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Temples, Tombs & Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt

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An eye-opening, edifying, and endlessly entertaining tour through an astonishing bygone world—the acclaimed classic history of ancient Egypt, now newly revised and updated Writing as Elizabeth Peters, world-renowned Egyptologist Barbara Mertz is the author of the phenomenally popular New York Times bestselling mystery series featuring archaeologist Amelia Peabody. In Temple An eye-opening, edifying, and endlessly entertaining tour through an astonishing bygone world—the acclaimed classic history of ancient Egypt, now newly revised and updated Writing as Elizabeth Peters, world-renowned Egyptologist Barbara Mertz is the author of the phenomenally popular New York Times bestselling mystery series featuring archaeologist Amelia Peabody. In Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs, Dr. Mertz explores the breathtaking reality behind her fiction by casting a dazzling light on a remarkable civilization that, even after thousands of years, still stirs the human imagination and inspires awe with its marvelous mysteries and amazing accomplishments. A fascinating chronicle of an extraordinary epoch—from the first Stone Age settlements through the reign of Cleopatra and the Roman invasions—Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs brings ancient Egypt to life as never before. Lavishly illustrated with pictures, maps, photographs, and charts, it offers tantalizing glimpses into Egyptian society and everyday life; amazing stories of the pharaohs and the rise and fall of great dynasties; religion and culture; folklore and fairy tales; stories of the explorers, scientists, and unmitigated scoundrels who sought to unravel or exploit the ageless mysteries; and breathtaking insights into the magnificent architectural wonders that rose up from the desert sands. Revised and updated to include the results of the most recent historical research and archaeological finds, Dr. Mertz's book is unhampered by stuffy prose and dry academic formality. Instead, it is a vibrant, colorful, and fun excursion for anyone who's ever fantasized about exploring the Valley of the Kings, viewing up close the treasures of the temple of Queen Hatshepsut, or sailing down the Nile on Cleopatra's royal barge.


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An eye-opening, edifying, and endlessly entertaining tour through an astonishing bygone world—the acclaimed classic history of ancient Egypt, now newly revised and updated Writing as Elizabeth Peters, world-renowned Egyptologist Barbara Mertz is the author of the phenomenally popular New York Times bestselling mystery series featuring archaeologist Amelia Peabody. In Temple An eye-opening, edifying, and endlessly entertaining tour through an astonishing bygone world—the acclaimed classic history of ancient Egypt, now newly revised and updated Writing as Elizabeth Peters, world-renowned Egyptologist Barbara Mertz is the author of the phenomenally popular New York Times bestselling mystery series featuring archaeologist Amelia Peabody. In Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs, Dr. Mertz explores the breathtaking reality behind her fiction by casting a dazzling light on a remarkable civilization that, even after thousands of years, still stirs the human imagination and inspires awe with its marvelous mysteries and amazing accomplishments. A fascinating chronicle of an extraordinary epoch—from the first Stone Age settlements through the reign of Cleopatra and the Roman invasions—Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs brings ancient Egypt to life as never before. Lavishly illustrated with pictures, maps, photographs, and charts, it offers tantalizing glimpses into Egyptian society and everyday life; amazing stories of the pharaohs and the rise and fall of great dynasties; religion and culture; folklore and fairy tales; stories of the explorers, scientists, and unmitigated scoundrels who sought to unravel or exploit the ageless mysteries; and breathtaking insights into the magnificent architectural wonders that rose up from the desert sands. Revised and updated to include the results of the most recent historical research and archaeological finds, Dr. Mertz's book is unhampered by stuffy prose and dry academic formality. Instead, it is a vibrant, colorful, and fun excursion for anyone who's ever fantasized about exploring the Valley of the Kings, viewing up close the treasures of the temple of Queen Hatshepsut, or sailing down the Nile on Cleopatra's royal barge.

