Books

Pompeii: Public & Private Life

Paul Zanker’s Pompeii: public and private life (Harvard, £15.95) is another book in the same vein. The German author is an archaeology professor who has served as the Director of the German Archaeological Institute in Rome. Like Wallace-Hadrill, his aim is to ‘read’ material culture for encoded statements about past society. His big idea is […]

Houses & Society in Pompeii & Herculaneum

Interpreting Pompeii Many of the older studies of Pompeii seem rather dry today. Architecture, mosaics and frescoes were classified into types. Houses were distinguished according to whether limestone, volcanic tuff or concrete was used to build them. Architecture was ‘Samnite’, ‘Hellenistic’ or ‘Roman colonial’. Frescoes were grouped into four main styles. These various types were […]

Lost World of Pompeii

The crisis in Vesuvian archaeology runs deep. Pompeii is fast degrading, with walls crumbling, frescoes erased by the sun, plaster dropping off walls, and mosaics being churned up by weeds. Many of the finds from early excavations have not been catalogued, and there are great gaps in the published record. The Lost World of Pompeii […]

Lost Civilisations

Lost Civilisations looks at some 20 archaeological sites from around the world. The author has a wide selection, with five from America, though surprisingly none from Egypt. The inclusion of Atlantis will raise some eyebrows, but in fact, he produces a sane account, concluding with a description of the eruption of Thera; though he also […]

Seventy Great Mysteries of Ancient Egypt

The Seventy Great Mysteries of Ancient Egypt Ed. Bill Manley, Thames and Hudson, £24.95 Were the pyramids built by slaves? Did the pharaohs marry their sisters? Are there more royal tombs yet to be discovered in Egypt? These are just three of the 70 mysteries broached by 17 eminent Egyptologists and archaeologists in this all-colour […]

Archaeology of Christianity in Africa

The Archaeology of Christianity in Africa Niall Finneran (Tempus £19.99) The Archaeology of Christianity in Africa covers a wide span. It begins with the brief, but brilliant, flourishing of Christianity in North Africa, to be extinguished after two or three centuries by the spread of Islam. However, the major part of the book looks at […]

Genesis of the Pharaohs

Origins of Ancient Egypt How did ancient Egypt reach the point of take-off? In Genesis of the Pharaohs: Dramatic New discoveries that Re-write the Origins of Ancient Egypt (Thames and Hudson, £18.95), Toby Wilkinson of Christ’s College, Cambridge, looks to discoveries in the eastern desert. Since the early 20th century, a number of examples of […]

Return to Chauvet Cave

The Chauvet Cave The discovery of the Chauvet Cave in the Ardèche valley in the south of France has proved to be one of the most important finds of Palaeolithic cave art since Lascaux. Following its discovery in 1994, it has been scrupulously protected, accessible to only a very few researchers, and in 1995 the […]

After the Ice

What is the biggest leap forward ever to have taken place in the history of humanity? Steven Mithen, Professor of Early Prehistory at Reading University, believes that it was the explosion of human creativity that took place somewhere in the middle of the last Ice Age – after the Neanderthals had died out, and the […]

Complete Gods & Goddesses of Ancient Egypt

How many Egyptian gods and goddesses were there? In The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, Richard Wilkinson, Professor at the University of Arizona, lists nearly 500 of them, categorised by type. The majority of them are anthropomorphic, divided between male and female. Then come the mammalian deities, followed by the avian (birds), until […]

Man Who Deciphered Linear B

The decipherment of Minoan Linear B by architect Michael Ventris is one of the great dramas of 20th century archaeology. But who was Michael Ventris, and how did he do it? Andrew Robinson, the Literary Editor of the Times Higher Education Supplement, has now written a fascinating biography, The Man who Deciphered Linear B. Michael […]

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