My favourite archaeology books: #1 The Oxford Classical Dictionary

booksOk the Oxford Classical Dictionary isn’t strictly an archaeology book but my initial brush with archaeology came when I was doing a Classical Studies major as an undergrad.

Why Classical Studies?  Well initially it was because of the literature- have you actually read any Greek Tragedy?  Aeschylus’ Agamemnon is amazing!!!

The play, with the chorus set to music and all the fake beards you could ask for, was presented in Greek by an all male undergraduate cast at the University of Sidney in June of 1886.

The play, with the chorus set to music and all the fake beards you could ask for, was presented in Greek by an all male undergraduate cast at the University of Sidney in June of 1886.
(University of Sydney Archives)

Then I started taking Art and History of Ancient Greece and Rome, realized that there was a lot of overlap between the two and that overlap was where Archaeology lived.  Pretty soon I was away on a dig and hooked on Archaeology.

So my first Archaeology book is only Archaeology semi-adjacent.  Still the Oxford Classical Dictionary is a font of information and still represents the best place to start any sort of research on anything or any place Ancient Greece or Roman society, empire, cultures might have had some contact with.

The 'Sappho Fresco'

“All this ancient knowledge is getting me excited”
The ‘Sappho Fresco

As I used to tell my students “The Oxford Classical Dictionary is online and subscribed to by our University, on Google Books, it’s in our Reference Library and available through our library as an E-Book.  With all these ways to access the OCD (yep), there’s no excuse for using Wikipedia instead!”  I imagine myself  saying this while wagging my finger…so that’s probably what happened.

ScoldingChild

Ok there are rare times when its ok to use Wikipedia– but for undergrads Wikipedia is about as helpful as the Arc of the Covenant was to the Nazi’s in that Indiana Jone’s Film

It’s a bit of an understatement to say that the Oxford Classical Dictionary is a font of information.  What term is greater than font? Uber-font?

The Oxford Classical Dictionary seemed to hold some sort of mystical power and when I was starting research papers in undergrad I would approach the OCD like I would the chance to visit the Great Library of Alexandria– all the ANCIENT KNOWLEDGE!

More mystical than an Ancient Egyptian guy balancing on a crocodile.  Also Manly P. Hall is Canadian and his story is kind of cool.

More mystical than an Ancient Egyptian guy balancing on a crocodile.
Also Manly P. Hall is Canadian and his story is kind of cool – Carl Jung used to consult his personal library for goodness sakes!

Of course I wanted all that knowledge for my very own precious!  The OCD was a much happily received Christmas gift of  2000.  I still love jumping from reference to reference and getting lost down the rabbit hole of knowledge.

So Archeology Book or not the Oxford Classical Dictionary is still MY favourite Archaeology Book.

What’s your favourite Archaeology Book?

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3 responses to “My favourite archaeology books: #1 The Oxford Classical Dictionary

  1. A fun post to read and good inspiration for all of us who have students to teach! I think my favourite archaeology book must be “Prehistoric Figurines: Representation and Corporeality in the Neolithic”, by D. Bailey, for the wide array of things which are brought together in order to talk about representations.

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