July 13th, 2006


The last of these ...

OK, so here's the fourth of those "Lost Civilization" series books that I'd gotten from Time-Life back in the early 90's. Egypt: Land of the Pharaohs shares many aspects with the previous three titles I've read/reviewed from the series (as one might expect, having the same editor, Dale M. Brown, supervising their production), in that they do an interesting job of putting a lot of details into a wider perspective, and highlighting this with extensive art/photography. This is certainly not an "in-depth" look at ancient Egypt (see my next review for one of those), but it does a decent job of presenting the Western discovery of it, an overview of the history, and several interesting "technical" side bits on various subjects.

The one gripe that I had was that the last third of the book was pretty much all Tutankhamun ... sure, his relatively unsullied burial chambers (interestingly, a factoid that I'd not been aware of, it had been robbed in antiquity, but only of jewelry, etc.) provide a fascinating window into the ancient world, but he was a minor figure (frankly, his name barely shows up in the King lists) in a transitional time. One point they make which I found of note was that due to the wealth and power of Egypt at the time Tutankhamun reigned, the grave goods he had could well be of the highest quality, and that other more famous Pharaoh's tombs might not have had much more impressive things than were found in this one.

I have to admit, that I've been reading another book on ancient Egypt while plowing through these four "Lost Civilization" books, so my impressions from this one on Egypt are less clear than the ones on other cultures, so most of what I'm coming up with to write about it are a bit muddled with the other book, as well as with the dozens of books I've read on the subject previously!

Anyway, Egypt: Land of the Pharaohs was not a bad read ... aside from the caveat noted above, it was an enjoyable and informative (within its scope) book. If you have an interest in a heavily-illustrated volume that still provides useful data on ancient Egypt, you might well take a look at picking up a copy of this. Again, these are out of print, so you'd be looking to the new/used secondary market, but the Amazon guys have it "new" for under a buck (not bad given its initial $29.95 cover price!), so even with shipping it's a steal.

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