These settlements, which were occupied roughly between 800 and 1600 AD, included houses and moats and palisade walls. There were causeways and roads, which connected the settlements together. There were plazas laid out along cardinal points, from east to west, and roads positioned at the same geometric angles. (Fawcett had reported that Indians told him legends that described “many streets set at right angles to one another.” ) According to the scientists, each cluster of settlements contained anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 people, which means that the larger communities were the size of many medieval European cities.
“These people had a cultural aesthetic of monumentality,” Heckenberger said. “They liked to have beautiful roads and plazas and bridges.”
Foolish people — idiots — think that great civilizations are linear rationalists who approximate literal mindedness, holding up an eggplant and saying “well the box said this is a spark plug, so put it in the engine, even if it doesn’t fit!”
But really, great civilizations are formed by aestheticians. These are the kind of people who can think: wouldn’t it be awesome if we made civilization into something beautiful, so we could all unite in happy labor toward a never-ending goal, instead of becoming soulless materialists who sit at home pleasing themselves with video games, drugs, religion, sex and money?
A cultural aesthetic of monumentality… sounds like ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, et al to me.