Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Archaeology Book by David Down

book cover

The Archaeology Book
by David Down

Trade Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: Master Books
First Released: 2010

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Back Cover Description:
Developed with three educational levels in mind, The Archaeology Book takes you on an exciting exploration of history and ancient cultures. You’ll learn both the techniques of the archaeologist and the accounts of some of the richest discoveries of the Middle East that demonstrate the accuracy and historicity of the Bible.

In The Archaeology Book you will unearth:
• How archaeologists know what life was like in the past
• Why broken pottery can tell more than gold or treasure can
• Some of the difficulties in dating ancient artifacts
• How the brilliance of ancient cultures demonstrates God’s creation
• History of ancient cultures, including the Hittites, Babylonians, and Egyptians
• The early development of the alphabet and its impact on discovery
• The numerous archaeological finds that confirm biblical history
• Why the Dead Sea scrolls are considered such a vital breakthrough

Filled with vivid full-color photos, detailed drawings, and maps, you will have access to some of the greatest biblical mysteries ever uncovered. With the enhanced educational format of this book and the unique color-coded, multi-age design, it allows the ease of teaching the fundamentals of archaeology through complex insights to three distinct grade levels.

Free downloadable study guide.

The Archaeology Book is educational nonfiction about archaeology, with a focus on Bible-related archaeology, for grades 5-8. The full-color photographs of ancient ruins, digs, etc., were lovely, and the maps were useful. I liked the "David Downs Journal" sections which told of his experiences while on digs. Other archaeologists were also quoted describing a find or commenting on archaeology. There was a glossary in the back, though most words were either explained in the text or could be figured out from the context.

The book started with information on archaeology, like how a dig is laid out, what archaeologists look for, what that tells them, how layers are given a date, and why there can be controversy among archaeologists about the interpretation of a find. Then the book covered various Middle Eastern civilizations: Israel, Egypt, the Hittites, Ur, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Petra, and the Phoenicians. It told how the civilization was "found" again by archaeologists, where the civilization was located, and information about those kings mentioned in the Bible or Biblical events related to that civilization. (For those who care, the author's alignment of ancient civilizations to the Bible was based on Courville's & Velikovsky's ideas.)

There was a section on the Dead Sea Scrolls. It described ancient writing, writing material, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, where they were found, what was found, and how the scrolls were pieced back together. He described how critics said the Bible was full of copying errors, so I was very surprised and disappointed that he never explained that the Dead Sea Scrolls showed how accurately the Bible had been copied over thousands of years. He did mention that the many copies of the book of Daniel in the find meant that they thought Daniel was a genuine book of prophesy, but that's about it.

Overall, the information was very good and was presented in an easy-to-understand and interesting fashion. The more difficult topics, like carbon-14 dating and the reasons for revising the Egyptian chronology, could have been explained in a little more depth, in my opinion, for the high schoolers. I think high schoolers would find the book pretty basic.

The book had three levels of information. Grades 5 & 6 are supposed to read the sections with the yellow background. Grades 7 & 8 can read the sections with the yellow background and the blue background. Grades 9-11 can read all the sections (including those with the white background). Sometimes, this worked out. Other times, the information would be disjointed and confusing if read this way. For example, several times a story was being told and the background would switch from white to yellow (or blue) under the text of the story. Yet the yellow (or blue) section would make no sense without reading the white section first.

The book as a whole seemed appropriate for grades 5-8. Personally, I'd recommend ignoring the colored backgrounds, letting the child read the whole thing, and helping anytime they have trouble. I've explained much more advanced chronological ideas to a 6th grader with no problem, so it may be just a matter of the child's reading level.

I'd recommend this book as an interesting introduction to Biblical archaeology for tweens on up...as long as the reader also takes time to learn about how the Dead Sea Scrolls confirm the Bible's accuracy.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

View an excerpt.

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