Raven Hill Discovery Center - Ancient World



As you can see, the Ancient World is a little bit of a trek.  You start down the dirt trail.  Then you cross the wetlands on a boardwalk.  That once again turns into a dirt trail, and finally you come out into a large open space.  Welcome to Ancient World.  Immediately in front of you and to the left, the exhibits begin.  I started to the left (left photo above) finding a "Shaduf," an irrigation tool used in ancient Sumer.  I was not sure until a few minutes later what had been in front of me when I emerged from the trails (right photo above).  A sign referred to the ground's design as the "great Serpent Mound," representing effigy mounds or earthworks in the shape of animals and birds found a little over a thousand years ago in the mid-western United States.  After several agricultural displays, I came to the "Olmec Mound" (second row below left) a small replication indicative of the large earthen ceremonial center built by the Olmec Indians in Mexico around 1200BC. 




Cheri had said some of the items in The Ancient World would require a bit of a stretch of the imagination, such as the piled dirt (above right) with the square slab of stone representing the Great Pyramids of Egypt.  Others are clearly closer in scale and design, like the "Mayan Ball Court" (above left and below right pictures) where the Indians of Middle America would play a game somewhat like a combination of our basketball and soccer, roughly 5,000 years ago.  The picture of the two tracks (below left) leading off into the woods I took just because I liked it.  It is so typical of Northern Michigan. 


The RHDC website offers the following description: "Raven Hill Discovery Center's Ancient World Exhibit includes a working factory site with 4 primitive pottery kilns, a glass furnace, a beading furnace and a copper smelter. There are 5 cultural areas--Europe, Asia, Africa, America and Oceana. Visitors can use their imagination and circle the world, exploring a 10' Moai (Easter Island head); obelisk, the bluestones of Stonehenge, a Sweet Track, Zen garden, pyramid, Olmec mound, raised crop beds, shaduf, Great Serpent Mound and a Mayan ball court." 





There is another entrance for The Ancient World connecting to Fuller Road which skirts alongside of Raven Hill.  The sign (second row above left) welcomes visitors there.  Prior to getting that far, I found several areas and items which I thought had perhaps not weathered the winter very well, and seemed in disrepair.  Although, I remember wondering if the obelisk (below left) might be intentionally down, symbolically representing a fallen civilization perhaps?  So, I took a picture of it. 



As it turned out, neither of those thoughts were correct.  After returning home to Grand Ledge, I received a call, and later an email, from Doug about some vandalism my photos had revealed.  The email contained the following news release:

To:  Area News Media
From:  Cheri Leach
Date:  June 1, 2010
Re:  Ancient World Damaged

For Immediate Release

Ancient World Obelisk Left in Ruins

For the fourth time this spring, vandals have left their mark in the Ancient World at Raven Hill Discovery Center.  The first three times occurred in April when a truck dug up the grounds, making large “doughnuts” in the soft soil at the Egyptian Obelisk and in the Mayan Ball Court.  The latest and much more extensive damage was discovered Tuesday, June 01, 2010.  Vandals broke one of the Cultural Flagpoles, knocked down the Bamboo Forest and most discouraging, they destroyed the Egyptian Obelisk, a 10-foot tall, solid limestone $2,800 sculpture by artist Jim Garrison of Kalamazoo.  The sculpture was installed in 2006 as a part of the Ancient Techniques and Technologies grant award from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. 

A visitor to Raven Hill actually photographed the Obelisk on Sunday, May 30th, but did not realize that it should have been standing.  When standing, the Obelisk functioned as a sundial and a calendar.  Ancient Egyptians used the position of the narrow shadow cast by obelisks to tell the time and the length of the shadow to determine the month of the year. 

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to leave a voicemail message for Deputy George Lasater at 231.547.0438, extension 212 or contact the Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Office at 231.547.4461.

I also had a call on my answering machine from Sgt. Lasater.  He was trying to narrow down the likely time frame when the vandalism might have occurred.  I agree with the sergeant that vandalism is one of the more frustrating crimes, often being totally nonsensical.  I think Peace Pilgrim hit the nail on the head when she indicated most of our (human beings) problems stem from a general lack of maturity.  Our spiritual growth has been far outpaced by our technology (providing the ability to create great damage).  We have a lot of growing-up to do.  I also believe one of the major issues in our society is a basic lack of respect — for people, things, or other living creatures.  In fact, in our country, born out of revolution, sometimes we laud disrespectfulness, as if it were a virtue.  It is not.  It is always a sign of small minds and ignorance — even in times of great disagreement or contention.  OK, that is my preaching for the day — back on track.





That wraps up The Ancient World page.  Like with the museum, I have left out many of the pictures I took and a number of exhibits, but you have seen a pretty good representation of what is there.  In the interest of the honesty of my Photographic Statement, I did touch up several of these pictures.  I removed a camera lens smudge on the picture next to the Stonehenge sign, and since I did not have anything with me to clean off the signs before photographing them, I digitally cleaned the bird droppings from each sign — a little less real, but much more esthetically pleasing this way. 


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