From Stonehenge to Samarkand: An Anthology of Archaeological Travel Writing

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9780195160918: From Stonehenge to Samarkand: An Anthology of Archaeological Travel Writing
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Ever since Roman tourists scratched graffiti on the pyramids and temples of Egypt over two thousand years ago, people have traveled far and wide seeking the great wonders of antiquity. In From Stonehenge to Samarkand, noted archaeologist and popular writer Brian Fagan offers an engaging historical account of our enduring love of ancient architecture--the irresistible impulse to visit strange lands in search of lost cities and forgotten monuments.
Here is a marvelous history of archaeological tourism, with generous excerpts from the writings of the tourists themselves. Readers will find Herodotus describing the construction of Babylon; Edward Gibbon receiving inspiration for his seminal work while wandering through the ruins of the Forum in Rome; Gustave Flaubert watching the sunrise from atop the Pyramid of Cheops. We visit Easter Island with Pierre Loti, Machu Picchu with Hiram Bingham, Central Africa with David Livingstone. Fagan describes the early antiquarians, consumed with a passionate and omnivorous curiosity, pondering the mysteries of Stonehenge, but he also considers some of the less reputable figures, such as the Earl of Elgin, who sold large parts of the Parthenon to the British Museum. Finally, he discusses the changing nature of archaeological tourism, from the early romantic wanderings of the solitary figure, communing with the departed spirits of Druids or Mayans, to the cruise-ship excursions of modern times, where masses of tourists are hustled through ruins, barely aware of their surroundings.

From the Holy Land to the Silk Road, the Yucatán to Angkor Wat, Fagan follows in the footsteps of the great archaeological travelers to retrieve their first written impressions in a book that will delight anyone fascinated with the landmarks of ancient civilization.

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About the Author:


Brian Fagan is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and one of the world's leading archaeological writers and an internationally recognized authority on world prehistory. His many books include The Rape of the Nile, Chaco Canyon, The Long Summer, and The Little Ice Age.

Review:


"It's fascinating to the contemporary reader for, among other reasons, a look backwards at current hot spots of the world such as Baghdad....The collection is an admirably well-produced survey of the personalities and accomplishments of those pioneering people eager to recapture past relics of human history."--The Washington Times


"Fagan's own excellent writing is prevalent, introducing places and ruminating on the people and quotations that he offers...This celebration of archaeological travel to wondrous sites and the writing that keeps the past alive should appeal to a wide public library and undergraduate audience."--Library Journal


"Brian Fagan...perhaps our foremost living archaeological writer, consistently takes subjects that you didn't know to be interested in and renders them compelling....[his] newest book is an armchair tour of the armchair tours penned by the intrepid who ventured into antique cultures before there were throw-away cameras or guides waving pennants."--Santa Barbara News-Press


"Brian Fagan is a prolific author, who always manages to write in a way that is a pleasure to read, while remaining grounded in a thorough mastery of the subject matter. His latest book, From Stonhenge to Samarkand, is no exception."--Johan Reinhard, National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence and author of The Ice Maiden: Inca Mummies, Mountain Gods, and Sacred Sites in the Andes


"With deft narrative skill and imaginative flair, [Fagan] peels away the layers of time...to capture all the delirious excitement of rediscovering the lost empires of the past."--Tony Perrottet, author of Pagan Holiday and The Naked Olympics


"Stitched together with Fagan's knowledgeable, often wry commentary, this book contains centuries of good writing about humankind's romantic, confused, and always enthralling encounter with its own past."--Charles C. Mann, author of 1491: New Revelations of the America's Before Columbus


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