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Eyewitness to Discovery : First-Person Accounts of More Than Fifty of the World's Greatest Archaeological Discoveries
Edited by Brian M Fagan
From The Publisher:
58 vivid accounts of the world's greatest archaeological discoveries.
Archaeology has an aura of romance and a long history of startling discoveries wrested from clinging soil. Indeed, patience and persistence can lead to spectacular finds, as they did for Howard Carter in November 1922. After seven years searching the Egyptian desert, Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun, and in these vivid words he described what the tomb held in store: "At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flame to flicker, but presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold--everywhere the glint of gold."
In Eyewitness to Discovery, Brian M. Fagan gathers together 58 vivid accounts of the world's greatest archaeological discoveries, from the tomb of Tutankhamun and the Aegean Marbles to Otzi the Iceman and Machu Picchu, as told by the people who discovered them. The selections chronicle the development of the field, from the early 1700s when archaeology was little more than a lighthearted treasure hunt, to the late twentieth century when discoveries often come not only from spectacular excavations, but also from the screens of computers or from the analysis of pollen grains invisible to the naked eye. Fagan provides engaging, informative introductions to each of these selections, as well as an introduction to the volume, laying out the history of archaeology.
But the heart of the book captures the excitement of the discoveries themselves. We see how Arthur Evans found clues on Minoan seals in an Athens flea market that helped him discover the Palace of Knossos and a long forgotten early civilization; how Austen Henry Layard--one of the heroic archaeologists of the nineteenth century--discovered ancient Ninevah; and how General Napoleon Bonaparte's soldiers found the Rosetta Stone in the Nile Delta in 1799, one of the most important archaeological finds in history. And we read how, in 1974, Don Johanson, while working in the center of the Afar desert in Ethiopia--a wasteland of bare rock, gravel, and sand--happened upon the oldest, most complete skeleton of any human ancestor that had ever been found: Lucy, approximately 3.5 million years old.
Archaeological discovery unveils the past and brings us face to face with the triumphs and tragedies of those who have gone before. This book is a celebration of archaeological discoveries, and the men and women who made them.
Although quite a few of these accounts are in print in one book or another, there is no single book that has so many accounts of great archaeological discoveries. Moreover, there are a number of accounts that this reviewer has never seen in print....This is a useful book for anyone interested in archaeology.
John Rosser, Kliatt, September 1999
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About the Author
Brian M. Fagan is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is internationally known for his books on archaeology, among them The Adventure of Archaeology and The Rape of the Nile, and as a columnist for Archaeology magazine.
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