Books Like The Dig
The Dig by John Preston is a 2007 historical novel that is based on the excavation at Sutton Hoo in 1939. This excavation is considered by many people to be one of the most famous archaeological digs to occur in Britain during modern times. However, Preston did use some literary license when writing his version of the story, so it's not a completely factual account of the real events. The premise for the novel is that of a widow who finds hidden riches on her property and the chaos that ensues. With Netflix said to be in the process of filming a drama based on the novel, now is a good time to give it a read or check out some other archaeological novels like The Dig.
by Nicole Mones
Lost in Translation is a 1999 novel by Nicole Mones starring an American woman named Alice Mannegan. Alice is in Beijing to escape her past while working as a translator. Initially, her only goal is to hook up with Chinese men for one-night stands in an effort to overcome the shame of having a racist father back in America. However, Alice eventually signs on to an archaeological expedition that is on a quest to find the missing bones of Peking Man. It's a journey that will take Alice to the remote Northwest deserts of China where the story blends human drama and cultural differences with archaeological fiction.
by Arthur Phillips
The Egyptologist is a 2004 novel by Arthur Phillips that is told from a number of different viewpoints, just like The Dig. However, it follows a different structure as the story is told via drawings, telegrams, letters, journals and other forms of communication. The protagonist is an Oxford-educated Egyptologist named Ralph Trilipush. However, unlike Howard Carter who unveils the tomb of Tutankhamen, Ralph is not having much luck. In desperation, he begins to take more and more risks with his life as well as savings in an attempt to locate the tomb of an Egyptian king. It is a quest that not only has the potential to cost him his professional reputation, but also his fiancee's fortune.
by Tobias Hill
The Hidden is the fourth novel by the British author, Tobias Hill, and was released in 2009. The protagonist of the tale is Ben Mercer, who moves to Athens and begins working at a meat grill after his marriage fails. Ben is also attempting to write a thesis on ancient Sparta, which isn't going so great. Things take an interesting turn for Ben when he finds himself hired to assist with a high-stakes archaeological dig of ancient Spartan ruins. Ben quickly notices that the five mysterious individuals working on the dig have a lot in common with the ancient Spartans themselves.
by Barry Unsworth
Land of Marvels is a 2009 historical novel by Barry Unsworth that takes place in Mesopotamia right before the first world war. The protagonist, John Somerville, is an idealistic archaeologist who wants nothing more than discovering and preserving the ancient treasures of Mesopotamia. Initially, his biggest concern is that the German-built Baghdad Railway will claim the mound that he is digging on before he has the time to make an important discovery. The urgency of his work increases when by makes an important discovery from the Neo-Assyrian Empire, but it also draws several other people to the site. These include an American geologist posing as an archaeologist who is actually on a job for an American oil company, as well as a man posing as a Swiss journalist. Somerville will find himself having to deal with treachery and greed all set against the backdrop of the looming war.
by Sabiha Al Khemir
The Blue Manuscript is a 2009 novel by Sabiha Al Khemir that focuses on an archaeological dig in Egypt in search of an Islamic treasure known as The Blue Manuscript. Nobody is sure whether it still exists, but when a promising site in a remote area of Egypt it quickly draws an assortment of archaeologists. Along with the 1800s setting the story also veers back to Egypt of the 10th Century as the archaeologists expose the different layers of the excavation site. The story features the testimony of the person who created the Blue Manuscript, an early medieval calligrapher, while also exploring the varied personalities of the archaeologists in search of it.
by Tracy Chevalier
Just as The Dig is based on a real event, Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier makes use of historical figures to weave an interesting story. One of the characters is Mary Anning who made history with her uncanny ability to discover dinosaur fossils around the windswept Jurassic coast near Lyme Regis. From an ichthyosaurus and plesiosaurus to a pterodactyl and squaloraja, Mary was able to uncover things that nobody else could. However, Remarkable Creatures also features the voice of Elizabeth Philpot, who was much older at the time, but who also became a champion for Mary has her enthusiasm for fossils grew. It is the story of friendship in the face of professional envy set in an era when science was the domain of men and women did not receive the same credit or respect.