Book Review: Bury the Dead

Reading Level

Ages 9-18

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This new book, from the good folks at National Geographic, has some shocking pictures in it and is probably for older kids and adults only. Still, it's a good source of information on how and why people have buried their dead for centuries.

The author, Christopher Sloan (a senior editor at National Geographic and the author of two previous children's books), begins with Cro-Magnon burial practices and wends his way through history, highlighting burial sites in Egypt (of course), Peru, the Amazon, China, Indonesia, all the way up to today. It is a glimpse of both how things have changed and how things have stayed the same. We today sometimes have elaborate burial practices, compared to the ancient peoples, yet both revere the dead in similar ways and have similar beliefs about what happens to the body and spirit after burial.

The book includes some helpful features, including How to Make a Mummy (always a kids' favorite) and a layer-by-layer examination of the burial of the Moche Lord of Sipan, one of the most elaborate burials ever discovered.

A welcome addition is the story of the burial site discoveries of Qin Shi Huang Di, the first emperor of a united China. To build his burial complex, the emperor forced 700,000 to work for 36 years. Buried along with the emperor and many worldly goods in this huge complex was a massive army of clay soldiers, seemingly ready to fight for their lord wherever he went next. Many of these hundreds of clay soldiers have been unearthed intact. This is one of the world's most remarkable archaeology stories ever, and I'm glad to see it in this book.

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