100 books like Spooky Archaeology

By Jeb J. Card,

Here are 100 books that Spooky Archaeology fans have personally recommended if you like Spooky Archaeology. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Mound Builder Myth: Fake History and the Hunt for a Lost White Race

Kenneth L. Feder Author Of Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology

From my list on frauds, myths, and claims about human antiquity.

Why am I passionate about this?

My fascination with the ancient past began when I was four years old and wanted to be a dinosaur, specifically a Tyrannosaurus rex. When it became clear that this option was not open to me, I decided instead to become an archaeologist. Archaeologists don’t study dinosaurs, but instead investigate human antiquity. When I began my 40+ years of teaching archaeology, I asked students what topics they wanted covered in class. Invariably they expressed an interest in things like ancient astronauts, Atlantis, Stonehenge, and pyramids. This led me to a career-long study of strange claims about the human past, it provided the raw material for multiple books on the subject.

Kenneth's book list on frauds, myths, and claims about human antiquity

Kenneth L. Feder Why did Kenneth love this book?

As part of my “fifty sites project” for another book, I visited the best-known Native American earthwork sites in the American Midwest including: precisely crafted conical burial mounds; enormous, flat-topped “platform mounds;” embanked enclosures; and remarkable effigies in the shapes of birds, bears, and snakes. I was awed by their beauty and sophistication, but, sadly, settlers did not always view them as the work of Native People. Prolific author Jason Colavito conducts a deep dive into the racist roots of the myth of a “lost race” of ancient inhabitants of America who were claimed by some to have built those earthworks. Colavito brilliantly deconstructs the myth of a lost race of mound builders and gives due credit to the true authors of those earthworks, America’s Native People.

By Jason Colavito,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mound Builder Myth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Say you found that a few dozen people, operating at the highest levels of society, conspired to create a false ancient history of the American continent to promote a religious, white-supremacist agenda in the service of supposedly patriotic ideals. Would you call it fake news? In nineteenth-century America, this was in fact a powerful truth that shaped Manifest Destiny. The Mound Builder Myth is the first book to chronicle the attempt to recast the Native American burial mounds as the work of a lost white race of ""true"" native Americans.

Thomas Jefferson's pioneering archaeology concluded that the earthen mounds were…


Book cover of The Place of Stone: Dighton Rock and the Erasure of America's Indigenous Past

Kenneth L. Feder Author Of Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology

From my list on frauds, myths, and claims about human antiquity.

Why am I passionate about this?

My fascination with the ancient past began when I was four years old and wanted to be a dinosaur, specifically a Tyrannosaurus rex. When it became clear that this option was not open to me, I decided instead to become an archaeologist. Archaeologists don’t study dinosaurs, but instead investigate human antiquity. When I began my 40+ years of teaching archaeology, I asked students what topics they wanted covered in class. Invariably they expressed an interest in things like ancient astronauts, Atlantis, Stonehenge, and pyramids. This led me to a career-long study of strange claims about the human past, it provided the raw material for multiple books on the subject.

Kenneth's book list on frauds, myths, and claims about human antiquity

Kenneth L. Feder Why did Kenneth love this book?

Dighton Rock in Massachusetts is covered in incised images, some in geometric patterns, others in the shape of animals, and others still depicting human-like figures. It’s fascinating and, like many before me, when I saw it I wondered about the meaning and origin of that rock writing. As soon as European settlers encountered the artifact in the seventeenth century, they vigorously contested its origins. Some claimed the highly eroded markings reflected an assortment of Old World languages including Phoenician and Norse. Others asserted that its message recorded the presence of Portuguese explorers in the early 1500s. Author Douglas Hunter shines an investigative light on Dighton Rock, masterfully debunking all of these speculations, proving the rock’s messages should be credited to the Native People of New England.

By Douglas Hunter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Place of Stone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Claimed by many to be the most frequently documented artifact in American archeology, Dighton Rock is a forty-ton boulder covered in petroglyphs in southern Massachusetts. First noted by New England colonists in 1680, the rock's markings have been debated endlessly by scholars and everyday people alike on both sides of the Atlantic. The glyphs have been erroneously assigned to an array of non-Indigenous cultures: Norsemen, Egyptians, Lost Tribes of Israel, vanished Portuguese explorers, and even a prince from Atlantis.

In this fascinating story rich in personalities and memorable characters, Douglas Hunter uses Dighton Rock to reveal the long, complex history…


Book cover of A Colossal Hoax: The Giant from Cardiff that Fooled America

Kenneth L. Feder Author Of Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology

From my list on frauds, myths, and claims about human antiquity.

Why am I passionate about this?

