Since archaeology is a subject that’s near and dear to my heart, I’ve smooth-read several books about it at DP. When I saw Archaeological Essays, Vol. II, by Sir James Y. Simpson, show up in the smooth-reading pool, I thought, “Oh, boy! Another fun read!” Well, what I learned was, you can’t trust the title of a book. The first “essay,” which went on and on and on (you get the picture) had nothing to do with archaeology! It was entirely about the incidence of leprosy in Great Britain, Scotland, and parts of France! Now, mind you, the author quotes sources as far back as the 800s, but still! This is not archaeology.
I learned a lot about leprosy. I learned that there are three different kinds of it, that the ancient Greeks knew of it and called it “elephantiasis,” and that the Arabs had a different version of it. It is not the same thing as the swollen legs some people still get when infected by certain parasites. This particular author didn’t seem to think leprosy is very contagious. There was much discussion as to how leprosy arrived in Europe and England and spread to Scotland. There were rather graphic descriptions of what a person with leprosy looks like. I could almost be an expert in the field!
This is part of what makes smooth-reading so much fun. You never know what you’re going to end up with—or what you might learn!
Leprosy probably isn’t the most desirable topic, but digging through the records to piece together the story must be fascinating to medical historians. Thank you for your blog article, genknit, and thanks too to David Clarke, Turgut Dincer and all the DPers who worked on the book.
Ah, good to know. I don’t think I’d have read a book about archaeology, but health, treatment etc is something I find very interesting — unlike The Indische Säule (which I would class as archaeology) which I proofread and which bored me rigid. In fact, I didn’t take in anything I read. 😀