Stone Mirror Reviews

” The Neolithic passages are worthy and textured acts of interpretation, providing plenty of food for thought on the limits of archaeological inference. As a sucker for historical fiction and a fan of this type of archaeological writing – I enjoyed the complex picture of life presented… Comparative chronology has never been so vividly portrayed. Overall, I enjoyed this book in which the author provides a crisp, accessible and enjoyable archaeological text based on solid research and covering many of the current obsessions of Anglo-American archaeologists. The Stone Mirror is a unique and valuable addition to the growing Çatalhöyük/Neolithic library, allowing difficult contemporary scenarios, unavailable to Balter, to be played out in a fictional parallel world.” – Andrew Fairbairn, Australian Archaeology

“At first glance, Stone Mirror: A Novel of the Neolithic fits easily into this large body of non-academic, non-pedagogical fiction, whose main aim is to entertain. However, Swigart makes clear in his preface that his ambition is to “write fiction about archaeology that is scientifically accurate and contemporary enough for use as a textbook” (page 9)…Swigart has taken a step from the opposite end of the spectrum, moving an essentially imaginative work in an academic direction. This is a very unusual approach and one that could perhaps only be undertaken by an author operating outside the archaeological sphere. Overall, Stone Mirror is an excellent piece of archaeological fiction that certainly has the ability to educate. ”  – Brian Dolan, Archaeological Review from Cambridge

“I used to think of myself as an aficionado of novels set in Stone Age prehistory. I even wrote a master’s thesis on representations of the Paleolithic in fiction. I didn’t want a fictional scientist (usually badly done) or explorer to mediate between me and the Stone Age, even if the Stone Age was a fiction. I also preferred the Old to the New Stone Age. Rob Swigart’s The Stone Mirror was a cure for the last two prejudices. It is meant as a teaching book, and I would certainly consider using it for either a four-field introductory anthropology course, or an introductory archaeology course. I wouldn’t have to correct a lot of inaccuracies, even though I might not always agree with Swigart’s interpretation of Neolithic life. In summing up, I recommend Stone Mirror. It is a good read, a lively teaching book, and more accurate than most novels of prehistory in what it conveys to the reader. Read the complete review here.”  – Riva Berleant, Anthropology Review Database

“Stone Mirror is one of those tools that can help an instructor bring archaeology to life in a course on world archaeology and prehistory…. The story is a vehicle to teach why we dig and how it happens. It will spur discussion about competing interests in the past, whether these arise from the excavation laborers, the local community, the scientists, government, antiquities traders, or just tourists on a spiritual quest…. The distance between “Then” and “Now” is palpable, and together they provide dozens of potential teaching moments.””  – Steven R. Simms, Utah State University

“Stone Mirror is an entertaining and informative supplement for courses on the Neolithic or Near Eastern prehistory. The switch between a present-day excavation and an informed, if imaginative, reconstruction of the people responsible for the ruins being excavated provides a fresh perspective. While the depiction of the modern excavation intrigues is perhaps a bit overwrought, the interpretation of life in a Neolithic village puts a human face on the artifacts that archaeologists excavate. Although there is necessarily speculation in Swigart’s reconstruction of Neolithic life, he provides an intriguing and plausible interpretation that breathes life into the dusty artifacts that archaeologists retrieve.”  – Alan H. Simmons, Department of Anthropology and Ethnic Studies, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

“This book, partly based on the rich evidence from Neolithic sites in Turkey such as Catalhoyuk, weaves a fascinating fictional account between the fragments of our scientific evidence. The story brings to life a particular perspective on what has been found, and will be of value for students in archaeology as well as for a wider public.”  – Ian Hodder, Stanford University

“Swigart does a marvelous job of showing how archaeology is done and what remarkable ancient artifacts can mean to a diversity of groups, from goddess worshippers to illegal dealers in antiquities…”  – Bradley T. Lepper, The Columbus Dispatch