My fascination with the ancient past began when I was four years old and wanted to be a dinosaur, specifically a Tyrannosaurus rex. When it became clear that this option was not open to me, I decided instead to become an archaeologist. Archaeologists don’t study dinosaurs, but instead investigate human antiquity. When I began my 40+ years of teaching archaeology, I asked students what topics they wanted covered in class. Invariably they expressed an interest in things like ancient astronauts, Atlantis, Stonehenge, and pyramids. This led me to a career-long study of strange claims about the human past, it provided the raw material for multiple books on the subject.

Kenneth's book list on frauds, myths, and claims about human antiquity

Kenneth L. Feder Why did Kenneth love this book?

I was only 9 or 10 years old when I first saw the Cardiff Giant at the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown, New York. I was enthralled by the recumbent ten-foot tall stone man and his story continues to fascinate me. Though it pales in comparison to the famous Piltdown Man fraud in terms of its longevity and archaeological significance, as Scott Tribble shows in his informative and entertaining book, the Cardiff Giant hoax of 1869 was much funnier. Deemed by some to be the remains of a biblical giant, thousands of dollars were made from its exhibition until a cigar manufacturer in Binghamton, New York admitted to crafting it. P.T. Barnum tried to buy it. Mark Twain penned a short story about it. And Scott Tribble wrote this marvelous book about it.

By Scott Tribble,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Colossal Hoax as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In October 1869, as America stood on the brink of becoming a thoroughly modern nation, workers unearthed what appeared to be a petrified ten-foot giant on a remote farm in upstate New York. The discovery caused a sensation. Over the next several months, newspapers devoted daily headlines to the story and tens of thousands of Americans-including Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the great showman P. T. Barnum-flocked to see the giant on exhibition. In the colossus, many saw evidence that their continent, and the tiny hamlet of Cardiff, had ties to Biblical history. American science also weighed in…


Book cover of The Atlantis Syndrome

Kenneth L. Feder Author Of Frauds, Myths, and Mysteries: Science and Pseudoscience in Archaeology

From my list on frauds, myths, and claims about human antiquity.

Why am I passionate about this?

My fascination with the ancient past began when I was four years old and wanted to be a dinosaur, specifically a Tyrannosaurus rex. When it became clear that this option was not open to me, I decided instead to become an archaeologist. Archaeologists don’t study dinosaurs, but instead investigate human antiquity. When I began my 40+ years of teaching archaeology, I asked students what topics they wanted covered in class. Invariably they expressed an interest in things like ancient astronauts, Atlantis, Stonehenge, and pyramids. This led me to a career-long study of strange claims about the human past, it provided the raw material for multiple books on the subject.

Kenneth's book list on frauds, myths, and claims about human antiquity

Kenneth L. Feder Why did Kenneth love this book?

Whenever I encounter people who interrogate me concerning my archaeological skepticism that the “Lost Continent of Atlantis,” as described by Greek philosopher Plato in about 360 BC, was a real place or even one loosely based on an actual historical event, I invariably direct them to Paul Jordan’s thorough and definitive book. “But didn’t Plato say that Atlantis was real?” they ask. Nope. “But don’t ancient civilizations share so much in common they must have derived their cultures from a single source, Atlantis?” Nope. “But didn’t Plato base his discussion of Atlantis on the catastrophic destruction of the Minoan civilization?” Nope. Why all my “nopes?” Read Jordan’s authoritative book to find out. He is a terrific researcher and a damn good writer.

By Paul Jordan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Atlantis Syndrome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work unravels the whole Atlantis mythology, starting with the first reference to it in the works of Plato in about 360BC. It follows the evolution of the idea through classical times and the Middle Ages, and shows how the modern approach to the story was pioneered by an Italian poet in 1530.


Book cover of Beastly Questions: Animal Answers to Archaeological Issues

Sally Coulthard Author Of A Brief History of the Countryside in 100 Objects

From my list on superstitions, sacrifice, and folk history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having lived in the countryside for more than two decades and fallen for its charms, I find myself fascinated by its heritage. Rural history is often overlooked for the grand stories of royalty, urban life, and warfare. For me, the archaeology and history that speaks of daily life, practical struggles, and the humanity of people–that’s what really switches me on. I constantly yearn to get inside the minds of our ancestors to try and understand how they saw the world. Whether that’s strange superstitions or ingenious inventions, it’s all part of what it means to be human.

Sally's book list on superstitions, sacrifice, and folk history

Sally Coulthard Why did Sally love this book?

Since hunter-gatherer times, our relationship with animals has been full of contradictions. We relied on them not only as a source of food and traction but also worshipped and deified creatures through the millennia.

This feisty and, at times, refreshingly irreverent book pulls together everything we know about the cultural history of human-animal relationships, from pampered pets to sacrificial offerings.

