1. Education

Archaeology Book Reviews

The general science book market has developed numerous excellent sources of information about the study of archaeology. Here is a collection of recent reviews of science books that give the reader the real story... in real jargon-free English. Below this is a listing of the most recently reviewed books; the navigation lane at the right lists books by category.
  1. Ancient Civilizations (8)
  2. Anthropology (9)
  3. Art and Architecture (7)
  4. Biographies (10)
  5. Books for Beginners (12)
  6. Children's Book Reviews (9)
  7. Climate and Environment (3)
  8. Electronic Books (4)
  9. Reference Books (3)
  10. Regional Studies (22)
  11. Study of Archaeology (5)

The Archaeological Imagination
The Archaeological Imagination is a stimulating, not to say downright provoking, thought experiment from archaeological Michael Shanks.

Interpreting the English Village - A Book Review
Interpreting the English Village is the public archaeology version of the Shapwick Project, a study in landscape archaeology that investigated the history and prehistory of the town of Shapwick, Somerset County, England.

Bodies in the Bog and the Archaeological Imagination
Bodies in the Bog is a book written in 2009 by Karin Sanders, which explores the ideas, commentary and fantasies of people outside of the archaeological community who investigate bog bodies.

Prehistoric Fiction: Swigart, Lessing, and 10,000 BC
A brief summary of a handful of books that use fiction to illuminate the past.

Protecting Catalhoyuk: Memoir of an Archaeological Site Guard
Sadrettin Dural's memoir of his life as a site guard at the Neolithic site of Catalhoyuk is a fascinating glimpse into his thoughts and feelings about the site and the archaeologists who work there.

Introductions to Archaeology
A collection of the best introductions to archaeology there are on the market today, all published within the past few years.

The Sea Kings: The Prophecy
This first book in Les Cole's Sea King Trilogy is an exciting, detailed romance of the high seas of the Mediterranean Sea during the Bronze Age. The hero, Tanuati, a selfish Cretan lout, wanders around the sea picking up knowledge and girls at about the same rate. An entertaining way to spend an afternoon.

In Search of Myths and Heroes
In the new book and television program In Search of Myths and Heroes, Michael Wood seeks to learn about four ancient legends. The book is essentially a wistful fairy tale, that doesn't provide a clearer image of what the past was like or even the likelihood that a particular story actually happened; but in the romantic tradition of a favorite story told again and again.

Unconquered Lacandon Maya
Joel W. Palka’s book, Unconquered Lacandon Maya, discusses the current and historical conditions of the various groups of people collectively called the Lacandon.

Archaeology the Comic: A Book Review
Johannes Loubser’s "Archaeology--The Comic" is an introductory archaeology text that uses the graphic novel medium to elucidate many of the trickier technical discussions in archaeology.

Global Dawn - a book review of Global Dawn by Deborah Gelbard
Global Dawn is a novel about a visionary leader who spearheads a electronic database project to the detriment of family and dayjob. Based on the Digital Earth Project.

The Egyptologist
Arthur Phillips' The Egyptologist is blackly funny, evocative of both the roaring twenties of Boston and the working conditions of the Valley of the Kings under the British, and I highly recommend it to anybody looking for a good, absorbing, funny adult novel.

The Anasazi Mysteries
The Anasazi Mystery series, written by Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear, are fascinating, well-paced page-turners, that convey a very real sense of what it’s like to do archaeology in the 21st century, and a very plausible picture of what it was like to live and die in the San Juan Basin during the disastrous 13th century. A contributed review from Thomas F. King.

The Rape of the Nile
Brian Fagan's The Rape of the Nile is a resonant description of those days when science and scientific thought was being forged, both awful and awe-inspiring.

Fossil Legends of the First Americans
Adrienne Mayor's Fossil Legends of the First Americans is interesting, both for its detailed descriptions of the legends and investigations of paleontological data by Native American people, but also for the visible struggles of a scientist trying to reconcile one of the bigger problems of our society.

In the Wake of the Jomon
Jon Turk's In the Wake of the Jomon is an adventure romance of a modern man attempting to reconstruct a possible sailing voyage around the northern Pacific rim from Japan to Alaska.

