Unfortunately, the global pandemic might not stop anytime soon. Therefore, you are most likely inside, and reading can always be an excellent choice to get into a new topic. And why not read about something exciting and fulfilling as archeology? This really thrilling science, which provides impressive results, takes anyone back in time.
While you are resting in your living room in the present time, by reading some archeological book, you could travel back to the Dark Ages. Alternatively, visit ancient cities, castles, prehistoric temples, or a palace. Some authors are great with words, and their books have made history and deserved their place on the bookshelves. Here are our top ten archeological books we think you should read and make your days more exciting!
10. Israel Finkelstein "The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of its Sacred Texts" (2001)
Our list starts with the book taking you back in the times of all the Bible characters. This book, written for the general public, talks about the Levant in the Iron Age period. Therefore, it shows many important finds and tells small pieces of the story that make the Bible even more intriguing.
This book belongs to the part of archeology known as Biblical archeology. Not surprisingly, many famous archeologists and scholars have worked in this field since the 18th and the 19th century. Of course, those explorers mainly operated in Israel, Palestine, Egypt, etc., where most Biblical events occurred. No doubt, this book will be interesting to anyone wanting to learn more about this topic.
9. Kathryn Bard "Introduction to the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt" (2007)
As the title says, this book is perfect for anyone that wants to see and learn about the splendors of Ancient Egypt. This work covers all the essential aspects of everyday life. Therefore, it describes the once-great Egyptian empire's impressive temples, cities, and rulers. Hence, it's no wonder that people are still amazed by their achievements in the delta of the Nile river.
Moreover, this book will be good for you if you are bedazzled by Pharaohs, like Tutankhamun. Historically, he was not as important a ruler as others, so imagine how glamorous others' tombs must have looked like! We surely hope you will enjoy this book about the civilization of once the most fascinating builders.
8. Dragoslav Srejović "Europe's First Monumental Sculptures: New Discoveries at Lepenski Vir" (1972)
The most famous archeologist from the ex-Yugoslavia is definitely somebody whose books you would like to have on your shelves. The topic of this work are the first monumental (stone) sculptures found in Europe. Those statues are from the archeological site "Lepenski vir," on the right bank of the Danube river in the Đerdap region. They date to the Mesolithic period (middle stone age).
With a superb choice of words, this author successfully drags the reader into the world of the prehistoric people and their achievements. However, even the pictures will amaze you with the craftsmanship of those artists. Since the discovery of this site, many books have been written about it. That's why reading about it can be easy and inspire you to visit the museum.
7. Colin Renfrew and Paul Bahn "Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice" (1991)
How can we skip a book written by some of the most respected scholars in archeology today? As the title says, this printed work is a very detailed overview of what's considered archeology. With its scientific writing, it might not be the most accessible reading material for everyone, yet, it's worth looking at.
This book is often obligatory for students worldwide who are beginning their archeology studies. Therefore, it covers the most essential archeology theories and all the methods used in the field. Also, it encourages people to look for more with its vivid examples.
6. Ian Hodder "Archaeological Theory Today" (2001)
Archeology is much more than excavations because you always have to describe and explain what you've found. Archeological theories are the tools used for that, and, like many things, they also change over time. As one of the most influential archeologists, Hodder is a prominent figure in the field.
His book shows its readers the history of the theory and describes each one of them in detail. Besides that, he gives his point of view and, for a reason, is considered the leading scholar in post-modern archeology. Also, Hodder is known for his work on the archeological site Catalhoyuk in Turkey, one of the first cities ever.
5. Anthony Harding "European Societies in the Bronze Age" (2000)
Well, is there anything more to say about this book than the title itself? As one of the most prominent authors and scholars, Harding shows us how Europe looked, breathed, and lived in the 2nd millennium BC. Bronze Age is a very long time, spreading around 1500 years, and you can imagine how difficult it is to put all of that in one book.
For many people, prehistory could seem very far away and has no connecting spots with today's world. However, let's not forget that we better view the future by studying the past. And precisely because of that, it is essential to read about it, with Harding's book serving as a great tool.
4. Kenneth Clark "Civilisation: A Personal View" (1969)
This is probably the most famous overview of the western civilization ever written, hands down. The book is not just about archeological sites and artifacts, but so much more! By reading this classic, everyone will learn about specific and most influential western artists and achievements from the early Medieval times until today.
The beauty about this author is that he also made a very popular TV adaptation of this book, divided into 13 part TV series, produced by the BBC. Just like the book, the series outlines the history of Western architecture, art, philosophy from the Dark Ages until today. Even though there are negative comments about it having a 19th-century point of view on the matter, it still won people's hearts.
3. Horst Waldemar Janson “History of Art” (1963)
Ok, this is not exactly a book in archeology, but let's face it, art history and archeology can not exist without one another. This classic book is a must-read to better understand the previous periods and the art that shaped them! Janson's book is marvelously written and keeps readers interested the whole time.
Janson shows the "evolution" of art in very clear language and divides it into specific periods. He uses the most stunning and famous art pieces (paintings, sculptures, etc.) to demonstrate that continuous line. We highly recommend this book to everyone, including those already on this topic for some time.
2. Peter Drewett "Field Archaeology – An Introduction" (1999)
It's no surprise that when most people think of archeology, the first thing that pops into their minds are field surveys and excavations. Even if you are not an archeologist, it is always welcoming to find out what the process consists of. Our book of choice, which could help in that matter, is Peter Drewet's work.
Written primarily for archeologists and academics, this topic is powerful, and anyone can learn about it from this book. Yet, let's not mix Indiana Jones and the real archeologists. As much as his adventures are exciting, the actual fieldwork is different and nicely described in this book.
1. Gordon Childe "The Dawn of European Civilization" (1925)
Our number one is probably the most important and most influential archeological book of the 20th century. Written by a charismatic Australia-born scholar, this was just one of the many books problematizing some of the most often asked questions in archeology.
Besides this one, some other titles which he wrote over the years are: "The Danube in Prehistory," "Man Makes Himself," "Social Revolution," etc.
What is so impressive and vital here is that the author described what's known as the "Neolithic revolution." With his excellent knowledge of archeological sites and finds, he could describe how agriculture came to be and spread across the Old continent. With agriculture came the first cities and the growth of population… something which we are witnessing even today. He is probably considered the most famous archeologist of the 20th century for this and many other books.
Summer is always the best period to see or experience life at the beach, but also on the archeological excavations. Luckily, there are a lot of sites where eager people are needed to dig and explore. That's why one of the terrific things someone can do during their summer holiday is to join the excavation crew and visit the past.
We hope these books will help all of you find a period you are interested in or some field in this fascinating science. Also, if you have spare time, go to your local museum and ask when the excavations are happening. Then, get your trowels and pencils ready and use the knowledge from these top ten books!
Have you read some books about archeology? Which one is your favorite?
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