Adkins, Roy 1951–
Adkins, Roy 1951–
(Roy A. Adkins, Roy Arthur Adkins)
Born 1951, in Maidenhead, Berkshire, England; married Lesley Smith (an archaeologist and writer), 1978. Education: University College, Cardiff, B.A. (with honors).
Home—Devon, England. Agent—Bill Hamilton, A.M. Heath, 6 Warwick Ct., London WC1R 5DJ, England.
Archaeologist, beginning 1974, and writer, beginning 1977.
Institute of Field Archaeologists, Society of Authors, Society of Antiquaries (fellow).
WITH WIFE, LESLEY ADKINS
A Thesaurus of British Archaeology, Barnes & Noble (New York, NY), 1982, published as The Handbook of British Archaeology, Macmillan (London, England), 1983, reprinted, Constable (London, England), 1998.
Under the Sludge: Beddington Roman Villa; Excavations at Beddington Sewage Works, 1981-1983, Beddington, Carshalton & Wallington Archaeological Society (Carshalton, England), 1986.
Archaeological Illustration, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1989.
An Introduction to Archaeology, Apple Press (London, England), 1989.
Abandoned Places, Apple Press (London, England), 1990.
Talking Archaeology: A Handbook for Lecturers and Organizers, Council for British Archaeology (London, England), 1990.
Introduction to the Romans, Apple Press (London, England), 1991.
A Field Guide to Somerset Archaeology, Dovecote (Wimborne, England), 1992.
Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1994, updated edition, 2004.
Dictionary of Roman Religion, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1996.
Handbook to Life in Ancient Greece, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1997, updated edition, 2005.
The Keys of Egypt: The Obsession to Decipher Egyptian Hieroglyphs, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000, published as The Keys of Egypt: The Race to Read the Hieroglyphs, HarperCollins (London, England), 2000, published as The Keys of Egypt: The Race to Crack the Hieroglyph Code, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2001.
The Little Book of Egyptian Hieroglyphs, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 2001.
The War for All the Oceans: From Nelson at the Nile to Napoleon at Waterloo, Viking (New York, NY), 2007.
(With Ralph Jackson) Neolithic Stone and Flint Axes from the River Thames, British Museum (London, England), 1978.
Trafalgar: The Biography of a Battle, Little (London, England), 2004, published as Nelson's Trafalgar: The Battle That Changed the World, Viking (New York, NY), 2005.
The Keys of Egypt has been translated into Dutch, Spanish, Italian, German, Norwegian, Swedish, Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese. Trafalgar has been translated into Japanese and Spanish.
Husband-and-wife archaeologists Roy and Lesley Adkins are the authors of numerous books of history, archaeology, and ancient history. They began their careers as field archaeologists in Great Britain, working in the town of Milton Keynes and then in South London, where they directed an excavation of a Roman villa in Beddington. Since 1985 they have also run an independent archaeological consulting firm; as consultants, they conduct both documentary research and excavation.
The Adkins's first book, A Thesaurus of British Archaeology, was published in 1982 and later published as The Handbook of British Archaeology. The couple took three years to write the book and noted on their Home Page that they decided to write it because "nothing was available giving explanations of the numerous technical terms in archaeology—the jargon that makes many people feel they are excluded from archaeology." They also commented that writing the book was such an exhausting process that "we firmly believed we would never write another book!" However, they have continued to write, producing many more volumes of archaeology and ancient history.
In Under the Sludge: Beddington Roman Villa; Excavations at Beddington Sewage Works 1981-1983, the authors describe the archaeological site of a Roman villa found in Beddington, under acres of sewage sludge once spread by the Beddington Sewage Works. Development threatened the site, so the Adkins undertook an excavation, basing their work on the fact that a Roman bath was known to exist on the site. They found the bath and also located a villa and a prehistoric settlement. The book tells the story of the excavation and was written largely for the people of the area, many of whom volunteered in the work.
Archaeological Illustration is a detailed manual for those interested in recording archaeological evidence through drawings. After providing a brief history of the use of illustration in archaeological work, the book covers equipment, handling, and finishing techniques, and then discusses measurement in the lab and in the field, scaling and mapping methods, and terms for recording archaeological data. The authors also discuss technical aspects of printing processes and computer graphics. In American Antiquity, M. Jane Kellet praised the book's "extensive source and reference lists" and wrote that it provides "many techniques and useful quick tips."
In 2000, The Keys of Egypt: The Obsession to Decipher Egyptian Hieroglyphs was published. The book examines the quest to understand ancient Egypt's beautiful and mysterious form of writing. Hieroglyphs gained widespread attention in Europe after Napoleon invaded Egypt in 1798, leading to the discovery of the famed Rosetta Stone, which contained texts in two forms of ancient Egyptian writing, as well as in Greek. The Egyptian text was finally decoded by the brilliant scholar Jean-François Champollion, who was in competition with an Englishman, Thomas Young. The coauthors describe Champollion's process of decipherment, as well as the social milieu of post-revolutionary France, which was often not kind to intellectuals. In Geographical, Chris Martin praised the book's suspenseful storytelling and its description of Champollion's travails, noting: "The book is remarkably tense for a dry subject." In the London Sunday Telegraph, Simon Singh described the book as "a ripping tale of obsession and rivalry."