30 review for Temples, Tombs & Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt

  1. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    I've always been fascinated by Egypt, the Pharohs, mummies, tombs. Going to school in Chicago, there were many field trips to the Field Museum. When we arrived, I'd run right for their Egyptology Dept. with their amazing collection of mummies. The author of this book also wrote as Elizabeth Peters, whose mystery series, I read avidly. It was hard to keep track of all the different, Pharohs, Viziers and Gods. Too much was covered, but I did learn things, though not as much as I would have liked. L I've always been fascinated by Egypt, the Pharohs, mummies, tombs. Going to school in Chicago, there were many field trips to the Field Museum. When we arrived, I'd run right for their Egyptology Dept. with their amazing collection of mummies. The author of this book also wrote as Elizabeth Peters, whose mystery series, I read avidly. It was hard to keep track of all the different, Pharohs, Viziers and Gods. Too much was covered, but I did learn things, though not as much as I would have liked. Learned a new word, Pyramidiots, which was used to describe the people who have woo woo theories on how the pyramids were erected and who built them. This part of the book I found fascinating. She dispels a few common myths and explains how this was actually done and why. A mixed read, parts informative, fascinating but at the same time, somewhat overwhelming.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jason Koivu

    Adding "a popular..." to the title perfectly describes this and lets the reader know they're about to embark upon a light reading. Giving you the entirety of Ancient Egypt's imperial history and more, Temples, Tombs & Hieroglyphs seems to spend more time on its subtitle rather than the main. The leaders - seemingly every single one - gets a decent going-over, at least as much as can be known at this time. The history of Egypt is, after all, rather sketchy. I picked this up as supplemental researc Adding "a popular..." to the title perfectly describes this and lets the reader know they're about to embark upon a light reading. Giving you the entirety of Ancient Egypt's imperial history and more, Temples, Tombs & Hieroglyphs seems to spend more time on its subtitle rather than the main. The leaders - seemingly every single one - gets a decent going-over, at least as much as can be known at this time. The history of Egypt is, after all, rather sketchy. I picked this up as supplemental research for a fantasy series I'm working on. It didn't go as deep into the Indiana Jones type of traps and snares I was hoping for, but it is quite detailed about the temples and tombs, so it wasn't a total loss by any means. Temples, Tombs & Hieroglyphs is not the most scholarly of works on the subject. Barbara Mertz got her degree in Egyptology back in the '50s, then spent much of her subsequent time writing mystery fiction. But again, that's a-okay for the kind of book we've got here. Mertz's offhand, cheeky tone keeps this light and enjoyable through out. It's the perfect refresher for us old folks who have forgotten much of what we learned in school.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Kukwa

    This is the most irritating & frustrating non-fiction work I have read in some time. It can't decide if it's a history of Egypt, a history of Egyptian archeology, or a gossipy history of people studying Egyptian history. The author's lame attempts at sarcastic side-bars don't help one bit. It contains some interesting information, but it's in no way a cohesive read. Very disappointing. This is the most irritating & frustrating non-fiction work I have read in some time. It can't decide if it's a history of Egypt, a history of Egyptian archeology, or a gossipy history of people studying Egyptian history. The author's lame attempts at sarcastic side-bars don't help one bit. It contains some interesting information, but it's in no way a cohesive read. Very disappointing.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    This is a very fun, absorbing, quick history of ancient Egypt. The author unapologetically tells us that she's going to cover what's interesting to her - and in my opinion that makes for a much more interesting book for the reader as well. Could be a great way to introduce Egyptian history to a child. Also, for fans of Amelia Peabody, it's fun to see where Barbara Mertz (pen name is Elizabeth Peters) has developed her theories and interests in the realm of historical fiction. And yes, there are This is a very fun, absorbing, quick history of ancient Egypt. The author unapologetically tells us that she's going to cover what's interesting to her - and in my opinion that makes for a much more interesting book for the reader as well. Could be a great way to introduce Egyptian history to a child. Also, for fans of Amelia Peabody, it's fun to see where Barbara Mertz (pen name is Elizabeth Peters) has developed her theories and interests in the realm of historical fiction. And yes, there are a couple historical mysteries too... On the flip side, I can't agree with every theory in here. But Barbara Mertz writes forthrightly and with no attempt to brainwash you into accepting her particular theories. I'd have no hesitation in recommending it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    If you want a book that could be an introduction or refresher course on Ancient Egyptian history that's both informative and entertaining, I can only recommend this. It covers what I consider to be the "real Ancient Egypt" – starting with the predynastic Egypt and ending just as Alexander the Great conquers Egypt. This is a book very much about the Egypt of the (dynastic) pharaohs, so if you want detailed information about the Greco-Roman period and it's personalities, it's best to look elsewher If you want a book that could be an introduction or refresher course on Ancient Egyptian history that's both informative and entertaining, I can only recommend this. It covers what I consider to be the "real Ancient Egypt" – starting with the predynastic Egypt and ending just as Alexander the Great conquers Egypt. This is a book very much about the Egypt of the (dynastic) pharaohs, so if you want detailed information about the Greco-Roman period and it's personalities, it's best to look elsewhere. No doubt some people will be disappointed by this. I've always found the Greco-Roman period and even Cleopatra dull by comparison to the earlier times, so I'm not disappointed at all. I could complain about the lack of detail given to some periods or pharaohs, but with 3,000 years of history to cover, it would be nitpicking. You can feel the love and enthusiasm the author has for the subject in almost every page, which makes it stand out all the more.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This review applies to the audio version of the book. This book took longer than it all should have as I would turn it on to listen to when I went to bed, and I would fall asleep and then have no idea where I lost consciousness. I must have listened to chapter four about ten times. Listening to this book is a lot like having a class taught by a fun, albeit eccentric, professor. I have no idea what Barbara Mertz looks like, but I have decided to cast her as Professor Sprout only with more scarves This review applies to the audio version of the book. This book took longer than it all should have as I would turn it on to listen to when I went to bed, and I would fall asleep and then have no idea where I lost consciousness. I must have listened to chapter four about ten times. Listening to this book is a lot like having a class taught by a fun, albeit eccentric, professor. I have no idea what Barbara Mertz looks like, but I have decided to cast her as Professor Sprout only with more scarves. If you had her as a professor, you would show up early to get her off track and stay late to hear her stories of drinking Egyptian beers with the native diggers. Her book reads exactly like a professor teaching you "Oh, but we'll get back to that later..." and "That's the theory...but I don't buy it" and "His name is blah...and really that's all you need to know about him." She doesn't make claims that the book is anything more than an overview--it was written in 1964 but revised in 2007. But it's a fun rompy overview of Egypt right up until Cleopatra gets bitten. By the way, I just looked her up--my casting call isn't far off. Needs more scarves. The book is quick moving--assuming you don't fall asleep repeatedly--and a fun listen. Though towards the end I started zoning. I'm thinking the sound of the narrators voices has a Pavlovian effect on me that I can only deny for so long.

