The Oxford Handbook
Edited by Barry Cunliffe, Chris Gosden, and Rosemary A. Joyce
As a comprehensive reference book, this is one of the most fascinating and extensive. Forty-four expert authors take on nearly every issue in the history and theory of archaeology, as well as provide an overview of what is known about past cultures around the world. The handbook is a valuable resource, especially for college students and serious amateurs, but it is more than a handful at 1,161 pages.
Dictionaries of Civilization
By Various Authors
University of California Press, $26.95
This six-volume paperback series introduces readers to the ancient cultures of Europe, Asia, and Africa in short, easy-to-read chapters filled with photographs of some of the world's most beautiful and important sites and artifacts. The books are not dictionaries, but an excellent starting point for travelers who want a deeper understanding of the archaeological sites they plan to visit.