Thursday, June 24, 2021

Mini Reviews | Ancient Egypt


I love Ancient Egypt so much. I want to visit and see all there is to see of that world. It also infuriates me that so much has been lost to history - and continues to be lost as smuggled pieces magically make their way to private collections. Egypt has been robbed of so much and deserves to get their history back.

 Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Absolutely LOVED this one and could not put it down. Easily one of my top-five favorite books on Ancient Egypt. It's the perfect combination of academic and accessible for those who are not as fond of non-fiction as I am.

When one thinks of Ancient Egypt, most likely the first thing that pops into your head has something to do with tombs, mummies, the pyramids, etc. After all, these items make up much of the visible remains of this mighty culture - and mummies + funerary items travel well, all over the world on display.

In this text Dr. Naunton's primary focus is on what we HAVEN'T found yet - such as the tombs of some of the most famous rulers to ever live; think Cleopatra, Alexander, Nefertiti, and Imhotep (I know, I know, he was never Pharaoh, but he's still a big deal). Just think about that line-up for a second and what it would be like if even ONE were to come to light. People would go batshit crazy over it, and rightly so. I would be one of those people.

Yet he also looks at those at the reigns of some more obscure rulers as well, thus giving a well-rounded picture of the whole of Egypt's ancient world and not just those that blockbuster movies are made about. I found these lesser-known rulers' reigns to be just as fascinating as those mentioned above.

Here the author takes deep look into the lives of these rulers and what they accomplished in their time on the throne. Based on incredibly detailed scholarship, he also discusses what their tombs likely contained, how they were buried, and why their tombs have remained undiscovered for centuries. even better, he lays out how they might yet be found.

I appreciated the variety of images that accompanied the text, both color and black and white. The maps came in handy as well - as did the list of kings he included. I think we can all agree that scholarship on this massive period of time is far from complete, but this list with dates is the most up-to-date we have at the moment. And honestly that's what continues to draw people to Ancient Egypt - there's still so much more to discover.

This a must for anyone who happily "suffers" from Egyptomania. Absolutely brilliant. You will not be disappointed.

Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Another great read from Brian M. Fagan, one of the leading experts on this most ancient world. We meet a wide variety of people from many different periods, many who had one thing in common: they were super fucking greedy.

This mainly applies to the tomb robbers who beat modern archaeologists to these finds by thousands of years, to those who paid well for pieces to be spirited out of the country and into private collections. And even today, with so many artifacts on display around the world, sitting in museums far from their place of origin. These artifacts MUST be returned to Egypt, though I highly doubt it will ever happen unfortunately.

Fagan also introduces us to fledgling archaeologists, some who did their best to protect and preserve their finds and others who all but ripped stones, pillars, obelisks, etc. from their resting places.

The author tells the story in chronological order and it's not terribly hard to see why so many artifacts were lost - France and England both somehow thought that they had the rights to another country's history, and could tell that history better than Egypt. It's such a gross perspective. There were of course archaeologists who were in it for the history and not the money, but money ruled over everything else, and still does today. It certainly did not help that there were those within local government positions in Egypt who gladly took the money and handed over the history. Basically, the whole system sucked.

The first volume of this book was published in 1974, but I read the revised edition that came out in 2004. There was much to update and Fagan writes just as passionately about the newer discoveries as he did the earlier ones. He also does not shy away from critiquing the tourist industry and explains what should be obvious - tourism might be crucial to the economy, but it is destroying the very things tourists come to see and if not better protected, they will not survive. Stricter guidelines have been put in place over the years, and hopefully they are enough.

Fagan does a marvelous job bringing to life many of those who sought Egypt's ancient artifacts. yet he does an even better job with those who sought to preserve the history and keep it where it belongs. Incredible attention to detail and brilliantly written.

Highly recommended.


  1. Oh man! These books sounds amazing!
    I too love Egypt and it's on top of my bucket list to visit it. When I was younger, I thought I was going to be an Egyptologist...Obviously that did not happen. lol

    1. They were both so wonderful and you would definitely enjoy them - especially because you, like me, failed to become an Egyptologist. What were we thinking, going into education instead?! lol


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