Amazon.com Best of the Month, May 2009: Hewn from his discovery of the treasure-laden tomb of Tutankhamum, the legacy of famed archeologist Howard Carter invokes notions of adventure, dark curses, and untold riches. Yet as cinematic as such stories may be, they are incongruous with a man who carved out an isolated existence sifting through the unforgiving desert sands. Author Daniel Meyerson maintains that the real story of Howard Carter is about struggle and pride, not gold and silver. At a time when archeology was dominated by the upper classes of society, Carter's lack of a genteel upbringing created a rather large chip on his shoulder. A desire to silence critics consumed him, and nearly lead to his own undoing "The same driven quality that enabled him to find Tut's tomb," explains Meyerson, "also brought about his downfall." Had a series of timely events not provided Carter a second chance at glory, one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century could very well still lie buried in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. -- Dave Callanan Click on thumbnails for larger images
Look Inside In the Valley of the Kings
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|Howard Carter seated beside the coffin of King Tutankhamun 1926. © Griffith Institute,University ||Howard Carter, May 8, 1924 © National Photo Company Collection, Library of Congress ||Statues of Memnon in Thebes. © Francis Frith, Library of Congress |
From Publishers Weekly
Meyerson (The Linguist and the Emperor) delves into the career and psyche of Howard Carter, the British archeologist who in 1922 discovered the 3,300-year-old gold- and jewel-laden tomb of the boy king Tut. Lower-class and lacking a formal education, Carter worked with his father, a painter of animal portraits for the aristocracy. He was discovered and hired in 1892 by the Egyptian Exploration Fund to copy paintings, ancient inscriptions and friezes in Egypt's dark tombs. Carter debuted as an excavator under the tutelage of Flinders Petrie, the single-minded father of modern archeology, at Amarna, the capital of Tut's father. Intense, irascible, brooding and obsessed, Carter searched for Tut for seven years, funded by the fifth earl of Carnarvon, a bon vivant millionaire who came to excavations with fine china and table linens and who died from septic poisoning after nicking a mosquito bite while shaving. Although Meyerson favors a playful writing style that can be intrusive and rambling, his work is also well researched and entertaining, and brings to life the ancient pharaohs and their tumultuous reigns as well as the excavators who disturbed their eternal sleep. Photos. (May)
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