I suppose my first encounter with archeology was searching for Native American arrowheads along Tennessee creek banks when I was young. As I got older, I loved books set on archeological digs or around archeological sites. I’ve never had any desire to work on a dig though. Recognizing that Indiana Jones was pure fiction (some people have a hard time with this, I know), the reality of a dig always seemed tedious and hot—particularly in a desert like Egypt.
I prefer my archeological sites excavated and appropriately recreated, with an informative guidebook or signage, maybe even a knowledgeable guide. Stir in a grandiose temple soaring above the jungle canopy, howler monkey moans drifting over misty mountains; maybe some draping liana vines entangling stone temples. Of course ruins don’t really have to be in a jungle, but a spectacular setting and minimal tourist throngs are nearly as important as the site itself.
It’s all about the history you say? True. But you can find that in a book. If I’m going to travel halfway around the world, it’s nice to have some scenic drama with my history. I admit I recently skipped the ruins of Troy in Turkey—just a field with some rubble I was told (don’t get mad, I didn’t go, it’s just what I heard).
And so, with those caveats, here are my top five archeological sites so far (it was meant to be ten, but I’ll save the rest for another day). And yes, I still have much to see, starting with Machu Picchu. I’ll try my best to go during low season and miss the swarming crowds. You’ll find this is key to many of my favorites. Read the List on Novel Adventurers.