  7. 4 out of 5

    'Aussie Rick'

    Firstly I must admit that I am not an expert on this subject. I learnt the basic stuff at High School and that's about it. My interest was sparked in Ancient Egypt after taking my daughter to watch 'The Mummy' and subsequently reading Bob Brier's book 'The Murder of Tutankhamen'. As it has been previously noted by other reviewer's this book is somewhat dated (orginally published in 1964) but that does not detract from the wonderful narrative that the author weaves around the Pharaohs and their p Firstly I must admit that I am not an expert on this subject. I learnt the basic stuff at High School and that's about it. My interest was sparked in Ancient Egypt after taking my daughter to watch 'The Mummy' and subsequently reading Bob Brier's book 'The Murder of Tutankhamen'. As it has been previously noted by other reviewer's this book is somewhat dated (orginally published in 1964) but that does not detract from the wonderful narrative that the author weaves around the Pharaohs and their place in history. The author does not get bogged down in technical details and you never lose interest in the story. She has a knack of writing about these far away times and people as if it was yesterday and draws you into her story. Overall I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to obtain a decent overview of Ancient Egypt.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    A good and somehow entertaining book that tries to condense the complex and long history of pharaonic Egypt and the many ancient dynasties. The book is very well researched and the narration (for Audible version) is quite fitting, I found it entertaining but a little scattered at big portions of it, especially with the rapid description of the following dynasties. Even if you are a history lover, you may still find the book quite dull at parts, so I would recommend it only if you are really into A good and somehow entertaining book that tries to condense the complex and long history of pharaonic Egypt and the many ancient dynasties. The book is very well researched and the narration (for Audible version) is quite fitting, I found it entertaining but a little scattered at big portions of it, especially with the rapid description of the following dynasties. Even if you are a history lover, you may still find the book quite dull at parts, so I would recommend it only if you are really into your 'Egyptian history'

