Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lives in Ruins by Marilyn Johnson

Archaeologists fascinate me.  To them, history is everything.  It's almost like a disease.  They don't worry about personal danger, they'll sneak around laws and local officials, and they usually get so busy doing their work they forget to eat.  I have to admire them even if I have no desire to do it myself.  An old piece of pottery or coin is interesting but it doesn't drive me like it does them.

Harper sent me an ARC of this book for review (thank you).  It has been published so you can find a copy at your local bookstore now.  This would make a very nice Christmas gift for anyone who is interested in this subject or would just like to know more.

Ms. Johnson writes very clear readable text that fits well with the art of brushing earth and debris away to find the buried treasure.  She talks about going on digs and what she learned there.  She didn't find any masterpieces but she understands about the weather, lack of amenities, and how much work must be done to find even a point of beginning.  I'm constantly amazed by how many centuries of lives might be buried in one location.  If it was a nice place to live, usually more than one era had people there.  Wind, weather, the sea level, and type of construction had a lot to do with when the first development disappeared.  Many sunk into the ground and another group would build above them.  Look at Underground Seattle.  It didn't go far but there are portions built over the top of the old buildings that flooded and sunk.  It's an amazing place to visit.

What kept my interest in this book was the people we met.  You'll never find a group of folks more eccentric and esoteric than a well experienced archaeologist.  The author tells you of her conversations with these folks and I wish I'd been there having a cup of coffee and listening, too.

This is a truly good combination:  The mix of the art of archaeology and the characters that inhabit that world.  If I ever get a chance to visit with one, I will.  In the meantime, this book made a good substitute for me.  Give it read; I think you'll enjoy it.

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