Paul Bahn (ed.)
Thames & Hudson, £24.95
Review by: Lucia Marchini
Guiding the reader through 4 million years of archaeology, this new book covers major sites and discoveries across the world, offering a broad overview of different periods on a global scale. It could be described as an encyclopaedic timeline, made up of engaging two-page entries on select topics, following a chronological order from ‘before humans’ up to ‘archaeology and politics’, as well as a final chapter on various archaeological techniques.
Naturally, what can be covered in two pages is only the basics – especially when dealing with some long-inhabited sites like Merv in Turkmenistan and Hisarlik in Turkey or wide-ranging subjects such as ‘African state formation’ and ‘farmers in East Asia’ – but with this neat format, there is enough to whet the appetite and to inform a general reader in a lively style. There are a number of handy features that help map out the subjects. Certain topics (a period or civilisation, for instance) come with a timeline of relevant events, while sites can have ‘focal points’, which highlight particular objects or buildings, and ‘archaeologist profiles’.
This is an excellent accessible reference guide, and with no obvious gaps it goes some way in telling the whole story.