Monday, May 17, 2021

Thames Mudlarking: Searching for London's Lost Treasures


Thames Mudlarking is a fascinating look at the a niche modern archaeology obsession, searching for lost and abandoned treasures presented by Jason Sandy & Nick Stevens. Due out 18th May 2021 from Bloomsbury on their Shire imprint, it's 96 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats (ebook available now). 

I was captivated at a very early age by stories of treasure. I grew up in an area of the USA which provided a wealth of hunting opportunities for indigenous artifacts after every summer storm. In fact I *still* have a carefully grooved, shaped, and well used stone hammer which is thousands of years old on my bookshelf. I'm fascinated by the people who lived and valued these objects and lost them or possibly tossed them into rivers to be found by people not-yet-dreamt-of to find and treasure. 

This book resonated on a visceral level with me. I loved seeing every one of the pictures and reading the accompanying stories. The introduction (who, what, where, how, and not least *why*), is followed by thematic chapters elucidating different time periods, uses, and classes of items, from fossils to ceremonial items, votives and offerings, coins and, well, pretty much anything in between which might've been dumped or lost into the Thames throughout time. 

The book is illustrated throughout with photos from the authors' personal collections as well as stock photos. There are an amazing variety of items both precious and utterly mundane. Some of the ones which really touched me were the toys, lost or abandoned throughout time. I was reminded of my own experience as a child losing a beloved toy over the side of a ferry, lost forevermore. 

This is emphatically *not* a how-to guide, although enough information is provided on how to contact The Society of Thames Mudlarks & Antiquarians  (and presumably they can point enthusiastic would-be mudlarks toward the proper licenses and permits and safety instructions). The authors have included a short list of resources for further reading and information as well as an abbreviated index.

This would make a superlative selection for library or classroom acquisition, or for fans of archaeology and history. 

Five stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes. 

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