Unsworth has a narrative style that sneaks up on you. Understated, subtle but
not slow moving, each sentence entices, lures, teases, dares you to read the next
until you are immersed in a place, a time, a convergence of personalities that
you can't get out of your head. And that's okay, because Land of Marvels
proves you can trust this Booker Prize winning author. The characters are true
to themselves. The place is familiar yet exotic and more than a little scary.
And the times, well, the more they seem different and foreign the more the feel
all too uncomfortably familiar.
British archeologist John Somerville is supervising a dig at a site called Tel
Erdik located in the desert somewhere near the confluence of the Tigris and
Euphrates Rivers in the spring of 1914. Since he has invested all that is left
of his money into this effort he is hoping...
Beyond the Book
A Short History of Archeology
The fictional John Somerville's interest in archeology was typical for his time. Most so-called archeologists of the period were, like him, self-taught because there were virtually no academic courses offered. Additionally, his desire to secure a rich benefactor to fund his excavations was standard operating procedure in the field; for example, the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1923 was made by archaeologist Howard Carter, but financed by the wealthy George Herbert, 5th Lord of Carnarvon.
Archeology as a science is a relatively recent discipline. Before the 19th
Century what passed for archeology was little more than grave
pillaging with the plundered artifacts removed far from their point of origin to...