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The Seventy Great Mysteries of the Ancient World: Unlocking the Secrets of Past Civilizations
edited by Brian Fagan


Every day, archaeologists around the world are making new discoveries about the past, but there are many mysteries we may never be able to fully solve. Archaeologist Brian Fagan and a team of scholars summarize the prevailing theories regarding many of history’s greatest mysteries in a series of brief articles. Is there any evidence for the great flood(s) described in Genesis and Gilgamesh? What is the meaning of the great stone megaliths found throughout Europe? Were the ancient Egyptians “black”? What happened to Rome’s Ninth Legion? What is the origin of writing? What led to the demise of the Anasazi? The Minoans? Rome? The Maya civilization? Each of the seventy chapters is heavily illustrated with large, clear photographs.

The sheer variety topics tackled in this book guarantee that there will be something to interest any reader. If you’re curious about scientific evidence to support or declaim Biblical stories, there are articles about the location of the Garden of Eden, the historicity of Moses and the Exodus, and what exactly the Star of Bethlehem was. If you’d rather focus on the origins of human civilization, you can read about the origin of language, the beginning of farming, and the identity of the first Australians and/or Americans. Several sections are devoted to questions about Ancient Egypt, while another section explores famous tombs and the meaning of the objects archaeologists discovered within. If there’s some niggling question from ancient history you’ve always wondered about, chances are good that someone addresses it here.

Twenty-eight different writers contributed to this book, and each one focused on his or her specialty. Authors like Fagan and Kenneth Feder wrote several of the textbooks used in my anthropology-archaeology classes, so I know that these are figures respected in their fields. That gives me confidence that the conclusions drawn in these chapters are generally correct. Unfortunately, conclusive answers remain elusive for the vast majority of the topics – they’re called ‘mysteries’ for a reason! While the chapter writer might eliminate incorrect or pseudoscientific explanations, he or she can’t provide a definitive explanation, either. Nevertheless, this is still a really fun and interesting book for armchair archaeologists, amateur historians and trivia buffs.


4 out of 5 stars

To read more about The Seventy Great Mysteries of the Ancient World, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.


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