Ten Discoveries That Rewrote History

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Ten Discoveries That Rewrote History
This is a short review of Ten Discoveries That Rewrote History, written by Patrick Hunt.

I picked up several books about archaeology at the library one day, just to get a high-level survey of the subject. This book was amongst them. I was totally in judge-by-the-cover mode that day and this one looked like an easy read. To be completely honest, I only ended up reading a few of the chapters all of the way through. Even so, I really enjoyed the parts that I did read. I agree with many of the reader reviews in that this is not (and is not intended to be) a deep study, but an introduction to archaeology through a survey of ten important finds.

I really like the format of this book! Each chapter covers a particular archaeological discovery. Keep in mind that the word discovery can be a verb as well as a noun. In other words, the chapter on the Dead Sea Scrolls doesn’t only describe the scrolls themselves, or what they contain, but how they were discovered. Sometimes the story about how an artifact was discovered is much more interesting than the artifact itself. Hunt’s style is one of storytelling and he doesn’t write using lofty language. His intent is to bring the reader closer to the point of discovery, to make the moment more real.

In my opinion, this book would serve as a great launchpad for student researchers interested in studying more about any of the ten discoveries covered. (And by student, I do not mean archaeology majors.) I also thought it served my needs well: a good read for someone just getting their feet wet.

Patrick Hunt is a lecturer at Stanford University who, by all accounts, really enjoys his work. He has reportedly suffered from broken bones, sunstroke, and other afflictions in the course of doing his research. According to his biography page, he also has a passion for composing music and writing poetry.

The discoveries discussed in the book are:

  1. Rosetta Stone (Egyptian History)
  2. Troy (Homer & Greek History)
  3. Nineveh’s Assyrian Library (Mesopotamia)
  4. King Tut’s Tomb (Egypt’ God-Kings)
  5. Machu Picchu (Inca Architecture)
  6. Pompeii (Roman Life)
  7. Dead Sea Scrolls (Biblical Research)
  8. Thera (Aegean Bronze Age)
  9. Olduvai Gorge (Human Evolution)
  10. Tomb of 10,000 Warriors (Imperial China)

A brief synopsis of each can be found in this short interview with the author.