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Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt Hardcover – Bargain Price, November 6, 2007

43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This updated and revised version of Dr. Mertz's stunning collection of everything related to the civilization of ancient Egypt is brought to life through Lorna Raver's informative and entertaining narration. Presented as half textbook, half historical fiction, Raver finds a solid balance between the two genres. Her voice brims with mystery and the unknown as she, along with the listener, travels along the path that Mertz has meticulously paved from the earliest glimpses of the remarkable civilization to the very latest discoveries. Raver is solid and unwavering throughout, sounding as though she's enjoying the information she so clearly presents. She brings fun and excitement to a field that many consider to be overly analyzed and studied, offering a learning experience through an abundance of speculative fiction sure to capture the minds of even the youngest listeners.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.


"A joyful intellectual excitement permeates the book." ---The New York Times --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 2 Rev Upd edition (December 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1615609423
  • ISBN-13: 978-1615609420
  • ASIN: B001F7AXH2
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,301,721 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

97 of 99 people found the following review helpful By Justine J on September 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As a graduate student in Egyptology/Egyptian archaeology, I have a slightly different perspective on this book than some people. As other reviewers have noted, the text is a bit dated, having been written a few decades ago. However, the basic facts are still solid and Mertz writes so well and brings so much of ancient Egyptian history to life that a few inaccuracies can be excused, especially as one hopes that so well-written a text will encourage people to go on to do more research.
Mertz also manages to capture and discuss, though not in detail, a bit of what it is like to study Egyptology professionally in a few humorous off-the-cuff remarks in the texts. If memory serves, she compares demotic to a series of frenetic commas. :)
In short, this is a book I re-read on occasion, even as a professional, not for any particular research needs, but more to remind myself what my own writing *could* be and, sometimes, to remind myself why I decided to do this for a living.
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Aussie Reader on July 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
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.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Asher on January 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
I picked this book up in an airport when I was a teenager, and it sparked an interest in Egyptology which has lasted 30 years. Mertz is a graceful writer, deftly mixing scholarship with humor and 'human interest'. The book is not intended for Egyptologists, (Hence 'A Popular History') and bypasses, wisely in my opinion, the wrangling between experts which makes the field so frustrating to the lay reader. Honesty prevails, however; when she is stating a personal opinion, she says so. The result is a fascinating, funny and intelligent look at the ancient culture of which we know so much and understand so little.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
If you're new to egyptology and are looking for a good book on the History of Egypt then you can't pick a better place to start than by reading this. Barbara Mertz writes in a conversational style and her wit and personality shine out from the page. Despite the `light' feel of the text the author is obviously very knowledgeable on the subject and is not afraid of letting the reader know of her own, sometimes controversial, opinions. For example, she is particularly scathing of the New Kingdom Pharaohs that followed Thutmose III (including Ramses II) which might surprise some people but she backs this up with reasoned argument leaving the reader to decide for themselves. This book also contains what I feel to be the classic put-down for `Pyramidiots' and I quote: "He [the pyramidiot] is not using facts to construct a theory, but is selecting facts to support a preconceived and unshakable belief. Whatever the techniques a historian chooses to work with, he must use them without prejudice and be prepared to revise, or dismiss, his theory when he runs up against a fact his tools cannot handle." Graham Hancock please note! Despite being written some time ago I found this classic work a refreshing and informative read. Well recommended.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By George Wood on March 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Writing under the pen name Elizabeth Peters, Barbara Mertz started the Amelia Peabody series of tongue-in-cheek Victorian archaeological thrillers in 1975. But 11 years before then this trained Egyptologist published the first edition of "Temples, Tombs & Hieroglyphs".

Like many other books this traces of the history of ancient Egypt from the pre-dynastic to the Ptolemies. But Mertz brings her sense of humor to lighten what can be a dry series of lists of kings. She brings to life highpoints in the Old, Middle and New Kingdoms, as well as the chaotic periods in between. Moreover, she lifts the veil and lets the reader in on many of the scholarly disputes, like those over the woman pharaoh Hatshepsut and the role of Nefertiti in the succession to her heretical husband Akhenaton.

It's also nice to see someone reveal the egomaniac Ramses II for what he was, a poor leader who lost the second Battle of Kadesh, and who covered his weaknesses by pasting his image everywhere.

For anyone who has read the Peabody books, including the depiction there of Sir William Flinders Petrie (and his approach to feeding his staff), Mertz' homage here to the founder of modern Egyptology is interesting.

In her forward to this Second Edition, Mertz says she thought she wouldn't have to do much to revise the earlier work. But then, she adds, taking into account four decades of new discoveries proved to be a challenge. There are places in this book where she discusses post-1964 work, but the addition of the new material is seamless, with no sense of things just stuck in.

This is a delightful introduction to the fascinating history of ancient Egypt.
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