HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Buried Treasures: Uncovering Secrets of the Past
Author and Photographer: Stephane Compoint
Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2011
Related website: www.abramsyoungreaders.com (publisher)
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: Ages 9 and up
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
For more information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Compoint, Stephane. Buried Treasures: Uncovering Secrets of the Past (published in 2011 by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Abrams, 115 W. 18th St., Neew York City, NY 10013). Do you know what an archaeologist is? The word “archaeology” comes from two Greek terms meaning old and word or study. So it’s the study of old things, or to be more precise, the search for ancient creatures and civilizations. Stephane Compoint is not an archaeologist, but a professional photographer who has worked for National Geographic, Time, and Newsweek, among other publications. However, he has also taken pictures for several archaeologists and shares in this book pictures of many of the amazing discoveries which he has photographed all over the world from the wilds of Alaska, to the desert of Egypt, to a remote Pacific island.
Through Stephane’s stunning photographs, the reader will visit a number of places which are important to Earth’s history. Alexandria, Egypt, is where one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Pharos Lighthouse, was destroyed by earthquakes. The lost civilization of the Polynesian Rapa Nui raised colossal stone statues on Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean. In southern Egypt, the Kharga Oasis contains a necropolis with several hundred mummified bodies of peasants and craftsmen. The pre-Columbian Nazca people created huge geoglyphs from their ceremonial center at Cahuachi in southern Peru. Bones of huge dinosaurs such as brachiosaurus, stegosaurus, and diplodocus have been found in the Gobi desert of Mongolia. The ancient Graeco-Roman city of Zeugma in modern Turkey contained huge mosaics that needed to be saved from a dam project. For years, people have been trying to photograph the legendary blue bear, a rare relative of the brown bear, in Alaska. The Celts are usually associated with the British Isles, but before the Romans conquered Europe, they left remains of their civilization from Brittany south to northern Spain and east to Hungary. It is believed that the grave of the missing Pharaoh Userkare has been found at Saqqara in Egypt. A French paleontologist has located remains of what he thinks is one of the earliest members of the human race, which he named “Abel,” in the desert of Chad, central Africa. Perhaps one of the most famous examples of how archaeology has uncovered life in the past is at Pompeii, Italy, which was destroyed by Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Add to these pictures of the Russian ice station Barneo near the North Pole, digging for the baluchitherium in Pakistan, and a recreation of the ancient Olympic games in Greece.
Buried Treasures will be absolutely fascinating to anyone who is interested in history. The book really doesn’t give detailed answers to age-old questions, but it does survey some of the issues that archaeologists have been looking into, the work that they have done in investigating them, and the theories that they have developed to explain them as a result—all with exquisite photographs to illustrate them. A map locating each of the sites mentioned in the book will make this a useful tool for young people studying ancient history. Concerning the archaeologists with whom he has worked, Compoint writes, “The men and women whose work I describe in this book are something of a cross between a scientist and Indiana Jones.” And concerning the places which he mentions, he says, “The whole world recognizes their uniqueness, and they bear witness to the richness of cultures that came before ours.” A feast for the eyes as well as the mind!
Note: Those parents who are concerned about the promotion of evolutionary theory in books which their children read will at least want to know that there are references in this book to the ideas that dinosaurs disappeared 65 million years ago, that the Baluchistan desert of Pakistan was covered by an Amazon like jungle thirty million years ago, and that one of humanity’s most “senior ancestors” may have lived 3.5 million years ago.