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The Lost Ships of Pisa: A Sea Adventure Hardcover – October 15, 2002
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About the Author
Michael H. Sedge is the former Mediterranean and Middle East editor of Discovering Archaelogy and author of numerous articles about archaeological digs. This is his first book. He currently resides in Italy.
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I give the book three stars instead of four or five because I was expecting a compelling, mysterious story about these ships with details that unfold as the story goes on. This would be the format for some similar books such as "The Oracle: Ancient Delphi and the Science Behind Its Lost Secrets" or "The Archimedes Codex: How a Medieval Prayer Book is Revealing the True Genius of Antiquity's Greatest Scientist." Of course those books had a great mystery to solve, which was solved in each case.
For "The Lost Ships of Pisa", we learn a lot about the rediscovered port and the ships, but there is no great mystery solved or eureka moment. Instead there is an informative gathering and cataloguing of information about Ship A, Ship B, Ship C, and so on. Series of smaller issues are addressed in relation to the overall excavation and cataloguing process.
Each chapter of the book specifically addresses some aspect of the story. Together they create a book that is somewhat episodic. These choppy chapters are pithy, focused, and address well their respective topics including topics like Roman Shipbuilding, Restoration Work, Mediterranean Trading, Anchors, and so on.
The writer resists the temptation to speculate too much and this is a refreshing level of intellectual honesty in a book written for general reading. Also the writer is dealing with a situation where the ships are only partially excavated and studied at the conclusion of the story.
If you a non-specialist and interested in Roman antiquity or archaeology, this is a good book to read; however it is not a compelling page turner. Maybe some new discoveries at the site will hold a compelling story for the future.