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Ancient Mysteries: Discover the latest intriguiging, Scientifically sound explinations to Age-old puzzles

1 rating: 3.0
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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 examineAncient … see full wiki

1 review about Ancient Mysteries: Discover the latest intriguiging,...

What If's and mighta beens of history

  • Dec 21, 2012
Rating:
+3
James and Thorpe have compiled a catalog of compelling conundrums of history and archaeology. While books like this often veer toward naive acceptance or super critical scientific skepticism of these apparently unbelievable events, places, people, or discoveries, these authors steer a middle-ground, considering the craziest of ideas, but usually debunking them with logic, research, and scientific evidence.   This process of consideration, comparison, and resolution gives this book a zing of excitement and interest that the writers handle well to keep the user reading avidly.

The usual suspects are here--Atlantis, the pyramids, Easter Island, early discoveries of America, King Arthur, and Robin Hood.  While many of these stories will be known by general readers, James and Thorpe pull in varied research and ideas in their search for the truth behind the mysteries.  They are also ready and willing to say "We don't know" when the research isn't conclusive.

The most interesting story for me was the lesser-known one of the Glastonbury Spiral in the southwest part of England, at the center of a region of mysteries (including Stonehenge, Glastonbury Abbey, and others discussed separately in the book).  The spiral is a tor or hill thought to be either natural or shaped by millennia of farming into terraces--but the authors present compelling evidence that the hillside is a man made maze that spirals up the hill to a holy area that may have played a role in the life (and death) of a historical King Arthur, and may even be the mythical Avalon.

Another shocking story is the Amazons, that mysterious tribe of female warriors who have been typically dismissed derisively, but probably have a historical basis far from the river that bears the name of the tribe.  There are 600+ pages of this kind of history here.

The only things that might have improved the book are better maps to enable readers to locate the mysteries in today's world.  And an updated edition would be welcome.   The 1999 date means the theories of China's treasure fleet being an early discoverer of America are missing here, as are Jared Diamond's Collapse, where he explains Easter Island and the Mayans from his excellent study of societal collapses.as symptoms of environmental failure.

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