Peter James and Nick Thorpe (New York: Ballantine Books, 1999) 608 pp. with black and white illustrations, $29.95
Was there really a lost city of Atlantis? Who built the statues on Easter Island? And just how do we know who really discovered America? These are just a few of the 37 unsolved ancient mysteries tackled by British scholars Nick Thorpe and Peter James in their new encyclopedia of “unexplained historical phenomena.” Drawing on everything from radiocarbon dating to DNA analysis, the authors leave no stone unturned in their quest for objective truth. They even offer a scientifically-based explanation for the miraculous appearance of the Star of Bethlehem. Chock-full of fun-facts, helpful maps and diagrams, this lively reference work is an excellent companion volume to Thorpe and James’ popular 1994 work on Ancient Inventions.
Riddles of the Sphinx
Paul Jordan. Photos by John Ross (New York: New York University Press, 1998) 256 pp. with color photographs, $40.00
Don’t let the pastel cover and hokey new age title fool you; Paul Jordan’s new book is a serious scholarly examination of one of Egypt’s most frequently misunderstood and heavily mythologized monuments. In its well illustrated, erudite pages, archaeologist Jordan discusses the structure, geology and historical context of the sphinx. He also explores—and debunks—the increasingly popular idea that the sphinx was built by some long-lost, pre-Egyptian civilization. A much-needed antidote to some of the kookier, more speculative scholarship floating around.
The Seventy Wonders of the Ancient World: The Great Monuments and How They Were Built
Edited by Chris Scarre (London: Thames And Hudson, 1999) 304 pp. with color illustrations, $40.00
Over four thousand years ago, the Egyptians built the Pyramid of Khufu without using a single power tool. The Aztecs constructed their amazing temples without a drop of concrete, and the Babylonians watered their hanging gardens without the benefit of sprinklers. Just how these ancient civilizations accomplished such amazing feats of architecture and engineering is the subject of Chris Scarre’s The Seventy Wonders of the Ancient World. A collection of 70 separate essays—each one focused on a different site from antiquity—the book examines ancient wonders in Europe, Asia and the Americas. With its lively informative text, vivid illustrations and architectural plans, this compendium will have you constructing your own backyard monument in no time.
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