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    I really enjoy her humor and irreverence on a subject that can be rather stuffy.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    Barbara Mertz is renowned for her Amelia Peabody novels set in Egypt during the late 1800's- early 1900's and the novels are all the more interesting with facts derived from her own knowledge and education as an archaeologist. In this book, she provides a conversational, chatty voice to inform her readers of the rulers of Ancient Egypt through the numerous dynasties as well as provide some insight into an exotic locale and culture. She does a good job attempting to distinguish rulers that would c Barbara Mertz is renowned for her Amelia Peabody novels set in Egypt during the late 1800's- early 1900's and the novels are all the more interesting with facts derived from her own knowledge and education as an archaeologist. In this book, she provides a conversational, chatty voice to inform her readers of the rulers of Ancient Egypt through the numerous dynasties as well as provide some insight into an exotic locale and culture. She does a good job attempting to distinguish rulers that would change names as often as they changed their wigs - especially in the earliest of dynasties - as well as provide tales that would flesh out the society, religion and people that are known to - in some cases - specialized Egyptologists. Viziers, priests, relatives, sons, daughters, wives, queens, regents, co-regents, generals, architects and even rulers from nearby kingdoms. Admittedly, there is a great deal of speculation since the time period is not well documented and later pharaohs did not hesitate to re-carve monuments or just dismantle and re-utilize for some other purpose. But I do admit she did a lovely job covering thousands of years. I actually learned one thing - Egypt is called the black land, the red land because the black land is the fertile soil from the Nile inundation and the red land is the barren desert. The maps were very helpful - what few there were. Nearly all the photos seemed more like tourist shots rather than those provided by a professional photographer. Now for where I was disappointed. The summary says Ancient Egypt from the Stone Age settlements through the Greeks and Romans. The Greek part - namely Alexander the Great of Macedonia - is barely a page and Roman lasts a paragraph. The only participation of hieroglyphics beyond a cartouche at the beginning of each chapter of a noted pharaoh that would be mentioned in the next pages was a diagram of one royal titulary and a couple serekh. No definitions or breakdown of the icons. In fact the only two icons that were identified were horus (example looks more like an owl than a hawk) and set-animal which looks more like a deer than a canine/jackel. The Rosetta Stone - which is attributed as a major contribution in the breakdown/translation of Egyptian hieroglyphics - was mentioned once. Maybe I'm too knowledgeable about Ancient Egypt - something I never thought I would consider. 2020-052

  11. 5 out of 5

    Irene

    This is a popular history of ancient Egypt. It covered an enormous amount of material: current archeology, rulers and politics of ancient Egypt, a bit of religion, a bit of medicine, a bit of bogus theories. It was too much for me to take in. I think I left more overwhelmed than informed.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Christine Zibas

