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Ancient Mysteries

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  384 ratings  ·  26 reviews
For centuries, philosophers, scientists, and charlatans have attempted to decipher the baffling mysteries of our past, from Stonehenge to the lost continent of Atlantis. Today, however, DNA testing, radiocarbon dating, and other cutting-edge investigative tools, together with a healthy dose of common sense, are guiding us closer to the truth. Now historian Peter James and ...more
Paperback, 651 pages
Published October 30th 2001 by Ballantine Books (first published November 2nd 1999)
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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 ·  384 ratings  ·  26 reviews

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Mar 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
It's important to note that this book is the exact size, shape, and weight of a phone book. Not the easiest thing to lug around.

The focus is on things in the field of archaeology that are mysterious, or were at one time. So we have a wide range from pyramids to ice men. The "ancient" in the title is a bit misleading. The actual timeline for weird stuff extends to 1492, so quite a bit here is actually medieval.

This book tops 600 pages, and nobody was more surprised than me to discover that there
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Very well written examination of the most significant historical mysteries by smart people. If you've ever read any Graham Hancock or Chariots of the Gods or something similar, you really should read this one. Many of the frankly ridiculous ideas presented in those other books are well addressed here. And this isn't an attack on those works for the most part - it is a look at what we really know by objective authors. If you have any interest in Ancient Mysteries you should give this book a try - ...more
Jan 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really didn't enjoy this book. I was expecting a mildly diverting bathroom reader, and instead got a series of term papers-I felt this had more depth than expected, but it jumped all of the world with "mysteries" that it was incongruous. The relation between mysteries was tenuous at best, and it was just far too much information.

Additionally, the representation of ALL of the viewpoints was also exhausting, and this book basically turned into a slog.

There are better books about the world's my
Sep 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
In a field where one usually has to choose between rigid orthodoxy and uncritical jabber, this book seems like the embodiment of sweet reasonableness. One does not have to agree with all their conclusions to admire them for having tried so hard, where so many others have disgraced themselves, one way or the other.
Steven Thielking
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved this book when I first read it years ago. I had thought I was picking up a book of pseudoscientific nonsense but was pleasantly surprised when they systematically went through and debunked the wildest theories about some of the worlds great structures and phenomenon while providing some great background on each.
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saggistica
La prima cosa da dire su questo libro è che non tratta archeologia alternativa (o archeologia misteriosa, fantarcheologia, criptoarcheologia, o come volete chiamarla), nonostante in alcuni store venga piazzato nel settore "Astrologia ed esoterismo". Credo che il fraintendimento sia nato per gli argomenti trattati, molti dei quali sono noti cavalli di battaglia per questa materia (un esempio su tutti Atlantide).
Si tratta invece di una serie di saggi di argomento principalmente archeologico e stor
Andreas Schmidt
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fa luce sui misteri (o presunti tali) del passato. E ovviamente non manca di prendere in considerazione certe teorie moderne (come Impronte degli Dei, di Hancock). Una lettura consigliata se e solo se si ha già una certa conoscenza dei temi trattati.
Dec 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very well researched and objective, with engaging writing.
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I got this back in high-school before Ancient Aliens was a thing. Weird, dubious, amazing. I will forever love this book.
Todd Stockslager
Jun 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Review title: What If's and mighta beens of history

James and Thorpe have compiled a catalog of compelling conundrums of history and archaeology. While books like this often veer toward naive acceptance or super critical scientific skepticism of these apparently unbelievable events, places, people, or discoveries, these authors steer a middle-ground, considering the craziest of ideas, but usually debunking them with logic, research, and scientific evidence. This process of consideration, comparis
Feb 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a fun one! James and Thorpe investigate a wide range of popular mysteries about the ancient world: was there a Great Flood? Was there an Atlantis? How were the pyramids built? Was Robin Hood a real person?
The authors cleverly draw you into the mysteries, outlining various theories and then, just when they've got you almost believing that we're descended from Atlanteans, they pick the whole thing apart. They come down pretty hard on some pseudo-archeaologists, particularly Graham Hancock
Aug 18, 2009 rated it liked it
This bok is a great summative overview of many interesting "mysteries" of the ancient world. Co-authored by an archaeologist and a historian, it offers very plausible explanations for such things as the pyramids, Atlantis, and the Naztec lines (including a great many other topics) based on scientific data. (Sorry, no plausible alien theories are given...)
Jan 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
All in all a fun book. Good for just flipping open and browsing through every now and then. It does a nice job of presenting more than one theory for each mystery, and not trying to tell you 'this is how how it is.' A good thing, since I can't stand conspiracy theorists.
Vanessa Baldwin
May 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this but had to return it to the library before I finished it, so will probably end up buying it in order to take my time. It's not cheesy or new age or conspiracy theory stuff, just historical and rational.
Dan Gladwell
Feb 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historic, nerdy
Good clean Ancient Mystery type stuff.
However, the unique thing about this book is that they present multiple points of view and explanation to all the "mysteries". It's very uniquely presented and warrants multiple read throughs!
Aug 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
A book that covers a wide variety of history's "mysteries" and unknowns about ancient civilizations. Not much knew, but a decent compilation of theories and knowledge - some well-known and others lesser known.
Feb 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Really fun read and very interesting. Authors do a great job of impartial examination into the subjects. All of the topics are well cited and researched, great choice if you're a "History's Mysteries" junkie.
ej cullen
Jan 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Interesting, but, at base too large a topic to afford coherence, as any community college adjunct could (and would) tell you.
Zach Opsitnick
Nov 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Not a bad read, but it didn't go into too much depth about these mysteries and left me with more questions than I had when I started.
Oct 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read parts of this book here and there. It's really interesting. There's info on Atlantis, Stonehenge, Lay Lines, how the Pyramids were built and a whole lot more.
Feb 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: aficcionados por História e seus mistérios.
Shelves: fatos-reais, own
Achei num sebinho.
Dec 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Excellently factual, a very reputable guide to interesting archaeological and historical phenomenon and myth.
Mar 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scholarly-works
Fun, but not as essential as "Ancient Inventions"
Makira Enrico
rated it it was amazing
Oct 02, 2014
Jardin De Acebos
rated it it was amazing
Jan 27, 2019
Ally Schaan
rated it really liked it
Jan 29, 2015
Michael Maire
rated it it was amazing
Dec 29, 2012
rated it it was ok
Nov 04, 2014
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Sep 01, 2012
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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,

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