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Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs by Barbara Mertz

Remember the Amelia Peabody mysteries- the ones starring the intrepid and slightly eccentric British archaeologist and her adventures in Egypt in the late 1800’s? These books were written under the name of Elizabeth Peters.

Check out the entertaining and educational non-fiction book, Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs, written by the same author under her actual name of Barbara Mertz. Mild spoiler


Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs by Barbara Mertz

Paperback at Amazon: $8.88
Book on Kindle: $9.99

This is a revised 1990 version. She first wrote the book forty years before that. Several trips to Egypt and much research done later, she made her modern revisions.

She tells us that this book is not so much a history of Egypt as it is an “informal study of Egyptology- a study of all things Egyptian. My criterion for selection of material is very simple: I have included anything I found interesting.”

And it IS interesting. It’s gossipy, full of human interest, and amazing facts.

Who knew there traditionally a king that was known as the “nice” Pharaoh? According to the tales, that is, not the archaeology. He called his workmen “comrades” and had other nice attitudes. No it wasn’t Akhenaten, the first monotheistic pharaoh, but it was another one I was not familiar with.

Who knew there is another step pyramid, unfinished, in the vicinity of the first one, discovered by aerial photography? Something exciting and valuable was discovered there, something that starts with g---!

Who knew Ramses was not a royal, but a noble and a soldier, who was given the kingdom by Horemheb (the author calls him Harmhab, who was also not originally a royal, but who was a royal advisor to Tutankhamun and Ay? He rose to the rank of Pharaoh.

Who knew Mark Twain visited Egypt and in particular, the Pyramids? Barbara Mertz referred to him in her book.

I was surprised to read about Mark Twain in Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs. I then realized that I have all the works of Mark Twain on my Kindle (courtesy of Amazon, $4.79), and I was able to do a search and find it in his books. Yup, there it was in Innocents Abroad, which I have never read. I look forward to getting back to that and reading it some time.

I recommend that if you read Barbara Mertz’s book on Kindle that you print out a good map of ancient Egypt that shows major cities and archaeological digs. On Kindles, maps are not too good, although some of the simple line drawings and other art are quite clear. You will refer to your map quite a bit as you read. Also, print out a good list of Egyptian kings and dynasties from the internet. It’s quicker to refer to the paper list, since you will probably look at it a lot to Orient yourself.

Get it? Orient yourself? Oh well, it’s just a little joke. (:

Hope some of you look into getting and reading this book. Barbara Mertz is first and foremost a story teller who brings history to life. This is not a moldery old book. On second thought, it IS a moldery old book. Moldery can be fun.
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