Ancient Mysteries

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9780345401953: Ancient Mysteries

What was the Minotaur? Did a Welsh prince discover America? Did Robin Hood really exist? How does the Star of Bethlehem fit into the science of astronomy? Is the Vinland Map a fake? Can archaeologists use spirit messages to guide their work?

For centuries, philosophers, scientists, and charlatans have attempted to decipher the baffling mysteries of our past, from the Stonehenge to the lost continent of Atlantis. Today, however, DNA testing, radiocarbon dating, and other cutting-edge investigative tools, together with a healthy dose of common sense, are guiding us closer to the truth.

Peter James and Nick Thorpe, the professional historian and archaeologist team who created the acclaimed Ancient Inventions, now tackle these age-old conundrums, presenting the latest information from the scientific community--and the most startling challenges to traditional explanations of  mysteries such as:

- The rise and fall of the Maya
- A lost cache of Dead Sea Scrolls
- The curse of Tutankhamun
- The devastation of Sodom and Gomorrah
- The Nazca Lines

These true mystery stories twist and turn like a good whodunit, as James and Thorpe present the evidence for and against the expert theories, shedding new light on humankind's age-old struggle to make sense of the past. The authors also make dramatic contributions of their own to the fray, demonstrating persuasively that cataustrophic events--including the collisions of comets with the Earth long ago--could explain puzzles that have baffled experts for centuries. Ancient Mysteries will entertain and enlighten, delight the curious and inform the serious.

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Review:

There may be a wide gap between uncritical belief and hard-line skepticism, but that doesn't mean many writers have chosen to explore this territory. Now science writer Peter James and archaeologist Dr. Nick Thorpe have teamed up again to examine Ancient Mysteries, pledging allegiance to no theory or theorist, free to explore any explanation supported by the evidence. As often happens, they must finally throw up their hands in confusion, but getting there is half the fun.

Did King Arthur really exist? Who was Robin Hood? How did the enormous stone heads of Easter Island find their way to their resting places? Why did the Mayans disappear? These are some of the 37 big questions tackled by James and Thorpe in nearly 700 pages. A few of their selections may seem curious when compared to the puzzles that have gripped us for centuries, but overall their penetrating analyses of legend and archaeological data are fascinating and engagingly written. For those who can tolerate a bit of uncertainty in their reading, Ancient Mysteries will be a profoundly satisfying look into the fuzzy boundaries of our knowledge. --Rob Lightner

About the Author:

Peter James is a professional writer on ancient history and archeology. He studied at Birmingham and London universities and describes himself as a "generalist" in the study of the ancient Near East and Mediterranean. He has published numerous articles on ancient technology, chronology, and the history of science and is the principal author of the highly controversial Centuries of Darkness and a forthcoming book on Atlantis, The Sunken Kingdom.

Dr. Nick Thorpe, an archeologist in prehistory, studied at Reading and London universities and is now lecturer in archeology at King Alfred's College, Winchester. He directs research projects in Britain and Denmark. He has contributed articles on agriculture and chronology, metalworking, astronomy, and prehistoric society to numerous books and journals and is a coauthor of Centuries of Darkness.

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Thorpe, Nick; Thorpe, I. J.; James, Peter
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