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Archaeology Books

Some of the books listed here are available new; others are out-of-print but still available through online book distributors.  Teachers may want to check online book distributors first for less expensive or used copies for books that are in press.  And of course, you could pay a visit to your school or local library to check on the availability of these books.

General Archaeology and Anthropology

Anthropology Explored: The Best of Smithsonian AnthroNotes (Second Edition)  edited by Ruth O. Selig, Marilyn R. London and P. Ann Kaupp.  Is a collection of 36 highly readable and topical essays (including some of the best articles from AnthroNotes Newsletter) written by leading researchers.   Explore the physical, cultural, and linguistic diversity of the world.  Intended for lay readers, the book is divided into three sections: Investigating Our Origins and Variations; Examining Our Archaeological Past; and Exploring Our Many Cultures.  A free teachers guide is available both in print and online.

Archaeological Ethics (Second Edition) edited by Karen D. Vitelli and Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh (2006). Talks about both classic and recent ethical issues in archaeology.  A collection of 21 short articles from Archaeology, American Archaeology, and Expedition magazines that introduces students to issues that archaeologists face every day: looting sites and collecting artifacts; how to respond to looting; how to handle cultural heritage in times of war and political unrest; the relations between archaeologists and native or descendant peoples; reburial and repatriation; and issues of professional conduct and behavior. Teachers will particularly appreciate the list of potential discussion and research questions that follows each article, and the resource guide.  Available through AltaMira Press^DB/CATALOG.db&eqSKUdata=075910963X&thepassedurl=[thepassedurl]

Careers in Anthropology: What An Anthropology Degree Can Do For You by W. Richard Stephens (2001). Ths book follows sixteen people with a degree in Anthropology as they share the details of their career and how it relates to their anthropology background.  The wide range of careers includes: fire fighter, missionary, computer engineer, and environmental consultant. The reader comes away with a sense of the possibilities of a degree in anthropology provides. ISBN 0205319483. 98 p. Grade: high school. Cost: $14.40.  Published by Allyn and Bacon

Kentucky Archaeology edited by R. Barry Lewis (1996).  Presents the prehistoric and historic archaeology of Kentucky for the general reader.  Well-illustrated with drawings, maps, and photographs.  289 p.  Grade: high school.  Cost: $32.00 (ask about education discounts).  Available from The University Press of Kentucky 

Protecting the Past, edited by George S. Smith and John E. Ehrenhard (1991). Written for a diverse audience, the goal of this book is to educate the public on the need to preserve our rich archaeological heritage.  This book presents some thoughts regarding archaeological resource protection in six sections: archaeology and the public; archaeology and the law; archaeological site destruction; protecting archaeological sites through education; archaeological site protection programs; and the future of protecting the past. This book in now out of print, but Southeastern Archeaology Center and the National Parks Service offer a free version online (in MS Word Format) or you can check online book distributors for used copies. 

Rock Art of Kentucky by Fred E. Coy, Jr., Thomas C. Fuller, Larry G. Meadows, and James L. Swauger (1997).  This book describes in words, line drawings, and in black and white photographs 72 of Kentucky's petroglyphs (pictures pecked into stone) and pictographs (pictures painted on stone).  Though the greatest number of these fascinating sites are found in the eastern Kentucky Mountains, rock art sites from all across Kentucky are included.  289 p. Grade: high school.  Cost: $29.95 (ask about education discounts).  Available from The University Press of Kentucky,
Historic Archaeology

Historical Archaeology by Charles E. Orser, Jr. and Brian M. Fagan (1995). Lays out historical archaeology in 12 readable chapters, including: what is historical archaeology, its history of development as a discipline, data collection and methods, and research topics and current issues addressed by historical archaeologists. Many Black and White illustrations. Also includes a guide to further reading, and a glossary. Available through various online book distributors.  

