Digging Up the Past: Archaeology for the Young & Curious

Author(s): David Veart

Non Fiction

After noticing his dad's plough kept pulling up interesting stones and bones on their Wairau Bar farm, a 13-year-old boy named Jim Eyles, armed with a potato fork and a piece of number-8 fencing wire, set off one day and dug up a giant moa egg. He kept digging and found Maori adzes and the bones of extinct birds until he was being visited by leading museum directors from around the country. Through a lot of digging, a pile of curiosity, and often a bit of number-8 wire, archaeologists in New Zealand have been digging up the past beneath our feet for many years. In Digging Up the Past, archaeologist David Veart introduces young and curious readers to the story of New Zealand - from Pacific voyagers to contemporary crime scenes - that those archaeologists have discovered. Along the way, readers will learn about what archaeologists actually do - from digging up shell middens to testing ancient DNA. You'll even learn how to do a little archaeological research in your own rubbish bin (WARNING: stinky work ahead!). And readers will uncover amazing facts about our past: How Maori used kuri, the native dog, as a four-legged fridge; how warplanes were hidden deep within Devonport's North Head (or were they?); how DNA has revealed the number of people who first settled Aotearoa; and much, much more. Illustrated with archaeological evidence, scientists at work, and reconstructions to show what these lost worlds actually looked like, Digging up the Past will soon have readers out on their knees digging around with a piece of wire and a pound of curiosity.


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Winner in the New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards 2012. Non fiction category.

Finalist - LIANZA Non Fiction Award – Elsie Locke Medal 2012

"I actually defy anyone . . . not to be captivated by this. . . . Reading it's a bit like an archaeological dig in itself. I never knew what I was going to find and you keep wanting to dig on. I uncovered lots of really interesting stuff and I was left wiser by the experience." --John McIntyre, "Children's Book Review", Radio New Zealand National (November 18, 2011)

David Veart is a Department of Conservation archaeologist with a wide interest in New Zealand's history. He is the author of First Catch Your Weka: A Story of New Zealand Cooking (AUP, 2008).

Introduction: Leave nothing but footprints -- 1. A Nation of Voyagers -- 2. A New World of Meat and Giant Birds -- 3. Archaeological dating and a slight problem with rats -- 4. Kuri: pets, cloaks and four legged fridges -- 5. Archaeological words ... When to sight or cite a site -- 6. New land, new gardens (same old veggies) -- 7. Pa and Learning to See -- 8. Wandering Celts meet context and Occam's razor: Archaeology on the Fringe -- 9. Tales from Tools -- 10. In It Up to Your Elbows: Stratigraphy, Midden Analysis and the Archaeology of your Garbage -- 11. Mining the sea, the Archaeology of Sealing and Whaling -- 12. Archaeology on Ice -- 13. All at Sea or The sands of Time -- 14. Excavating Forts and Files; a Story of Historic Archaeology (or) Boeing, Boeing Gone -- 15. The archaeology of not finding what you were looking for -- 16. Now where did all those trees go? The archaeology of Kauri Dams -- 17. Chinese Gold -- 18. Location, Location, Location: Urban Archaeology -- Postscript: Moa under the Minefield.

General Fields

  • : 9781869404659
  • : Auckland University Press
  • : Auckland University Press
  • : July 2011
  • : New Zealand
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : David Veart
  • : Hardback
  • : English
  • : 930.1
  • : 120
  • : colour & b/w illustrations