Ancient Civilizations

V-Mail: Letters from the Romans at Vinodalanda Fort near Hadrian’s Wall
by Katherine Hoare
(The British Museum Press)
The letters found at Vindolanda are one of the most amazing finds from Roman Britain. Written on small, thin pieces of wood, they are the sort of quick note we now write in email – birthday party invitations, shopping lists, gossipy letters and orders for supplies. In this book, each double page spread starts with an extract from one of the letters and then goes on to provide more information on the topic it covers, sometimes referring to other letters too. So the birthday party invitation explains who the people were in the letter and talks about family life at the fort while a shopping list triggers as section on Roman food and weights and measures. Illustrated throughout by photographs of real Roman artefacts, this book gives a real feel for life in Roman Britain and shows how the people of that time had similar interests and priorities to us. Written for confident readers – those with less confidence will need help from an adult.
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The Indus Valley Civilisation
by Rhona Dick (Evans)
Children’s books on ancient civilisations are dominated by Greece, Rome and Egypt, so it’s a delightful change to find one on about a different part of the world. (The Indus flows from Tibet, through what is now Kashmir and Pakistan to the Arabian Sea). This book concentrates on the archaeological findings in the area and the way archaeologists have used them to piece together a picture of life at that time. It emphasises that knowledge is limited and interpretations vary, even encouraging the reader to come up with their own ideas about some objects. This is useful addition to any library and particularly interesting to budding archaeologists and children with family ties to the region.
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Rome in Spectacular Cross Section
by Stephen Biesty
(Oxford University Press)
Each double paged spread in this book is devoted to a detailed picture of part of Roman life – a rich man’s house, the forum, the baths and many more. Each one is cut away to show the inside of the building as well as the outside and each is packed with tiny details so the more you look,
the more you spot. There is so much information in the pictures themselves that even weak readers can use this book as a source of information.
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Horrible Histories
by Terry Deary
This series has probably done more to interest children in history than any other books on the market. Terry Deary invented a genre when he created the first one and stresses that they are about people rather than dates. The jokey writing style is easy to read and broken up by loads of cartoon illustrations and the occasional quiz while the fascinating and often gruesome facts give a good feel of what it was like to live in one of the ancient civilizations. Not a source of pictures for projects but great for building enthusiasm and interest.
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A Visitor’s Guide to Ancient Rome
by Lesley Sims
As the name suggests, this book is written in the style of a travel guide complete with tips for tourists, useful phrases and advice on what to do if you become ill. It’s packed with fascinating facts on everyday life in Ancient Rome presented a light-hearted, highly accessible way which
is likely to tempt even unenthusiastic history students. A worthy winner of the TES Information Book Award 2000.
Ages 9-adult
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Pompeii – The Day a City was Buried
by Melanie and Christopher Rice
(Dorling Kindersley)
Constant reference back to archeological evidence, real objects and real people makes this book come alive. Its account of the eruption of Vesuvius and its effect on the city includes eye witness accounts and is well illustrated with eye-catching photographs and drawings in full colour. There is also plenty of  detail of everyday life before the eruption and some background
facts on volcanoes. The disaster based approach will appeal especially to boys but this fascinating book contains such a variety  of information that there is sure to be something to interest everyone. The excellent illustrations mean it can be used by older children with special needs provided they have support with the reading
(with thanks to Ros)
Ages 7-11+
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