National Geographic’s ‘Lost Cities, Ancient Tombs’ is a Must Have for Every Armchair Adventurer [REVIEW]

King Tut's golden tomb in Egypt
King Tut’s golden tomb in Egypt (Photo courtesy Canva)

Ever since I was a boy sitting in a darkened cinema watching Indiana Jones scramble to find some ancient artifact, I have been fascinated by archaeology. After all, who wouldn’t want to unearth a fabled treasure that is thousands of years old? Indy made it all seem so glamorous and exciting (barring ancient curses, of course). But all of that was make believe. Over the years, however, real life adventurers have found authentic relics shrouded in even more mystery and lore than those on the silver screen, which is even more titillating. Now, National Geographic has compiled a volume covering 100 of these amazing discoveries in their new book, Lost Cities, Ancient Treasures, and we are sure you’re going to love it!

National Geographic's LOST CITIES, ANCIENT TOMBS
National Geographic

The book begins with a forward by Douglas Preston (yes, the first half of Preston & Child who pens the Pendergast novels). No stranger to either journalism or adventure, he reminds us that archaeological treasures are not found nearly as quickly as they are in Hollywood blockbusters. Rather, they are the result of years of work, including “tedious research, false starts, failures, political opposition, professional doubt and even disparagement, permitting vexations, bureaucratic nightmares, and dreary fundraising.” That said, it makes the historic treasures found within this tome’s pages even more impressive.

The book is divided into 12 chapters, and dates back to the beginning of humanity. Here you’ll discover what the Neanderthals were really like. They may have had pronounced eyebrows and hunted dangerous game, but did you realize that they were also compassionate and more like us than you may have thought? An excavation led by Smithsonian anthropologist Ralph Solecki in the 1950s found their skeletons in northern Iraq, while paleontologist Erik Trinkhaus spend the 1970s studying the remains.

In 1922, Howard Carter was working hard in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, searching for treasure. What he found there would become one of the biggest finds in the history of archaeology. As he dug beneath the sand, he and his team ultimately found a staircase that would lead them to the underground grave of Tutankhamun Nebkheperure—or King Tut as most of us affectionately call him today. As Carter was quoted as saying as he peered into the tomb for the first time, “…as my eyes became accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, gold—everywhere the glint of gold.” As a result, Tut’s name is one of the few ancient Egyptians who are still actually remembered today.

Not every awe inspiring relic is covered in gold, though. Take the moai on Easter Island. Most of us have seen photos of these giant statues which stand up to 30 feet tall and weigh an impressive 80 tons. When Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen landed there in 1722, he found a barren landscape straight out of the Stone Age. These idols were all hewn out of stone,” Roggeveen wrote in his ship’s log, “and in the form of a man with long ears, adorned on the head with a crown, yet all made with skill, wereat we wondered not a little.” Centuries after their discovery, we still have lots of questions about these amazing statues and the people who crafted them. Thankfully, modern science has helped us at least figure out where the people came from who made them. How they moved them, however, is another story.

This is just a sampling of what Lost Cities, Ancient Tombs has to offer. This book is jam packed with all kinds of great facts and tales about what our collective ancestors have managed to do, and it is utterly fascinating. Written with careful attention to detail and meticulously fact checked, this book is also filled with loads of stunning photographs that will make you want to get out and travel the world (or at the very least do a little more digging on Google). From Ice Age artists to the discovery of the sunken Titanic, this is a book that captures our imaginations and takes us to sites we will likely never see otherwise. It even takes us back to Biblical lands like the city of Ur and tells us how the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. We also meet historic figures that you may have never heard of too, but who are nonetheless wondrous and captivating.

If you are a history buff, or even an Indiana Jones wannabe like me, you are going to find yourself poring over this book. It is a must have for every armchair adventurer. Who knows, by the time you’re finished reading it, you may feel emboldened and compelled to reach for your own whip and fedora, eager to make your mark on history.


Ann Williams

General Editor Ann Williams specializes in writing about the ancient world and cultural heritage preservation.

A writer for more than three decades career for National Geographic magazine and digital news, she reports on new discoveries and the latest research in archaeology around the world.

She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Douglas Preston
Douglas Preston

Douglas Preston (foreword) has published thirty-six books of fiction and nonfiction, twenty-nine of which have been New York Times bestsellers.

He writes about archaeology and anthropology for the New Yorker, and has worked as an editor at the American Museum of Natural History, and has taught writing at Princeton University.

He divides his time between New Mexico and Maine.

National Geographic Logo

One of the world’s leading nonfiction publishers, National Geographic has published more than 1,700 titles, featuring such categories as history, travel, nature, photography, space, science, health, biography, and memoir.

A portion of its proceeds is used to fund exploration, conservation, and education through ongoing contributions to the work of the National Geographic Society.

To find out more about Nat Geo, visit, like them on Facebook, or follow them on TwitterInstagram, and Snapchat.

By National Geographic
512 pp. National Geographic. $35.

Purchase Lost Cities, Ancient Tombs direct from Jathan & Heather Books or one of these other fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Half Price Books, Hudson Booksellers, IndieBound, Powell’s, Target, or Walmart.

Lost Cities, Ancient Tombs is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

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