I dig, I dig
March 7, 2010 6:54 AM   Subscribe

Looking for recommendations on novels/nonfiction about (ideally modern or underwater) archaeology.

Since a very early age I've been fascinated by archaeology--not the swashbuckling, Indiana-Jones type, but the systematic, deliberate, site-plotting-and-trowel-scraping middle-school-archaeology-camp kind.

Here's the catch. It's not ancient archaeology that I find so compelling, but relatively modern archaeology: colonial America, for example, or Industrial England, or post-15th-century sunken ships, or early landfills. The sunken city of Port Royal, Jamaica, is exemplary of what I like---a place instantly frozen in time and swallowed by the sea. Is "archaeological procedural" a genre?

Anyway, reading or listening via audiobook about these things is endlessly fascinating, but it's an experience somewhat hard to come by. What novels or narrative nonfiction do you know of that might help satisfy this long-time literary fetish?

Examples I've enjoyed:
• Preston & Child's "Riptide" (about, in all but name, the Money Pit)
• Clive Cussler ("Raise the Titanic" and "Sahara," specifically)
• Kurson's "Shadow Divers"
• Preston & Child's "Cabinet of Curiosities" (basement excavation)

Apologies for the odd question. Figured it was worth a shot. Thanks, MeFi!
posted by MimeticHaHa to Writing & Language (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Read "Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea". Super riveting. About a guy inventing a whole new industry for recovering boats and artifacts from extremely deep water.
posted by asavage at 6:57 AM on March 7, 2010

Arturo Perez-Reverte's The Nautical Chart deals with the search for a Jesuit treasure ship lost in the 17th C. More of the action is taken up with finding the ship (there is a chart that must not only be read, but converted to modern units of measurement) and various kinds of skulduggery than actually going down to the ship (as I recall), and it's not Perez-Reverte's best novel by a long shot, but you might want to check it out and see if it floats your boat (as it were).
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:08 AM on March 7, 2010

In c.s. Foresters Lieutenant Hornblower - unless it is one of the others - he has to bring gold up from a sunken ship. It's a fun read with technical details to boot.
posted by mearls at 7:45 AM on March 7, 2010

Clive Cussler's Sea Hunters is a great book, I think there is also a sequel. It's half fictional narative and half non-fiction on their attempt to raise a bunch of shipwrecks, its a thick book but a very easy and enjoyable read.
posted by Scientifik at 9:11 AM on March 7, 2010

As far as non-fiction, you can get a complete 120 years of back issues of National Geographic on DVD for $60. I have the earlier 110 years on CD version, and while the scan resolution isn't the greatest, it's good enough.
posted by fings at 9:35 AM on March 7, 2010

Scientifik, you're actually thinking of Hornblower and the Atropos. It's definitely a fun book, though politically dated and obviously, fictional rather than non.
posted by bettafish at 11:32 AM on March 7, 2010

There's Barbara Michaels's Be Buried in the Rain, in which there's a dig at an early American colonial site taking place - though this is a sub-plot really. Also Nora Roberts's The Reef, about marine archaeology, though I didn't think the book was very good, and also can't remember the date of the wreck - it may be pre-16thc.
posted by paduasoy at 1:28 PM on March 7, 2010

Bettafish, no I am not, I'm thinking of Sea Hunters.
posted by Scientifik at 1:50 PM on March 7, 2010

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