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Oracle Bones: A Journey Between China's Past and Present 

Hessler, P.
New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006. ISBN 0060826584.
This book reveals a rapidly modernizing China that still has roots in its ancient past. Drawing on experiences during his four years as an English teacher and freelance writer based in Beijing, Hessler tells the story of his friends and students--the lower- and middle-class people who are buffeted by the shifting political and economic currents as China rises to global prominence. Hessler uses ancient artifacts, particularly the Shang Dynasty turtle shells that bear the oldest examples of Chinese writing, as a device to provide a deeper context for China's dramatic social changes. 512 pages.
Dictionary of Ancient Egypt  

Wilkinson, T.
New York: Thames and Hudson, 2005. ISBN 0500051372.
This book distinguishes itself from the vast number of layperson's guides to the archaeology and history of the country with clear, concise entries on a range of subjects, from the naming conventions of pharaohs to the symbolic importance of the frog, invoked for its powers of fertility (the hieroglyph for the number 100,000 is a tadpole). A chronology of dynasties and site plans of places such as Saqqara, Luxor, Karnak, and the Valley of the Kings are other helpful resources. Wilkinson, an Egyptologist at the U.K.'s Clare College, includes a bibliography loaded with works aimed at the curious nonspecialist. 272 pages.
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem 

Israel Museum
New York: Abrams, 2005. ISBN 0810959305.
The museum has assembled a renowned collection of artifacts, fine art, and Jewish ethnography over the past four decades. The archaeology section of this book is the most comprehensive, but gorgeous photography will compel even the most die-hard archaeology buff to appreciate the Picassos, Palestinian dresses, and Purim scrolls in the collection. 320 pages.
Stukeley's Stonehenge: An Unpublished Manuscript, 1721-1724 

Burl, A., and Mortimer, N., eds.
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005. ISBN 0300098952.
For the first time, William Stukeley's detailed reports from the early years of his fieldwork at Stonehenge have been published by British archaeologists Aubrey Burl and Neil Mortimer. Stukeley's field notes are interspersed with contemplations on the site's construction and meaning. 160 pages.
Gertrude Bell 

Winstone, H.V.F.
London: Barzan Publishing, 2004. ISBN 0954772806.
A substantially revised, updated, and enlarged edition of the seminal 1978 biography. As the first woman officer in British military intelligence, Gertrude Bell gained the trust of powerful sheiks in the Middle East and was key to the creation of the national borders--and international conflicts--that still exist in the Middle East today. 366 pages.
Desert Queen 

Wallach, J.
New York: Anchor Books, 2005. ISBN 1400096197.
A new edition of the highly respected biography with a new afterword by the author. As the first woman officer in British military intelligence, Gertrude Bell gained the trust of powerful sheiks in the Middle East and was key to the creation of the national borders--and international conflicts--that still exist in the Middle East today. 464 pages.
Painted by a Distant Hand 

LeBlanc, S.
Boston: Peabody Museum Press, 2005. ISBN 0873654021.
This book is a slim but informative volume inspired by a two-year-long exhibit of Mimbres (A.D. 200-1100) pottery at Harvard's Peabody Museum that closed in June. LeBlanc discusses the meaning of the pottery's figurative imagery and abstract patterns, the artists who created them (most likely women), and what they indicate about daily life, all in clear, straightforward prose. 128 pages.
The Past From Above: Aerial Views of Great Archaeological Sites 

Gerster, G.
Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2005. ISBN 0892368179.
Having spent more than 30 years shooting archaeological sites from the air, the author has created an authoritative collection of images. Both beautiful and enlightening--one archaeologist says a photo of an Elamite city gave him a deeper understanding of the site than 10 years of fieldwork did--it includes full-page photos of 250 sites and text from more than a dozen archaeologists. 415 pages.
Egypt: From Alexander to the Early Christians 

Bagnall, R., and D. Rathbone
Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2005. ISBN 0892367962.
The land of the Nile offers much beyond the pharaohs. This guide to the archaeology of its Hellenic period through the seventh-century Arab conquest has excellent information, maps, and notes on site access--a good companion for a trip to Egypt. 352 pages.
The Goddess and the Bull 

Balter, M.
New York: Free Press, 2005. ISBN 0743243609.
"Art and architecture, organized religion, writing, cities, social inequity, warfare, population explosions...all the blessings and curses of modern civilization can be traced to the seminal moment in prehistory when people decided that they wanted to live together in communities," writes the author in this arresting book about the excavations of Catalhoyuk, one of the earliest sites to show evidence of this Neolithic Revolution. The folks behind the finds are exposed as well--both their triumphs and their bitter disputes. 416 pages.

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