In Small Things Forgotten: The Archaeology Of Early American Life by James Deetz (1977).  Excellent introduction to history, archaeology, and historical archaeology.  Presents case studies that use material culture to understand the lifeways of early Euro-Americans and African-Americans.  Doubleday Publishing


American Indians of the Southeast by Michael Johnson and Illustrated by Richard Hook (2002) This book, published as a part of the Men-At-Arms-Series, provides excellent pictures of what American Indians looked like through time. Each colorful illustration is backed by historical information that assures the accuracy of the artist’s rendering. Osprey Publishing  ISBN: 1-85532-566-7 Cost: $17.95 

American Woodland Indians by Michael Johnson and Illustrated by Richard Hook. (2000) This book, published as a part of the Men-At-Arms-Series, provides excellent pictures of what American Woodland Indians looked like through time. Each colorful illustration is backed by historical information that assures the accuracy of the artist’s rendering.  Osprey Publishing ISBN: 0-85045-999-0 Cost:$17.95

Indian Mounds of The Middle Ohio Valley: A Guide To Mounds and Earthworks of the Adena, Hopewell, Cole and Fort Ancient People by Susan L. Woodward and Jerry N. McDonald (2002).   This book guides readers through an array of publicly accessible mound sites in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia.  It includes reviews the culture, history, and geography of these groups.  The authors also provides pubic access information to the sites.  This edition has been expanded and revised to include almost twice as many sites, and a focus on Cole (Late Woodland) and Fort Ancient (Late Prehistoric) sites.  B&W drawings and color photographs. ISBN 0-939923-72-6. 300 p. Grade: high school. Cost: $24.95.  Available from the McDonald and Woodward Publishing Co   I

Indians of North America series are excellent books written by scholars on the group under consideration (e.g., Cherokee, Iroquois, Seminole, Tecumseh) The books in this 14 volume set include information on the group's history (extending into the 20th century) and lifeways, and are illustrated with many pictures and photos. Cost is $30 a book or the entire set is $378.00.  Published by Chelsea House Publishing

Native Americans: The People and How They Lived by Eloise F. Potter and John B. Funderburg (1986).  This book is filled with wonderful pictures and information on the various prehistoric and historic cultures of North Carolina.  Germane to the study of Kentucky's native peoples in central and eastern Kentucky, given the parallels in prehistoric cultural development.  Published by the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, N.C.  80 p.  Grade: high school.  ISBN: 0917134095 The book is now out of print, but can be found at online used book distributors.   

Tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy by Michael Johnson and Illustrated by Richard Hook. (2002) This book, published as part of the Men-At-Arms-Series, provides excellent pictures of what the members of the Iroquois Confederacy looked like, as well as, colorful history and culture of the Five Nations of north-eastern America.   ISBN: 1841764906 Cost: $17.95

Forensic Anthropology/Archaeology

Bones: A Forensic Detective's Casebook (1992) by Douglas Ubelaker and Henry Scammell.  This book traces the development of the collaboration of the Smithsonian and the FBI and illustrates how forensic anthropology gives voice to the dead.  A fascinating look at how scientists can tell the difference between a fatal stabbing or an ancient burial practice, and how, through the study of bones, they can tell how prehistoric peoples worked, ate, worshipped, lived, and died.  317 pages, index, glossary.  Published by HarperCollins.  The book is now out of print, but can be found at online used book distributors. 

Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist by William R. Maples and Michael Browning (1995).  Completely engrossing journey into the world of forensic anthropology, the science of bones.  It describes how scientists can tell age, gender, and ethnicity of a corpse, and how death occurred, and revisits some of the strangest and most interesting investigations conducted by forensic scientists.  304 pages, index.  Cost: $15.95 hardback. ISBN: 9780385479684 

Lessons from the Dead: The Graveyard as a Classroom for the Study of Life the Cycle by Roberta Halporn (1979).  Covers the various types of historical information that can be retrieved from the study of gravestones.  Good guide that outlines questions for classroom discussion.  Glossary and bibliography.  Highly Specialized Promotions. 58 p.  Out of print but might be available at online used book distributors.  *NOTE: Taking rubbings of tombstones is no longer considered an appropriate activity since it leads to the deterioration of the stones.
Younger Readers

