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

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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 uncharte 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 uncharted Middle Eastern deserts. They were adventurous, smart, and fearless—they were the first women archaeologists. What drew these pioneering ladies into a male-dominated field that was then a very young science? What drove them to travel to far-flung sites where the well water was filled with bugs, danger was daily, and the sun was so hot it could bake through leather boots? Each woman found archaeology to be an irresistible passion. And as they pursued their dreams, they helped to bury ideas about feminine nature as something intrinsically soft and submissive. Ladies of the Field excavates the stories of women who sought adventure in the burgeoning new field of archaelogy and who continue to inspire us today, including Amelia Edwards, Jane Dieulafoy, Zelia Nuttall, Gertrude Bell, Harriet Boyd-Hawes, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy Garrod.


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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 uncharte 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 uncharted Middle Eastern deserts. They were adventurous, smart, and fearless—they were the first women archaeologists. What drew these pioneering ladies into a male-dominated field that was then a very young science? What drove them to travel to far-flung sites where the well water was filled with bugs, danger was daily, and the sun was so hot it could bake through leather boots? Each woman found archaeology to be an irresistible passion. And as they pursued their dreams, they helped to bury ideas about feminine nature as something intrinsically soft and submissive. Ladies of the Field excavates the stories of women who sought adventure in the burgeoning new field of archaelogy and who continue to inspire us today, including Amelia Edwards, Jane Dieulafoy, Zelia Nuttall, Gertrude Bell, Harriet Boyd-Hawes, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy Garrod.