Yeti Researcher - Society for Cryptic Hominid Investigation
The Yeti Researcher is a curious, involving send-up of academic and amateur journals in paleoanthropology, and part of Issue 17 of McSweeney's, which is generally pretty strange and involving all on its own.

Andean Diaspora: Tiwanaku Colonies
Paul Goldstein's 2005 book called Andean Diaspora, subtitled The Tiwanaku Colonies and the Origins of Empire, is an intriguing look at the Tiwanaku empire of South America and its colonies several hundred kilometers away.

The Island Chumash
Douglas Kennett's book, The Island Chumash, is an interesting examination of the way humans adapt to changes in their surroundings, whether self- or nature-induced.

The Reconstructed Past
The Reconstructed Past is a collection of stories from archaeologists about their experiences in physically reinventing the buildings, villages, and landscapes of the archaeological and historical past.

In The Maw of the Earth Monster
In the new book "In The Maw of the Earth Monster", James Brady and Keith Prufer have provided us non-specialists with a survey of the research into caves in and around Mesoamerica, both a regional survey and a theoretical survey.

Amelia Earhart's Shoes
A new updated edition of the book written by members of TIGHAR Thomas F. King, Randall Jacobson, Karen Ramey Burns, and Kenton Spading, Amelia Earhart's Shoes reports new research on the 1937 disappearance of the famous woman aviator, including archaeology on an island in the republic of Kiribati.

The Goddess and the Bull
Michael Balter's book The Goddess and the Bull may be seen primarily as a biography: of the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük, of the site excavators, and of the site's story as it has grown and changed throughout the years.

The Early Upper Paleolithic Beyond Western Europe
The edited volume Early Upper Paleolithic Beyond Western Europe presents data from over 100 sites throughout eastern Europe and Asia on the transition period of 50,000 to 35,000 years ago, which saw the evolution of modern human behavior.

China before China
The book China before China describes the history of the archaeological investigations of Swedish geologist Johan Gunnar Andersson and Ding Wenjiang, intellectual and scholar of the newly established Chinese republic between 1914 and 1925. Together, they discovered Chinese prehistory and paleontology.

Romancing the Maya
Romancing the Maya is about ownership of the past, and an intriguing book and I think a rather important one, for all of us who think about the past and study cultures not our own.

The Deserter: Murder at Gettysburg
A new book by mystery writer Jane Langton crosses into the Civil War to track down an ancient case of identity theft.

Linking to the Past
Kenneth Feder has a long distinguished history of writing great introductory texts. With Linking to the Past, he uses a web-based text to provide a searchable, enhanced and exciting text for students new to archaeology.

Magnificent Objects: A Review
Magnificent Objects is a new large-format book of beautiful color photographs of artifacts from the collection of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology, giving the reader a taste for the art history of the world's peoples.

Cobble Circles and Standing Stones: A Review
I highly recommend Cobble Circles and Standing Stones for anybody interested in the Chiriqui or Costa Rican archaeology, but also for anybody contemplating a career in archaeology, or just curious to understand how the science of archaeology works.

Dug to Death: A Review
Adrian Praetzellis has crafted a yakkety little murder mystery, which in reality is an entertaining exaggeration of what field work can really be like. If you want to be an archaeologist, if you really want to know what being an archaeologist is all about, you should go on a field school. And take this book with you. It'll give you a clue as to what else can go wrong.

Moche Portraits: A Book Review
Christopher Donnan's new book, Moche Portraits from Ancient Peru, gives a great introduction and insight into this most personal of prehistoric ceramic art.

Top Cross Discipline Books in Archaeology
Many of the most interesting books published in archaeology today look at a broad sweep of ideas, how cultures change, how environment affects us, how different styles of the same thing are expressed across the world. Here are a handful of the most recent.

Top Archaeological Encyclopedias
This category is made up of my professional secret stash of encyclopedias and overviews. While supplemented by frequent trips to the library, this group is still the backbone of the Archaeology website at About.com, and is guaranteed to help anyone get familiar with a broad bariety of topics.

Shovel Bum the 'Zine
Trent de Boer's fanzine Shovel Bum presents a comic viewpoint of life in the (archaeological) trenches of the field technician, affectionately known as the shovel bum. Altamira Press recently published this compilation of recent issues.

You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.