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Ancient Inventions

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  228 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
"IT'S CHOCKABLOCK WITH CURIOUS LORE....[James and Thorpe] have amassed scores of persuasive testimonials of primeval ingenuity."
--The Boston Globe
We in the twentieth century tend to assume that our era has a monopoly on the inventions of clever machines, labor-saving devices, feats of engineering, and advanced technology. But as the authors of this fascinating and eye-open
Paperback, 704 pages
Published October 31st 1995 by Ballantine Books (first published October 18th 1994)
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Rebekah Gamble
May 10, 2017 Rebekah Gamble rated it it was amazing
If I were going to choose the two most influential books in my life I would choose this one and the bible. As I child I used to stay up at night reading it secretly, looking up words I didn't know in a dictionary. As I got older, I turned back to this book in times of trouble when I needed something grounding that also reminded me of all the wonderful things to be found in the minds of men. Through all the years the book never gets old, it never seems done, and it's always inspiring, enlightenin ...more
Nov 26, 2012 Sesana rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Fun for history buffs, but you definitely have to be a history buff to read through all 600+ pages. I am, and I did. I picked it up because I had greatly enjoyed reading the equally huge Ancient Mysteries (both books are approximately the size and shape of an urban phone book), but this book is far more straightforward. There are few actual mysteries here, just what the archaeological record says and suggests came before. Luckily, the authors' writing styles are as interesting as the subject mat ...more
Eddie Jong
Oct 02, 2013 Eddie Jong rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reference
Invaluable Information

I bought this book as a reference for writing Velvak's Victory. As my novels take place in a world that has never had an industrial revolution, I wanted some ideas of what technology would be available to the people of Bradapol.

This book is amazing. Not only is the content fascinating, but it is arranged in such a way that any subject can be easily found. When a specific subject is covered, e.g. a specific plant used for cooking, there are also references to other section o
May 09, 2012 Dave rated it it was amazing
Recently, I was looking for something I can read in small spurts without having to break up any continuity or remember any storyline so I'm going back and reading this one cover to cover. I had previously read a large portion of this book solely for research purposes for writing classes for my job. This book was a good source of information concerning historical backgrounds for these things because it is indeed chock full of great information. Now, upon reading it for leisure, I'm feeling like a ...more
Dec 19, 2008 T. rated it it was amazing
This non-fiction book is ideal for those people who wish to know >who else< invented stuff long before the European Renaissance. Turns out many things, including the lightning rod and armored ships, were invented way before the Industrial Revolution. As an archaeologist, I like the excellent referencing and documenting the authors do for each of their topic areas. Very good bibliography. Highly recommended.
Nov 14, 2016 Olga rated it it was amazing
Great book for history geeks. Because you really have to be one to read 760 pages about mostly ancient and some medieval history.
In addition, it is an amazing book for curious people. If questions, like how the calendar was invented? what people used to clean their homes before Fairy and Gala? still pop up in your head, then go for this cradle of answers.
Brittany Reads
Sep 22, 2016 Brittany Reads rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I learned A LOT from this book! I was amazed by how advance ancient technology was, and how much
I didn't know. I do wish more sources were cited throughout the book. There were times I found myself wondering how we know about certain things, or how a topic was researched.
Feb 11, 2009 Deborah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, history
This book includes a very detailed look at how the ancients used to live. It was very, very interesting, and is written in an easy-to-read fashion.

I intend to keep this book in my personal library for future reference during the writing of my novels.
Dan Gladwell
Feb 27, 2009 Dan Gladwell rated it liked it
Shelves: historic, nerdy
Another well written book by these two authors. I didn't enjoy it as much as Ancient Mysteries, but that's mostly because Mysteries had the multiple view points and explanations included. This is more of a text book read (which is great by me), but it's still a very fun book to read!
Jun 02, 2008 Alberto rated it it was amazing
A beautiful work on the history of technology. I really recommend it... wondering why China is leading the manufacturing nowadays? Well, you might want to know a bit about their thousands of years in developing technology.
Kozmo Kliegl
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 27, 2008 Mike rated it really liked it
This book contains, among much other interesting stuff, one of my favorite sentences: "Gunpowder seems to have been discovered in China by accident--ironically, by alchemists seeking the elixir of immortality."
Sep 07, 2011 Liz rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-books
An absolutely phenomenal book. Highly recommended reading.
Morgan Summerfield
Sep 07, 2012 Morgan Summerfield rated it really liked it
I never cease to be amazed by the things people can dream up...and by how much knowledge is lost over time. One of my thought trigger books.
Sep 27, 2012 Joshua rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating. I did not read it in one sitting but rather about a year period. It made me more inquisitive about science/engineering and the art of invention.
Oct 09, 2008 Nancy added it
fascinating- B.C. Brain surgery, anasthesia, magnets, batteries, magnifying glasses.
Aug 29, 2009 Mikel rated it really liked it
Good. There are a lot of parts to this book so I skipped around a bit to those parts that most interested me. Very informative and entertaining. Great for reference for writers.
Mar 24, 2008 Colin rated it it was amazing
I love this book! Definitely fun the the ancient historian.
Alan Beggerow
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Dec 21, 2014
Robert Quigley
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Peter James is a British author and historian specialising in ancient history and archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean region. He graduated in ancient history and archeology at the University of Birmingham (England) and does postgraduate research at University College London.

James has advanced several controversial theories about the chronology of Mediterranean civilizations, the Middle East,
More about Peter James...

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