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

    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 b 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 between the women and examining their curious status as trailblazers in a field marked not only by masculinity, but a heavy sense of cultural and material appropriation. I liked that Adams didn't shy away from Western archeology's roots as little more than theft and as a tool for categorizing and systematizing a world both for their own understanding (on their own terms of course) and as a means of control. "Edwards, Bell, Christie, and Garrod were British; Dieulafoy, French; and Nuttall and Boyd Hawes, American. It's a Western team. Not one of the women presented here heralds from Asia or India, Africa or South America. That is because archeology was born of Western science. It moved with spreading colonialism, was a tool of the British Empire, and fascinated the Western mind with its growing toolkit of physical evidence, theories, documentation, accurate measurement, hypothesizing, and overall propensity for logical explanation" (11-12). The greatness of some of these tales, for me, lies in the achievements of some of the women in helping to preserve the cultural heritage of some of these nations from exploitation and robbery. While individuals like the Dieulafoys were keen to export their discoveries back to their home countries, others like Bell were key figures in the creation of nationalized heritage institutions and crafters of strict preservation laws, safeguarding the history of nations like Iraq, Iran and the Palestinian Mandate from more imperial opportunists. They came from a framework of empire, but became guardians and advocates of the cultures they immersed themselves in. There's a strong balance in the narrative between strict reporting of the realities of the age and romanticism. Adams resists romanticizing all of her subjects, but plainly recognizes the popular appeal of the field and hits the nail right on the head when describing why we all find the subject so appealing to this day. Archeology's popular roots lay in a sort of blend between the scientific endeavor and the adventure of travel through dangerous and lonely country. Travelogues popularized by people like Edwards emphasized the exotic and the strange, while at the same time prodding the curiosity of more conservative readers back home. Adams is great at pointing out the transition that took place, in some cases in large part due to the work of these Ladies of the Field, in the field from exotic travel diary to serious scholarly work with the methodology of science without making the subject dull. Adams perhaps shines best when contextualizing the achievements of these seven remarkable women. "The Victorian Era (1837-1901) provides the backdrop for all seven women: each was born in or worked during that time. To be a woman archeologist today requires some sure navigation through a boys' club, but back then the boy's club was bolted shut. In Victorian times opportunities for women outside the home were no larger than the tiny embroidery stitches girls worked on each day. Women could and often needed to work to help support their families, but that labor typically consisted of sewing, washing, domestic service, shoemaking, and factory jobs. The upper echelons of intellectual careers and politics were largely off-limits" (5). Ironic, that the reign of such a powerful female monarch should be a time of such debilitating treatment of women in the social and political sphere. It makes the work of these women all the more remarkable. Adams comments extensively on the field as escape, a space outside the strictures of Victorian expectations and limitations, where women (women of means, of course) could be judged by the quality of the work they produced and their contributions to our understanding of our common heritage. Some of the women are quandaries. For all her masterful statesmanship and politicking, Gertrude Bell was chair of the Anti-Suffrage League. In spite of fighting in a war beside her husband and her blatant disregard of fashion expectations, Jane Dieulafoy considered her marriage to her husband and her support of his work to be the foundation of her identity. These women cared much more for their work than they did for overturning societal standards, yet nevertheless overturn them they did. As Adams points out: "They were dedicated to science, not social change. Nevertheless, as a result of their actions, academic circles, professional organizations, and even newspapers were acknowledging that female scientists were reaching new milestones. Women could endure the hardships of camping, digging, traveling; they could mastermind surveys, excavations, and field crews; they could gather the evidence together, publish, and contribute meaningfully to a science that had long denied them the chance to speak. By their own accord and strength, they kicked down shut doors. The Victorian stereotype of a weak woman was overturned. The first women archeologists gave the women's rights movement ammunition to demonstrate equality between the sexes" (191). None were steadfast champions of women's rights, but certainly many were feminists. Most of them did so without being portrayed as overly masculine by their male counterparts, confounding their gender identity simply because they were productive in a "man's" profession. In fact, several, including Garrod, delighted in shocking conservative males. Upon hearing sounds of looters at her dig site in the middle of the night, Garrod and two of her female compatriots gathered themselves up and went to confront the thieves much to the shock of their male assistant Mr. Stannus. "Mr. Stannous was shocked at the idea of three defenceless women 'going into danger' without a man to protect them, so he gallantly came too...Poor Mr. Stannus, he had always been accustomed to the Victorian man's ideal of what a lady should be, a delicate fragile being who would scream at the sight of a mouse" (175). Garrod and her fellow ladies delight in the gender role reversal of Mr. Stannus, rather than the other way around. Their femininity is not in question, but perhaps his masculinity is. Many, with the notable exception of Dieulafoy, maintained the dress and customs of ladies back home, even when in the field. What astounds me (and to be frank, uplifts me as I approach 35 myself) most about the achievements of these women is that they all became extraordinarily active late in life. Edwards mastered Egyptian hieroglyphics in her late 30s; Nuttall didn't venture out into the field until she was fifty-three; Bell was forty-four when she took off for Iraq to help found a national museum and buy her first home in the desert. "Although there is nothing surprising about women accomplishing great things as they mature, it is refreshing to discover women [PEOPLE!] who were not only groundbreaking scientists, but unafraid and willing to change course midstream. In our youth-obsessed culture, it is wonderful to see that life really can begin at forty, and that one's best and most satisfying adventures may be yet to come" (188). That, in many ways, is as awesome to me as overcoming the profound gender barriers erected over one of the most "male" fields in the early modern world. To completely re-invent yourself and re-purpose yourself is so incredibly daunting a prospect at mid-life, these people deserve respect for that courage alone. For all the strengths of this work, it is, at its roots, a catalog and the brief biographies demonstrate all the shortcomings of such an endeavor. The individual biographies jump around a lot and end all too soon. While each is very well-researched, many contain too few vignettes to get a genuine feel for the individual. That being said, if you treated this book as a textbook or reference to identifying individual figures in the field who you'd like to learn more about, you could hardly go wrong. Personally, I'd like to follow up more on Dieulafoy, Garrod, and Bell. Luckily, an ample bibliography and "Further Reading" section have given me some solid prospects for continuing. I think what I'd have liked is an extended work on the culture and society of the Victorian world and more of an historical overview of Archeology with the narratives of these women and their achievements interwoven into that fabric. Something more of a history of feminism in archeology, rather than a series of brief biographies with a smattering of historiography at the beginning and end.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Brown

