Archeologists revealed recently that Northern Nevada petroglyphs on the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation might be more than 10,000 years old, a joyous discovery for scientists wanting to learn more about North America’s ancient inhabitants. The petroglyphs—geometric shapes and tree images carved into rock—offer some clues, which has us wondering: What might experts glean from the ruins of Las Vegas, should it be unearthed 10,000 years from now?
As Las Vegas-native Brian “Paco” Alvarez once pointed out, they’d probably surmise that Southern Nevada was once the capital of the world, what with bits of Paris, Venice, Rome, Egypt and New York all jammed together in close proximity.
Or, might it instead look like a devoutly religious city—a town revolving around a corridor of grand temples, complete with auditoriums, pools and little machines that probably served as private offerings to the gods? One temple even included an indoor canal likely used for purification rituals, they might announce. Another structure under excavation would be something that could only be described as a pyramid, perplexing many.
The worker housing on the city’s outskirts would appear to be built abruptly and not designed to last, perhaps due to limited water in the region ensuring only a temporary existence. Moreover, the flimsy materials and identical nature of the houses surrounding the city, seemingly plopped with little planning, would suggest they were constructed for an influx of workers who came to the area to pray for water, unknowingly depleting the limited supply. Archaeologists would find more durable homes in the city’s core that most likely housed the priests and elders.
There would be speculation that a nearby lake had been the primary water source for a population that could have reached as many as 2 million inhabitants, but the search for fields of solar farms used for energy in the sun-drenched area would prove unfruitful.
Most apparent to those digging through the ruins of Las Vegas would be that daily life revolved around the “temple corridor,” which likely had millions of visitors annually before the city’s mysterious collapse in what was considered the end of the Digital Age.
Or, maybe, it was, indeed, the capital of the world.