The Little Book of Egyptian Hieroglyphs presents a popular manual for readers interested in hieroglyphs, particularly those who wish to visit ancient Egyptian monuments and view them with more knowledge and enjoyment. The book explains how the writing system works, provides examples of hieroglyphs and what they mean, and discusses the various types of signs used in the writing. On their Home Page, the Adkins commented: "With numerous pictures of hieroglyphs and easy-to-identify pictures of gods and goddesses, this book is essential to anyone wanting to know about Egyptian writing—and will show how anyone from Adrian to Zoe can write their own name in hieroglyphs."
Roy Adkins is sole author of the 2005 book, Nelson's Trafalgar: The Battle That Changed the World, published in England in 2004 as Trafalgar: The Biography of a Battle. In this study, the author examines one of the most famous and decisive naval battles in England's history. Referring to the 1805 battle as "unquestionably a great feat of arms," Frank McLynn went on to note in his London Independent review of the book that it "will always live on as a ‘turning point’ in the British imagination." McLynn added: "Its true significance was that it enabled Britain to turn Napoleon's flank three years later in the Peninsular War. And it crystallised the supremacy of the British seaborne empire: more than 100 years would elapse before, at Jutland, another naval power would dare to challenge the Royal Navy."
In Nelson's Trafalgar, the author focuses on the day the battle took place and examines such aspects of the fight as the technology used at the time and specific tactics. He also discusses the readiness of the British fleet and explores the political milieu in which France threatened to invade England. Referring to the book as "a thorough-going study," a Kirkus Reviews contributor went on to write that the author's "detailed examinations of such things as the relative weights of musket balls and … shipboard cuisine give the reader a little breathing room between tension-filled episodes." A reviewer writing in Publishers Weekly commented: "This illustrious introduction to the Battle of Trafalgar … is one of the best in generations for the nonseafaring reader curious about the nautical epic."
Adkins and his wife teamed up again to write The War for All the Oceans: From Nelson at the Nile to Napoleon at Waterloo. This historical account looks at the Napoleonic Wars, which lasted from 1804 to 1815. The authors write about Napoleon's defeats in Egypt and at Waterloo coupled with England's efforts to control the high seas as a way to thwart Napoleon's effort to ultimately conquer England. They detail how this effort eventually led to England becoming the world's supreme naval power. In addition, they use diaries, journals, and letters to reveal a personal side to war and to life at home, revealing how England became enamored with naval war hero Horatio Nelson as well as the hardships suffered by sailors and their loved ones. They also describe how these war efforts and trade restrictions led to the War of 1812 in the United States, which resulted in the decimation of Washington, DC
The War for All the Oceans received strong praise from reviewers. Calling the book "a fascinating study," Andy Smith went on to write in Geographical: "In this action-packed and highly readable book, the narrative rattles along like a C.S. Forester or Patrick O'Brian novel, with a wealth of detail about naval life—from press gangs to prostitution—along the way." Jay Freeman wrote in Booklist that the history is "a superior work of maritime history that both scholars and general readers should enjoy"
The Adkinses have traveled in Europe, Asia Minor, and Egypt, and have led groups on archaeological tours in the United Kingdom. They frequently lecture on archaeological topics and have taught university adult-education courses.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Antiquity, April, 1993, M. Jane Kellet, review of Archaeological Illustration, p. 387.
Booklist, August, 1997, review of Handbook to Life in Ancient Greece, p. 1926; August, 2005, Gilbert Taylor, review of Nelson's Trafalgar: The Battle That Changed the World, p. 1985; June 1, 2007, Jay Freeman, review of The War for All the Oceans: From Nelson at the Nile to Napoleon at Waterloo, p. 23.
Contemporary Review, March, 2005, review of Trafalgar: The Biography of a Battle, p. 190.
Geographical, January, 2001, Chris Martin, review of The Keys of Egypt: The Race to Crack the Hieroglyph Code, p. 99; November, 2006, Andy Smith, "How Napoleon's Naval Ambitions Were Sunk," review of The War for All the Oceans, p. 89.
Independent (London, England), October 22, 2004, Frank McLynn, review of Trafalgar.
Journal of Military History, July, 2006, Barry Gough, review of Nelson's Trafalgar, p. 835.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2000, review of The Keys of Egypt; July 1, 2005, review of Nelson's Trafalgar, p. 715; May 15, 2007, review of The War for All the Oceans.
Military History, October, 2005, Robert Guttman, review of Nelson's Trafalgar, p. 61.
Publishers Weekly, October 9, 2000, review of The Keys of Egypt, p. 85; June 20, 2005, review of Nelson's Trafalgar, p. 71; June 11, 2007, review of The War for All the Oceans, p. 52.
Spectator, September 25, 2004, Allan Mallinson, "The Admiral's Men," review of Trafalgar, p. 53; September 16, 2006, Allan Mallinson, "Lost at Sea," review of The War for All the Oceans.
Sunday Telegraph (London, England), August 27, 2000, Simon Singh, review of The Keys of Egypt, p. 13.
Times (London, England), October 11, 2000, Douglas Kennedy, review of The Keys of Egypt.
Times Higher Educational Supplement, March 30, 2001, Dr. Richard Parkinson, review of The Keys of Egypt.
Roy and Leslie Adkins Home Page,http://www.adkinsarchaeology.com (January 18, 2008).