THE VISIBLE PAST: Recent Archaeological Discoveries of Greek and Roman History by Michael Grant

THE VISIBLE PAST: Recent Archaeological Discoveries of Greek and Roman History

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

From acclaimed historian Grant, a brief study of the recent revolution in classical archeology. Classical archeology, Grant says, ""provides the only means of investigating more than ninety-nine percent of the human past."" Here, he selects 50-odd classical sites or projects--Rhodes, Masada, Herculaneum, etc.--that over the last 30 years have contributed discoveries elicited by such technological advances as air photography, underwater archeology, pathology, food archeology, and chemical analysis. Inventions such as the magnetometer, potentiometer, aqualung, airlift, and periscope with camera have helped reveal the classical past and have been aided by branches of science: paleopathology, papyrology, dendrochronology, zooarcheology, and paleobotany. Grant's primary purpose in this writing is to provide a useful guide to the ongoing transformation of classical archeology, as well as to caution against the danger that archeology's increasing link with the sciences might upstage the independent but complementary link of archeology with history. The contemporary, multidisciplinary vocation of the archeologist, Grant explains, manifests itself dramatically in the phenomenon of the ""New Archaeology,"" an ecologically minded movement begun in the 1960's, which focuses on patterns of settlement and landscape rather than individual sites. Grant himself concentrates on sites here, however, first covering the Greeks from the ""Dark Age"" through the archaic and classical period to Hellenism, and then turning to Italy and the Roman Empire, beginning with Etruscan and Republican Italy, moving through the Augustan Empire, the post-Augustans, and the middle empire to the latter empire. Helpful maps are included, along with copious notes and bibliographic sources. A well-written account with short, tantalizing chapters that will well serve the professional historian and the serious amateur.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Scribners