Issue 20

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Ancient Americans

A rich feast of books crossed my desk this year. Unfortunately, I did not have the time to read most of them. But I found Ancient Americans an engrossing read, written as it is by an outsider, not an archaeologist. Despite the best efforts of archaeologists and other scholars, the popular image of the Americas […]

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The Tomb Builders in Wales 4000-3000 BC

In the way in which the National Museum Wales portrays Welsh identity, it stands out on the international scene as a beacon for others to emulate. This book on Welsh Megalithic tombs follows on from Steve Burrow’s excellent catalogue of early prehistoric remains held by the Museum which it published in 2003. The photography and […]


The Bayeux Tapestry, the life story of a masterpiece

The most familiar image in the gallery of the mind’s eye is how Carola Hicks describes The Bayeux Tapestry in her book, subtitled ‘the life story of a masterpiece’. She also notes The Times’s 1944 characterisation of the Tapestry as a great Norman newsreel that anticipated the invention of Technicolor, and noted its descent from […]


The Nature of Palaeolithic Art

Animal bone reports can be dry stuff so it is good to see a spate of interesting books about the complex and always fascinating relations between humans and other animals. Dogs, horses and beavers have all featured in excellent recent publications but my choice is more general, R. Dale Guthrie’s The Nature of Palaeolithic Art. […]

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Ritual Domestic Life in Prehistoric Europe

Prehistoric people were not like us. Despite attempts by archaeologists to separate settlements from ceremonial sites, burial places from work places, and ritual activity from domestic life we have always known things were different in the past. Using examples from across Europe, the way that ritual is overtly embedded in everyday life is unfolded. Take […]


The Medici Conspiracy

This is a gripping read of conspiracies between dealers and major museums that have been going on for decades, but now – only now – are being uncovered. The book reads like a thriller with Robert Hecht being the principal villain of the piece, but Sotheby’s, the Getty, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and […]


Atlantis of the Sands

The cover says it all – or seems to. A gung-ho romp through the sandy wastes of the Arabian Empty Quarter in search of a lost civililization. The quest for the fabled city of Ubar, or Wabar as H. StJ Philby and Lawrence had it, is set against the stirring background of Ranulph Fiennes’s world […]


Brunel; the Man who Built the World

Anniversaries are always good for the reading public, as publishers issue sumptuous books which at other times are often uneconomic. It’s the great Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s 200th birthday, and this has resulted in numerous new books. For my money this is by far the best. Steven Brindle not only has researched Brunel over […]

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