The books are in the chronological order that I read them, after all this is archaeology!
The Bible Code by Michael Drosnin
I feel ashamed to admit to both of the first two books! As a young teenager I was lucky enough to spend some time in Israel and visited sites like Cesarea and Masada, when this book came out I devoured it. It was an accessible (if somewhat obscure!) link between the people who had lived in the landscape I’d visited and the present day.
The Mayan Prophecies: Unlocking the Secrets of a Lost Civilisation by Adrian Gilbert and Maurice Cotterell
In a similar vein to the Bible Code, the Mayan Prophecies followed next; it was another chance to explore the inexplicable. However, this book first sparked my interest in Mesoamerican archaeology and I went on to write my assessed essay for A-level archaeology in Mayan symbolism.
Archaeological Theory: an Introduction by Matthew Johnson
I really enjoyed learning (and later teaching) archaeological theory, and this is such a great intro to the subject that it would be a shame to leave it behind. It would be a reminder that there’s more than one way to interpret the world.
The Future of the Past: Archaeology in the 21st Century by Eberhard Zangger
This was probably one of the first books that introduced me to geoarchaeology in the Mediterranean. More to the point it was accessible and enjoyable – it’s a popular science book rather than an academic text. It was suggested reading for a second year undergraduate course in Mediterranean landscape archaeology; looking back, it was probably one of the first seeds for my PhD, both in terms of subject area and contact my with PhD supervisor-to-be.
Tree Cultures: The Place of Trees, and Trees in their Place by Owain Jones and Paul Cloke
Not strictly an archaeology book, but one that I read early on in my PhD. It opened-up the idea that the environment, trees in particular, can be more than just a backdrop to people’s lives. The next step was to ask how we might see this in the past, it wasn’t something I managed to answer, but I’m glad I tried.
The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse
The reproduction volume of this eighteenth century cook book led to my interest in historic food. Adapting one of her recipes even landed me on ITV’s Britain’s Best Dish in 2010. Historic food is one of my many interest now, but my fiancée has an historic food company, The Copper Pot, so Hannah still gets an outing every now and again even though she’s buried on a bookcase with many other historic recipe books.
Come, Tell Me How You Live by Agatha Christie
A great book, it’s on my list because it’s light-heated and entertaining, but mainly because of her insightful tip: never travel without a down pillow. After spending two sleepless weeks camping at altitude in Nepal, the idea of wrapping my down jacket in a fleece suddenly struck me. My own make shift down pillow. Bliss.
My Journey to Lhasa by Alexandra David-Néel
So again, this isn’t technically archaeology so much as ethnography/travel. It was recommend to me by Hayley Saul, director of HEART, while we were doing fieldwork in a culturally Tibetan area of the Nepali Himalayas. It makes you realise how raw life is in an extreme environment. It’s also inspirational – if you put your mind to it, anything’s possible – great to have on a desert island.
Pollen et spores d’Europe et d’Afrique du Nord by Maurice Reille
I’m assuming that my desert island is close to Europe or North Africa and that a microscope has washed up on the beach. This book, with its fantastic images, will come in handy for identifying unfamiliar pollen grains from sediments close to the archaeological site on the island!
Medieval Food Traditions in Northern Europe edited by Sabine Karg
This book will forever remind me of two (eventful) weeks in the Baltic last year on a family cruise with my future parents-in-law. After spending the first night at anchor in the English Channel while a temporary fix was made to a broken steering pump, the ship changed course and headed to Copenhagen ahead of schedule to get it fixed. I’m very glad it did. Not only does Copenhagen have a fantastic archaeology museum but I forked out to buy this book. It turned out to be an archaeo-botanical guide to the route of the cruise, giving me a whole new outlook for the shore visits. This was especially so for Tallinn, where in the middle of our Medieval lunch Nick proposed. I said ‘yes’ and then promptly continued to explain the archaeobotanical evidence for our lunch…
Suzi Richer is an environmental archaeologist, specialising in pollen analysis. Currently working for Worcestershire Archaeology, she provides a specialist pollen service for internal work and for external clients.