As the title of his new book promises, Eric Cline’s goal in Three Stones Make a Wall is to tell “the story of archaeology.” Fortunately for the readers of this excellent volume, Cline is a skilled storyteller who brings many of the great discoveries in world archaeology to life. He also provides an overview of archaeological theory, methodology, and policy that is informative and entertaining to lay readers and experts alike.
An archaeologist with more than 30 seasons of excavation experience, Cline is also Professor of Classics and Anthropology at The George Washington University. In 19 chapters and four interludes (called “Digging Deeper”), Cline describes important archaeological discoveries worldwide but focuses on his main areas of archaeological interest: the Middle East and the Aegean. He immediately grabs the reader’s attention with a prologue on British archaeologist Howard Carter’s discovery of the ancient Egyptian tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in 1922 and holds our attention throughout Part I—“Early Archaeology and Archaeologists”—which covers discoveries at Pompeii, Troy, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Central America and the personalities who made them. Although these will be familiar stories to many BAR readers, Cline tells them in a new way, offering anecdotes and inside information along with up-to-date research on sites first excavated a century ago or more. This approach continues through the rest of the book in sections on human origins and early farming, the Bronze Age Aegean, Greece and Rome, the Holy Land, and New World archaeology.