    For anyone who has an interest in Egypt or ever wondered exactly who the ancient Egyptians were and why their dynasties lasted for thousands of years, Barbara Mertz's Temples, Tombs & Hieroglyphs is the perfect introduction. More commonly known to readers as Elizabeth Peters, Mertz is the author of the popular Amelia Peabody mystery series. Long before she started her career as a best-selling writer, however, Barbara Mertz began as a trained Egyptologist, with a PhD from the famed Oriental Instit For anyone who has an interest in Egypt or ever wondered exactly who the ancient Egyptians were and why their dynasties lasted for thousands of years, Barbara Mertz's Temples, Tombs & Hieroglyphs is the perfect introduction. More commonly known to readers as Elizabeth Peters, Mertz is the author of the popular Amelia Peabody mystery series. Long before she started her career as a best-selling writer, however, Barbara Mertz began as a trained Egyptologist, with a PhD from the famed Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, the launching pad for many successful Egyptologists. These credentials make her the perfect person to write this history, as she is able to translate the rich Egyptian history of the pharaohs into something more easily understood by readers with no archaeological background, except an interest in Egypt. This is not to say that the book is always easy reading, although Mertz tackles her subject with a passion and humor readers are unlikely to find in any other, more typical history tome. She manages to bring the Egyptians of old to life, translating ancient hieroglyphs into fascinating stories of individuals, each with their own purpose, strengths and weaknesses exposed. She opens up the fascinating world of tomb robbers and archaeologists (which some claim are not so far apart in purpose or behavior at times). She demonstrates how information is extrapolated from archaeological findings and illustrates how history is revised over time as new facts and theories come to light. Despite the injection of personality Mertz brings, this can be dense material at times. For anyone uninitiated in the world of the Egyptians, there are more than 30 dynasties, each with several rulers, falling into 10 eras, dating from the Stone Age Archaic Period to the time of Cleopatra and the Roman invasion. The sheer length of time and individuals and events covered is staggering. With repeating pharaohnic names, unfamiliar landscapes and place names, conflicting historical research and theories, the book can be overwhelming at times. Yet the reward for sticking it out (dare I even say, re-reading parts) is worth the time and effort expended. Frankly, I read this book twice, cover to cover, and the second time around, I finally began to get a real sense for the overall arc of historical time period covered. And I would hazard to say that it seems even more likely that dipping in again would yield even more historical treasure and understanding. The richest gift that Mertz offers in her overview of Egypt can be found in the simple stories of the rulers described here, in illuminating for the novice the archaeological tricks of the trade (and weaknesses of such methods) used to determine exactly (or to the best of anyone's knowledge) what happened so many years ago. Mertz's infectious passion for all things Egyptian (well, except possibly pottery shards) can't help but influence her readers to want to learn more. Through her book, she has opened the door to her own exciting world, and readers can't help but want to share in that magic.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    - Spoiler! Everyone in this book died. ;) - Barbara Mertz was a wonderful historian who penned the excellent Amelia Peabody mystery series under the name of Elizabeth Peters. I only mention this because I had no idea who Barbara Mertz was when I was checking the book out of the library. It's a small world indeed. - I really enjoyed her narrative. Barbara had a certain spunk that made her writing very approachable and just plain entertaining. The historical figures in this book are vibrant individu - Spoiler! Everyone in this book died. ;) - Barbara Mertz was a wonderful historian who penned the excellent Amelia Peabody mystery series under the name of Elizabeth Peters. I only mention this because I had no idea who Barbara Mertz was when I was checking the book out of the library. It's a small world indeed. - I really enjoyed her narrative. Barbara had a certain spunk that made her writing very approachable and just plain entertaining. The historical figures in this book are vibrant individuals. I had no problem keeping track of multiple dynasties, and that says a lot considering there were like three Amenhoteps and about eleven Ramseses. Barbara also didn't hesitate to let us know her feelings towards certain subjects and theories. I absolutely loved her take on Ramses II and his "valour" in battle. Also, I do know how she would have done away with King Tut, if she was an ancient Egyptian dead set against him. Absolutely amazing, hilarious lady! - She kind of skimmed intermediary periods (and I think justly so, since they are such a mess), and didn't go too deep into very complicated concepts (hence "popular history" title). Barbara also openly admitted to favour some dynasties over others, thus spending more time on certain events, but the book was her playground, so I can hardly hold it against her. For anybody really interested in the later part of Egyptian history, you will not find much info here on Cleopatra and her liaisons. Third intermediate period saw Egypt torn apart by foreign invaders like Lybians, Cushites, etc. The late period marked the rule of Persian empire interlaced with some short-lived attempts by Egyptian pharaohs to return to power. Later on it was conquered by Alexander the Great and ceased to exist as true Egyptian kingdom altogether. Barbara Mertz focused primarily on true Egyptian history, so most of her extensive information ended with the fall of the New Kingdom. - I'm definitely adding this book to my personal library.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kiri

    A wonderful, entertaining read. I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in learning an overview about ancient Egypt. This is not an art history tome. The narrative reads as a story told by a storyteller or oral historian who brings the culture, customs and the era to life. There are even photographs and sketches of the artifacts and of the tombs as well as maps and diagrams. While reading the book I found it helpful to look up the sites and tombs on Google images as a reference to he A wonderful, entertaining read. I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in learning an overview about ancient Egypt. This is not an art history tome. The narrative reads as a story told by a storyteller or oral historian who brings the culture, customs and the era to life. There are even photographs and sketches of the artifacts and of the tombs as well as maps and diagrams. While reading the book I found it helpful to look up the sites and tombs on Google images as a reference to help visualize them even though Ms. Mertz’s enthusiastic descriptions are very thorough and well-written. Unfortunately, I understand the book is out of print. Thanks to Goodreads friend, Christopher Needham, who had a copy, I was able to enjoy this book and put it on my shelf.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bill Telfer

    What's that? You say you've always been curious about the subject of "ancient Egypt" but the topic is just too huge and sprawling that you have no idea how the Pyramids of Giza relate to King Tut, or what the Sphinx can possibly have to do with Cleopatra --and everything in between? Well, let Barbara Mertz (the amazing late author of the Amelia Peabody mysteries under the pen name "Elizabeth Peters") put it all in lovely, concise, and, yes, even humorous perspective for you. I listened to this o What's that? You say you've always been curious about the subject of "ancient Egypt" but the topic is just too huge and sprawling that you have no idea how the Pyramids of Giza relate to King Tut, or what the Sphinx can possibly have to do with Cleopatra --and everything in between? Well, let Barbara Mertz (the amazing late author of the Amelia Peabody mysteries under the pen name "Elizabeth Peters") put it all in lovely, concise, and, yes, even humorous perspective for you. I listened to this one in audiobook form, and, I'll tell you, it's one of those books that, upon its completion, I feel as though I have taken an entire course in Egyptology. My head is full of knowledge now. I have brains. I am "smort." You can be "smort" too -- read this book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sandy

