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Lost Wreck of the Isis

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In the summer of 1988, the discoverer of the Titanic located the remains of an ancient Roman ship deep in the Mediterranean Sea. Dr. Ballard and his team returned the following year with archaeological experts to explore the ship they called the Isis. This new book features full-color photographs taken on the ocean floor, and re-creates the 2,000-year-old voyage.


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In the summer of 1988, the discoverer of the Titanic located the remains of an ancient Roman ship deep in the Mediterranean Sea. Dr. Ballard and his team returned the following year with archaeological experts to explore the ship they called the Isis. This new book features full-color photographs taken on the ocean floor, and re-creates the 2,000-year-old voyage.

30 review for Lost Wreck of the Isis

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Taylor

    This book is an interesting account of oceanic archaeology by Robert D. Ballard, best known for discovering the Titanic. Although it is marketed for middle schoolers, it's no easy picture book with its walls of wordy text, and would probably be best for upper middle schoolers and up. Aside from its short page count and frequent photographs, it actually reads more like a book for adults. The book highlights what events may have caused an ancient Roman vessel to sink, and also recounts in memoir st This book is an interesting account of oceanic archaeology by Robert D. Ballard, best known for discovering the Titanic. Although it is marketed for middle schoolers, it's no easy picture book with its walls of wordy text, and would probably be best for upper middle schoolers and up. Aside from its short page count and frequent photographs, it actually reads more like a book for adults. The book highlights what events may have caused an ancient Roman vessel to sink, and also recounts in memoir style Ballard's efforts to locate the ship, as he traces his way along ancient trading routes with his team, scanning the ocean floor. There's plenty of fascinating stuff here, and I absolutely love ancient history and archaeology and shipwrecks, so I was really expecting to like this book. Unfortunately, I didn't end up enjoying it much. First of all, Ballard begins the book pretty offhandedly, as he writes about searching for the lost ship. In most books of this sort, there is a sense of urgency and longing - excited, frustrated, feverish searching that makes you ache for the narrator to find their prize. There was absolutely none of that here, and I found myself not really all that excited when a crew member announces that they've found the ship. Then the book flips from memoir to pure fiction, swapping out photographs for drawings of historical characters, and spinning a tale of the ship Isis out on a voyage, and its both likable and unlikable passengers. I understand trying to give readers a sense of what life and voyages of ancient Rome were like, and I feel that the idea could have worked very well, but Ballard's writing style simply didn't carry it across. It felt strange and disjointed, and I was suddenly suspicious of the pure non-fiction parts of the book, wondering if they too had been fictionalized. Strangely, in the fictional part, a character who we are obviously supposed to dislike, a haughty woman named Claudia, begins talking about how she met a handsome, sexy captain once. She tells her nephew that he was "very hotblooded... Father certainly had his hands full keeping an eye on me..." Okay? Why are we focusing on this? The book also focuses quite a bit on the technology of the day. As the book was published in 1990, I wasn't exactly awestruck by live-streaming and computers, as it seemed the reader was expected to be. Many of the photos focus heavily on the technology. All of this being said, this was still certainly an interesting read, and its great to hear about other expeditions made by the man who excavated the Titanic. I loved that Ballard describes seeing the gently erupting volcano of Stromboli, which has acted as a sort of natural lighthouse since ancient times, and then we switch to the fictional portrayal of ancient Roman sailors watching Stromboli's eruptions as well. The actual recovering of the first artifacts from the wreck is also striking, as Ballard wonders whose ancient hands were the last to touch them. Underwater archaeology would be a very difficult subject to make boring, and although I wouldn't say that this book is thrilling, the topic is just too good to mess up too badly. Also, once the wreck excavation began, the rest of the book was fascinating. Not very well written, but definitely an interesting account on a great subject. Recommended if you're interested in archaeology or ancient history.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Aimed at children in middle school. Clear and interesting. Chapters alternate between the modern archaeological crew searching for and then recovering part of an ancient wreck and a historically plausible account of a fictional merchant's son who was on the ancient ship's last journey. My one minor gripe is that more than one amphora are called "amphoras" throughout, rather than "amohorae," but this is a valid style choice, and appropriate given the intended audience. Aimed at children in middle school. Clear and interesting. Chapters alternate between the modern archaeological crew searching for and then recovering part of an ancient wreck and a historically plausible account of a fictional merchant's son who was on the ancient ship's last journey. My one minor gripe is that more than one amphora are called "amphoras" throughout, rather than "amohorae," but this is a valid style choice, and appropriate given the intended audience.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    The photos are terrific, as is the narrative about the actual discovery process. This is written to be accessible for about 8th grade and up --- it's not dumbed down, either --- but it also includes a fanciful account of the lost Roman trader. Which was not named Isis, but the invented backstory kinda works. A fun read if you are addicted to shipwrecks (guilty). Ballard found the Titanic, people, so I am going to always give him props. The photos are terrific, as is the narrative about the actual discovery process. This is written to be accessible for about 8th grade and up --- it's not dumbed down, either --- but it also includes a fanciful account of the lost Roman trader. Which was not named Isis, but the invented backstory kinda works. A fun read if you are addicted to shipwrecks (guilty). Ballard found the Titanic, people, so I am going to always give him props.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jbussen

    Stolen from: Sarah Aimed at children in middle school. Clear and interesting. Chapters alternate between the modern archaeological crew searching for and then recovering part of an ancient wreck and a historically plausible account of a fictional merchant's son who was on the ancient ship's last journey. Stolen from: Sarah Aimed at children in middle school. Clear and interesting. Chapters alternate between the modern archaeological crew searching for and then recovering part of an ancient wreck and a historically plausible account of a fictional merchant's son who was on the ancient ship's last journey.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Agnes

    I think this was a good book, but one of the pictures was a little bad

  6. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

    it was very interesting and funny

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rae

    Robert Ballard, discoverer of the Titanic, narrates this reconstruction of a Roman shipwreck. Using the JASON underwater explorer to examine the bottom surfaces of the ocean, his team was able to recover several amphorae and artifacts.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Karin

    I'm not sure how many times I read this as a child, but it definitely had an influence on me. The excitement of discovery never got old, nor did the detective work of piecing together the last voyage of the Isis. Ballard, you're one cool guy! I'm not sure how many times I read this as a child, but it definitely had an influence on me. The excitement of discovery never got old, nor did the detective work of piecing together the last voyage of the Isis. Ballard, you're one cool guy!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Theo Girvan

    I really liked it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christine

  11. 5 out of 5

    Abby

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nicola

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shivani Maurya

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tom

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kaulin

  17. 5 out of 5

    Greg

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gretchen

  19. 4 out of 5

    John

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jay Luke

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lindy

  22. 5 out of 5

    VIRGINIA DACOSTA

  23. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ron Wroblewski

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lasse Blond

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chica

  28. 4 out of 5

    Charles Fan

  29. 4 out of 5

    Shivani

  30. 5 out of 5

    James

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