The Discovery of Middle Earth: Mapping the Lost World of the Celts Hardcover – 20 Dec 2013
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[A] daring theory.... thrilling. --Laura Miller
Fascinating...The historical value of Robb's vivid portrait of Celtic culture is unquestionable. --Wendy Smith
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 . 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. "
[A] daring theory . thrilling. --Laura Miller"
[A] daring theory . thrilling.--Laura Miller"
Upends nearly everything we believe about the history of early Europe.--Gabe Habash"
Combines travelogue and historical detective story . The work of a man to whom the past is vividly present.--Ian Morris"
Fascinating The historical value of Robb's vivid portrait of Celtic culture is unquestionable.--Wendy Smith"
Raises intriguing questions about the relationship between tribe and empire, local identity and larger superstructure.--Rachel Donadio
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Top Customer Reviews
"The Ancient Paths: Discovering the Lost Map of Celtic Europe."
Personally, I don't think putting soft covers on it and changing the title to allude to Tolkien makes the thesis any more believable than it was before. Sorry and all that.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
By looking at the placement of Celtic towns and sacred sites, and carefully mapping them by latitude, longitude and other measurements, Robb saw a pattern begin to emerge indicating that the Celts had a more sophisticated understanding of the world and a greater grasp of science than previously believed. Starting with the road, known as the Heraklean Way, which ran across the Iberian Peninsula as early as the sixth century BCE, Robb connects various ancient and contemporary towns to each other, illustrating what he thinks is not just a systematic ordering of the world by the Celts but a reflection of the worlds they felt existed above and below as well (hence this world as Middle Earth, a concept famously borrowed by Tolkien).
The science of the Celts, argues Robb, has been so overlooked because it is not the monumental feats of engineering we find with the Romans, Egyptians and other early civilizations. And there are no Celtic texts explaining their views on nature, earth or the cosmos. Instead, they may have been brilliant surveyors, mapmakers whose greatest map was totally to scale and incorporated their ideas about nature, earth and cosmos in one holistic schema.
If even part of Robb’s theory is true, it would change how we think about the Celts and early European history. If nothing else, it is an exercise in creative and critical thinking about aspects of history that have been left unquestioned for thousands of years. Besides the big ideas in THE DISCOVERY OF MIDDLE EARTH, there are plenty of smaller and equally compelling tidbits. The final chapters are especially fun to read: full of tales of heroes and monarchs, the decline of “protohistorical” superpowers and even a discussion on King Arthur and Camelot. Still this is a difficult read, full of geographic and astronomical vocabulary and concepts. It is sometimes on the dry side, but Robb skillfully weaves in the account of his long bicycle journey across the Heraklean Way, which adds to the flavor of the book.
From Celtic art to French villages, from the mysteries of the Druids to modern cartography, THE DISCOVERY OF MIDDLE EARTH is interesting, challenging and thoughtful --- the perfect book for a reader with a keen and imaginative mind interested in re-examining part of the world as we think we know it. Towards the end of the book, Robb writes, “as soon as a geographical pattern is imposed on the inhabited earth, significance rushes in like water into a channel dug in a damp field.” For patient and open-minded readers, the significance Robb assigns to those geographic patterns will be fascinating.
-Sarah Rachel Egelman
The writing is dense at times, but hey--the book is about history, math and surveying. Stick with it. I did and I don't regret it.
Warning: If you buy the Kindle edition, the maps and illustrations will be difficult to view. It's not a huge deal, but I like maps. I kind of wish I'd bought the paper version. In fairness to the Kindle, I'm middle aged and use reading glasses. Still, I had to stack up two pairs at once to see the maps.
The other discovery this book opened for me was the rich lives of the Celts and Druids and how many of us who have Middle European and North Italian blood have to be descended from them with traces of the Orient in our blood. We are truly one people!
At one point in life, I had given the Celts to the Irish alone,but this book pointed out that the Celts were from the Black Sea always heading toward the setting sun, pushed to Britain and over to Scotland and Ireland by the invading Romans. The Celts did not have a written history, and it was finally in Ireland, that some of the Celtic knowledge got written down...( and was it Scotland too?) I liked the book so much that I picked up another to read, on the same subject. I may be mixing up what came from each book, because though they were both about the Celts, they dove tailed so nicely that I was living in Middle Earth for a few weeks.The Druids This book is available for one cent here on Amazon and imagine the fun I had reading it too!
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