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The Seventy Great Mysteries of the Ancient World: Unlocking the Secrets of Past Civilizations
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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.
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There are no in-depth articles, no solutions to the great mysteries just an outline of what these great mysteries are.
The content starts with the Garden of Eden and moves forward through myth and time to sections on stone age mysteries , Lost civilizations, lost treasures etc., but what it does include are two pages of contributors with a list of 29 prominent experts on each subject who have published works in their respective fields of expertise. This to me is the mother lode.
Any one wanting to know more on the subject of their interest simply just reads the section in which they have an interest then just goes to the content page to find where they may obtain more information quite simple really.
This is a great book for school kids and adults alike.
Each of the book's 70 chapters is written by an expert on the subject at hand. Although some of the authors spin a better story than others, the book as a whole is fairly well written and often quite fascinating.
The broad topics addressed include "Myths and Legends," "Mysteries of the Stone Age," "Ancient Civilizations," "Tombs & Lost Treaures," "The Fall of Civilizations," and "Ancient & Undeciphered Scripts." The last topic is perhaps the most unusual and in some ways the most intriguing--books about ancient mysteries usually focus on ruins rather than on forgotten languages, and this topic broke new ground for me.
For those who are looking for ancient astronauts and Atlantis, this book will be a disappointment. This book is not about the supernatural, but is instead the story of how clever our own ancestors could be when presented with novel problems and opportunities.
If you relish the sober exploration of the past, you might also enjoy "Ancient Mysteries," by Peter James and Nick Thorpe. It explores more provocative theories and is written in a more lively style than "The Seventy Great Mysteries," although the illustrations are not as colorful. Other good books in the same genre: David Keys, "Catastrophe"; Hugh Miller, "Secrets of the Dead" and "More Secrets of the Dead" (available from Amazon's UK store); Pelligrino, "Unearthing Atlantis" and "Return to Sodom and Gomorrah"; and Ryan & Pitman, "Noah's Flood."
The volume is divided into 6 areas of general interest: Myths and Legends, Mysteries of the Stone Age, Ancient Civilizations, Tombs and Lost Treasures, Ancient and Undeciphered Scripts, and The Fall of Civilizations. Within these chapters are a collection of short 2-6 page essays on specific enigma which are often of common interest. Entries include Was Tutankhamen Murdered? How Did the Polynesians Find Their Homeland? The Tomb of Christ. The Origins of Writing, etc.
Each entry gives a very concise description of what is known about the topic, and these are accompanied with very fine photographs that illustrate them. In fact the book is almost a "coffee table book" of photographs depicting everything from cave art in Europe and Australia to modern British Roman army reenactors.
A very entertaining book, especially for those who just want to know a little without being bogged down in the details.