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Books: Editors' Picks Volume 54 Number 6, November/December 2001

An Egyptian Bestiary: Animals in Life and Religion in the Land of the Pharaohs (New York: Thames & Hudson, 2001; 224 pp., $65.00) combines text by the University of Geneva's Phillipe Germond with excellent photography by Jacques Livet to cover everything from pet monkeys to scarab-headed gods. Only two pages are devoted to animals in Egyptian humor, so for that, you're better off with Patrick Houlihan's Wit and Humor in Ancient Egypt (London: The Rubicon Press, 2001; 170 pp., $24.95), which includes papyri featuring animals in human roles, such as a scene showing a heroic mouse posed like a pharaoh in his chariot, drawn by two dogs, charging toward a city defended by cat warriors.
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An Egyptian Bestiary.html

Wit and Humour in Ancient Egypt

Ritual Sacrifice in Ancient Peru.html

Ritual Sacrifice in Ancient Peru (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001; 211 pp., $45.00 hardcover, $19.95 paperback) asks, "What did people in ancient Peru want to achieve through sacrifice?" That's certainly a fair question to ask about any culture that has a class of deities called, simply, "the decapitator." If you need to know the answer, this book's for you, but probably not for your kids.
[More Mexico and Central/South America books...]


Trade in Illicit Antiquities: The Destruction of the World's Archaeological Heritage (Cambridge, U.K.: The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 2001; 176 pp., $45.00) goes beyond the rhetoric about the trade in illicit antiquities, seeking to put the cost in real terms. Apulian vases from South Italy are a case in point: Only 5.5% of the 13,600 or so known are from systematic excavations. Working from archaeological excavation data backward, we can estimate that an average of nine tombs are plundered for each vase recovered. So the vases in collections today may represent tens of thousands of looted tombs. A serious volume, Trade in Illicit Antiquities sets out the situation from Kenya to Cyprus, from the United States to Cambodia.
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Trade in Illicit Antiquities: The Destruction of the World's Archaeological Heritage.html

Skywatchers: A Revised and Updated Version of Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico.html

Skywatchers (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2001; 411 pp., $75.00 hardcover, $34.95 paperback) is a revised and updated edition of Anthony Aveni's 1980 Mesoamerican archaeoastronomy classic Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico. The new book presents the latest on time and calendrical systems, connections between religion and astronomy, and links between highland Mexico, the Maya world, and beyond. Aveni's approach is expansive; he cites ethnographic examples from as far as Bali and draws extensively on the Mediterranean for archaeological ones.
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"Speaking from bitter experience, I can confidently say that the process of digging prehistoric waterlogged wood can be difficult. This is because wood may look like wood, but it is no longer wood." So writes Francis Pryor in Seahenge: New Discoveries in Prehistoric Britain (London: HarperCollins U.K., 2001; 337 pp., $35.00; distributed in the U.S. by Trafalgar Square Publishing), a personal exploration of wetlands archaeology, watery sacrifices, and henge monuments. Look also for the paperback revised edition of Mike Pitt's Hengeworld (London: Random House U.K., 2001; 409 pp., $13.95), a wider-ranging survey of the peoples and monuments in Britain at the end of the Neolithic and into the Bronze Age. Pitt pulls together the most recent finds and developments, including the dating of Stonehenge's construction phases and evidence for human sacrifice there.
[More Europe books...]

Seahenge: New Discoveries in Pre-Historic Britain.html

Hengeworld: Why Stonehenge Was Built.html


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© 2001 by the Archaeological Institute of America
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