Book Review: Mick’s Archaeology by Mick Aston

Quick Review (read on for the full review)

A fascinating, engaging book, and a treasure to read. Highly recommended!  5 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

For Professor and Channel 4 personality Mick Aston, landscape archaeology remains his first love, because it provides so much information about how ordinary communities lived in the past. Environmental archaeology, experimental archaeology, the archaeology of buildings, and his great project at the village of Shapwick in Somerset are just some of the other subjects brought excitingly to life in Mick’s colourful and action-packed pages. Reading this book, it is easy to share the author’s basic conviction that “Archaeology is fun.”

Favourite Quote

I found it very hard to choose just the one, but in the end I went with this from the chapter “Monasteries”:

All of these monasteries were of course dissolved and most demolished, and their inhabitants pensioned off and dispersed in the decade 1530-40, in an act of privatisation (and vandalism) that makes Margaret Thatcher’s government look like a bunch of bungling amateurs.

Review

I have flicked through this book many times (a habit I have with non-fiction books where I read random chapters that grab my interest), but this is the first time I have read it from cover-to-cover.

I loved this book.  It was a fascinating, engaging read.  Professor Mick Aston’s love for archaeology was infectious, and helped to inspire at least one generation’s interest in the subject.  He’s a much missed character.

Full of photographs and anecdotes, as well as information on different aspects of archaeology, this was a treasure to read, and I hated having to put it down.  Having watched Professor Mick Aston on TV since I was a teenager, reading this book was almost like listening to an audiobook – something I don’t think I’ve experienced before. Wonderful!

The chapters covered a variety of topics, from the author’s early years in archaeology to his favourite subjects – buildings, monasteries and medieval settlements.  The final chapter on “Favourite Books and Recommended Reading” was a delight to peruse – who doesn’t like book lists? – and I’ve found a number of interesting titles to add to my reading list.

What I found most endearing is that for a book written to document his own love of the subject and career in it, he is quick to mention other people, be they colleagues, friends and students.  It’s not all about him, but what they achieved together.

If you enjoyed / enjoy watching Time Team, I wholeheartedly recommend this book to you.  I am certain this is a book I will return to read, cover-to-cover, again and again.

Rating


 

Book Review: Excavation by James Rollins

excavation by james rollins front coverWhen archaeologist Professor Henry Conklin leads a team of students on a dig in the heart of the South American jungle, he believes he has found the evidence he needs to substantiate a theory he has spent many years working on.  But what they have uncovered is far beyond anything they could have expected.

However, what they have stumbled across by chance, others have been searching for for centuries and they will stop at nothing until they get it.  Archaeology has never been more amazing…or dangerous.

As the story takes us on an exploration of a subterranean Incan ruin, we quickly discover that all is not as it seems, both above and below ground.  Whatever they have discovered down there in the dark, there are those who have and will kill to possess it.  What can be so valuable?  More importantly, what lurks in the shadows?

If you like your thrillers and mysteries packed with action and with a hint of the extraordinary, this book might be for you.

I found that the first few chapters of the book were a little slow to get going as the foundations were laid for the rest of the story.  However, the pace quickly picked up after that, and barely relented as twists and turns (many of which were unexpected) were revealed one after the other.

The characters were diverse and engaging, especially the students.  The descriptions of the places and people encountered were detailed and vivid, and the storyline certainly captured the imagination.

This is the second time I have read this book (the first was a while ago and I had forgotten the plot), and I would read it again.  A recommended read.