Books

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 […]

Aurel Stein on the Silk Road

Sir Aurel Stein is one of the least known of the Great British Archaeological explorers of the earlier 20th century. He was, in fact, a Hungarian Jew, born in Budapest in 1862, though his parents prudently had him baptized into the Lutheran Church. After studying Sanskrit at Vienna, Old Persian at Tubingen, and Punjabi at […]

Atlas of World Art

Atlas of World Art John Onions, Laurence King Publishing, £75 How far is it possible to talk of ‘world’ art? John Onions, Professor of Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia, clearly thinks that it is possible, and in the Atlas of World Art he has produced a work that is full of provocative […]

Tales from Ancient Egypt

Tales from Ancient Egypt Joyce Tyldesley, Rutherford Press, £8.50 In the beginning nothing existed but the terrible, swirling waters of chaos. There was no land and there was no sky. No gods, no people, no light, no warmth, no time and no death. Only the dangerous, endless waters. But deep within that dark sea there […]

Chinese Silk

Silk is one of the more complex luxuries. It is not just a matter of cultivating silk worms – it is also essential to cultivate the mulberry leaves on which they feed. You then set up a series of racks containing trays covered with mulberry leaves on which the silk worms feast. You then extract […]

Ancient Olympics

The Ancient Olympics Nigel Spivey, OUP £16.99 In the Greek hoplite army, every citizen was expected to be a soldier; your national service lasted for life and thus it became your civic duty to keep fit. From this sprang the Greek obsession with the body beautiful. There was no point in having a beautiful mind […]

War at Troy

Recreating Homer’s Trojan War A Hollywood blockbuster starring Brad Pitt and a book by award-winning novelist Lindsay Clarke both attempt to bring Homer’s Trojan War to new popular audiences. How successful are they? The Movie The movie is visually spectacular. The computer-generated images – of the Greek fleet’s amphibious assault, of armies battling on the […]

Amelia Peabody’s Egypt

Amelia Peabody’s Egypt: a Compendium Ed. Elizabeth Peters, Constable & Robinson, £19.99 This is a book that is both charming and dangerous. Elizabeth Peters might be described as an American version of Agatha Christie, and her equivalent of Hercule Poirot is Amelia Peabody, a Victorian feminist/archaeologist/ detective, the chronicles of whose doings are extremely popular […]

Dragon Bone Hill

In 1921, the Swedish geologist Gunnar Andersson and his palaeontological assistant Otto Zdansky, an Austrian, discovered some intriguing fossil bones in a complex of Pleistocene-era caves near Peking. Dragon Bone Hill is the English translation of the local Chinese name (Longgushan) of the caves that are internationally known as Zhoukoudian. A galaxy of international scientists […]

Burial Customs in Ancient Egypt

Burial Customs in Ancient Egypt: Life in Death for Rich and Poor Wolfram Grajetzki, Gerald Duckworth & Co., £14.99 Wolfram Grajetzki’s comprehensive little book aims to document the burial customs of Ancient Egypt across five millennia. He opens with a look at the graves of the early Egyptian farmers who lived and died some seven […]

Year of the Ghost

The year of the ghost Derek A. Roe, Western Academic & Specialist Press for Beagle Books, £14.95 In 1983, Derek Roe became a ghost. Derek was at the time 46 and a rising figure in the world of Old Stone Age Archaeology at Oxford; but he was also well-known as a writer, so he was […]

Ancient Queens

Ancient Queens, Archaeological Explorations Ed. Sarah Milledge Nelson, AltaMira Press, £24.95 Do you know much about the women who ruled in antiquity? As Sarah Milledge Nelson, Professor of Archaeology at Denver points out, most of us do not …’presumably because of a cultural expectation that rulers will be men’. Nelson’s edited collection of ten papers […]

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