Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ten Discoveries That Rewrote History

Ten Discoveries That Rewrote History
© Patrick Hunt 2001
226 pages

I spotted this while ambling through the history section of the Selma library, and it turned out to be a splendid read. Archaeologist Patrick Hunt takes on a tour of the world, visiting ten sites important to archaeology and history -- ten places that changed the ideas people had about the cultures or time to which they belonged. The ten are: the Rosetta Stone, Troy, Nivenah’s Assyrian Library, King Tut’s Tomb, Machu Picchu, Pompeii, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Thera, Olduvai Gorge, and the Tomb of 10,000 Warriors. I was familar with all but two (the Assyrian Library and Thera), but Hunt was able to increase my apppreciation for even those I was quite familar with, like Olduvai Gorge.

Hunt is a storyteller and a teacer. He begins each chapter by telling how each discovery was made, and he does this well enough so that we are with Henrich Schliemann as he stands on a hill in Turkey, reading Homer and and matching his descriptions to the landscape. We scale the mountains of Peru and see Machu Picchu appear through the mist as if by magic: we walk the dusty valley basin of Olduvai and see the same strange bone at the same time as the Leakeys do. Hunt takes us past this discovery to its reception, writing on the importance of it and showing how it completely changes to the perceptions we once had. He is an enjoyable writer, and even after finishing I enjoyed a nice history buzz -- the type I get when reading really good stuff.

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