In 2002 the remains of a Bronze Age male skeleton was discovered in Amesbury, a small town just two miles from Stonehenge. The high status of the burial and the richness of the grave goods make this one of the most significant Bronze Age burials to be found, however, what was more surprising was that the man had been born over 1000 miles from where he was buried. Izar, the Amesbury Archer is the fictionalised story of how this man from around 2,300 BC could have ended his life near to the ancient stone circle of Stonehenge.
We wrongly assume sometimes that our ancient ancestors didn’t travel far from the places they were born but this cleverly told story of Izar’s momentous journey from his homeland shows just how adventurous our ancestors were and how their lives, so often filled with danger, also gave them the opportunity to advance their experiences in ways never before imagined.
Izar was an archer but also a skilled metal worker in a time when metalworking was still largely unknown. The intricate detail in which the author discusses the process of extracting copper ore is done in a really interesting way, bringing to life the amazement of our early ancestors in being able to forge metal into something workable and highly prized.
Making sense of history, putting the lives of our early ancestors into perspective is what this author does best. In giving us the life of Izar the Archer he has made the anonymous skeleton into a living, breathing person whose hopes and fears were cleverly brought into the story alongside the highly prized skill of making metal at the very start of the Bronze Age.
Aimed at the YA audience the story doesn’t shy away from some of the more unpleasant aspects of the hardships of life in 2300 BC but that’s what makes history come alive and the author is very good at making history believable and exciting for a younger audience. However, it’s not just young readers who will find much to learn and enjoy, I also learned new things about living and working in the early Bronze Age.
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading of Izar’s journey and as I finished the book I immediately went online to find out more about the real Amesbury Archer.