The Great Archaeologists

Review

James Blake Wiener
by
published on 20 September 2014
Rating: star star star star star

The Great Archaeologists

The Great Archaeologists, edited by Dr. Brian Fagan -- Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara -- introduces the reader to 59 of the world’s most innovative, provocative, and underappreciated archaeologists from the past four centuries. This title is unique in not only its scope, but also its presentation of varying personal fortunes and unique contributions to the field.

Split into six thematic sections – The Antiquity of Humankind, Discoverers of Ancient Civilizations, The Art of Excavation, Decipherers of Ancient Scripts, Discovering World Prehistory, and Thinking About the Past, – The Great Archaeologists is global in focus, with considerable attention given to specialists of ancient East Asia, Latin America, Africa, the Near East, Europe, and Oceania. However, Fagan is to be commended for having gathered a team of prominent international archaeologists to write with both thoughtfulness and meticulousness.

The Great Archaeologists contains revealing glimpses into the lives of these archaeologists, and the biographical narration is interspersed with original photographs, images of artifacts, diagrams, and sketches from the field. (In total, there are 201 illustrations of which 188 are in color.) Special attention is given to female pioneers – the chapters on Gertrude Bell and Tatiana Proskouriakoff are excellent – and more controversial figures like Heinrich Schliemann. Those interested in prehistoric, Mesoamerican, or Andean archaeology will be supremely rewarded as well.

Other features in the publication include an introduction, maps of the main locations featured in the text, biographical summaries of each contributor, a list for further reading with titles in English, French, German, Spanish, Mandarin, the sources of illustrations, and an index.

Ancient History Encyclopedia recommends The Great Archaeologists to anyone interested in archaeology, anthropology, and the history of those two fields. This volume has been published in English through Thames & Hudson in the United States and is currently available for $50.00 in hardcover. It is 304 pages in length.



About the Reviewer

James Blake Wiener
James is a writer and former Professor of History. He holds an MA in World History with a particular interest in cross-cultural exchange and world history. He is a co-founder of Ancient History Encyclopedia and its Communications Director.