By Naomi Sykes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Beastly Questions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Zooarchaeology, the study of ancient animals, is a frequently side-lined subject in archaeology. This 'important and provocative' volume, now available in paperback, provides a crucial reversal of this bizarre situation - 'bizarre' because the archaeological record is composed largely of debris from human-animal relationships (be they in the form of animal bones, individual artifacts or entire landscapes) and many disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, and geography, recognise human-animal interactions as a key source of information for understanding cultural ideology. By integrating knowledge from archaeological remains with evidence from texts, iconography, social anthropology and cultural geography, Beastly Questions: Animal Answers to Archaeological…


Book cover of Redeeming the Reclusive Earl

Rose Prendeville Author Of Mistress Mackintosh and the Shaw Wretch

From my list on smart, feisty heroines not cowed by social mores.

Why am I passionate about this?

When we were young and naughty, our parents only had to give my sister The Look, and she’d burst into tears. Me, I would stare right back at them and demand, “What?” Fiercely. In fact I often got in trouble for “arguing,” (when all I was really trying to do was make my case because I felt misunderstood). These days people describe me as someone who doesn’t care what other people think. I forge my own path, staunchly, proudly, and so I am drawn to heroines who do the same, who fly in the face of societal expectations to fight for truth and science and what is right.

Rose's book list on smart, feisty heroines not cowed by social mores

Rose Prendeville Why did Rose love this book?

I was taken by this book from the moment I read the description. An intrepid archaeologist and fossil hunter trespassing on the lands of a hermit who literally wants her to get off his lawn? What could possibly go wrong! In Effie we have another heroine who is interested in science, knows her own biology, and is quite willing to explore it with the right sort of man. She’s a virgin, but she’s not a wilting young flower. She’s more of a curious pragmatist. In Max we have another damaged hero, and oh my goodness I am a sucker for a hero with terrible events in his past which have left him with physical scars as well as mental ones. I also love a good grumpy sunshine trope.

By Virginia Heath,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Redeeming the Reclusive Earl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

His heart is a fortress.

And she's trespassing!

After losing all he holds dear in a horrific fire, Max Aldersley, Earl of Rivenhall, shuns the world - until he catches Effie Nithercott digging holes on his estate! He banishes the intrepid archaeologist and the disturbing feelings she rouses within him. But she returns even more determined and infuriatingly desirable than before! He's determined she'll never reach the man beneath the scars...no matter how deep she digs!


Book cover of Digging Up Britain: A New History in Ten Extraordinary Discoveries

Charlotte Mullins Author Of A Little History of Art

From my list on the British landscape.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Yorkshire and spent many happy hours as a teenager wandering about the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, looking at giant Henry Moores in the rolling landscape. I subsequently trained as an art historian and have spent the last thirty years writing about art, from the YBAs to our prehistoric roots. A Little History of Art was borne out of this journey. Increasingly I have been drawn to researching what art can tell us about British history. My bookshelves groan with monographs but these five volumes have helped me think more deeply about Britain’s landscapes and its past. I hope they will do the same for you.

Charlotte's book list on the British landscape

Charlotte Mullins Why did Charlotte love this book?

I first read this book when I was trying to pull together all the disparate locations, time periods, and art movements for my book.

This task was a little overwhelming and Digging Up Britain taught me how to make choices about what to include and what to leave out, how to weave it all into a narrative that makes sense, and how to bring prehistory to life.

Unusually, this book travels back in time as we travel through it. It is like an archaeological dig – we start with the Vikings and then the Staffordshire Hoard but end up with the Star Carr deer hunters and a million years of history.

It is a book you can dip into or read cover to cover (as I did) and it has some good illustrations and maps throughout. 

By Mike Pitts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Digging Up Britain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Britain has long been fascinated with its own history and identity, as an island nation besieged by invaders from beyond the seas: the Romans, Vikings and Normans. The long saga of prehistory is often forgotten - but our understanding of our past is changing.

Mike Pitts presents ten astounding archaeological discoveries that shed new light on those who came before us, and radically altered the way we think about our history. His compelling, sometimes teasing, archaeological odyssey illustrates the diversity, complexity and sheer strangeness of the lives that represent Britain's past.

With 79 illustrations, 24 in colour


Book cover of Knossos & the Prophets of Modernism

Alice Beck Kehoe Author Of Girl Archaeologist: Sisterhood in a Sexist Profession

From my list on revealing the history of archaeology.

Why am I passionate about this?

Observant of the world around me, and intellectual, I discovered my ideal way of life at age 16 when I read Kroeber's massive textbook Anthropology, 1948 edition. Anthropologists study everything human, everywhere and all time. Archaeology particularly appealed to me because it is outdoors, physical, plus its data are only the residue of human activities, challenging us to figure out what those people, that place and time, did and maybe thought. As a woman from before the Civil Rights Act, a career was discouraged; instead, I did fieldwork with my husband, and on my own, worked with First Nations communities on ethnohistorical research. Maverick, uppity, unstoppable, like in these books.

