In an attempt to provide a realistic view of archeology, Rubalcaba and Robertshaw describe the discovery, excavation, analysis, and debates surrounding four prehistoric human remains. Authors go into great detail about each archeological find, including the painstaking methods of excavation, the critical preservation process, and the insights each specimen has provided to science. Though perhaps too dense for beginning archeologists, readers with an established interest in the field will benefit for the honest portrayal of an often fictionalized field of work.
This book does one thing really well: it portrays the reality of life as an archeologist. Unfortunately, I found that life to be extremely boring, and thus the book was extremely boring as well. Though it is not as dry as textbook reading, it is unlikely that a reader not already interested in archeology would enjoy this book (though not impossible!). If you are interested in archeology, you will probably love the discussion of ancient hominin discoveries, the preservation practices, and the questions these discoveries raise. But, while the content may be interesting to some, the design of the book is not great, and much of the piece feels like it is from the 1980’s (instead of 2010). I didn’t love it, but that doesn’t mean you won’t!
*YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults, Nominee, 2011
*For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.