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Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt    by Barbara Mertz order for
Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs
by Barbara Mertz
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2007 (2007)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Kerrily Sapet

Barbara Mertz is also known as Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels. As Elizabeth Peters she writes the popular Amelia Peabody mystery series. Under her pen name Barbara Michaels she has written gothic suspense novels. Now, under her own name, she falls back on her Ph.D. in Egyptology and brings her fans a newly revised and updated version of her book Temples, Tombs, and Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Egypt.

To many, studying broken bits of pottery and the history of an ancient civilization, even if its inhabitants did build pyramids and make mummies, can sometimes seem a bit dull. But Mertz handles a few thousand years of history deftly. Although she begins in about 5500 B.C. with early civilization and moves on to about 30 B.C. she is selective and amusing. She writes of forgotten pharaohs, their courts, and scoundrels, making the events come to life. She tells of mysteries, folklore, fairy tales, and legends, but also grounds the reader firmly in Egyptian religion, culture, and dynastic history. This revision of her 1964 book includes the results of recent historical research and archaeological finds.

Those who have in the past shied away from historical nonfiction will enjoy Mertz's writing style. She approaches her chapters with a sense of humor and offers up intriguing titles such as Tomb Robbers and Royal Mummies, Mummy Musical Chairs, and The Missing Queen. Mertz's prose is anything but dry and stuffy, even though the information she presents is rich and detailed. The book has the feeling of an excursion down the Nile on Cleopatra's royal barge. Pictures, maps, photographs, and charts liberally sprinkled throughout the book will help readers to feel a bit closer to the magnificent civilization that rose out of the desert sands thousands of years ago.

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