    This is another revamped recently and re-released non fiction by Barbara Mertz. This one is more about the ruling history and rulers of ancient Egypt. The earlier book I reviewed, Red Land Black Land is more about the people and customs. I read it about 6 months ago or so and really enjoyed it. In typical Barbara Mertz style she writes about ancient Egypt with much knowledge and humor. I would again recommend this book to anyone who has even the vaguest interest in Ancient Egypt. I may even re-r This is another revamped recently and re-released non fiction by Barbara Mertz. This one is more about the ruling history and rulers of ancient Egypt. The earlier book I reviewed, Red Land Black Land is more about the people and customs. I read it about 6 months ago or so and really enjoyed it. In typical Barbara Mertz style she writes about ancient Egypt with much knowledge and humor. I would again recommend this book to anyone who has even the vaguest interest in Ancient Egypt. I may even re-read it in preparation for my big trip in November. (We’ll see though, my reading list is quite staggering without it.):)

  17. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    If you are seriously interested in the minutiae of Egyptian scholarship then this book is probably going to seem pretty once-over-lightly. If you are like me, and know the basic outlines, this is going to be just your dish. It was for me. Mertz, who also wrote as Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels --- historical thrillers/supernatural thrillers --- also was an Egyptologist of no mean credentials or ability. But because she was also a first-rate writer, she introduces the reader to the basic o If you are seriously interested in the minutiae of Egyptian scholarship then this book is probably going to seem pretty once-over-lightly. If you are like me, and know the basic outlines, this is going to be just your dish. It was for me. Mertz, who also wrote as Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels --- historical thrillers/supernatural thrillers --- also was an Egyptologist of no mean credentials or ability. But because she was also a first-rate writer, she introduces the reader to the basic outline of ancient Egyptian history in wonderful prose. I loved reading this.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bondama

    Barbara Mertz, long known for her thrillers under the two pseudonyms Barbara Michaels and Elizabeth Peters, has finally come out with a non-fiction book on her speciality, Egyptology. This is an imminently readable work, taking the reader through a history of all the dynasties and Kingdoms that are thousands of years old. This is an incredible book -- and extremely accessible to virtually anyone with an interest in the Ancient Egyptians.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Kennedy

    At about the midway point I thought (Goodreads ate my comments...) I would like a bit more structure, and that hasn't changed. I personally like a lot of organization to help me keep the timeline and all the names straight when reading history. On that note, putting a smaller, more detailed timeline corresponding to the content in each chapter at the beginning of the chapter would have made a big difference for me. That said, I found this to be a really engaging read. The author touches upon not At about the midway point I thought (Goodreads ate my comments...) I would like a bit more structure, and that hasn't changed. I personally like a lot of organization to help me keep the timeline and all the names straight when reading history. On that note, putting a smaller, more detailed timeline corresponding to the content in each chapter at the beginning of the chapter would have made a big difference for me. That said, I found this to be a really engaging read. The author touches upon not only the names of the kings and descriptions of their tombs and temples; but on the political and religious climates of different periods, archaeologists and their discoveries, and charming stories and writing straight from Ancient Egypt itself. Key characters are introduced throughout and their stories, as much as is known, are told in a lively and personal manner. She wraps up the book by talking about how "we look into the mind of a man three millennia dead and call him 'brother'."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    This book was first published in 1964 (with at least one revision, I think) so I'm not sure if the archeology parts remain current. I liked the writing style, it was more story-telling, than dry facts. The author wrote the Amelia Peabody series (as Elizabeth Peters) which I loved. Some of her style came across in this non-fiction book. The "history" parts were good, but because there was so much history, she doesn't really cover any thing in-depth. This book was first published in 1964 (with at least one revision, I think) so I'm not sure if the archeology parts remain current. I liked the writing style, it was more story-telling, than dry facts. The author wrote the Amelia Peabody series (as Elizabeth Peters) which I loved. Some of her style came across in this non-fiction book. The "history" parts were good, but because there was so much history, she doesn't really cover any thing in-depth.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ann T

