Archaeologist Lillie Lisle’s life ambition is to find answers to the disappearance of the ancient people of the American Southwest known as the Hohokam. Convinced those answers lie at the foot of Black Mountain in Tucson, Arizona, she undertakes a frustrating process to excavate the area. Finally, luck plays into her hands when a county land swap cedes the site to a contractor who must conduct an archaeological survey before starting to build. Lillie launches into a project she believes will answer a question of the ages – What happened to the Hohokam?
Working with volunteers – Al, a crusty recovering alcoholic, and her sister Pip, a university student – Lillie begins to unearth Tucson’s past as well as her own. From the beginning, she is plagued with vivid dreams of experiences that are not her own. With Al and Pip she explores her faith, delves into theories of past-lives, and probes the possibility of genetic memories.
One day, alone at the site, Lillie discovers a stone decorated with unusual etchings. As she examines the stone more closely a vision of two ancient people overwhelms her. With artifact in hand and haunting images of conjured ancients in her head she embarks on a journey that leads her from the foot of Black Mountain to Leif Eriksson’s camp in Newfoundland, from Hohokam artifacts to Norse lore and runic relics that have emerged on the American side of the Atlantic. Puzzling together the seemingly unrelated clues, Lillie becomes convinced that Europeans wandered deep into the Americas long before Columbus made landfall.
Dance of the Hummingbirds is an epic saga of time and space that journeys from the present day American Southwest to life in the village of Birka – the heart of sea trade in medieval Europe. It is the story of Kai a young Hohokam woman who must lead her people after the death of her grandmother, while daunted by the village shaman. It is the story of Thorynn Petŕsson, a young Norseman who leaves Birka’s shores on the largest dragon ship ever built, pledging to return and build a life despite his father’s efforts to dissuade him and betrothal to his childhood friend. It is the story of past meeting present, east touching west, and a legacy of family ties. And it is the story of a young archaeologist who learns about herself in the midst of it all as the hummingbirds dance.