Monday, May 28, 2007

Mountains of the Pharaohs

A couple of years ago, I read Zahi Hawass's autobiography, Secrets From the Sand. It covered his career from his start in Egyptian archaeology to his current position as "Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities." I was impressed with his story, and his general outlook. (Unfortunately, I missed an opportunity to see a free lecture he did in Reno a few months ago. Mountains of the Pharaohs is his latest book. It serves as a general explanation of what is known, thought, and debated about the dynasty that built the pyramids at Giza. The format is kind of interesting: Hawass begins each chapter with a short sketch of what might have been happening in the lives of the ancient Egyptian kings, craftmen or workmen, then explains why that is a plausible scenario using whatever evidence is available. Pretty interesting how little is actually known about that period, and how much of Egytpology is based on inference and guesses. What most impressed me was the level-headed approach Dr. Hawass takes - if there is debate on an issue, he explains or at least mentions all sides of it, seemingly not weighting his view more than any others. It was refreshing to hear a topic like this presented in what seemed like an unbiased way.

Book 31

1 comment:

SnowLeopard said...

Ancient Egypt is fascinating to read about, but I've mostly done so from the children's non-fiction point-of-view. Lots of pictures and little blurbs. It never occured to me that not much actual history was known? I guess because the pyramids are covered with hieroglyphics that historians and archaeologists would know quite a bit about their history. But they say history is told from the victor's or nobility's point of view, so who knows what it was like to live as a slave or peasant? Sounds like a really interesting book!