Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Friday, November 4, 2011

Digging for Troy: from Homer to Hisarlik by Jill Rubalcaba and Eric H. Cline

Digging for Troy: from Homer to Hisarlik
by Jill Rubalcaba and Eric H. Cline
Charlesbridge. 2011
ISBN: 9781580893268
Copy reviewed was obtained from the public library

It´s amusing how certain stories go in and out of favor. I want to blame technology eating up more and more of our free time, but I'm not sure that’s fair. I only know that every day I talk with parents who have never read the classic tales of King Arthur, Robin Hood, or the Greek myths. Those classic tales. “I’ve seen the movie, I didn’t know it was also a book!”
Thankfully, with the publication of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, children are once again begging for any book about Greek gods and goddesses. My library's copy of D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths is hardly ever on the shelf! Students also gobble up George O´Connor´s titles: Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess and Zeus: King of the Gods
Once children are introduced to the adventures of these oft-times bothersome deities, I then steer them to books about the Trojan War. I hand them Rosemary Suttcliff´s Black Ships  Before Troy: the story of the Iliad, The Wanderings of Odysseus: the story of the Odyssey or Gareth Hinds graphic novel about The Odyssey. Both excellent introductions to the Homeric epic.
There have been people throughout history. regular folk and historians alike, who have wondered if the Greek gods and the Trojan War really existed. Digging for Troy (a CYBILS nominee) written by author Jill Rubalcaba and Eric H. Cline, PhD. who holds degrees in Classical Archaeology, Near Eastern Archaeology, and Ancient History, have written a readable introduction that offers mythology fans a brief overview about the Trojan War and the people who made it their life´s work to find it.
In the introduction the author´s write:
"All of the archaeologist, professional and amateur, understood that
the mound they were digging through was composed of many layers built
up over time by human occupation after human occupation. There was no
one Troy, but many versions spanning from 3000 BCE through the fall
of the Roman Empire. Each archaeologist refined our understanding of
the layers, which were labeled Troy I-IX, until those 9 phases were
subdivided into 47 occupations, each formed by rebuilding after
destruction, invasion, or abandonment."
Digging began in 1893 with the egotistical Heinrich Schliemann, whose obsession with finding the "real Troy" lead him to destroy many important artifacts. The ones who came after were meticulous with their digging. German archaeologist Manfred Korfmann is responsible for establishing Hisarlik, the area in Turkey where the digging has taken place, into a national park.
Did he find Troy? You’ll have to read this book to find out.
The book, packed with lots of information, is filled with illustrations and photos. This book has a timeline of Troy(I love it!), a bibliography, web sites, source notes, illustration and photo credits, and an index.
Children who wonder if the Greek gods were real, and whether the Trojan war really happened, will be able to make their own decision. The book is a perfect companion for any display or book talk related to the Greek myths.

5 Stars
(Grades 4 and up)

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