- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Picador; Reprints edition (3 July 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0330531514
- ISBN-13: 978-0330531511
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 22,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Ancient Paths: Discovering the Lost Map of Celtic Europe Paperback – 3 Jul 2014
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'remarkable . . . an overarching, wondrous reworking of history rooted in painstaking, if not obsessive, research. And if its fantastical connections and arcane details leave the reader reeling, perhaps that is merely a reflection of the astounding complexity and continuing mystery of a lost civilisation that Graham Robb has restored to its rightful place.' Philip Hoare, Literary Review
'a wonderful writer . . . No one else can make a bike ride through the French countryside so enthralling. No one else so relishes the odd corners of history.' Sunday Times
'Robb produces an elaborately detailed account of [Celtic] society and ideas . . . Those who enjoy a mixture of myth and archaeology, who admire a vivid metaphor and a fine turn of phrase, will find much in this book to enjoy.' New Statesman
'He is such a warm, gentle and generous writer, with no faux scholarly tosh or solitary ecstasy riffs [and] Robb's own calm eloquence is deeply persuasive . . . If Graham Robb has discovered that Ancient Gaul was arranged as a reflection of the universe, then that amazing discovery, and this heroically courageous publication of it, is a wonder and a marvel.' Adam Nicolson, Evening Standard
'The findings of Graham Robb, a biographer and historian, bring into question two millennia of thinking about Iron Age Britain and Europe and the stereotyped image of Celts as barbarous, superstitious tribes.' Daily Telegraph
‘Presenting one of the most astonishing, significant discoveries in recent memory, Robb, winner of the Duff Cooper Prize and Ondaatje Award for The Discovery of France, upends nearly everything we believe about the history―or, as he calls it, protohistory―of early Europe and its barbarous Celtic tribes and semimythical Druids. Popularly dismissed as superstitious, wizarding hermits, Robb demonstrates how the Druids were perhaps the most intellectually advanced thinkers of their age: scientists and mathematicians who, through an intimate knowledge of solstice lines, organized their towns and cities to mirror the paths of their Sun god, in turn creating the earliest accurate map of the world. In his characteristically approachable yet erudite manner, Robb examines how this network came to be and also how it vanished, trampled over by a belligerent Rome, which has previously received credit for civilizing Europe―though in Robb’s account, Caesar, at the helm, appears dim, unwitting, and frankly lucky, and the (often literally) deeply buried Celtic beliefs and innovations seem more relevant in modern Europe than previously assumed. Like the vast and intricate geographical latticework that Robb has uncovered, the book unfurls its secrets in an eerie, magnificent way―a remarkable, mesmerizing, and bottomless work.' Publishers Weekly, Starred Review and Pick of the Week
'One certainly has to admire the perseverance Robb has shown, not just researching in libraries and map rooms, but also following trails on the ground. Fifteen thousand miles on a bike, very often to places that no tourist or researcher has ever visited or even inquired about before . . . If you accept Robb's complex arguments, drawn from astronomy, philology, archaeology and history, you do indeed get a new view of an ancient civilisation . . . all those miles on the bike. All those archaeological discoveries pointed out. If nothing else, The Ancient Paths creates a new respect for the ancient Gauls, and the ancient Britons. Whatever Caesar may have said, they weren't all woad and moustaches.' Tom Shippey, Guardian
'an enthralling new history . . . 'Important if true' . . . rings loud in the ears as one reads the latest book by Graham Rob, a biographer and historian of distinction whose new work, if everything in it proves to be correct, will blow apart two millennia of thinking about Iron Age Britain and Europe and put several scientific discoveries back by centuries . . . it presents extraordinary conclusions in a deeply persuasive and uncompromising manner. What surfaces from these elegant pages - if true - is nothing less than a wonder of the ancient world: the first solid evidence of Druidic science and its accomplishments and the earliest accurate map of a continent . . . a book almost indecently stuffed with discoveries . . . suggestions follow thick and fast, backed by a mixture of close reading, mathematical construction and scholarly detective work . . . Robb manages his revelations with a showman's skill, modestly conscious that his book is unfurling a map of Iron Age Europe and Britain that has been inaccessible for millennia. Every page produces new solutions to old mysteries, some of them so audacious that the reader may laugh aloud . . . Beautifully written . . . It's a magnificent piece of historical conjecture, backed by a quizzical scholarly intellect and given a personal twist by experiment . . . watching its conclusions percolate through popular and academic history promises to be thrilling. Reading it is already an electrifying and uncanny experience: there is something gloriously unmodern about seeing a whole new perspective on history so comprehensively birthed in a single book. If true, very important indeed.' (Daily Telegraph)
