaster or other unknown reason, that knowledge was lost.

In case you're wondering if I've suddenly been swept up in some huge conspiracy theory (LOL) the answer would be no. Or not really. But these thoughts and ideas did provide the basis for the backstory of my ongoing SFR WIP--The Draxian Trilogy. 

And now you know what all this has to do with Science Fiction Romance. :)

In the event you have an inquiring (and wandering) mind (like mine), here's a video that explains in more detail about the Younger Dryas event. 

Until next time.

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Hosted by 5 Science Fiction Romance authors with 8 RWA Golden Heart finals and a RITA final between them. We aim to entertain with spirited commentary on the past, present, and future of SFR, hot topics, and our take on Science Fiction and SFR books, television, movies and culture.