Cover image for Past lives : unlocking the secrets of our ancestors
Past lives : unlocking the secrets of our ancestors
Wilson, Ian, 1941-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London : Cassell, 2001.
Physical Description:
216 pages : illustrations (chiefly color), portraits ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GN69.8 .W55 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Recent scientific breakthroughs make it possible to know what people looked like in China 500,000 years ago, or how tribes reared their children in Texas 8,000 years ago, or how priestesses performed sacrifices 1,600 years ago. You've probably heard of the "Iceman" of 3,000 B.C. who was found almost perfectly preserved in a glacier. That's only the beginning--you can see artists' drawings and read expert explanations about what it was like to be a warrior queen in 500 B.C., a Roman sailor in the time of Christ, or a teenager who died in the Wars of the Roses. Know--and see--how your ancestors ate, dressed, built their homes and villages, worshipped, played games, and made war and love.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

Despite the supernatural-sounding title, this profusely illustrated volume is a solid, well-researched examination of new techniques for reconstructing the appearance of our ancestors, whether ancient or recent. The book offers a series of case studies that examine efforts by historians and reconstruction artists to give faces to the skulls of various longdead individuals. Here we meet an English farmer who died more than two millennia ago; Robert the Bruce, the fourteenth-century Scottish king; a Minoan priestess, dead for 3,600 years; and many others. We also meet the experts who, using a combination of science and artistic guesswork, bring these faces in history back to life. It's a fascinating subject--in learning more about what humans looked like in the distant past, we can also learn more about how they lived--and Wilson tells the story well, with some dramatic flair but mostly with solid scholarship. Recommended for readers with special interest in history, archaeology, and the forensic sciences. --David Pitt