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Lost Civilizations: Rediscovering Ancient…

Lost Civilizations: Rediscovering Ancient Sites Through New Technology

by Austen Atkinson

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A coffee table-style book showcasing the ruins of great, vanished civilizations from Machu Picchu to Pompeii to Angkor Wat. For each site there are a few pages describing the culture and history of the people who lived there, sometimes along with a discussion of how the ruins where discovered and excavated. These generally convey little more than a broad overview, of course, and the writing style sometimes makes me feel as if I'm reading text off a museum exhibit, but they do feature some interesting details. The color pictures, which include photos of ruins and artifacts as well as a few computer-aided artists' reconstructions of what the sites might have looked like in their heyday, are generally much more effective at exciting the imagination, though. Oddly enough, despite the title, there isn't really all that much about the use of new technologies in archeology. There are a few pages in the introduction about remote sensing, and a few more mentions in the sidebars featuring quotes from archaeologists that accompany each chapter, but generally there's at most a short concluding paragraph or two saying something like, "and today we're using new techniques to learn more."

I did have to roll my eyes a little at the inclusion of a section on Atlantis, although at least the discussion of it is sane. Mostly it boils down to something like, "If Plato didn't just make the whole thing up -- which it's fairly likely he did -- then maybe it was inspired by the island of Thera. Or maybe not." Yeah, OK, whatever.

Considerably more bothersome is the fact that there's some kind of formatting or editing problem affecting a couple of paragraphs in the first section, on the Anasazi culture of the American southwest. At least several lines of the text appear to be missing and/or garbled, making a fair chunk of it effectively unreadable. I find this particularly irritating, because the Anasazi ruins are the only ones in the book that I've actually visited, and I was hoping to see a good writeup on them. ( )
1 vote bragan | May 29, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0823028739, Hardcover)

A wealth of never-before-published scientific and satellite information that attempts to solve the tangled mysteries of our lost civilizations! The enduring legends of Plato's lost city of Atlantis and the sunken origins of humanity in Churchward's Mu civilization continue to obsess archaeologists, authors, and anyone else seeking answers to questions about the true nature of our ancestors, their civilizations, their achievements, and their culture. And thanks to amazing new technology, archaeologists and historians are closer to finding these answers than ever before. Ruins considered too sacred to touch by local inhabitants, or excavations eventually abandoned due to lack of equipment and financing, can now be studied with the help of satellite and land-based remote sensing. What's more, this state-of-the-art technology reveals more information about our ancient forefathers than ever before. Through the use of never-before-published radar and resistance maps from NASA, the Russian Space Agency, National Geographic, the European Space Agency, and other organizations, Lost Civilizations investigates 20 of the most intriguing lost cities in detail. Packed with cutting-edge scientific information, this reference displays the decorative splendor of magnificent sites like Angkor Wat in Cambodia and legendary cities like Machu Picchu, as well as exciting new discoveries like the City of the Mahram Bilqis in Yemen and the Ubar in Arabia. Each lost civilization is illustrated with modern maps and breathtaking color photography of the remains, and complemented by fascinating computer-generated reconstructions presenting the cities in their original splendor. Also included are reproductions of the amazing artifacts and artwork achaeologists have managed to unearth. The perfect book for lovers of ancient history, art, and culture, Lost Civilizations offers a mesmerizing, first-ever look at the mysterious life and people of our ancient world.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:40 -0400)

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"It is all too easy to see the ruins of former civilizations as ruins made up of piles of rubble. Sometimes submerged or obscured by our view, sometimes dry and dusty and surrounded by the paraphernalia of tourism, we may visit them, stand beside or even on them, but can we imagine our forebears going about their daily business there?" "In Lost Civilizations Austen Atkinson looks at the history of twenty civilizations, either lost to us completely, or surviving only as ruins or oblique references in literary works. He never loses sight of the one constant element in history: it is human beings that make up a civilization. Piecing together the disparate sources of information currently available to us, he conjures up a picture of a living, breathing community, and highlights the contemporary concerns of its citizens which strike a chord with us today." "Lost Civilizations is the first book to combine new technologies such as satellite and land-based remote sensing images with archaeological discoveries to reveal the secrets of civilizations past. Specially commissioned computer-generated imagery recreates the sites of which there is barely a trace." "This book will appeal to anyone with an interest in the exploitation of historical material through new technology."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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