Books

Quest for the Shaman

‘This book is a quest for evidence of shamanism’ write co-authors Professors Miranda and Stephen Aldhouse-Green. And yet, before their quest even begins they have a hard time defining what they mean by ‘shamanism’. Indeed, they point out that one scholar has argued that the notion of shamanism is an entirely invented academic tradition, even […]

Ajanta Caves

This book is beautiful. Indeed, author Benoy Behl describes his work as a ‘labour of love’. With over 200 illustrations, 189 of which are in full-colour, this is the most comprehensive publication of the Buddhist art from the Ajanta caves in western India. The exquisite paintings and sculptures from the World Heritage Site caves range […]

Collapse

Collapse: how societies choose to fail or survive, by Jared Diamond (Penguin hardback, £20) is the sort of book that archaeologists should write but don’t. Jared Diamond has an interesting background. He began as a biologist and became professor of physiology at Los Angeles at a very early age. However, he is also into birds […]

Gertrude Bell

Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) is often dismissed simply as an intrepid lady explorer/amateur archaeologist: ‘The Daughter of the Desert or a kind of schoolgirl’s Lawrence of Arabia’, as H V F Winstone observes in his immaculately researched biography Gertrude Bell. And yet, as Winstone demonstrates, such labels fail to do justice to her or to her […]

Petra Discovered

With Petra being the lead article in this issue it is perhaps appropriate to look at a magnificent new book on the subject – Petra Rediscovered. This is an American book produced by the Cincinnati Art Museum and edited by their curator Glenn Markoe. It is a large format gorgeously illustrated volume, but it must […]

Panorama of the Classical World

How do we present the Classical world to the world of today? In Panorama of the Classical World, (Thames and Hudson, £29.95), Nigel Spivey and Michael Squire, both from Cambridge, present a lavishly illustrated account of ‘Classics for a new generation’. The book has splendid illustrations, many coming by courtesy of the Getty Museum, and […]

Goddess & the Bull:Catalhoyuk

‘On a cold day in 1958’ writes Michael Balter ‘the history of archaeology, and of our understanding of our own origins, was changed forever’. It was on that day in 1958, that archaeologist James Mellaart discovered one of the world’s oldest towns, Turkey’s Çatalhöyük. And thus began an archaeological odyssey into the origins of civilisation […]

Alexander

Oliver Stone’s new epic Alexander has hit the headlines. The New York Post has labelled it ‘Alexander the Gay’, and US Christians thinking of going to see it have been advised to ‘speak to your pastors immediately because Satan is attempting to enter your mind’. Greek nationalists have been fuming. How could the greatest hero […]

Temple of Jerusalem

The Temple of Jerusalem is one of the most important non-existing buildings in the world. Just what was it and why was it important? In a slim volume, The Temple of Jerusalem (Profile books, £15.99), Simon Goldhill, Professor of Greek Literature and Culture at Cambridge, looks at the temple in three different stages. The first […]

Egyptology Books Round-Up

The publication of eight books simultaneously is a major event and eight books have recently been published by University College London (UCL) Press on Egyptology. However, these are not like any previous books on Egyptology, and it is tempting to say that they tell us more about UCL and its Director, Peter Ucko, than they […]

Landscapes for the World

The system of World Heritage Sites has been one of the great successes of UNESCO. Everyone seems to be in favour of them: local inhabitants and national governments alike see a World Heritage Site as adding enormously to their prestige. Tourist organisations love them for providing a cast iron reason for including them on their […]

Unearthing Gotham

Where is Gotham? Apparently it is New York, the place where Batman lives, and Unearthing Gotham: The Archaeology of New York City by Anna-Marie Cantwell and Diana diZerega Wall, (Yale University Press, paperback £12.95) provides a fascinating account of a city where one would not expect to find much archaeology. The story divides into two […]

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