Discovery: Unearthing the New Treasures of Archaeology Editor, Brian M. Fagan. Published by Thames & Hudson, 2007. ISBN 978 0 500 051498. Hardback, price £24.95.
New and important archaeological discoveries are being made all around the world, and whilst some may get reported in the occasional magazine, quite often it is some time before they appear in books. This is a truly riveting read, even allowing for the fact that many of the chapters are not on ancient Egyptian subjects. Covering a time-span of two million years of history right up to more recent times, the chapters are written by some of the most eminent archaeologists, who describe their own discoveries. Each chapter is superbly illustrated with many excellent photographs, often taken at the very moment of discovery. Not surprisingly, ancient Egypt does figure greatly in this book. Chapters are included on discoveries at Giza, at Bahariya Oasis, and in the Valley of the Kings (KV63) by Dr. Zahi Hawass; and on KV 5 in the Valley of the Kings, by Kent Weeks. ‘Black Pharaohs’ by Charles Bonnet and Dominique Valbelle, looks at an impressive and important discovery of a cachette of magnificent statues at Kerma in Sudan; Mark Lehner describes some of the discoveries at the Workmen’s Village at Giza; Frank Goddio the underwater discoveries at Alexandria; and Toby Wilkinson the earliest hieroglyphs from Egypt found at Abydos. One discovery, which has not been over-publicised, is that of the world’s oldest boats, from Abydos, and the chapter by Matthew Douglas Adams and David O’Connor includes some of the clearest photographs I have seen of this important find. These articles alone make this book a worthwhile addition to anyone’s library, but I can guarantee that, for anyone with even a passing interest in the wider world of archaeology, the other chapters in this excellent book will be both an education and a pleasure to read.
Tutankhamun’s Egypt by Frances Welsh. Published by Shire Egyptology, 2007. ISBN 978 0 7478 0665 3. Paperback, price £6.99.
This is a revised and updated version, with many new colour photographs, of the excellent little Shire book on Tutankhamun, first published in1993. It puts the reign of Tutankhamun in its historical and cultural context, and looks at the significance of the tomb
and its objects and what we can learn from them about life in Egypt in Tutankhamun’s time. All too often, the splendid objects from the tomb are viewed simply as works of art; it is important to know their historical, archaeological and artistic context. This excellent book does just that. If it is not already in your collection on ancient Egypt, then, with the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibition currently showing in London, this would perhaps be a good time to buy a copy.
Lives of the Ancient Egyptians by Toby Wilkinson. Published by Thames & Hudson, 2007. ISBN 0 500 051481. Hardback, price £24.95.
A number of books have been published in recent years looking at the lives of ancient Egyptians, but, with limited space, the main criticism has always been that they omit certain individuals that the reader might expect to have been included. Who to include and who to exclude will always be a problem, but here the author has included mini-biographies of one hundred ancient Egyptians. The list extends beyond Egypt’s great rulers, with entries for some perhaps lesser-known rulers such as Amenemhat I and Osorkon as well as many of the queens of Egypt. The history of Egypt is always much more than that of its rulers, and here you will also find the story of the officials, the priests and the soldiers who helped defend Egypt’s borders and who built the great Empire. The entries are in chronological order, which makes the book easy to use. All the main rulers are included, but there are also entries for their officials. Their names will be familiar to visitors to Egypt: Mereruka from the Old Kingdom, for example, whose tomb is at Saqqara, is followed closely by an entry for Harkuf, another Old Kingdom official, whose tomb is in the south of Egypt at Aswan. The entry for the New Kingdom official Rekhmira follows the entry for his king, Thutmose III and Akhenaten’s chief sculptor, Bak is followed by the entry for Mahu, Akhenaten’s Chief of Police. Of course there are entries for Akhenaten and Nefertiti too. Each entry is well written, clear and concise, and there is a specific bibliography for each entry, which
ANCIENTEGYPTDecember 2007/January 2008