Reviews /

Lessons from Our Ancestors: Equality, Inclusivity and Sustainability in the Ancient World

Authored by Raksha Dave
Illustrated by Kimberlie Clinthorne-Wong
Published by Magic Cat Publishing

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‘Travel back in time to fourteen civilisations… cast a spotlight on forgotten histories and misrepresented stories.’

Field archaeologist and TV presenter Raksha Dave gives readers an insight into a diverse range of unheard voices from the past in Lessons from Our Ancestors: Equality, Inclusivity and Sustainability in the Ancient World. Raksha’s keen interest in historical objects and artefacts shines through in this clear and accessible book for readers ages 7+, a perfect choice to read for both pleasure and information.

I enjoyed delving into the lesser-known histories portrayed in this work. Did you know, for instance, that Kyniska was the first woman to compete in the ‘male-only’ ancient Olympic Games… and she won? Rasksha follows up this story with interesting artefacts from the past, bringing life and reality to the events described by linking in place of stone writings, the role of Amphora vases and more. Did you also know that American Indians lived in cosmopolitan cities? This was something I found particularly interesting, especially going through the American schooling system and reflecting on the misguided lessons we were instructed about their perceived history. I can imagine using this book as a preview to a museum field trip, helping learners to ask their own questions about the past and challenging them to discover truths left uncovered.

The double-page illustrations in each section, created by Chinese American and Hawaii-based illustrator Kimberlie Clinthorne-Wong, are stunning. With soft lines and muted tones, the illustrations complement, rather than distract, from the essential content provided by the words on each page. The illustrations helped to draw my eye to different content included on each page, supporting the structure and providing coherence between words and pictures. I particularly enjoyed the detail of the depiction of Machu Picchu, the keen attention to detail drawing my interest.

The final pages of the book include a section entitled, ‘Ask the Archaeologist’. This draws us back to our role in helping learners to be inquisitive and to ask questions about the present and the past. For those children interested in archaeology, this book is a treasure-trove of information. This offering could also help to spark an unknown interest in history as it is accessible and informative.

Lessons from Our Ancestors: Equality, Inclusivity and Sustainability in the Ancient World is an essential addition to the non-fiction library collection in your school – an unforgettable journey into the past, helping us to look, with hope, to the future.