Barbara Mertz
William Morrow
1964 / 2007
Ancient History, Archaeology

This newly revised and updated (2007) popular history of ancient Egypt is fascinating and fun. The book is filled with data to be sure. However, these are made entirely readable by the author's personable approach to her material -- especially when it comes to dealing with differing points of view from various scholars and archaeologists in view of the fact that more recent discoveries have annulled or changed some of the material presented in the previous edition (1964).

The author presumes that the reader knows something about archaeology, or at least ancient Egyptian history, but even those with no knowledge of it at all will certainly find the book interesting, informative and, at times, quite amusing.

For example, when writing about the first king who unified both Upper and Lower Egypt, she explains, "We know his name -- Menes. We know when this significant event happened. It was in 3400 BC; or 3110 BC; or maybe 2850 BC".

This personable way of approaching what could be boring statistics infuses the book with charm, and the author uses her natural storytelling abilities to keep the reader interested.

From circa 3150 BC to 30 BC, the author, like a tour guide, takes us on a journey through time and introduces us to various ancient Egyptian dynasties; kings and queens and other less official personalities; cultures; past and present archaeologists and archaeological digs; as well as various interpretations of myths, papyri, hieroglyphs, and archaeological finds.

That she is passionate about Egypt and its history is obvious in virtually ever page of the book -- not only in the way she presents the material, but also by questioning and criticizing various interpretations and conclusions offered by other archaeologists and historians.

Seven colour plates, along with several scattered black-and-white illustrations, complement the already vivid and descriptive text -- all of which make Temples, Tombs & Hieroglyphs an intriguing and informative read.

Barbara Mertz also wrote Red Land, Black Land, and mystery and gothic circles know her as 'Elizabeth Peters' and 'Barbara Michaels'.