    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 a 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 and suggests little actual knowledge of the period. When her subjects interact with others well known people or events, Adams doesn't tell us more about them than their names. For example, the role Gertrude Bell played in Iraq is mentioned, but in a way that gives no hint as to how it fit in with the British imperialism of the time. The author doesn't even put her subjects into context re the changing styles of archeology or mention the controversial issue of how 19th and early 20th century English and American archeologists spirited away valuable artifacts to their nations' museums with no regard to the rights of those who are now seen to have had the right to keep them. The author writes extremely badly, mixing in slang phrases with formal prose in a way that constantly pulled me out of the book. She frequently misuses words. Queen Victoria is described as being "in reign." Someone else is described as "a slumpy silhouette." Cliches abound. A typical sentence from p. 14 states, "Shovel in hand, they would chase that dream of discovery, becoming crazed and toilsome if it wasn't found, brilliant and celebrated if it was." Strangely, a copyeditor is credited on the copyright page. I assume this is to prove that the book was copyedited. The prose makes one think otherwise. If I seem vehement it is because this is a topic that fascinates me as I studied archeology in college and I have a deep love of 19th century history. I'm also fond of the English language and the way the author abused it made me fear for its future.

  3. 5 out of 5

    James

    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 archaeol 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 archaeologist but claims that her reason for not including H. Petrie is because she was merely an archaeologist's wife and thus she was a wife first and an archaeologist second, which is insulting to her legacy. Hilda was not only a published excavator, leading an excavation at Abydos but also a talented illustrator and epigrapher both crucial elements to archaeology. Flinders himself was never one to diminish the work done by Hilda, dedicating his autobiography to her, writing, "To My Wife, upon whose toil most of my work has depended" 3. Adams also periodically adds what she thinks these women 'must' have been thinking at certain points of their life, which stick out as extremely awkward

  4. 5 out of 5

    genna

    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 auth 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 author glosses over problems of imperialism, looting, and race in favor of focusing on these women as only as gender rebels--despite the fact that several of them would not have considered themselves feminists by our present definition at all.

  5. 4 out of 5

    SouthWestZippy

    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 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 heard of several of these women before I read the book so that helps keep it a solid two stars.

  6. 4 out of 5

    zachary

    With the passage of time, Boyd Hawke's breakthrough accomplishments were clouded, erased in places, and slighted. She would one day reflect on "having learned how easily women's acts are ascribed to men or completely wiped out." This was such a good, educating read. I say that a lot, I'm aware, but honestly. It's funny how few of these women were mentioned during my three years of archaeology studies. To be fair, it did mention a lot of other female archaeologists from later on. Sometimes I did w With the passage of time, Boyd Hawke's breakthrough accomplishments were clouded, erased in places, and slighted. She would one day reflect on "having learned how easily women's acts are ascribed to men or completely wiped out." This was such a good, educating read. I say that a lot, I'm aware, but honestly. It's funny how few of these women were mentioned during my three years of archaeology studies. To be fair, it did mention a lot of other female archaeologists from later on. Sometimes I did wish there was a little more to read in each chapter, but in general, Adams managed to divide it up quite well. I didn't feel like there was something lacking, I just wanted more, y'know? Nonetheless, it is a very good starting point... which is, in all honesty, supposed to make you want to know more about these women. It surely accomplished that, at least for me.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

    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. 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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Yuka

    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.

  9. 4 out of 5

    amy

    I guess I shouldn't have picked up a book centering the experiences of imperialists? I guess I shouldn't have picked up a book centering the experiences of imperialists?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    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. 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.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    A selection of entertaining but repetitive biographies, sandwiched however between excellent introduction and conclusion.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mallee Stanley

    A fascinating tale of seven women who became archaeologists back in the 18th and 19th century against a profession dominated by men.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Riversue

    This was good fun. Brilliant little biographies of women who were archaeologists back when most were wives and mothers as the sum of their purpose.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey Ellis

    It was really interesting to learn about their lives and contributions. A great read!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Really 3 1/2 stars. Good overview of the role these women played in the development of the field of archaeology.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

