Lives in Ruins

Lives in Ruins

Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble

Book - 2014 | First edition
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Examines "the lives of contemporary archaeologists as they sweat under the sun for clues to the puzzle of our past. Johnson digs and drinks alongside archaeologists, chases them through the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and even Machu Picchu, and excavates their lives. Her subjects share stories we rarely read in history books, about slaves and Ice Age hunters, ordinary soldiers of the American Revolution, children of the first century, Chinese woman warriors, sunken fleets, mummies. What drives these archaeologists is not the money (meager) or the jobs (scarce) or the working conditions (dangerous), but their passion for the stories that would otherwise be buried and lost"
Publisher: New York, NY : Harper, 2014
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062127181
Branch Call Number: 930.1 John
Characteristics: x, 274 pages ; 24 cm
Contents: Down and dirty : studying people who study people
Boot camp. Field school : context is everything ; The survivalist's guide to archaeology : our ancestors were geniuses ; Extreme beverages : taking beer seriously ; Pig dragons : how to pick up an archaeologist ; My life is in ruins : jobs and other problems ; Road trip through time : our partner, heartbreak ; Underwater mysteries : slow archaeology, deep archaeology
The classics. Explorers club : classics of the ancient world and Hollywood ; Field school redux : the earth-whisperers
Archaeology and war. The bodies : who owns history? ; Evidence of harm : bearing witness ; Archaeology in a dangerous world : a historic alliance ; Avoidance targets : mission
Heritage. Buckets of archaeologists : if archaeologists tried to save the world


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SkokieStaff_Steven Feb 06, 2018

True confession: when I was a child, my earliest career ambition was to become an archaeologist. I can’t remember what I believed the job entailed, but I imagine I envisioned myself uncovering lost cities, pharaohs’ tombs, and perhaps the odd dinosaur or two. Having read Marilyn Johnson’s “Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble,” I can see I dodged a bullet by not following through on this ambition. Johnson makes it clear that archaeologist love their work. They need to, because it is arduous, uncertain, frequently tedious, often unappreciated, and woefully under-funded. Johnson travels the world and spends time with archaeologists in the field and their places of employment, thus following in the great tradition of science writers like Mary Roach. In fact, if you listen to the audio version of the book as I did, you can close your eyes and pretend you’re listening to Roach herself. (I wouldn’t recommend this if you listen while driving.) Johnson isn’t quite as amusing as Roach, but she shares her love of interesting people, stories, and facts.

Jun 28, 2017

I'm mostly through with this book and really like it. It's not in-depth enough for people that want to know the specifics of Archeology but it does shine light on the problems that archeologists, and archeology as a whole, are facing. I would recommend it.

May 22, 2017

As a collector of facts, I found this book really interesting. A treasure trove of behind the scenes stories about archeologists and their digs.

Jan 28, 2015

There is very little archeology beyond a beginning level here. The book was well written, just not what I expected. It would be a good read for a high school or college student interested in becoming an archeologist as it shows what their work is like.

Sep 28, 2014

Many a librarian knows Marilyn from her book on our profession, THIS BOOK IS OVERDUE. As in that title, Marilyn takes us into many different aspects of a profession, this time archaeology, with the same skill, curiosity, and respect. Her skill at sharing her adventures and the adventures of her subjects is fantastic: engaging, readable, and leaving the reader hunting for more information. This is not meant to be an overview of anything and everything to do with the field of archaeology, but rather a look at some of the people and work that make this profession a labor of love and the object of fascination.


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