Fagan has written numerous archaeology books (e.g., The Little Ice Age,
2000), but his inaugural title from 1975 was out of print. This welcome revision recounts the encounter of all manner of people, from Herodotus to Howard Carter of Tutankhamen fame, with the pharaonic ruins of the Nile Valley. Modern interest in the imposing antiquity and scale of Giza, the Valley of the Kings, and the like dates from the French invasion of 1798, which included a scientific team--"the Enlightenment in action," in Fagan's words--to survey pyramids, temples, and tombs; its work provoked a rage in Europe for all things Egyptian. Some tackled the problem of unlocking hieroglyphics (achieved by Jean-Francois Champollion); others flexed their muscles to get the good stuff out of Egypt, like Giovanni Belzoni. By far the star attraction in Fagan's presentation, Belzoni was an ebulliently colorful character--a circus strongman in 1810 who chanced into the ancient Egypt craze and its accompanying lust for artifacts. That's how Egyptology began, and Fagan's history is a fine gateway to it. Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
Born in England and educated at Cambridge University, Brian Fagan is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is internationally known for his popular books on archaeology. He lives in Santa Barbara, California.