And Still The Turtle Watched by Sheila MacGill-Callahan (1998). This book is a perfect reading accompaniment for grade schoolers as they explore issues of indigenous symbolism, vandalism of cultural resources, and the protection of these resources. A turtle shaped by Delaware Indians from stone on a bluff overlooking a river watches the passing of native to European cultures on the landscape enduring vandalism and encountering preservation. Beautiful watercolor illustrations. Dial Books for Young Readers, A Division of Penguin Books. 375 Hudson St. New York, NY 10014. ISBN 0-8037-0931-5. 16 p. Grade: Elementary. Cost $6.28

Archaeologists Dig For Clues by Kate Duke (1997).  It discusses the purposes, techniques, and findings of archaeology.  The story is about kids (and their pets) participating in an archaeologist-led excavation at a 6,000 year old Archaic village in the Midwest.  Easy to use as a focal point of classroom activities.  The reader experiences everything about what it is like to be an archaeologist.  The perfect book for introducing archaeology to children.  32 p.  Grade: 2-5.  Cost: $5.99.  Available from Harper-Collins Children's Books    

Archaeology for Young Explorers: Uncovering History at Colonial Williamsburg by Patricia Samford and David L. Ribblett (1995).  Excellent, superbly illustrated book that introduces the world of historic archaeology to young readers: how and why historic archaeologists excavate; the various avenues of evidence (artifacts, documents, maps) they use in their search for the past; the kinds of artifacts they find; and how they analyze what they find.  An activity accompanies each chapter.  Children are pictured doing all phases of archaeology.  70 p. Grade: elementary and middle school.  Cost: $9.95.  Available from The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation,    

Contract Archaeology: The Coloring Book Illustrated by: Kris Shepard (2004)  A great coloring book that depict archaeologist at work, artifacts, archaeology equipment, and laboratory activities.  The book has 32 pages of illustrations Cost: $5 ($2.50 ea. when purchased in bulk for educational purposes) Orders can be made online at:    

Cricket Sings: A Novel of Precolumbian Cahokia by Kathleen King (1983).  A story of an aging medicine woman living in a large Mississippian town who confronts dangers posed by powerful priests.  Good book about Mississippian period (A.D. 900-1500) culture.  Even though Cahokia, a large Indian town in Illinois near St. Louis is the setting, the book is appropriate for the study of Indians in Kentucky, since native peoples in western Kentucky pursued a Mississippian way of life.  Suggestions for further reading and glossary are included.  Ohio University Press, Athens, OH.  162 p.  Grade: middle-high school.    

Growing Up Indian by Evelyn Wolfson (1997). Told from a child's perspective and well illustrated by an artist who is himself a descendant of American Indians, this book gives students insight into how early Native Americans would have grown up. Using a question-and-answer format, the book aspect of Native American adolescents.  Walker Publishing Co., New York, NY. ISBN 0802775063. 96 p. Grade: 4-7. 

History Mysteries by James C. Klotter (1989).  Kentucky Humanities Council's New Books for New Readers Series.  Asks the reader to play detective in four mysteries from Kentucky's past about James Harrod, Tecumseh, "Honest Dick" Tate, and William Goebel.  The University Press of Kentucky, 663 South Limestone Street, Lexington, KY, 40506-0036.  64 p.  Grade: elementary.  Cost: $5.95      

Homeplace by Anne Shelby (1995).  This colorful and delightful book chronicles the lives of one family across several generations: the changes in their way of life and the changes their house undergoes.   It is beautifully illustrated with richly detailed scenes of farm life and material culture.  The book reflects the variety of lifeways historical archaeologists stud.  31 p.  Grade: 1-3. .  Published by Orchard Books of New York.  The book is now out of print, but can be found at online used book distributors. (Take a look at the book and illustrations available at:    

