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Ladies of the Field: Early Women Archaeologists and Their Search for Adventure

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  168 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Seven intrepid female archaeologists who shunned convention for groundbreaking adventure.

Abandoning the comfort of conventional life and cream tea, seven women left their Victorian homes to discover the fields of archaeology. In a time when ladies dressed in ruffled petticoats, these women were sporting work trousers, smoking men's pipes, and riding camels through
Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 23rd 2010 by Greystone Books (first published 2010)
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Average rating 3.67  · 
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An excellent overview of the contributions of important Victorian women to the burgeoning scientific field of archeology that sometimes suffers from seeming a bit too encyclopedic. Covered here are seven trailblazing women who left generous paper trails for Adams to follow: Amelia Edwards, Jane Dieulafoy, Gertrude Bell, Zelia Nuttall, Agatha Christie, Harriet Boyd Hawes, and Dorothy Garrod.

Adams's introduction and epilogue are particularly strong in the analysis department noting similarities
Jenny Brown
Apr 03, 2011 rated it did not like it
Very superficial biographies each based on a very few sources, with the only primary sources quoted coming straight from the pages of other writers' books. The author doesn't have much of a grasp of history, for example, someone is mentioned as dying in "an influenza epidemic" in 1918 in a way suggesting the author hadn't heard of the great pandemic. Someone else is born in "Belgrave, London." The author's understanding of the role of women in 19th century England and America is oversimplified ...more
Jul 14, 2013 rated it did not like it
While this book presented the stories of seven fascinating women, it gave an incredibly reductive view of the societies in which they lived and assumed that Victorian gender norms were equally oppressive to all classes and nationalities. I wanted to enjoy this book for its subject but had to grit my teeth to get to the end. The gushing, gossipy tone detracts from the accomplishments of archaeologists who worked in physical and professional spaces that were considered masculine. Finally, the ...more
A brief summary of Seven female archaeologists who were determined to make their own way in life by searching and finding adventure. You can see some of the research done but the overall felt blah. It lacked depth and that the fact it was a brief look at each woman, it did not give enough attention to each one of them. Also the fact that we needed to be aware of what was expected of a woman in their time as well what they wore and about other protocols over and over became annoying.
I had never
The language of this book often veered into territory just at tad too flowery for me, and I sometimes felt as if the author could have been more academic and less flippant with the biographies she was writing. Nonetheless, this book was a really fun read, and perfect for anyone who just wants a romp through desert sands with runaway Victorian ladies who were not afraid to do things in their own fashion. Just don't expect a book that is too analytical and sit back and enjoy the ride.
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I will be talking this book up incessantly to all my fellow women archaeologists... hell to ALL THE ARCHAEOLOGISTS! Engaging, entertaining, well researched, thoughtfully structured themes, and so so fun to read.
Mallee Stanley
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fascinating tale of seven women who became archaeologists back in the 18th and 19th century against a profession dominated by men.
A selection of entertaining but repetitive biographies, sandwiched however between excellent introduction and conclusion.
Aug 19, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked the information about all the women, but I didn't love the writing. It was ok, but a bit excessive sometimes in the "flattery" of the women.
Mar 01, 2018 rated it did not like it
I guess I shouldn't have picked up a book centering the experiences of imperialists?
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really 3 1/2 stars. Good overview of the role these women played in the development of the field of archaeology.
Oct 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
The tone of the book is 'valley girl coffee chat' and the author is quick to criticize and be condescending towards Victorian women who didn't travel, or who lived a 'traditional' life. The author refers to the women at home a lot. But the author doesn't take into account that most women worked in domestic service or factories without any labor laws to protect them. The attitude of the author, while praising certain women seems to condemn Victorian women in general. I can't stand reading books ...more
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
I loved these stories. Each chapter was meaty enough to satisfy, yet lean enough to make for a quick read (which was also satisfying). The author uses her own vibrant skills with poetry and prose to showcase the lives and contributions of these intrepid women. A couple things stood out to me about these stories.

First, these women were so different, not only from the prevailing culture of their days, but also from each other! Married or single, college educated or amateurs, cross dressers or
Melissa Embry
Oct 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Author Amanda Adams brings a group of pioneering women scientists back to life in "Ladies of the Field: Early Women Archaeologists and Their Search for Adventure." Her book encompasses the collected biographies of seven women archaeologists all working in or born in the Victorian era (1837-1901), all of whom were known on their own terms, not simply as co-workers or as the wives of male archaeologists.