Alice's book list on revealing the history of archaeology

Alice Beck Kehoe Why did Alice love this book?

Palace of King Minos at Knossos on Crete seized the imaginations of scores of modernist writers, artists, psychoanalysts, and philosophers as wealthy English archaeologist Arthur Evans had its ruins disinterred and reconstructed with reinforced concrete, a novel building material in the early twentieth century. Evans' imaginative palace complex is today mobbed by tourists (I recommend going off-season in January, as I did) who revere the Aegean as the birthplace of Civilization. Gere ties it in to Modernist projects rejecting Victorian overstuffed ornamentations in favor of supposed ancient purity. Her fascinating documentation of culture leaders from Freud to Le Corbusier buying into Evans' myth of an idealized past embeds archaeology in arts and humanities fashions that still confuse speculation with history.

By Cathy Gere,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Knossos & the Prophets of Modernism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the spring of 1900, British archaeologist Arthur Evans began to excavate the palace of Knossos on Crete, bringing ancient Greek legends to life just as a new century dawned amid far-reaching questions about human history, art, and culture. With Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism, Cathy Gere relates the fascinating story of Evans' excavation and its long-term effects on Western culture. After World War I left the Enlightenment dream in tatters, the lost paradise that Evans offered in the concrete labyrinth - pacifist and matriarchal, pagan and cosmic - seemed to offer a new way forward for writers, artists,…


Book cover of Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society

Ilan Pappé Author Of Ten Myths About Israel

From my list on understanding modern Palestine.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ilan Pappé is a professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter. He was formerly a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Haifa. He is the author of The Ethnic Cleansing of PalestineThe Modern Middle EastA History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples, and Britain and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.

Ilan's book list on understanding modern Palestine

Ilan Pappé Why did Ilan love this book?

The Israeli narrative is particularly strong among Christain and Jewish communities due to a tale full of fabrications that stretches back to ancient times. This methodical and erudite research exposes the role of archeology in providing "scientific" scaffolding for that tale. 


By Nadia Abu El-Haj,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Facts on the Ground as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Archaeology in Israel is truly a national obsession, a practice through which national identity-and national rights-have long been asserted. But how and why did archaeology emerge as such a pervasive force there? How can the practices of archaeology help answer those questions? In this stirring book, Nadia Abu El-Haj addresses these questions and specifies for the first time the relationship between national ideology, colonial settlement, and the production of historical knowledge. She analyzes particular instances of history, artifacts, and landscapes in the making to show how archaeology helped not only to legitimize cultural and political visions but, far more powerfully,…


Book cover of Mimbres Lives and Landscapes

Stephen H. Lekson Author Of A History of the Ancient Southwest

From my list on southwestern archaeology.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was Curator of Archaeology at the Museum of Natural History, University of Colorado, Boulder; recently retired.  Before landing at the University of Colorado, I held research, curatorial, or administrative positions with the University of Tennessee, Eastern New Mexico University, National Park Service Chaco Project, Arizona State Museum, Museum of New Mexico, and Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.  Over four decades, I directed more than 20 archaeological projects throughout the Southwest. I wrote a dozen books, chapters in many edited volumes, and scores of articles in journals and magazines. While many of these were technical treatises, I also tried to write scholarly books accessible to normal intelligent readers.  

Stephen's book list on southwestern archaeology

Stephen H. Lekson Why did Stephen love this book?

My archaeological career began in 1971 in the Mimbres region of Southwestern New Mexico. I continued to work in the area, on and off, until 2013. Along the way, I wrote four books and many chapters/articles about Mimbres, and I formed some strong opinions on ancient Mimbres history.

Centered in the Mimbres River valley, the Mimbres built about twenty sizable stone villages at the same time as Chaco Canyon, from 1000 to 1125. Their towns were notably large for the time, fueled by sophisticated canal irrigation (probably adopted from the Hohokam, see above). But Mimbres is most famous for its remarkable black-on-white pottery: artfully-painted bowl interiors show bugs, fish, antelopes, birds, and people – people doing things, tableaus of daily life, esoteric rituals, mythical events. These images appeal strongly to us, today. In ancient times, however, Mimbres bowls and Mimbres art seems to have been limited to the Mimbres region…

By Margaret C. Nelson (editor), Michelle Hegmon (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mimbres Lives and Landscapes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

People have called the mountains, rolling hills, wide valleys, and broad desert plains of southwestern New Mexico home for at least ten thousand years. When they began to farm a little over two thousand years ago, they settled near the rich soils in the river floodplains. Then, around 900, the people of this region burned all of their kivas and started gathering in large villages with small ritual spaces and open plazas. Between 900 and about 1100, they also made the intricately painted geometric and figurative bowls today called Mimbres, their best-known legacy. Then, in the 1130s, they stopped making…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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