Home Place by Crescent Dragonwagon (1993).  While out hiking, a family comes upon the site of an old house and finds clues about the people who once lived there.  Beautifully illustrated with watercolor drawings.  30 p.  Grades: 4-6.  
(You can also enjoy a the great story behind Mrs. Dragonwagon’s unique name at:

I Can Be An Archaeologist by Robert B. Pickering (1987).  This book introduces in simple text archaeological terms and concepts with lots of good color pictures.  Includes a short glossary of archaeological terms.  Check out the Reading Rainbow review: 

Itse Selu: Cherokee Harvest Festival by Daniel Pennington (1994).  Cherokee, archaeologists, and historians worked together to prepare this richly illustrated story of daily life of Little Wolfe and his sister, Skye.  The focus is on the Cherokee's Green Corn (harvest) Festival ceremonies and stories.  Eastern Band of Cherokee vocabulary words used throughout and a Cherokee syllabary is included, as well as drawings of native technology, dress, and houses that are faithful to historical and archaeological research.  An excellent book!  Published by Charlesbridge, Watertown, MA.  32 p.  Grade: elementary.  Cost: $7.95 (paperback). 

Kentuckians Before Boone by A. Gwynn Henderson (1992).  Kentucky Humanities Council's New Books for New Readers Series.  Follows one Indian family's life during late summer and early fall of 1585 in central Kentucky.  Based on archaeological, ethnohistoric, and historic information about central and eastern Kentucky's village farming peoples known as the Fort Ancient people. 64 p. Grade: elementary.     

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton (1942).  A house built to last through the generations witnesses the landscape around it as it changes from rural to urban.  The book isn't directly archaeological, but does show how environments change over time and the importance of preserving history.  Available from Houghton Mifflin Company.  Grade: elementary   

The Magic School Bus Shows and Tells: A Book about Archaeology by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degen (1997). When one of Ms. Frizzle’s students show up to the class show and tell with an old artifact that no one can identify, the students formulate hypotheses about the strange object . A fieldtrip in the Magic School Bus helps the students ‘dig’ up the truth about the strange artifact.   Published by Scholastic, ISBN 0-590-92242-4. 30 p. Paperback. Grade: elementary. The book is now out of print, but can be found at online used book distributors.

Motel of the Mysteries by David Macauley (1979). This book is a cleverly illustrated archaeological satire. In the year 4022, Howard Carson excavates fragments of the lost civilization of "Usa" in Room #26 at the Motel of the Mysteries, including a supposed tomb protected by a sacred seal ("Do Not Disturb" sign). An elaborate and logically-constructed chain of inferences based on partial evidence leads to totally incorrect conclusions about "Usa". This book provides insights into the intricacies and pitfalls of archaeological research. Published by Houghton Mifflin ISBN 0-395-28425-2. 95 p. Paperback. Grade: 6-adult. 

Our House by Emma and Paul Rogers (1991).  Traces the history of a stone house and its occupants from its construction in 1780, through various additions in 1840, 1910, and 1990.  Beautifully illustrated.  Grade: elementary.  The book is now out of print, but can be found at online used book distributors. 

The Usborne Young Scientist: Archaeology by Barbara Cork and Struan Reid (1984).  Presents archaeological terms, techniques, and activities in short summaries.  The compactness of illustrations and text sometimes makes it difficult to read, but it has lots of good information.  Available from Usborne Publishing, Ltd. Grade: middle school.  The book is now out of print, but can be found at online used book distributors. 

Who Were the First North Americans? (a book in the Usborne Starting Point History Series) by Philippa Wingate and Struan Reid (1995).  Using a question and answer format, and color illustrations, this very readable book presents the diversity of American Indian cultures and lifeways; the impact of Europeans on native cultures; and issues of importance to Indians today.  The compactness of illustrations and text sometimes makes it difficult to follow the test, but it has lots of good information.  Published in the USA by EDC Publishing, 32 p.  Grade: elementary and middle school.  Cost: $4.95 (paperback).


Last Updated 2/20/2010