    It was a bit convoluted for me as there are so many characters, groups, empires, that I often got lost. However, it presents a good general overview of ancient Egyptian history. The author has a cheerful, talkative, and cultured writing style. She often makes little jokes or quips which take you time to comprehend until you finally get that she is doing it, then for the rest of the book, you catch them quickly. I listened to the audio and the narrator, Lorna Raver, did a fabulous job. I loved ho It was a bit convoluted for me as there are so many characters, groups, empires, that I often got lost. However, it presents a good general overview of ancient Egyptian history. The author has a cheerful, talkative, and cultured writing style. She often makes little jokes or quips which take you time to comprehend until you finally get that she is doing it, then for the rest of the book, you catch them quickly. I listened to the audio and the narrator, Lorna Raver, did a fabulous job. I loved how she pronounced the names. Had I been reading this, I likely would have been even more lost.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    4/5 stars. An in-depth look at all of the rulers of Egypt, with a fair amount of sass and sarcasm. It did drag at times and eventually the names started to blur together, but overall it was one of the most entertaining books on history I've read. 4/5 stars. An in-depth look at all of the rulers of Egypt, with a fair amount of sass and sarcasm. It did drag at times and eventually the names started to blur together, but overall it was one of the most entertaining books on history I've read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Shane Phillips

    Very interesting. Told with personality and enthusiasm.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    This book covers the span of, what, thirty centuries, give or take a few either way, in 350 odd pages. It must have taken years to write this book, not only because of the sheer amount of research that would have had to be done, but also because of the amount of text, of passages that the author no doubt would have had to cut. If the author is anything like me, she would have devoted a lot of her daytime hours – and maybe even some of her night-time hours – with her finger hovering in agony abov This book covers the span of, what, thirty centuries, give or take a few either way, in 350 odd pages. It must have taken years to write this book, not only because of the sheer amount of research that would have had to be done, but also because of the amount of text, of passages that the author no doubt would have had to cut. If the author is anything like me, she would have devoted a lot of her daytime hours – and maybe even some of her night-time hours – with her finger hovering in agony above the ‘delete’ button and worrying about the passage’s effect on the book as a whole. When a reader finishes a book (or, at least, when I finish a book), he or she generally forget all the cold hard facts they have just read within the first ten minutes. Ask me now to name any Pharaoh who lived within the first fifteen dynasties, all you will get is a blank stare – unless, of course, I have Google beside me, in which case you will see me searching up the answer for you. My point is, the thing that will linger the longest in the reader’s mind won’t be, ‘he won this battle in this year and thus ascended the throne of Egypt’ but rather things like, ‘she was beautiful, of course; all great queens are beautiful.’ It doesn’t matter that I cannot remember who ‘she’ is, or that it might not hold true in all cases, I will remember that phrase and it will more likely than not turn up in one of my essays sooner or later. I will not bore you by continuing to praise this book – no doubt you’ll find more praises in other reviews – nor will I insert a sentence beginning with ‘however…’ or ‘the reason this book didn’t get five stars is because…’ as I am usually wont to do, because this is a truly excellent book and I suspect the reason for the lack of the fifth star lies in me and not the writing. This book made Egyptian history come alive for me, however fleeting though it may have been, and, intermixed with witticisms and lively anecdotes and dry comments from the author, it has served to give me a far greater understanding of Egyptian history, as well as a far better knowledge of famous archaeologists and their quirks.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Mertz, more recognizable under her nom de plumes Elizabeth Peters or Barbara Michaels, offers up a gossipy, fascinating history of Egypt. Don't let the tone fool you - she's got the Ph.D. to back her up, as her occasional, inevitable digressions into Lists of Names You'll Never Remember proves. She's set herself a monumental task, attempting to cover five millennia of history in just over 300 pages, but she attacks it with relish and wit, and has the grace to admit when she's being particularly Mertz, more recognizable under her nom de plumes Elizabeth Peters or Barbara Michaels, offers up a gossipy, fascinating history of Egypt. Don't let the tone fool you - she's got the Ph.D. to back her up, as her occasional, inevitable digressions into Lists of Names You'll Never Remember proves. She's set herself a monumental task, attempting to cover five millennia of history in just over 300 pages, but she attacks it with relish and wit, and has the grace to admit when she's being particularly spotty. An entertaining read for history buffs, those fascinated with things Egyptian, or casual fans of her Amelia Peabody series.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    When I visited these areas the tour guide spoke with great certainty about everything. Come to find out almost everything is subject to question. Mertz is clear on what has been established, and what is theory. The time, energy and research put into Egyptian archaeology opens new avenues of doubt and make facts more and more elusive. Mertz warns at the beginning that this is not a text nor a complete history. She says it is an collection material that she finds interesting. The first part was a l When I visited these areas the tour guide spoke with great certainty about everything. Come to find out almost everything is subject to question. Mertz is clear on what has been established, and what is theory. The time, energy and research put into Egyptian archaeology opens new avenues of doubt and make facts more and more elusive. Mertz warns at the beginning that this is not a text nor a complete history. She says it is an collection material that she finds interesting. The first part was a little TOO informal for me. Mertz hits her stride with Hatshepsut and keeps the narrative strong through the end. Comment

