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Good Reads  History & Other Humanities  Archaeology

The Great Archaeologists

Biography / Memoir
By: Brian M Fagan(Editor)
320 pages, 25 colour & b/w photos and colour & b/w illustrations
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
The Great Archaeologists
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  • The Great Archaeologists ISBN: 9780500296752 Paperback Sep 2022 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 5 days
  • The Great Archaeologists ISBN: 9780500051818 Hardback Sep 2014 Out of Print #260229
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About this book

A gripping account of 200 years of archaeological research, excavation and thought, told through the life stories of 70 of the world's greatest pioneers and practitioners.

Brian Fagan has assembled a team of some of the world's greatest living archaeologists to write knowledgeably and entertainingly about their distinguished predecessors. Full of fascinating anecdotes, personal accounts and unexpected insights, this comprehensively illustrated book encompasses more than two centuries of research and excavation round the globe.

Controversial figures such as Heinrich Schliemann of Troy fame, and Aurel Stein, plunderer of ancient manuscripts from Central Asia, are reassessed. Little-known pioneers – for example, Max Uhle in Peru and Li Chi in China – are set beside the giants in the field: Lepsius, Mariette and Carter in Egypt; Koldewey, Dörpfeld and Woolley in the Near East; Stephens and Catherwood, discoverers of the Maya of Mexico; and Louis and Mary Leakey, who transformed knowledge of our African ancestry. Other indomitable women here include Gertrude Bell, explorer of Arabia and Iraq, Kathleen Kenyon, the excavator of Jericho, and the script-decipherer Tatiana Proskouriakoff.


1. The Antiquity of Humankind
William Stukeley 1687-1765: Blending Romance and Science
Christian Jurgensen Thomsen 1788-1865 & Jens Jacob Asmussen Worsaae 1821-85: The Three Age System
Jacques Boucher de Perthes 1788-1868: Humanity's High Antiquity
Gabriel de Mortillet 1821-98: Classifying Human Cultural Evolution
Oscar Montelius 1843-1921: Developing Accurate Chronologies
Sanz de Sautuola 1831-88 & Henri Breuil 1877-1961: Finding the Earliest Art

2. Discoverers of Ancient Civilizations
Johann Joachim Winckelmann 1717-68: Father of Classical Archaeology
Giovanni Battista Belzoni 1778-1823: Exploring Ancient Egypt
Karl Richard Lepsius 1810-84: Documenting the Pharaohs
Auguste Mariette 1821-81: Protecting Egypt's Heritage
John Lloyd Stephens 1805-52 & Frederick Catherwood 1799-1854: Revealing Maya Civilization
Austen Henry Layard 1817-94: Nimrud, Nineveh and Babylon
Heinrich Schliemann 1822-90 & Sophia Schliemann 1852-1932: Searching for Homer's World
Alfred Maudslay 1850-1931: Exploring Maya Cities
Robert Koldewey 1855-1925: Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon
Arthur Evans 1851-1941: Excavator of Minoan Knossos
Max Uhle 1856-1944: Explorer of the Peruvian Past
Aurel Stein 1862-1943: Archaeology and Adventure in Central Asia
Gertrude Bell 1868-1926: Desert Traveller in Arabia and Iraq
Howard Carter 1874-1939: Finding Tutankhamun
John Marshall 1876-1958: Indus Civilization Revealed
Alfonso Caso 1896-1970 & Ignacio Bernal 1910-92: Unearthing Precolumbian Mexico
Matthew Stirling 1896-1975: Discoverer of the Olmecs
Gertrude Caton-Thompson 1888-1985: Great Zimbabwe and the African Past

3. The Art of Excavation
Giuseppe Fiorelli 1823-96 & Amedeo Maiuri 1886-1963: Excavating and Preserving Pompeii
Augustus Lane Fox Pitt Rivers 1827-1900: Pioneer of Archaeological Excavation
William Matthew Flinders Petrie 1853-1942: Excavating and Dating Ancient Egypt
Wilhelm Doerpfeld 1853-1940: Scientific Excavation at Troy
Leonard Woolley 1880-1960: Excavator of Ur
Alfred Kidder 1885-1963: The American Southwest
Mortimer Wheeler 1890-1976 & Philip Barker 1920-2001: Maestros of Archaeological Excavation
William Foxwell Albright 1891-1971: Father of 'Biblical Archaeology'
Spyridon Marinatos 1901-74: Santorini: Akrotiri from beneath the Ashes
Michael Katzev 1939-2001 & Richard Steffy 1924-2007: Underwater Archaeology as Science
Ole Crumlin-Pedersen 1935-2011: Recreating Viking Ships

4. Decipherers of Ancient Scripts
Jean-Francois Champollion 1790-1832: Breaking the Hieroglyphic Code
Henry Creswicke Rawlinson 1810-95: Deciphering Cuneiform
Michael Ventris 1922-56: Reading Linear B Tablets as Greek
Eric Thompson 1898-1975, Tatiana Proskouriakoff 1909-85 & Yuri Knorosov 1922-99: Decoding Maya Hieroglyphs

5. Discovering World Prehistory
Julio Tello 1880-1947: Father of Peruvian Archaeology
Dorothy Garrod 1892-1968: Mount Carmel and Cro-Magnons
Li Chi 1896-1979 & Pei Wenzhong 1904-82: The First Chinese Dynasties and Early Humans in East Asia
Alexey Okladnikov 1908-81 & Sergey Semenov 1898-1978: Early Technology and Neanderthals in Russia
Louis Leakey 1903-72 & Mary Leakey 1913-96: Human Origins in Africa
Kathleen Kenyon 1906-78: Excavating Jericho
Grahame Clark 1907-95: European and World Prehistory
Robert Braidwood 1907-2003: Early Farming in the Near East
Hannah Marie Wormington 1914-94 & Cynthia Irwin-Williams 1936-90: Female Pioneers in North American Archaeology
James B. Griffin 1905-97: Archaeology of Eastern North America
Jesse Jennings 1909-97: Archaeology of the Desert West
Gordon Willey 1913-2002: The Consummate American Archaeologist
J. Desmond Clark 1916-2002: The Broad Canvas of African Prehistory
Roger Green 1932-2009: Studying the Early Polynesians

6. Thinking about the Past
Vere Gordon Childe 1892-1957: Revolutions in Prehistory
Glyn Daniel 1914-86 & Stuart Piggott 1910-96: Ancient Europeans, Megaliths and the Wider Audience
Andre Leroi-Gourhan 1911-86: How Humans Make their Worlds
David Clarke 1937-76 & Lewis Binford 1931-2011: Pioneers of the 'New Archaeology'
Bruce Trigger 1937-2006: Archaeology, Anthropology and Human Society
William T. Sanders 1926-2008: Culture and Environment in Mesoamerica

Customer Reviews


Brian Fagan is an Emeritus Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author or editor of forty-six books, including Ancient North America, Discovery! and The Complete Ice Age, as well as seven widely used undergraduate college texts. He is a contributing editor to American Archaeology and Discover Archaeology magazines, and formerly wrote a regular column for Archaeology magazine.

Biography / Memoir
By: Brian M Fagan(Editor)
320 pages, 25 colour & b/w photos and colour & b/w illustrations
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Media reviews

"A compelling range of brilliance, imagination and eccentricity, conveying not just a sense of what being an archaeologist involves, but of how much archaeology has achieved as a contribution to human understanding"
British Archaeology

"Whether you are interested in the desert romance of Ur of the Chaldees or the recreation of Viking ships in Roskilde, this book is one to savour"

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