The Lost World of the Old Ones: Discoveries in the Ancient Southwest (Hardcover)

The Lost World of the Old Ones: Discoveries in the Ancient Southwest Cover Image

The Lost World of the Old Ones: Discoveries in the Ancient Southwest (Hardcover)

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An award-winning author and veteran mountain climber takes us deep into the Southwest backcountry to uncover secrets of its ancient inhabitants.


For more than 5,000 years the Ancestral Puebloans—Native Americans who flourished long before the first contact with Europeans—occupied the Four Corners region of the southwestern United States. Just before AD 1300, they abandoned their homeland in a migration that remains one of prehistory's greatest puzzles. Northern and southern neighbors of the Ancestral Puebloans, the Fremont and Mogollon likewise flourished for millennia before migrating or disappearing. Fortunately, the Old Ones, as some of their present-day descendants call them, left behind awe-inspiring ruins, dazzling rock art, and sophisticated artifacts ranging from painted pots to woven baskets. Some of their sites and relics had been seen by no one during the 700 years before David Roberts and his companions rediscovered them.


In The Lost World of the Old Ones, Roberts continues the hunt for answers begun in his classic book, In Search of the Old Ones. His new findings paint a different, fuller portrait of these enigmatic ancients—thanks to the breakthroughs of recent archaeologists. Roberts also recounts his last twenty years of far-flung exploits in the backcountry with the verve of a seasoned travel writer. His adventures range across Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado, illuminating the mysteries of the Old Ones as well as of the more recent Navajo and Comanche.


Roberts calls on his climbing and exploratory expertise to reach remote sanctuaries of the ancients hidden within nearly vertical cliffs, many of which are unknown to archaeologists and park rangers. This ongoing quest combines the shock of new discovery with a deeply felt connection to the landscape, and it will change the way readers experience, and imagine, the American Southwest.



David Roberts (1943–2021) is the author of thirty books on mountaineering, exploration, and anthropology. His books have won the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature and the Grand Prize at the Banff Mountain Book Competition.

Product Details ISBN: 9780393241624
ISBN-10: 0393241629
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: April 13th, 2015
Pages: 352
Language: English
Stimulating, provoking, mournful…. [Roberts] has a deep and infectious passion for the landscapes, history and people of the Southwest.
— Gerard Helferich - Wall Street Journal

[H]as the pull and excitement of a suspense novel and appeals to a wide range of readers interested in this region’s deep past and great beauty.
— Booklist, Starred review

With the verve of his great mountaineering books, David Roberts takes us inside a lost ''genius climber'' civilization and its mysteries, introducing the looters, ruin baggers, warring academics, and wary tribal descendants who frame the ethical conflicts of modern archaeology—while never losing his own explorer’s energy and thirst for the thrill of wilderness discovery. These tales should be told around a campfire.
— Tom Kizzia, author of Pilgrim’s Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier

David Roberts is not only an elegant writer and an intrepid explorer, he’s an ideal guide to the mysteries and wonders of the ancient Southwest. The Lost World of the Old Ones is the rare sequel that stands alone yet also takes its rightful place as a classic alongside its predecessor volume.

— Mitchell Zuckoff, author of Lost in Shangri-La

David Roberts brings an unusual panoply of talents to The Lost World of the Old Ones. Part ethnographer, part archaeologist—with healthy doses of skeptical enquirer, curiosity seeker, and professional mountain climber mixed in—this talented writer navigates the secret canyons and hidden watercourses of the American Southwest in search of a lost civilization.

— Alex Beam, author of American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church