featured in Young archaeologist magazine, sept 2012
The Obsidian Mask
Author Caroline Ludovici’s book The Obsidian Mask is set on a dig in the desert of modern-day Iraq. Archaeologists are busy excavating the tomb of a 5,000-year-old Mesopotamian warrior queen when they uncover a fantastic death mask…
“It is like magic; the face is of the purest obsidian carved to flawless perfection. Blackest black you can ever imagine, but it shines like a bright star on a clear night. It draws you in like a magnet… It is encrusted with jewels, precious stones and pearls that would make a thousand kings gasp. It is breathtaking.”
Whilst the archaeologists make incredible discoveries on the site, four young people visiting their parents at the dig have an amazing adventure of their own. Stopped at gunpoint by masked men on their way to the dig, Alex and Natasha from Britain don’t believe things could get any worse. They are wrong. They are thrown together with two Italian teenagers – Lorenzo and Gabriella – in a whirlwind of dangerous events that will test them to their limits and make them learn a lot about themselves in the process. YAC caught up with Caroline Ludovici to find out more about the book…
YAC: Why did you want to base your story around a Mesopotamian warrior queen?
Caroline: I heard about an ancient warrior Queen when I was a child, and I always imagined her to be like a Mesopotamian Boudica, on her chariot, hair flowing, and leading men into battle. I also wanted to show that Mesopotamian people had a great standard of living while we in the West still had a very, very long way to go!
YAC: You describe the excavation well, have you been on digs yourself?
Caroline: Yes! I spent a summer on a dig in the west of Cornwall. It was mostly a Neolithic site, but it had many younger layers too. I have also volunteered on an on-going excavation in Valley Forge Park near Philadelphia in the USA.
YAC: The Obsidian Mask at the centre of the story is a fabulous object; what archaeological find would you most like to make?
Caroline: I think there would be nothing more lovely than finding musical instruments. I’d like to find a flute or a harp of some kind, just like the one in Queen Sorrea’s tomb in the book.
YAC: If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?
Caroline: It would depend on how long I would be there! If I could travel back in time for just a week or so, I would go to Peru about 2,000 years ago and be part of the team at Nasca making those long straight lines and enormous animals in the ground that can only be seen from the air. I would love to know why they were made and what they were for!
If I went back in time to stay forever, that is a very difficult question! Every period seemed to be at war, and the thought of losing a loved one to fight in a far off land never to return would be very hard. But maybe I'd like to live in ancient Alexandria on the coast in Egypt. The city was founded by Alexander the Great and named after him, after he conquered Egypt in around 331 BC. I’d love to have access to the library there; it was uncovered by archaeologists in 2004 and was the largest in the ancient world!
YAC: Where will Alex, Natasha, Lorenzo and Gabriella go next?
Caroline: The next book is set in Italy. Natasha and Alex go to stay with Lorenzo and Gabriella in their lovely home that overlooks the Trebbia River. It is steeped in fascinating history, and while their parents are excavating the ancient Etruscan ships buried in silt under the Pisa railway station, (no exaggeration, this site really does exist!) the four young teens unravel the true identity of someone much closer to home, which leads to them to the Secrets the River...
To find out what happens to Alex, Natasha, Lorenzo and Gabriella, you’ll need to read The Obsidian Mask. You can buy Caroline’s books via www.amazon.co.uk online… or enter our competition for your chance to win a signed copy!!
Just answer this question:
What colour is obsidian?
a) Purple b) Yellow c) Black d) Red
Send your answer, along with your name, address and membership number to Obsidian Mask Competition, YAC, St Mary’s House. 66 Bootham, York, YO30 7BZ or by email to email@example.com
The closing date is Friday 2nd November 2012