Digging up the Past: Archaeology for the Young and Curious

David Veart


'I actually defy anyone . . . not to be captivated by this.' - John McIntyre, Radio NZ National


What do moa eggs, seeds chewed by rats and 600-year-old footprints have in common? Lost planes, dog turds and frozen sleeping bags? Archaeologists in Aotearoa New Zealand deal with artefacts like these every day to work out how the people before us lived.
In this book David Veart walks alongside the archaeologists as they dig up the past on top of volcanoes and beneath our city streets, in Māori pā and explorers’ huts. He shows us the things they find obsidian adzes, enamel cups, the carved prow of a waka – and tells us the remarkable stories they have uncovered of Polynesian voyagers and Pākehā sealers, Māori gardeners and Chinese storekeepers.  

Looking for ancient DNA, researching your own rubbish (WARNING: stinky work ahead), doing aerial archaeology with Google Earth (better than leaning out of a biplane) – this book will have readers of all ages thinking like archaeologists as it excavates the stories of the past.


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David Veart was born in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1950, descendant of an early military family. Trained as an anthropologist, he worked as a Department of Conservation historian and archaeologist for over twenty-five years. He belongs to the Auckland Heritage Committee of the Institute of Professional Engineers and has been appointed as a member of the Auckland Council's Heritage Advisory Panel. An expert on various Auckland landmarks of historical or archaeological significance, he is well-known for his public guided walks of these areas, about which he has also written film scripts and narrated interpretative films. He is also an expert in New Zealand’s culinary history and a lover of cooking and recipes. He owns a large collection of cook books and has presented at conferences on aspects of culinary history. He is the author of First Catch Your Weka: A Story of New Zealand Cooking (AUP, 2008) and Digging up the Past: Archaeology for the Young and Curious (AUP, 2011).


Honour Award, 2012 NZ Post Children's Book Awards


November 2011, 265 x 235 mm, 112 pages, colour & b/w illustrations
Hardback, ISBN 9781869404659, $39.99