'The Romans did a good job of writing their predecessors out of history . . . As the conquerors got to write the history, we have to rely on their account of what they found. But as Robb makes clear, they told only part of the story.' Observer
An ingenious and thoroughly gripping historical and archaeological bolt from the blue (Books of the Year New Statesman)
From the award-winning author of THE DISCOVERY OF FRANCE and PARISIANS
The dazzling new book from the bestselling author Graham Robb contains a discovery that will transform your understanding of pre-Roman Europe.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
The mixture of some bits of evidence and some speculation lacks the archaeological evidence needed to construct such a rigid theory.
I still enjoyed it however and will continue to buy his books.
Thoroughly well-argued and extremely well written. Don't read it on an ereader. As other reviewers have observed there are a lot of maps and diagrams which seem to be easier to refer to on paper.
The problem with this newer publication is that it is so difficult to read. I found the technical information of aligning routes in line with solstices extremely difficult to grasp and Robb's style of writing made it impossible to want me to struggle to comprehend. A good deal of this book seems fanciful and too far fetched to believe. Some comparisons with Iron Age art seem superfluous and the debate about ratios becomes increasingly tenuous. Mixed in with these flights of fancy is the notion that Graham Robb may well be on to something. I would love to know if his alignments can be corroborated and the recent discoveries regarding alignments at Silchester intriguingly seem to verify some of the author's contentions. The book is also interspersed with references to artefacts about which I was either aware or had seen in museums such as the one in Lyon which appear to add credibility although they might not be as relevant as the author believes.Read more ›
Mr Robb, I have seen far worse from other writers, but I do think you should restructure your text to make the logic of the book easier to follow. I warn you though that by presenting the material more clearly you will then be exposing some awkward weaknesses, which will need further work to repair.
What follows is my three-paragraph summary of the book’s thesis:
The configuration of the main pre-Roman settlements all over Gaul looks as if it was planned in certain very specific ways. Thus, for example, there is as a matter of geography a certain notional straight line, due north and south through Gaul, which is the longest line that is physically possible given the shape of the land; a number of settlements are located exactly on that line. As another example, a number of settlements are located relative to each other on a compass bearing of 57.53 degrees from due north. As a matter of astronomy, on the longest day of the year in Gaul in that epoch the point on the horizon where the sun rose happened to be 57.53 degrees from due north.
The predominance of these and a couple of other analogous relations between settlement locations is so striking that one must assume that the configuration of the whole was consciously designed. It seems that whenever a new settlement was needed its location was carefully chosen to be on a certain standard bearing from other locations. Over the centuries a configuration of settlements developed, that was very rich in cases of this 57.53 degrees bearing and a couple of others.
Why did the Gauls do this? For religious reasons.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a work of fiction. It should not be sold as history. No academic Celticist would be seen dead reading this.Published 4 months ago by Cathubodua
Interesting take on history. The idea that everything started with the Romans is a myth.Published 6 months ago by Bren
Amazing book. The single biggest insight any book has ever given me into the Celts.Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
Tremendously interesting and eye-opening.
Wittily written and utterly enthralling, this book is crucial step in claiming back our true history from academia's roman agenda. Already one of my all-time favorite books.Published 12 months ago by Dafydd Voyle Ap Meurig