    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 gir 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 girly-girls...no two of these mold-breaking pioneers fit the same pioneer-mold. This, to me, is the definition of feminism; all women should be just exactly who they are, regardless of the prevailing assumptions or expectations of them. Some of these women would never have identified themselves as feminist--one even believed that women should not have the right to vote and campaigned against the suffragettes! It just goes to show that independent women come in many different guises and with many different ideas. This is an important lesson for our day, when it often feels like there is only one type of successful, modern woman. Second, the author points out in the conclusion that pretty much the only characteristic that runs as a common thread through all of the stories (except for one) is that these women got their start in archaeology later in life. Even the one lady who started young had a REstart out in the field in her sixties after a stint as a professor. The author emphasizes this element in her conclusion chapter and expresses how much of an inspiration it is. "In our youth-obsessed culture, it is wonderful to see that life really can begin at forty, and that one's best and most satisfying adventures may be yet to come" (188). Hear hear! I hope that I never lose my sense of capability or excitement for life. I loved this book because it told romantic stories of intellectual accomplishments that have shaped the world's understanding of itself. Women were the heroes--women who never believed that 'time was up' for them or that their gender somehow dictated the boundaries of their adventures. Thank you, Adams, for compiling this tale and telling it in so marvelous a manner.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Embry

    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 Edwa 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 Edwards (surely the inspiration for the Amelia Peabody of Elizabeth Peters' "Crocodile on the Sandbank" and other archaeological mysteries) to French happily-married and happily cross-dressing Jane Dieulafoy to Mexico's grande dame of pre-Columbian archaeology Zelia Nuttal, and ending with Paleolithic cave explorer Dorothy Garrod, who managed to reconcile her strong Catholic beliefs with scientific evidence for a much older Earth, among others. For those for whom her sketches seem all too brief, Adams supplies a bibliography and recommended reading list (including online resources) for further exploration. Adams' writing is never as powerful as that of some of her subjects, who include lay authors, in addition to Amelia Edwards, Gertrude Bell and Agatha Christie. However, her enthusiasm for the practice of archaeology and for her subjects should put this on the want to read list of anyone of any gender interested in archaeology and its history.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    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 t 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 their lives. The seven female archaeologist examined in that novel are Amelia Edwards, Jane Dieulafoy, Zelia Nuttall, Gertrude Bell, Harriet Boyd Hawes, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy Garrod. For each woman, Adams tells of their life-long struggles, romantic interests, career paths, education, opposition to typical female stereotypes, and, of course, their contribution to archaeology. While it was definitely interesting to learn about the contributions these women have made to history, it was more inspiring than informative. Reading about how these women overcame Victorian stereotypes to follow their passion has inspired me to continue to aspire for a career in this field. If you're looking for some female empowerment I would definitely recommend this book. I know the stories of these women will be a source of inspiration for me. www.anibelle.blogspot.com

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    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 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 were only to delicate, frail creatures who should keep to the house and housewifely affairs. These women, most financially independent, ventured into the wild, unmapped deserts in search of history. Reading about Amelia Edwards (1831-1892) and Gertrude Bell (1868-1926) as they traveled and explored history of Egypt and modern day Iraq, respectively, I really tasted the adventure they craved and sought after. Another woman, famous mystery author Agatha Christie (1890-1976) spent thirty years working on archaeological digs with her second husband, all the while writing her famous stories. This non-fiction book is written well, fast paced, and a great read on a cold spring night! I could almost feel the desert heat creeping out of the book and warming my toes!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tyrannosaurus regina

    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 en 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 encourages me to both read more in the field and read more by and about the seven archaeologists (and often authors) that it explores.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jen Silver

    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. 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.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sonia

    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.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Curran

    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. 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.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Monica

    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.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    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.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Heather Ormsby

    A good introduction to some historical figures in archaeology.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    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. 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.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alix

    Very well-written, very engaging. A great non-fiction read, if you are interested in the subject.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    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.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sheila

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Really interesting synopsis of thenlives of five female anthropologisys/archaeologists: Gertrude Bell, Amelia Edwards, Jane Dieulafoy, Zelia Nuttall, Harriet Boyd Hawes

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