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Three Stones Make a Wall: The Story of Archaeology

by Eric H. Cline

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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703277,759 (3.7)6
"In 1922, Howard Carter peered into Tutankhamun's tomb for the first time, the only light coming from the candle in his outstretched hand. Urged to tell what he was seeing through the small opening he had cut in the door to the tomb, the Egyptologist famously replied, 'I see wonderful things.' Carter's fabulous discovery is just one of the many spellbinding stories told in Three Stones Make a Wall. Written by Eric Cline, an archaeologist with more than thirty seasons of excavation experience, Three Stones Make a Wall traces the history of archaeology from an amateur pursuit to the cutting-edge science it is today by taking the reader on a tour of major archaeological sites and discoveries, from Pompeii to Petra, Troy to the Terracotta Warriors, and Mycenae to Megiddo and Masada. Cline brings to life the personalities behind these digs, including Heinrich Schliemann, the former businessman who excavated Troy, and Mary Leakey, whose discoveries advanced our understanding of human origins. The discovery of the peoples and civilizations of the past is presented in vivid detail, from the Hittites and Minoans to the Inca, Aztec, and Moche. Along the way, the book addresses the questions archaeologists are asked most often: How do you know where to dig? How are excavations actually done? How do you know how old something is? Who gets to keep what is found? Taking readers from the pioneering digs of the eighteenth century to the exciting new discoveries being made today, Three Stones Make a Wall is a lively and essential introduction to the story of archaeology"--… (more)



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Showing 3 of 3
Cline references C. W. Ceram's gripping and romantic God's Graves and Scholars (1949) in his introduction, as one of the books that inspired him as a child to become an archaeologist. I suspect this is common; it certainly inspired me, who only dabbled in it in graduate school. At the same time, Ceram certainly needs updating, and Cline endeavors to do this—to provide a narrative overview of the history of world archaeology, old and new world, including the discoveries and techniques perfected in the last seventy years.

As an overview, it is adequate, but as a replacement for Ceram and others of his type, it falls flat. Cline knows a lot, but he doesn't know how to write an exciting account. His topic is exciting, and some of this can't help getting through his prose. But listening to Cline slowly, I notice occasion after occasion that he "steps on" his tale--omitting details, telling things in a confusing order or just crafting a sentence poorly. At the same time, the intent is popularizing--it doesn't contain a lot of deep scholarship or powerful insight. (I particularly regret Cline's disinterest in languages, scripts and decipherment, which is no doubt representative of a shift in skills and attention since Ceram's time.) Crowd-pleasing as Ceram was, he was also more interested in drawing the reader into the scholarly questions; Cline mostly just gives the answers.

So, basically, it's Ceram, plus some CAT scans and photos taken from space, minus the scholarly details and romance. ( )
4 vote timspalding | Oct 8, 2018 |
One of those books that would have been better in English. The German translation isn't bad, in fact in several places an effort was made to add a sentence or two to make it more relevant for German readers, but I kept wanting to know what exactly Cline had written.

Still very glad I read it. ( )
  MarthaJeanne | Aug 8, 2018 |
Interesting material but arranged geographically rather than chronologically, which I would have preferred.
  Robertgreaves | Jan 18, 2018 |
Showing 3 of 3
This is a very personal ‘story of archaeology’. There are frequent mentions of Cline’s own fieldwork, both excavation and survey, that includes the Athenian Agora, the Pylos survey in Messenia, Paphos on Cyprus, and Megiddo in northern Israel. It took me some chapters to realise that this was not a history of archaeology, but rather an introduction to archaeology. For a history I suggest Paul G. Bahn’s (ed.), The Cambridge Illustrated History of Archaeology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996) and The History of Archaeology: an Introduction (London: Routledge, 2014). Rather, Cline presents an overview of some key sites, placed alongside some more general questions, and interspersed with some autobiographical comments. While there is a bibliography with selected references to support each chapter, this is not intended to be a comprehensive introduction. There are no photographs, and the text is supported with illustrations by Glynnis Fawkes.

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eric H. Clineprimary authorall editionscalculated
Fawkes, GlynnisIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hartz, CorneliusTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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