Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ladies of the Field: Early Women Archaeologists and Their Search for Adventure by Amanda Adams

Ladies of the Field: Early Women Archaeologists and Their Search for Adventure by Amanda Adams
Publisher:  Greystone Books
Pages: 192
Rating: 5/5

     The first women archaeologists were Victorian era adventurers who felt most at home when farthest from in.  Canvas tents were their domains, hot Middle Eastern deserts their gardens of inquiry and labor. Thanks to them, prevailing ideas about feminine nature - soft, nurturing submissive - were upended. Ladies of the Field tells the story of seven remarkable women, each a pioneering archaeologist, each headstrong, smart and courageous who burst into what was then a very young science.  Amanda Adams takes us with them as they hack away at underbrush under a blazing sun, battle swarms of biting bugs, travel on camel-back for weeks on end, and feel the excitement of unearthing history at an archaeological site. Adams also reveals the dreams of these extraordinary women, their love of the field, their passion for holding the past in their hands, their fascination with human origins and their utter disregard for convention. (from Shelfari)

Whenever I have been asked what I want to be when I grow up, I have always answered archaeologist.  Something about the adventure and monotony of archaeology attracted my attention as a toddler and remains to this day.  So when I saw this book at my local library, I had to pick it up.  Before this book, I didn't know of any female archaeologists but now I know of 7 amazing ones.  In Ladies of the Field, Adams does a fantastic job of outlining these women's archaeological accomplishments as well as their lives.  The seven female archaeologist examined in that novel are Amelia Edwards, Jane Dieulafoy, Zelia Nuttall, Gertrude Bell, Harriet Boyd Hawes, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy Garrod.  For each woman, Adams tells of their life-long struggles, romantic interests, career paths, education, opposition to typical female stereotypes, and, of course, their contribution to archaeology.  While it was definitely interesting to learn about the contributions these women have made to history, it was more inspiring than informative.  Reading about how these women overcame Victorian stereotypes to follow their passion has inspired me to continue to aspire for a career in this field.  If you're looking for some female empowerment I would definitely recommend this book.  I know the stories of these women will be a source of inspiration for me.

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