What do A Thief Of Time by Tony Hillerman, The Source by James Michener, The Dig by John Preston, and The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb by Agatha Christie have in common? Well, they’re all novels about archaeology and October is the annual month to celebrate that field. This year’s International Archaeology Day, one of those “floating” holidays that is held around the same time each year, will be Oct. 19.
While there are hundreds of factual, nonfiction books about archaeology, there also are a surprising number of novels written about the genre, including about 80 “general” titles like the ones listed above and nearly 50 that are listed as “thrillers.” Many of those combine three great genres – history, mystery and thriller.
Those who rank the importance and impact of such books place The Seventh Scroll, a 1995 novel by Wilbur Smith, as the number one archaeological “thriller” of all time. It got a score of 993 (out of 1000) from a panel of voters from around the world. Smith is a South African writer who once studied archaeology before writing a series of adventure/thriller novels about a husband-and-wife archaeological team exploring Egyptian tombs (where they find the seventh scroll).
There’s an old adage that writers should “Write What They Know Best,” whether it be archaeology, education, sports or history. All are fertile ground for fiction, especially when you are “in the know.”
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