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The Seventy Great Mysteries of the Ancient World: Unlocking the Secrets of Past Civilizations [Bargain Price] [Hardcover]

Brian M. Fagan
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, October 1, 2001 --  
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Book Description

October 1, 2001 0500510504
The human past is full of unsolved mysteries: Was Atlantis fact or fiction? Who were the Tarim Mummies? Will the world end in 2012, as predicted by the Maya? Were the ancient Egyptians Black Africans? How did language evolve? The Seventy Great Mysteries of the Ancient World takes us on a journey through some of the most intriguing questions about ourselves, from myths and legends, through our origins and evolution to the mysterious collapse of once-powerful civilizations. All are described and explained in the light of the most up-to-date archaeological research by leading international experts.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Brian M. Fagan is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Santa Barbara, California. Among his previous books are Ancient North America; The Great Journey, and Kingdoms of Gold, Kingdoms of Jade, all published by Thames & Hudson.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500510504
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 7.9 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,239,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating look at the mysteries of humanity's past. August 30, 2004
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This well organized, informative and concise volume offers a clearly written collection of essays on seventy of man's most famous historical enigmas and archaeological mysteries, from humanity's origin to the disappearance of mighty empires.
Each controversy is carefully detailed in a short entry of two to five pages long that explains all that is presently known about each topic drawing on the latest discoveries made through modern science and archaeological research. Each puzzling subject is presented in the manner of a question, followed by basic information that includes dates, facts, stories, scientific research, current level of knowledge, and theories to possible solutions. Moreover, for quick check-ups, each enigma is accurately placed in one of the six categories into which the book is divided: Myths & Legends; Mysteries of the Stone Age; Ancient Civilizations; Tombs & Lost Treasures; Ancient & Undeciphered Scripts; and The Fall of Civilizations.
This reference is handsomely presented in a sturdy binding, printed in top-quality paper, and beautifully illustrated with over 400 spectacular photos, explanatory diagrams and detailed historical drawings.
Featured among the showcased selection are King Arthur and the Holy Grail, Stonehenge, the Riddle of the Sphinx, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Etruscan Alphabet, the Trojan War, and the Collapse of the Maya. The rest of the subjects included are equal examples of real controversies, unsolved mysteries and baffling enigmas of humanity's past. No paranormal or supernatural phenomena are presented or considered as possible theories to the solution of any controversy.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good starting point May 19, 2002
More of an encyclopedia of short entries concerning unsolved historical/archaeological mysteries than anything else, this book nonetheless provides enough general information to initiate those new to these ongoing debates. It also works well for people like me, who have read endlessly about some of these topics but sometimes need to look up a generality or a name associated with a particular subject. Most of the entries are concise and informative enough to provoke further reading, and the writing style is engaging and maintains interest. It covers most of the basic subjects (the development of language and writing, the Pyramids and the Sphinx, Atlantis) and a few more "obscure" ones: The Land of Punt, Mithraism, Tiwanaku (from my experience, these seem to come up short in other, similar books). (From here, one might look to "Ancient Mysteries" by James and Thorpe, which offers fewer topics but is incredibly well-researched and detailed). Good work.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Read April 12, 2002
I have always enjoyed books about mysterious events of the past, unknown civilizations, strange happenings, etc. This book is full of such items. The Seventy Great Mysteries of the Ancient World looks at some of these mysteries through the eyes of modern archaeology and other sciences to try to resolve at least some of the questions surrounding them. Each item is subjected to a scientific analysis of the knowledge that we have obtained to date. Generally, the situation ends up being exactly what it has been in the past... an unresolved mystery.
Lavishly illustrated, it is written in a conversational style that is easy to read and understand. Logically divided into appropriate sections it starts with Myths and Legends, moves to Mysteries of the Stone Age, then to Ancient Civilizations, Tombs and Lost Treasures, Ancient and Undeciphered Scripts and the Fall of Civilizations. The only thing that I did not like about the book was the short treatment of each item. With seventy chapters (one for each of the mysteries) and roughly 300 pages that is only an average of four pages per mystery. However, at the back of the book is an extensive listing of references to consult for further information on each of the items. For those who like a complete synopsis of each mystery and the current level of knowledge this is excellent. A fascinating book, it covered not only the mysteries that I was aware of but also many that I had never heard of before. If there is one book that I would suggest to gain a basic knowledge of the greatest mysteries of the Ancient World then this one would be it.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tries to cram too much into too small a space . . . January 29, 2002
I'm a sucker for books about "historical mysteries," whether it's the Princes in the Tower or pre-Columbian exploration in the New World. Here, Fagan tries to cover all the bases in the pre-medieval world and he's only partially successful. Some topics, like the origin of Stonehenge and the methods used in constructing it, are obvious choices; others, like the identification of the burial in Tomb 55 in the Valley of the Kings, are not (except to Egyptologists). Some seem pretty far afield from "ancient." The "truth" behind King Arthur is solidly medieval, for instance. The biggest problem, though, is the attempt to cram so much into only 300 pages; most of the chapters run four pages or less (and much of that is maps and illustrations), and some cover only a single page. While much of this volume was already pretty familiar (to me), some topics were new ground and quite fascinating, including the probable date for first settlement of Australia (much earlier than I would have thought) and the latest thought about the bog-bodies of Scandinavia and northern Germany. Because the chapters were written by a gaggle of specialists, the style and depth of content are somewhat uneven; some are clear and concise and summarize the latest discoveries and interpretations rather nicely, but some simply shrug their shoulders or waffle. This is especially true of politically sensitive issues, like the question of the "blackness" of the ancient Egyptians or the eventual fate of the remains of Kennewick Man. (In both cases the authors seem disappointingly afraid to take a stand on the side of science). All in all, it's an interesting afternoon's browse, but, given the high price, you should borrow this one from the library.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Well Done
Very well researched and well written, as one would expect of Brian Fagan. Certainly a book that should be read before one heads out west.
Published 5 months ago by Lynne M. Heslip
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, no-nonsense
This somewhat hefty book is a collection of seventy articles, written by 28 respected archaeologists and historians. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Kurt A. Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty entertaining
Pretty entertaining. I used it with my kids as a link between adventure films (Indiana Jones, The Mummy, etc.) and REAL archeological studies. Worked well in that capacity.
Published 7 months ago by Random Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars willy
I enjoyed this book. I loved the ancient world and this book really put it into perspective. I loved it.
Published 9 months ago by Cammie M. Royce
4.0 out of 5 stars wanting more
As a reference guide to the Great Mysteries of the ancient world this book achieves what it was meant to do. Read more
Published 13 months ago by whyibother
2.0 out of 5 stars To Simple
Doesn't cover enough topic nor in enough depth. Ok for mid-high or early high schoolers. Don't get this if your looking to do any sort of reseach.
Published 18 months ago by William Brinegar
4.0 out of 5 stars MANY, MANY MYSTERIES
This is a good starting point in sorting out the many past mysteries of the ancient world, more than seventy I'm sure. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Joseph H. Race
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
Found this to be very uneven. Some chapters like the two by J.P. Mallory are good, and the number, types and quality of maps and photos are very good, but I have to take issue with... Read more
Published on November 30, 2010 by P. Cornelius
4.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction for those who don't want to get bogged down in the...
I can honestly say that I did not learn a single thing that I had not known from my own reading on similar topics. Read more
Published on July 16, 2010 by Atheen M. Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative Outline of 70 Mysteries of Civilization
This large heavy coffee-table style book is basically on overview of seventy mysteries of civilization written by noted experts in their field. Read more
Published on October 8, 2009 by Mark L. Nelson
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