Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Ancient China: Archeology Unlocks the secrets of the past

Ancient China: Archeology Unlocks the secrets of the past

Richard Levey, Jacqueline Ball
For ages 8 to 12
National Geographic, 2006   ISBN: 978-0792277835

How do historians find out so much about the past? Sometimes there are old books, paintings, manuscripts and other forms of written history that they can use to learn about ancient peoples. Then there are stories that have been passed down through the years. Finally there is the information that is brought to light by the hard work of archeologists and scientists. These talented people not only spend months and even years digging in the earth looking for archeological sites and artifacts, but they also try to figure out what the findings tell us about people who lived long ago.

This is the story of what archeology has taught us about ancient China. By digging, sifting earth, mapping, and using new technology, archaeologists and scientists have been able to piece together many pieces of information that help us get a better overall picture of China's past. For example, they have discovered that the so called "stories" about jade burial suits were not stories at all. In 1968 archaeologists found the bodies two of China's "royalty" class buried in suits made of jade, suits just like to the ones described in a first century A.D. document.

In 1971 workers digging an air raid shelter found a large tomb. Archaeologists found more than 1,000 artifacts in the tomb. Perhaps the most valuable find was a mummy of a woman who has been given the name "Lady Dai." Lady Dai was so well preserved that scientists were able to perform an autopsy on her body 2,000 years after she had died.

The authors of this book tell a series of fascinating stories about some of China's most high profile archaeological finds. They also include an interview with an archaeologist, and they discuss what lies in the "Years Ahead" in this very exacting and interesting field of study.

Throughout the book readers will find plenty of annotated photographs, maps, diagrams, and boxes of text containing additional information of interest.

This is one of the titles in the National Geographic Investigates series.