Gods, Graves, and Scholars Critical Context - Essay

Kurt Willi Marek

Critical Context

With Gods, Graves, and Scholars, Ceram hoped to do for archaeology what Paul de Kruif’s The Microbe Hunters (1926) had done for microbiology. In this attempt, Ceram was immensely successful: His book was a best-seller. By the time of Ceram’s death in 1972, the work had been translated into twenty-five languages, had become a standard textbook for young adults, and had sold more than four million copies. Ceram also inspired others to offer popular accounts of archaeology, such as Karl E. Meyer’s The Pleasures of Archaeology and Henri-Paul Eydoux’s In Search of Lost Worlds, both published in 1971.

Ceram himself also continued to write about the subject, following up the critical and popular success of Gods, Graves, and Scholars with seven other volumes. Among the most important of these was his second book, The Secret of the Hittites (1956). Ceram had touched briefly on the Hittites in Gods, Graves, and Scholars, placing them in “Books That Cannot Yet Be Written.” As his volume on the subject indicates, by 1947 much already had been discovered about this ancient empire, the rival of Egypt and Syria. As early as 1834, remains of the Hittite culture had been discovered, although not until 1879 did the English Orientalist Archibald Henry Sayce identify the discoveries as Hittite. As in Gods, Graves, and Scholars, Ceram focused on the personalities of the major contributors,...

(The entire section is 428 words.)