Be prepared for some surprises, from Victorian author of tales of the supernatural Amelia
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Whenever I have been asked what I want to be when I grow up, I have always answered archaeologist. Something about the adventure and monotony of archaeology attracted my attention as a toddler and remains to this day. So when I saw this book at my local library, I had to pick it up. Before this book, I didn't know of any female archaeologists but now I know of 7 amazing ones. In Ladies of the Field, Adams does a fantastic job of outlining these women's archaeological accomplishments as well as ...more
Apr 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Amanda Adams took seven women archaeologists (or those passionate about archaeology) and did a brief biographical sketch on each. While Adams is an Archeologist herself, she wrote this book for the mainstream public, and I fell in love with the women as much as Adams did herself.

A few days ago I listened to Amanda Adams give a presentation about the book and her process of writing the book. I was charmed as she talked of the Victorian women who shook off the bounds of polite society where women
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
Though it's not bad per se, it suffers for a variety of reasons.
1. It attempts to cover the lives of seven women in less than 200 pages. Some of these women have biographical works about them spanning hundreds of pages, the 20-30 pages dedicated here seems shallow and an oversimplification of these women
2. The inclusion of Christie and the exclusion of people like Hilda Petrie and Tessa Wheeler is irritating. Christie's archaeology is minimal, even Adams notes that she was not a proper
Tyrannosaurus regina
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
What a remarkable and captivating book! And one that pays equal respect and attention to the fact that these people were pioneers in their field, and that they were women in their field; both are equally interesting. It doesn't shy away from the complexity of their lives as Victorian women in a traditionally masculine field (and, indeed, masculine world), and neither does it diminish their accomplishments as being good...for a woman. I found the entire work fascinating and well-rounded and it ...more
Jen Silver
May 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Other readers have commented that they didn't think this book was academic enough. I think that's missing the point. The author wanted to focus on the achievements of these women at a time when societal norms meant this was a challenge and I feel she managed that exceptionally well. I found all the stories to be fascinating and as someone with an interest in archaeology will now follow up by reading more in-depth accounts of their lives.
Olivia Sayah
Sep 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was very excited to start off my archaeology course in this way! Only downfalls are the fact that it's just a brief overview of many women in the beginnings of archaeology. Also, it's written in a narrative fashion, so major discussions of social context were not addressed! I'm now excited to see if I can find more information in the archives about one of the women, who attended Smith! :D
Apr 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Short and interesting biographies of seven women who participated in early archaeological explorations. Leaves you wanting to know more.

One odd thing is that there are photos of artifacts throughout the book with no information on where they were found or if they have anything to do with the subject of that particular chapter.
Jan 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Read for book club. Non-fiction is not my favorite reading genre but this one was a nice balance of biography and storytelling. Each section highlights a different woman who made a mark on the field of archaeology before women were accepted into this field of study. Pictures and images of the digs were very helpful to set the reader in the setting but overall not my cup of tea.
Stephanie Curran
Jul 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This was a very enjoyable and readable book. Three of the seven women were at least somewhat familiar to me before reading the book, but the remainder were totally new. I was fascinated by how much I didn't know about these women and am planning on further research into their life stories and experiences.
Jul 10, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not well written, but great women, great accomplishments. The subject matters are so exciting it is a shame the author could not capture that excitement.

Too bad the author could not capture the extraordinary excitement of these lives! I will read more about each of them.
Dec 24, 2012 rated it liked it
The theory part is a bit clumsy (she always finds what she's looking for and rarely looks beneath the surface of quotes that support her theories), but it's an engaging read. Wonderful photos.
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Heather Ormsby
Nov 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A good introduction to some historical figures in archaeology.
Sep 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very well-written, very engaging. A great non-fiction read, if you are interested in the subject.
Dec 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
The fascinating adventures of some late 19th/early 20th century archaeologists. A surprising mix of amateurs and professional scholars, each inspiring in a different way.
Rachel Aranda
Jun 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebooks
This was a very educational read that I'm very glad to have read. Women have one broken boundaries and made great academic headway in this world. It was very empowering to read this book.
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