  27. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    If you're interested in studying Ancient Egypt, this is a good place to start. The writing is accessible and, at times, amusing. She covers a lot of ground but manages to keep the book at a manageable length. I finished wishing that she had spent more time discussing certain people and time periods at greater length, but I don't consider that a bad thing. In fact, I think it means she did her job well because I'm still eager to learn. On a side note, I do recommend that you check out her Amelia If you're interested in studying Ancient Egypt, this is a good place to start. The writing is accessible and, at times, amusing. She covers a lot of ground but manages to keep the book at a manageable length. I finished wishing that she had spent more time discussing certain people and time periods at greater length, but I don't consider that a bad thing. In fact, I think it means she did her job well because I'm still eager to learn. On a side note, I do recommend that you check out her Amelia Peabody series (written under the pen name Elizabeth Peters) - a mystery series set primarily in Egypt. The heroine's husband, Emerson, is based on Flinders Petrie.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sue Bridgwater

    I'm glad I went back to this book for a second read, I'd forgotten how much fun it was. It's a prime example of why we shouldn't avoid reading older books in any subject area - this is written in 1964 so the author was very concerned as to whether the plans to save Abu Simbel from the lake about to be created by the High Dam at Aswan would actually be carried out. She had no knowledge of DNA and the role it would one day play in helping to sort out the tangled genealogies of the Pharaohs. But sh I'm glad I went back to this book for a second read, I'd forgotten how much fun it was. It's a prime example of why we shouldn't avoid reading older books in any subject area - this is written in 1964 so the author was very concerned as to whether the plans to save Abu Simbel from the lake about to be created by the High Dam at Aswan would actually be carried out. She had no knowledge of DNA and the role it would one day play in helping to sort out the tangled genealogies of the Pharaohs. But she knew, loved and enjoyed Egypt and Egyptology, was able to laugh at it too, and altogether made me wish I could go back one day and see it all again.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    A lively, gossipy overview of Ancient Egyptian history and the archaeological adventure and discoveries that uncovered it. Mertz writes like a favorite professor: witty, knowledgeable and prone to digressing into diverting anecdotes. She admits her biases freely and acknowledges that so much of what we "know" about Egyptian history is based on scholarly and non-scholarly speculation. I am reading her book Red Land/Black Land next which focuses on daily life in Ancient Egypt. This book covers mor A lively, gossipy overview of Ancient Egyptian history and the archaeological adventure and discoveries that uncovered it. Mertz writes like a favorite professor: witty, knowledgeable and prone to digressing into diverting anecdotes. She admits her biases freely and acknowledges that so much of what we "know" about Egyptian history is based on scholarly and non-scholarly speculation. I am reading her book Red Land/Black Land next which focuses on daily life in Ancient Egypt. This book covers more of the traditional history of rulers including a tantalizing look into the life of Queen Hatshepsut.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lamadia

    This was an extremely readable history. I was so excited when I first picked it up that I read the first 100 pages in one day. There were asides at which I even laughed out loud. It reads like the funny professor you had in college who had no problems letting you know what he or she felt about the other academics. I slowed down my pace considerably, but not because the writing didn't keep my attention. This is perfect for the armchair historian who always wanted to take a class in Egyptian histo This was an extremely readable history. I was so excited when I first picked it up that I read the first 100 pages in one day. There were asides at which I even laughed out loud. It reads like the funny professor you had in college who had no problems letting you know what he or she felt about the other academics. I slowed down my pace considerably, but not because the writing didn't keep my attention. This is perfect for the armchair historian who always wanted to take a class in Egyptian history and never could quite fit it into the schedule.

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